28:42 | Personal and social capability

Australian Story

The Heat of the Moment  |  ABC

Prof. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg is waking up the world to the impact of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef. This summer has seen unprecedented high ocean temperatures across the region; a strong indicator of another coral bleaching event. If we don't act to drastically lower carbon emissions, Ove believes that the world's largest coral reef system will die within 50 years. Fifteen years ago, Ove was one of the first scientists to raise the alarm about the impact of climate change on marine ecosystems. He describes coral reefs as 'the canary in the coal mine' for our environment. Despite winning the prestigious Eureka Prize for Scientific Research (1999), Ove was ostracised by the Howard government and dismissed by sceptics for his perceived alarmist views. Ove says that he is not alarmist but states "What I'm saying is alarming, that's the difference". Since then his international reputation has grown and Ove is now a senior member of local and global research organisations; his work informed Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth and he's worked with Sir David Attenborough. In Australian Story, Ove reflects on formative boyhood experiences snorkelling in the Whitsundays and how his passion for the ocean and its creatures inspired him personally and professionally, especially when he felt like a lone voice in the wilderness. Today Ove's personal campaign to win over climate change sceptics is bearing fruit. He's converted a number of vocal sceptics including politicians and business leaders. He also collaborates with mining giant Rio Tinto. Ove believes that we are in a 'do or die situation.' He is now calling for world leaders to unite and create a well resourced think tank to tackle climate change, in the style of the WWII Allies' 'Manhattan Project', an organisation that fast-tracked atomic weapons research by years. PRODUCTION DETAILS: Producer: Claire Forster (Acting) Executive Producer: Rebecca Latham

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