DAMON Gameau is always amazed by the sophistication and understanding inherent in the questions asked of him by the young.
It was their concerns that framed the narrative in his acclaimed environmental documentary 2040.
Last week, he took questions from students from the Living School in Lismore about how he sees the future for climate change since he first made the movie.
His aim was to give hope to the next generation and empower them to take responsibility for making the necessary changes that will save the planet from climate destruction.
"Any time we mess with nature, we know the consequences. We are not better than it, we are not separate from it and we cannot control it," he said.
In 2040, which was four years in the making, Gameau and his team involved 125 children from around the world, and used them to illustrate how six already existing environmental solutions "with cascading benefits" could remedy the world.
Since it was filmed, he told of how a simple battery operated solar project in one Bangladesh village had now proliferated into 34 more townships.
Similar projects were now taking place in Australia, the backdrop for his next film - a vision for how the country could be better by 2030 - which he is working on at the moment.
One student asked about Gameau's "thoughts on the pandemic".
Initially, he said, emissions had dropped by just over six per cent, which had given him "hope" there could be a shift in attitudes towards nature, however, he now feared an "opportunity has been missed with the planet "racing back to where it was before".
"Nature gave us an open door... and for a while people were happier, largely. We need to continue to slow things down by six per cent every year."
"There are many different pathways to success. Taking action is what matters. Do what you can here and now and keep the initiatives coming. "
Until his film was first screened he did not know what the reaction would be. The message is: "you can make a little story and never know who is going to see it and what impact it might have on them," he said.
Last year, he was supposed to tour with the film in the US but this became impossible due to COVID 19. Ironically, due to lockdown, he thinks more people have seen is movie and now big governments around the world are reaching out to him to help spread the message on climate change.
He said the government had not done enough to tackle climate change, so he went about bringing the right people together to raise money for his film. His pitch raised $2m in seven minutes.
"It is amazing how people come up with the money to get involved when there is a good idea and the right intention. I was surprised by how generous people can be when they want to be," he said.
Disclaimer: Sophie Moeller is associated with Living School