When was the last time you saw global warming?
We’ve all seen the charts and read the stats, but have you ever tripped over a pile of greenhouse emissions, got scalded by a drastically heated ocean, been sucker punched by rogue freons or needed to evict the unruly chlorofluorocarbons squatting in your garden shed? The answer, unless you have a penchant for handfuls of hallucinogens, is a resounding ‘no’ – and it is in this that our greatest climate problem exists.
Veterinarian and ecologist, Dr. Gary Tabor, is intensely focussed upon this intangible crisis, all too aware of the impending threat it poses and the desperate and immediate need to address climate change at every level. Gary is from Bozeman, Montana USA, which in his own words ‘is a small town of alternative thinkers’.
Recipient of the Fullbright Scholarship – an Australian-American commission “to promote mutual understanding through educational and cultural exchange between Australia and the United States” – his purpose was to learn from Australians, viewing their country as somewhat of a promised land for a sustainable future. But on arrival, a very different picture began to emerge.
“The reason I came here is because I thought I was going to the future,” Gary admits, heavy-heartedly. “You had a Minister for Climate Change, every state had some kind of climate change program, you had this progressive policy in terms of carbon tax and renewable energy, which we don’t have nationally yet [in the US]… climate change is an in-your-face issue here. You had millennial drought then Biblical floods – extreme weather is Australia and there was some sense that everybody got it.
“In the United States it has become a political issue to the degree that if you’re a republican, you’re a climate denier and if you’re a democrat you believe in it. So it has become a proxy for core values with nothing to do with science.
“When I came to Australia, I thought I was going to go ahead, until I found out that there’s been a huge retreat in all ways. How could a country that was so enlightened go so far backwards? The rest of the world, including myself, saw Australia as hope. It really makes me sad to see this retreat because I think it takes the wind out of everyone’s sails. In America, we had this mythical belief that Australia’s got its act together on this issue.”