Who would have thought that an event about Climate Change awareness and the need for us to find the Courage 2 B Cool for the Earth could have turned into a celebration of the human spirit and of the possibilities of making a difference.  The event hosted by the Scenic South website on 7th September, focused on a talk by Lewis Gordon Pugh and included an environmental expo by local environmental organizations.

What made the experience even more real is the fact that the key speakers, Lewis Pugh a swimmer extraordinaire and Bishop Geoff Davies, South Africa’s Green Bishop are both residents of the Scenic South.

Lewis Gordon Pugh’s candid, but humorous account of his swim at the North Pole in 2007, and in May this year, in the melt-water of a lake 5300m up the slope of Mnt. Everest left the audience feeling awed and inspired.  Unlike the Polar Bears whose plight he is drawing attention to, Lewis requires phenomenal mental and physical preparation to survive his 1km 20 minute swims in sub-zero water.  No doubt, there were people in the audience thinking ‘the guy is mad’.  Certainly he is exceptional, but the essence of Lewis’s ability to inspire comes from the way he invites the audience to share his experiences and to get a real sense of the power of the human mind and the courage of the human spirit.   He left many of us with the feeling that we can do whatever it takes – if we really choose to.  If he can endure life threatening swims to raise awareness about the significance of the Arctic Icecap melting and the Himalayan Glaciers retreating – then surely we can also choose to make a difference – to find the Courage 2 B Cool for the Earth?

Bishop Geoff Davies, who introduced Lewis as the key speaker, was a perfect counterfoil. At a time when the media and politics, worldwide, seem to be widening the gap between certain faith communities, Bishop Geoff had the courage to establish the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environmental Institute (SAFCEI).  His work with the Institute culminated in his being acknowledged as the Environmentalist of the Year in 2009.  At SAFCEI he works tirelessly to unite people of many faiths through a shared commitment to EarthkeepingEarthkeeping promotes responsible action by individuals and communities in caring for the Earth and represents a new understanding of the relationship between creation and mankind for the faith communities.  He reminded us that COP 17 is coming to South Africa in 2011 and that we need to use this opportunity to organize ourselves and to push our political leaders to set clear targets and real measures to reduce our carbon emissions.  In this way, Bishop Geoff is calling for his SAFCEI constituency  and in fact all of us to have the Courage 2 B Cool for the Earth.

There is no better way of reflecting the celebratory mood of the evening than by ending with some comments we received after the event.

The talk last night was exceptionally good. It was much enjoyed by me and by my grand-daughters. Inspirational. Lewis reminded me of Ran Fiennes, the polar explorer. Prof Geoff Brundrit

 It was a great evening. I’m definitely watching my carbon footprint from now on. Nicola 

It boggled my mind as to the achievements from Lewis, but also the climate change just how drastic this has all become…. Like Lewis said if each person just cared enough, and did their bit, how much better the world would be.  Debbie

 Inspired by Lewis, ToadNUTS and SPOTS have decided to offset our carbon emissions for the hours that we drove to save toads this season by planting trees along Silvermine Road. Suzie

 Lewis Pugh was a great motivational speaker, inspiring and fascinating. It was a privilege to be there. Wouter 

List of Environmental Exhibitors at the Courage 2 B Cool Event 

AfriOceans Conservation Alliance: www.aoca.org.za or www.sharkwarrior.com

 Climate Action Partnership: www.cap.org.za Ph: 021 799 8834

FOSNA (Friends of Silvermine Nature Area) Ph: 021 – 782 5079

 Gondwana Alive: www.gondwanaalive.org  Ph: 021 783 3939 

 Marine Stewardship Council:  www.msc.org

 Project 90 by 2030- cut carbon, dare to change:  www.90by2030.org.za  

Ph:021 674 5095/4

 Save our Seas: www.saveourseas.com.  Ph: 021 7886694 

 Shark Spotters: www.sharkspotters.org.za  Ph: 078 174 4244

 Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute: www.safcei.org.za Ph: 021 701 8145

 Sustainable Energy Africa: www.sustainable.org.za  Ph: 021- 702 3622

 Table Mountain National Park: www.sanparks.org/parks/table_mountain/ 

Ph: 021 701 8692

 

The Enviropaedia   www.enviropaedia.com  Ph: 0 861 000 810 

 Talent Exchange:  www.ces.org.za  Ph: 083 226 8250

 The Green Times: www.thegreentimes.co.za  Ph: 021 855 0518

 ToadNUTS:  www.toadnuts.ning.com   Ph: 082 476 1016

 Wildlife and Environment Society of Southern Africa: www.wessa.org.za

Ph: 021 7011397

 350.org:  www.350.org.  Ph: 079 7440 525