Bangkok Airport, 9.30am Tuesday 3rd September.
The adventure has begun with the thrill of my enormous waterproof duffel bag vanishing down the conveyor belt. Thai Airways kindly allow travellers an extra 10kg for charity, enabling me to bring 50 beanies and baby jumpers – lovingly hand-knitted by a friend in Adelaide for cold Nepali orphans.
I am joining a group of 20-25 years old trekking in Nepal for twelve days, followed by five days volunteering with the Himalayan Climate Initiative (HCI) in the Kathmandu Valley. Local Nepali guides from HCI will explain the impacts of glacial melt and changing seasons, giving us a chance to gain first-hand insights into climate change in the alpine environment.
Winter has been warm and wet in the Adelaide Hills where I live, with wild winds causing occasional havoc with fallen trees and deteriorating country roads. A random paper, picked up in Melbourne Airport, led with a story on Australia experiencing its warmest 12 months since climate records began. Entitled Warm winter cap’s nation’s hottest year, the article contrasts the hard facts rolling in from the Bureau of Meteorology with the virtual absence of global warming from the election campaign.
It feels strange to know that by the time our small party reaches Everest Base Camp on 12th September, the Australian elections will be well and truly over and the political die cast for the next three years. The national decisions made in the after-math of next Saturday will have repercussions for years to come.
In Bangkok Airport, my companions are playing cards to pass the time. Last time I sat in an international airport, I was on my way home from the Oslo conference on “Transformation in a Changing Climate” in June and leant that we had a new Prime Minister (when Rudd deposed Gillard).
The stakes are high, and it feels like the game is rigged against common-sense. We can only put our best foot forward and strive towards sanity. I feel this trip to Nepal will remind me of just how lucky we Australians are and how much we take for granted.