An event about Climate Change awareness and the need for us to find the Courage 2 B Cool for the Earth turned into a celebration of the human spirit and of the possibilities of making a difference. The event hosted by the Scenic South website focused on a talk by Lewis Gordon Pugh and included an environmental expo by local environmental organizations.
Key speakers, Lewis Pugh, cold water swimmer extraordinaire and Bishop Geoff Davies, our own South Africa’s Green Bishop, are both locals. They are incredible role models from our own communities.
Lewis’ candid, but humorous account of his swim at the North Pole in 2007, and in May this year, in the melt-water of a lake 5300m up the slope of Mnt. Everest left me feeling awed and inspired.
It is time to believe
Unlike the Polar Bears whose plight he is drawing attention to, Lewis requires phenomenal mental and physical preparation to survive his 1km 20 minute swims in sub-zero water. No doubt, there were people in the audience thinking ‘the guy is mad’.
Certainly he is exceptional, but the essence of Lewis’s ability to inspire comes from the way he invites the audience to share his experiences and to get a real sense of the power of the human mind and the courage of the human spirit.
His message is ‘It is time to believeâ€ and he left many of us with the feeling that we can do whatever it takes â€“ if we really choose to. If he can endure life threatening swims to raise awareness about the significance of the Arctic Icecap melting and the Himalayan Glaciers retreating – then surely we can also choose to make a difference – to find the Courage 2 B Cool for the Earth?
Injection of positive energy
I was especially interested to see how inspired many of the seasoned environmentalists were. After all, they know the issues, are fighting the fights, growing the awareness and at times become jaded by the weight of it all. Lewis’s message was like an injection of positive energy.
Bishop Geoff Davies, who introduced Lewis as the key speaker, was perfect counterfoil. At a time when the media and politics, worldwide, seem to be widening the gap between certain faith communities, Bishop Geoff had the courage to establish the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environmental Institute (SAFCEI). His work with the Institute culminated in his being acknowledged as the Environmentalist of the Year in 2009.
At SAFCEI he works tirelessly to unite people of many faiths through a shared commitment to Earthkeeping. Earthkeeping promotes responsible action by individuals and communities in caring for the Earth and represents a new understanding of the relationship between creation and mankind for the faith communities. He reminded us that COP 17 is coming to South Africa in 2011 and that we need to use this opportunity to organize ourselves and to push our political leaders to set clear targets and real measures to reduce our carbon emissions.
What did the audience say?
‘The talk talk last night was exceptionally good. It was much enjoyed by me and by my grand-daughters. Inspirational. Lewis reminded me of Ran Fiennes, the polar explorer.’
Prof Geoff Brundrit
‘It was a great evening. I’m definitely watching my carbon footprint from now on.â€ Nicola
‘It boggled my mind as to the achievements of Lewis, but also that climate change just become this drasticâ€¦. Like Lewis said if each person just cared enough, and did their bit, how much better the world would be.â€ Debbie
‘Inspired by Lewis, ToadNUTS and SPOTS have decided to offset our carbon emissions for the hours that we drove to save toads this season by planting trees along Silvermine Road.â€ Suzie
‘Lewis Pugh was a great motivational speaker, inspiring and fascinating. It was a privilege to be there.â€ Wouter
‘It was a very successful evening and was great to see so many people attend the event.
We were able to speak to a lot of people regarding our initiatives and hope that they felt inspired by what we are doing. We have already made a few links from the evening with various people and organisations. So thank you.â€ Daniel of Project 90×2030
By Kim Kruyshaar