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Connecting Climate Chaos from a Kayak

September 6, 2019 OTA News No Comments Email Email

Steve Posselt is wild. Cantankerously bright. Tough as. He’s a sixty-six-year-old civil and water engineer, grandfather, fellow of Engineers Australia and climate activist. Currently chair of the Sustainable Engineering Society, he is working with Engineers Australia to come to grips with the urgency for climate change action. He’s passionate about doing whatever he can to provide a suitable world for his grandchildren.

Steve’s also an adventurer. One of those batshit crazy Aussies that embark on super human solo journeys. Like Tim Cope and his epic journey on horseback through the land of the nomads from Mongolia to Hungary; like Robyn Davidson and her compelling odyssey of discovery and transformation across 1,700 miles of hostile Australian desert with only four camels and a dog for company; like Jessica Watson: you know the type. Steve doesn’t ride horses or camels; he travels with Old Yella, a wheeled kayak. He goes on extremely long kayak journeys to promote climate awareness and education. Old Yella has served him faithfully for 12 years over 12,000km, with almost 2,000km of that dragging it over land. Yep, he drags that thing over land when he’s not in the water with it. Like I said, the man’s mad.

Steve Posselt’s most recent journey, and the subject of this book, Tough Is Not Enough, saw him paddle and drag that kayak from Canberra to the Paris Climate Conference, COP 21, a trip that spanned three continents over twelve months, the culmination of a decade of battling on the front line as a climate warrior. He belongs to that Aussie-adventurer lineage all right, and like Tim and Robyn, he’s just an ordinary guy who does extraordinary things. He’s an impetuous bloke. Zealous. Driven. Compelled to raising awareness of climate change, of connecting climate chaos, he thinks an epically massive kayaking trip is a good way to get the word out. Yeah, Steve’s special.

Tough Is Not Enough is a special book. I knew that when Steve emailed me. So I took the book on, and reading it I kept thinking, this guy is fucking bonkers – and fucking brilliant – smart as, he knows his shit. Other words come to mind. Fascinating. Determined. Energetic. Persistent. Resilient. Stubborn. Sheer bloody-minded. A believer. And a doer. Someone who is not going to sit back and do nothing while the world around us floods and burns and sinks.

I invite you to join Steve on his kayak trip from Canberra to Paris. The trip he finally learns what climate change denial is, why our leaders will not respond to it, why many people don’t care, and how to help those who do care. Steve cares. While our politicians, leaders, CEOs, corporations, and certain sections of the media couldn’t give a toss, Steve does, about the world we’re going to leave our children, and their children. He is a man of conviction and purpose.

In order to promote his cause, Steve blogs throughout the entirety of his trip, almost daily, after battling some river, some rising tide, some mountain he has to drag his fucking kayak over. Steve gives us a row-by-row account of his journey and the many challenges he faces. Yes, paddling up a flooding Mississippi is a huge kayaking feat and brings with it its own set of trials, but there’s more to kayaking than you think. Much more. Steve’s mastery of the conditions and his descriptions of the water will have every paddler and non-paddler enthralled.

The other challenge of this book is to raise awareness. To share its progressive persuasive down-to-earth politics and advocate for a way to fix the mess we’re in, a worldview that many (still) do not agree with and/or refuse to see. Steve doesn’t argue with the reader, rather he engages, from one-on-one exchanges, to a much broader book-reading audience. The premise is simple: we need to accept we have a major, existential threat from man-made climate change; decide to do something about it; and then do it.

No one has all the answers, but like his fellow environmentalists who all agree the world is on fire and we’re up shit creek, Steve wants to preserve the future.While we mightn’t have his guts and stamina, I wholeheartedly recommend taking the plunge, tagging along and reading his story, while we still have a paddle. It might just be the tipping point where we say enough is enough and feel inspired to do our bit as Steve helps us believe in each other, and become climate warriors in our own ways.

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