After everything you’ve seen, are you still a climate optimist?
“Well, I’m neither an optimist or a pessimist, really. I’ve got this attitude that we’ve got to keep on doing whatever we’re doing in the face of mounting loss. But we also need to keep our mental health in order.
You know, I look back on my parents’ generation; they were both born during the Great Depression. The first 10 years of their lives were spent in extreme poverty. And then the war came along, the threat of Japanese invasion. I mean, my mother was digging trenches in her school grounds in Melbourne. And through all of that—the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Cold War—the thing I remember most about my parents was happiness. They managed to maintain their positive outlook. It’s not something we hear a lot about these days, working towards human happiness. But it’s so central.
I recently read a biography of British naturalist Jim Corbett, who spent seven years saving this village in India from man-eating tigers and leopards. He slept out at night for weeks at a time, basically offering himself up as prey. And he said the greatest joy humans can experience is the cessation of enormous pain. The second greatest is the cessation of terror. And before he died, Corbett said we must remain brave—we must do our utmost to ensure the greatest happiness among those we leave behind. And I think that message holds true for the climate battle.”
That seems like a pretty timely message in the face of climate anxiety.
“Absolutely! And young people are particularly vulnerable to that. The despair when they feel powerless in the face of all this change. So we do have an obligation to increase happiness. And in the face of all of this uncertainty, and all the bad things, I still think we can do it.
I hope, with this documentary, a certain percentage of people will watch it, go home and deeply reflect. They’ll think, ‘Yes, that’s me. I could be a climate leader.’”
You can learn more about Tim’s documentary, Climate Changers, at climatechangersmovie.com. You can also request a screening at your local cinema, or host a community screening through the website.
Climate Changers will be screened throughout Australia over September and October 2023. You can check screening dates here.