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Under a dripping glacier

Updated Monday, 14th December 2009

Philippa Rowland, of Clean Energy for Eternity, on the impact of meeting those suffering the consequences of climate change every day.

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Copyright The Open University


Philippa Rowland: Well I think one of the overwhelming senses that I have at the moment being in Copenhagen is one of deep humility and gratitude, and what an honour, really what an honour it is to be here part of this gathering. There are, we’ve heard it, you know, in the news, there are going to be 192 countries gathered here. But the reality of catching the bus in from where I’m staying in north Copenhagen, and each day on the bus I’m sitting next to somebody from Morocco or Algeria or Peru or Indonesia, having conversations about where we’re at, what we’re trying to do, where there are shared opportunities, collaborations, it’s deeply moving. And I think as an Australian I went to, I went to our CANA side event today, which was people from the South Pacific sharing stories about their islands which are going under.

At King tide the water’s now coming up, and they were talking about visitors coming to the island of Kiribas, and coinciding with the King Tide, so a lot of the community’s actually on a house on stilts, on the veranda laughing and joking. And they were saying, you know, but this is serious. But the response was, yes but we live with this climate change, we’re adapting every moment of every day to cope with what’s happening, and underneath there’s a lot of grief and concern, but we’re living life with joy and hoping for a better future and a safer place for our kids. And to see these people speaking from the heart their stories and then getting up and dancing their dances was just, I was in tears, you know, I was so moved.

And I think the other pivot point for me in coming was Friends of the Earth brought two Nepalese people to Australia with ‘The Big Melt’, which is about the impact of the glaciers melting on the Himalayan region, and one of them was Tenzin Dorjee Sherpa, who has climbed Mount Everest ten times, and he did it from base camp to the top in eight hours ten minutes, and one reason he did that was because of the glaciers melting; there’s less snow and ice around. But then he shared that his own village now has one of these glacier melt lakes above it, and old people lie in bed at night, and when it rains they wonder whether they should get up and run to the cave or whether they should stay in bed because they’re waiting to see when the moraine might shift and the water might come. And that, I guess I’ve been to Nepal twice, and I love it as a country and I love the people, and it just moves me that people that have done so little to contribute to the problem are so much copping the hard end of the stick in terms of the impact. So that fuels a commitment to come and share stories, yeah.





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