Walking for the world

Samlara Canin-Henkel (right) joined Sarah Bishop on her walk to Sydney to show their commitment to the issue of climate change.

When Clunes school girl Samlara Canin-Henkel heard about Sarah Bishops mission to walk from Brisbane to Sydney to raise awareness about climate change, Samlara knew she had to get involved. The 14-year-old joined 22-year-old Sarah for the 20 km stretch between Byron Bay and Ballina on Wednesday, February 7, to talk about global warming, rising sea levels, uninformed councillors and ways that young people can take action to address climate change.

Weve talked about anything and everything, said Samlara as the two girls walked along the beach at Lennox Head. Sarah has been giving me lots of ideas on how I can take those first small steps and get my school and local community involved in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Samlara is no stranger to getting the community involved in what she and Sarah believe is the single most important issue facing humanity today. Last December Samlara confronted Lismore City Council about ratifying the Kyoto Protocol and demanded that Council take action against climate change. Despite the increasing evidence about global warming, the response to Samlaras request was lukewarm.

Some of the councillors werent convinced that humans were responsible for climate change and Samlara found their lack of awareness surprising and disappointing.

There is just so much proof out there that humans are to blame for global warming, said Samlara. I think it is ignorant to ignore this evidence and I think people who say we arent to blame are in denial.

In the UN report released last week, 2,500 of the worlds top climate scientists stated that it is 90 per cent probable that human activity such as the burning of fossil fuels has caused the Earths temperature to rise. According to the report the temperature on the Earth will likely rise up to eight degrees Fahrenheit by 2050 and sea levels will rise between seven and 23 inches during the 21st Century. The report said the impact of these climate changes will be drastic and that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is essential.

Samlara will be at the next Lismore City Council meeting on Tuesday, February 13, and she wants the councillors to do three things in preparation read the UNs latest report on climate change, watch Al Gores documentary An Inconvenient Truth and read Tim Flannerys book The Weather Makers.

Maybe then they will be convinced that climate change exists and that Council needs to do something about it, said Samlara. At the meeting I will be asking them if theyve read the UN Report and when are they going to make climate change the number one issue. If the council dont take responsibility how on earth can the message get across to the rest of the community?

Sarah Bishop will arrive in Sydney in time to take part in Earth Hour on Saturday, March 31, when companies and residents are being asked to turn off building lights for one hour at 7.30pm.

Sarah said that Samlara is one of many young people who have contacted her since she started her campaign.

I have had emails from all over the world, from Alstonville to Hawaii, said Sarah. I think it is proof that there are plenty of young people who are concerned about climate change and are prepared to take action.

Samlara will be urging the Lismore Council to participate in Earth Hour and promote it within the community.

If the Council supports Earth Hour it will be a great first step and it would give me some hope that Council actually cares about our future, said Samlara.

Both Samlara and Sarah were spurred into action by Al Gores film An Inconvenient Truth. Al Gore has trained 85 Australians to give powerpoint presentations and three of them will be on the North Coast from February 9-15 to present An Inconvenient Truth Al Gores Climate Project.

If you are concerned about climate change, get along to one of the following presentations:

Uki Hall, February 9, 7.30pm.

Lismore, Red Dove (Uniting Church Hall, corner of Keen and Woodlark Streets), February 9, 7.30pm.

Kyogle, Memorial Hall, February 10, 7.30pm.

Nimbin Hall, February 10, 7.30pm.

Mullumbimby, Pioneer Hall, Gordon Street, February 11, 7pm.

Byron, Ewingsdale Hall, February 11, 7.30pm.

Bangalow A&I Hall, February 13, 7.30pm.

Ballina, The Richmond Room (behind the library), February 15, 6pm.

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