Presented by the Sustainable Living Foundation, the National Centre for Climate Restoration BreakThrough 2014 October forum had a surprising thread of hope and optimism.

So often climate change events have an overriding pessimism and a sense of acting against forces beyond our control (political, economic as well as the environment).

Perhaps they took the view that optimism is that path taken once pessimism is exhausted.

The first speaker was David Spratt author of Climate Code Red who talked about dangerous climate change.

He made several major points:

  1. Climate science research is firstly out-of-date by the time it is received by the IPCC.
  2. 2 degrees of warming is no margin of safety.
  3. The carbon budget is spent.

The second speaker was Paul Gilding, former executive director of Greenpeace International who injected the note of optimism. He took the view that ultimately the complex economic system will adapt to the environment through markets and regulation. He did note that the changes would be disruptive and compared it to a war effort (as did David Spratt) and gave the example of the unexpected success of the world-wide adoption of solar power as well as the collapsing coal market. He took the view that even reducing emissions to zero (as advocated by Beyond Zero Emissions) was not impossible.

The final speaker was Mark Wakeham, CEO of Environment Victoria who continued the optimism whilst advocating a strategic approach. He talked about the power of energy efficiency and reduced power consumption to create climate change mitigation and the power of individual and community advocacy.

All in all a night of optimism. But much needs to be done.