What does a climate emergency mean to me?
Priya Gandhi, Senior Environmental Designer, Atelier Ten
- There is so much plastic in our environment we eat a credit card’s worth every week.
- Antarctica experienced week after week of record breaking temperatures this past summer.
- All the stuff I thought I’ve been “recycling” my entire life actually just gets dumped in other countries.
- One fifth of Australia’s forests burned in this past fire season.
- I bought a reusable N99 mask for bushfire smoke and two months later had to start wearing it for pandemic protection.
- Increased caregiver responsibilities during the pandemic means women in science are publishing less than their male colleagues.
- Oh and apparently we have less than ten years to figure our stuff out or civilisation will collapse just around the time I can start withdrawing my super.*
(*This is an incomplete list)
Are you feeling anxious yet? I sure am! This literally keeps me up at night. And it is why I am a signatory of Australian Engineers Declare. This is a climate EMERGENCY. It is urgent and life threatening. We have to stop waiting for someone else to solve it. We have to stop thinking we’ll make changes later. We can’t wait for building codes and governments to catch up. We need to use the power and influence we have as engineers to do something now and we need to figure out how to do even more. I am so frustrated that sustainability often gets written off as an add-on, rather than considered a central tenet of basic design. As a sustainability consultant I recognise that the next thing I’m about to say may come across as a tiny bit biased, but here it is anyway: Sustainability is the MOST important part of any project. If your project isn’t sustainable for people and the planet, then what are you even doing?
- I am an active participant of Engineers Declare and promise to continue to be one going forward
- I will push my projects to achieve the most that they can through creative problem solving. And as part of my company’s commitment to the World Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment. I will be providing net zero carbon pathways on every single project going forward.
- I went vegan last year.
- I am surrounding myself with passionate, inspiring people. As a member of Homeward Bound, a global leadership program for women in STEMM (the additional ‘m’ for medicine), I have met so many fantastic women in all kinds of technical fields being brave and vulnerable, which gives me hope and continually renews my optimism.
- I am working on my soft skills – it isn’t enough to be technically proficient, I need to be a persuasive communicator and an effective project manager too. Homeward Bound has been immensely helpful on this front with teaching me the science of communication.
- I will keep looking for ways to influence a decision and make an impact, and expect more and more of myself going forward.
These are things that work for me – they may or may not work for you and that’s okay. I’m not perfect at these things and that’s okay, too. There’s a saying that gets floated around the zero waste community: we don’t need a few people doing zero waste perfectly, we need millions (billions) doing it imperfectly. That’s how I feel about sustainability and the Declare movements. We can all do something right now – so what will you do?
Australian Engineers Declare a Climate and Biodiversity Emergency