Anna Rose: Changing minds about climate change

27 April 2012

Last night alumna Anna Rose presented the much talked-about documentary I Can Change Your Mind About...Climate on ABC1.

The documentary, which was followed by a special edition of Q&A, was a companion to Anna's new book Madlands (Melbourne University Press), in which she sets about the task of trying to persuade climate skeptic and recently retired Liberal senator Nick Minchin, that climate change is a very real threat to our future on this planet.

From the outset, Anna and Nick represent two vast ends of the debate, with Anna the enthused optimist and Nick the forthright objector. As they travel around Australia and internationally, Anna introduces Nick to a variety of big names in science, intent on bringing to the table enough evidence for an earth in trouble. Nick Minchin proves an intelligent opponent with counter-arguments to many of the subjects raised.

This two-sided approach to a polarising topic proved effective, especially through the surprising willingness of both Anna and Nick to attempt to find common ground.

What they could agree on, was that science would never be their common ground, as there are always convincing arguments from both sides of the debate coming from the scientific arena. Despite disagreeing on the level of risks associated with a warming climate, Anna and Nick were able to concede that there were risks and that minimising these risks is something that needs to be addressed by action, including the adoption of renewable energy.

Finding common ground solutions that would appeal to the Australian public was one of the dominating avenues of discussion on Q&A, where Anna Rose and Nick Minchin were joined by mining entrepreneur Clive Palmer, Chief Executive of CSIRO Dr Megan Clark and Rebecca Huntley, a research director at the Ipsos Mackay Report who undertook a PhD in Gender Studies at the University of Sydney.

Nick Minchin argued that 'alarmist debate has been counter-productive' to the environmentalist dialogue around climate change, and that there is a strong need to 'take the heat out of this (debate)'. Dr Clark added that 'it helps if what you're offering is better than what you have', which led to a lengthy conversation around potential options for renewable energy that are cheaper than the burning of fossil fuels.

Anna Rose, co-founder and Chair of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, and Arts/Law graduate from the University of Sydney, remained optimistic; 'we have the opportunity in our generation to create a bright future for Australia'.

This passion was evident throughout I Can Change Your Mind About...Climate, and influenced co-presenter Nick Minchin to comment in an opinion piece in The Brisbane Times today that 'Anna was a worthy opponent...and brings great passion and eloquence to her advocacy'.

Anna Rose will be speaking at Sydney Writers' Festival this May in the event Kitchen Table Climate Change. More details of the university's involvement in the festival can be found at our Festival Hub.

Read an opinion piece by Anna Rose on The Drum.

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Contact: Kate Mayor

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