People like Tim come and disturb our dinner

It’s often said that Jesus came to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. Professor Tim Flannery’s a bit like that.

In thanking Tim for his address at the 2017 TWEC Dinner on 11 May, Lawrie Hallinan said, “People like Tim come and disturb our dinner.”

While the 200 diners gave every indication that they were happy to be disturbed, Tim’s overriding message was one of hope. Indeed, his latest book is titled, Atmosphere of Hope: Searching for Solutions to the Climate Crisis.

It was a fortuitous decision to invite environmentalist, author and explorer Tim Flannery to be guest speaker at the 24th annual Tenison Woods Education Centre Dinner, as he revealed that Julian Tenison Woods – co-founder with St Mary MacKillop of the Sisters of St Joseph – “is something of a hero of mine”.

It was hard to hear Tim say, “The Great Barrier Reef is extraordinarily beautiful – and 70 per cent of it is dead. I think it’s too late to save it.”

However, he had much to report that was both informed and optimistic. Travelling the world, he is in touch with people whose skills in technology and entrepreneurship hold much promise. He is particularly hope-filled by the potential contribution of enthusiastic young people.

In response to a question about how best to encourage and inspire the young, he said, “Keep the imaginary space that allows the thoughts of things we might find impossible.  Let’s inspire our young people with hope and optimism.”

Who knew, for example, that seaweed farming, new ways of manufacturing cement and modified used coffee grounds can all contribute to environmental sustainability? (To learn more, read Atmosphere of Hope: Searching for Solutions to the Climate Crisis.)

Echoing Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’, Tim Flannery recognises a spiritual dimension to the efforts of many to address climate change. “What would Jesus do? I ask myself that quite often.  We are earth’s consciousness and we are slowly – too slowly – growing into that. The one thing we must learn is not to bankrupt the body that is the earth….

“We know that we can do this. We are so interconnected, we are so powerful….I am hugely optimistic about the future despite the dire situation we’re in.”

Please visit Climate Council and Sisters of St Joseph Lochinvar 

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Tracey Edstein Image
Tracey Edstein

Tracey Edstein is the editor of Aurora Magazine, the official magazine of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.