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Byron Shire
June 20, 2021

Interview with Damon Gameau

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Damon Gameau’s 2040 is featured at this year’s Byron Writers Festival

Gameau’s recipe book for change!

Byron Writers Festival, Elements of Byron  |  2–4 August

In an age of dystopia and despondency about our ability to create the change that is going to steer us away from our impending environmental armageddon, Damon Gameau has created 2040, a documentary that tells the story of what the world would look like if some of the best-practice innovations from around the world were put into action around the globe. The film comes with an accompanying handbook, also called 2040: A Handbook for the Regeneration. He will be a featured guest at this year’s 2019 Writers Festival.

2040 was an immense and ambitious project, but Damon manages to distil the narrative with a positive emotive edge: this is the world that we leave our children, that he is leaving his child. So what are we doing? Damon believed that 2040 had to be inspirational and informative but, most importantly, it had to be accessible.

‘It has to be a broader conversation. It has to be playful and uplifting,’ says Damon.

In a sense this is a climate-change fairytale, a family-friendly story that connects the issue around the world.

‘There is a sadness and desperation and angst about what is happening. We have to restore the narrative,’ says Damon, who admits that his passion to tell this story came from trying to move out of his own sense of hopelessness. Damon believes you have to believe that things can change. ‘It’s better than the alternative. The belief that it’s all fucked doesn’t help anyone. If you are operating in the twittersphere it’s an uninspiring part of humanity.

‘I still have those moments. We need to acknowledge the overwhelm, we need to acknowledge it and get our leaders to as well, but they are not doing it.

As humans we are driven by hope. If we have a goal or something we are striving for we are more inclined to move towards it.’

As a response to the lack of political leadership Damon has created a film, a book, and an outreach website (whatsyour2040.com) to make positive change a personalised approach.

‘If you are interested in one of the projects in the film or in the book then you can donate. That money will help put carbon in the soil. There are things you can do. There are 45 things you can do right now that will make a difference.’

2040 tells us stories of hope and change, like regenerative farming.

‘Regenerative farming is growing all over the world. Farmers are realising they can’t keep doing what they are doing to their soil. So they work on pulling the carbon out of the atmosphere and put it into the soil.’

The 2040 project took three years. It was an immense project of seeking stories and scientists and change makers around the world with the ethos chasing down his core belief best expressed in Robert Swann’s quote: ‘The greatest threat to the planet is the belief that someone else will save it’.

‘We have to form new communities, new groups; there are things we can do to create change. I looked historically at how things changed. It’s all similar pattern. I see young kids striking around the world. Our leaders are saying to them what they said to the suffragettes – but something is going to happen because people are ready for a change. I think there comes a tipping point – we have to trust and keep going.’

One of the most startling revelations in 2040 is the impact of education on girls in reducing climate change. ‘I found it staggering,’ says Damon. ‘Having access to reproductive technology significantly impacts on how many children women have and that then impacts on the family unit and the resources they need.’

Everything about 2040, the technologies and the ideas ‘seem entirely logical’ says Damon. And that is the point of this narrative. At a time of climate change, these ideas, these innovations are just common sense – it’s just that our politicians and our corporate agencies aren’t jumping on board. Damon points out in his book that this is because of generations of ‘vested interest’. It’s why the book and the film are targeted to everyday people. This is not for scientists; this is a community story about how we can create the momentum through our choices to create change and innovation at a higher level. Sometimes it really does start with a few baby steps.

Damon Gameau’s 2040 is featured at this year’s Byron Writers Festival with the program launching with the first guest reveal this week and earlybird tickets now on sale! 2–4 August. To find out more go to byronwritersfestival.com

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