28 September 2018
Professor Tim Flannery at the Challenge of Change Lecture
Professor Tim Flannery at the Challenge of Change Lecture

The Challenge of Change lecture series is designed to provide a platform for thought-leaders to consider the big questions facing Australia within its global context. 

In recent years, speakers have included former Queensland Governor, The Hon Dr Penelope Wensley AC, Australian diplomat Peter Woolcott and Australian finance journalist, Alan Kohler.

Professor Tim Flannery’s work as a scientist, futurist and author has been particularly influential in the ongoing debate of how Australia should care for its fragile environment.

As the world looks to focus on climate change solutions, Professor Flannery’s insights into the adaptions and changes required are considered by many to be an essential indicator of future trends.

At his lecture this week, Professor Flannery didn’t only highlight the perilous situation facing the global climate in terms of atmospheric carbon, he also devoted a large portion of his talk to possible solutions.

Early in the proceedings, he outlaid his position in the simplest of terms.

“At the moment, we are running an uncontrolled experiment with our only home,” Professor Flannery announced before an audience of more than 200 guests.

“The alternative,” he contrasted, “is to live on a governed planet.”

It was after all the title of his lecture: The governed planet: carbon budgets and C-negative technologies.

The take-home message is that we have no option but to manage the planet as a collective. Hopefully, a lot better than we do presently.

As climate models improve, it’s becoming increasingly obvious to scientists that our planet has a very limited future if current practices continue.

It’s that simple, really.

The audience included a broad cross-section of society – but mostly students, academics and retirees.

Flannery singled out the GCI-inspired program that seeks to involve more cross-disciplinary PhD candidates in global change solutions as a way forward.

“I’m really impressed with what the University has done with this institute [UQ Global Change].

“I think you’ve created something quite unique here.”

He said he wasn’t aware of any other university embarking on such a strong climate change focus.

“It is so powerful, particularly your initiative of bringing students together during their PhD period … to look at issues relating to global change.”

As the author of more than 30 books, including the award-winning The Future Eaters, The Weather Makers and Here on Earth, Flannery is among that small group of scientifically minded individuals who can communicate their ideas  broadly with eloquence and clarity.

The warmth, strength and sincerity of the ovation directed towards Tim Flannery at the conclusion of his talk appeared to catch everyone off guard – the speaker even more so.

Was it because the audience recognised the humanity and integrity of the man before them?

This writer would like to think so.

His lecture is available online (see below).

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