As we approach the end of the year, I like to look back on what I have learned. Climate change was at the forefront of everyone’s mind early in 2020 following the 2019-2020 bushfires. But once COVID-19 breached the Australian borders, public attention turned towards the pandemic instead.
This year, Inspiring Victoria and the Royal Society of Victoria presented ACCLIMATISE, hosted several lectures, and supported community outreach activities around the themes of climate change, adaptability, and sustainability.
As Professor Will Steffen pointed out during two presentations this year, the Anthropocene is here. Earth’s systems are changing like never before – to the point where geologists have defined a new epoch of time and named it after the cause: human activity.
But, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that it is not too late to change the trajectory of climate change. Climate scientists make predictions about average global temperatures, sea levels, etc. and all of their graphs have multiple paths, knowing that the extent of the damage to Earth is dependent on us and whether we do anything about it.
‘The climate will continue to change if we do not change,’ says Senior Climatologist, Dr Lynette Bettio as she delivered the State of the Climate 2020 Report.
The average global temperature continues to climb
The environment changes in very little time
Ecosystems are altered, animals lose habitat
We have an increasing sense of dread at we watch the thermostat
Less rain, more heat, and weather events are more extreme
Looking at the IPCC report, doom & gloomy it will seem
But the ACCLIMATISE events have given us hope
With the great work people are doing, Earth just might cope
More droughts and bushfires, temperatures rise
To protect the planet, we need to ACCLIMATISE
I wrote this choral piece to highlight environmental changes that are already happening so that it might spark change among people. It touches on the melting ice sheaths of Antarctica, the burning Australian bush, and shifting coastlines that impact coastal towns.
For these three places, it’s certainly not all bad news. There are many incredible scientists working towards solutions. They just need more support to put their ideas into action.
Professor Patrick Baker is studying how to make Australian forests more resilient to bush fires. Ecologists like Professor Brendan Wintle advocates for funds to support conservation programs that fight the extinction crisis. A/Prof David Kennedy’s 2021 Howitt Lecture on coastal resilience demonstrated how sands can shift to push back against the waves.
So let’s get the message out there!
I am so grateful to Mike Flattley for his support of this choral project (and his belief that I could compose a choral piece at all), to all the singers (most are from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Chorus and others are friends who I managed to persuade), and to Robert Cross for working his magic to compile everyone’s videos into a beautiful song. I hope that you enjoy the music and that it encourages you to think about change.
Catriona Nguyen-Robertson, RSV Science Communications Officer
P.S. Even though everyone is listed in the credits, I want to thank all the singers personally. The sopranos were Emma Anvari, Michele de Courcy, Camilla Gorman, Aurora Harmathy, Catherine McLean, Tian Nie, Kezia Singgih, and Tara Zamin. Team Alto (and I am very proud of the number of alto submissions – perhaps a personal bias there) had Ruth Anderson, Kate Bramley, Sasha Chong, Georgie Grech, Jennifer Henry, Helen Hill, Tian Nie, Natasha Pracejus, Kate Rice, Annie Runnalls, and Libby Timcke. The basses were Peter Deane, Andrew Ham, John Hunt, Jordan Janssen, Robert Latham, Elvis Tran, and Maciek Zielinski. Lastly, the tenor part was carried by three people – two of us not even being tenors! Thank you Peter Campbell, and thank you Jordan for stepping in as a tenor too. A big thank you to Tian and Jordan for submitting two vocal parts, and a massive thank you to Jordan, Jennifer, Emma and Andrew for your support + helping me recruit singers.