CREATING a sustainable energy future is one of the dream goals of Trinity College student James Lea. At the 2012 Kids in Community awards ceremony held last week in Lismore, James received the Protecting Our Planet award for his work in promoting awareness about environmental issues in the local area.
The year 12 student has been a member of Trinity's Environmental Justice Team since its foundation and has been instrumental in getting the school and the community involved in regenerating an area of Wilson's Creek near Trinity College.
"We also demonstrated a catchment model at a Students Using Sustainable Strategies Forum at Woodlawn," James said. "We led a group of younger kids and explained to them how the water catchment works using a physical model to represent the environment. It's important that students understand where our water comes from and goes to... We gave them activities where they could pour water on the dirt to see the impact of water flows on the environment."
James has combined his love of science with his desire to create environmental change and wants to see more young people getting involved in the climate change debate, as well as working toward creating a sustainable energy industry.
"The science of climate change really interests me," James said. "Nobody is doing anything about it or has reached definite conclusions, despite the fact that so much evidence is out there. I joined the Trinity Environmental Justice Team to try to do something about it.
"Even if climate change doesn't turn out to be the biggest issue of the 21st century, there are still technologies out there that are cleaner, more sustainable and financially possible that will create jobs, despite what some people seem to think.
"The reason we haven't already embraced them is because people have monopolies on coal and gas production and don't want to let go of control. They also control public opinion and people are scared of change in a big way, as we've seen with the carbon tax.
"While everything won't change overnight, it's a step in right direction."
James hopes to go on to study science at university and sees science communication as an integral part of the ongoing climate change debate.
"We need more reputable scientists to get the science out there and let people know where it's at," James said. "We also need to keep funding in schools to support learning about the environment.
"The future is about the legacy we leave with students. School funding is just as critical as funding for big corporations."
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