dublin

 Dr Cara Auguestenborg speaking at Ted X
Dr Cara Augustenborg speaking at Ted X.

Dr. Cara Augustenborg is an environmental scientist and climate lecturer at UCD and Trinity College. As somebody who dedicates every day to research and educating people on a topic that is changing our world, she is a perfect example of an Horyou Personality doing positive, impactful work.

1) Horyou is a platform to highlight the people and projects that are making a positive impact on our world. Tell us about your work and how it is contributing to social good? 

I’ve studied environmental science for over a decade now and the overwhelming evidence on the impacts of climate change has led me to the conclusion that climate change is the greatest challenge of our time. Vested interests have prevented the full significance of climate change from reaching the general public because it’s in their economic interest not to address climate change. My own work to date has been focused on countering those vested interests by presenting climate change impacts and solutions in a simple, accessible, and objective manner. It can be really depressing talking about the endless impacts of climate change, but understanding the solutions to climate change requires knowledge in so many fields, from science and engineering to psychology, politics, law, and economics. I draw on all those disciplines in my work to try to emphasize that the things we need to do to slowdown climate change are also things that would improve our society, economy, health, and quality of life anyway.  

2) Horyou was proud to be a part of COP 21 this year. Tell us your thoughts on what was agreed and the next steps for action?

COP21 was a historic occasion and it was a thrill to be present the moment 195 countries agreed to finally address climate change. However, the ambition of the Paris Climate Agreement is detached from the science of global warming. While the Agreement would have been a resounding success 15 years ago, we are running out of time to solve an impending climate crisis and it’s not clear if the Paris Climate Agreement has enough substance or fast enough timelines to do what really needs to be done, which is essentially to move to a fossil-fuel free global society in the next three decades. The only way to ensure success is for people and NGOs to push their governments to act on the level of ambition set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement. Right now, every country needs to ramp up their level of action from the intended nationally determined contributions they set-forth before COP21 or we simply won’t achieve the target of keeping the Earth’s average warming from pre-industrial temperatures below the 1.5C limit established in the Paris Climate Agreement. 

3) Many industries are now realizing that being environmentally conscious is good business and will actually serve them and their profits in the long run. What are your views on this? 

Dr Cara Augustenborg
Dr. Cara Augustenborg, environmental scientist and climate lecturer at UCD and Trinity College.
It is great to see some industries and businesses looking at their contribution to long-term societal and environmental sustainability. I think the advances that have been made on putting a financial value on nature (natural capital) and moving toward a circular or green economy, where the waste from one industry becomes the fuel for another, are really helping businesses to incorporate true sustainability into their business models. We still need to see businesses and governments divesting from fossil-fuel based practices and incentivising businesses that are supporting the low-carbon transition. The divestment movement has been phenomenally successful in only a few years at moving assets away from fossil fuels, but our governments are still subsidizing fossil fuel extraction and exploration which completely defeats the ambition of the Paris Climate Agreement.



4) You are a lecturer at University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin so you are surrounded by “millennials.” How would you sum up the attitude of today’s students around climate change/sustainable living? 

Teaching university students about climate change and environment is definitely the element of my work that keeps me motivated. They are so open to new ideas and positive about their ability to influence change. The millennials do not see climate change as something that will impact future, distant generations but as a crisis of their own generation and one that will impact their children even more significantly. In Ireland, we’re already seeing the climate change in a world that is only 1 degree Celsius warmer than the pre-industrial baseline. We’re seeing stronger storms, more frequent floods, and we’re looking at potential sea level rise of 1 meter over this century, which will displace at least 45,000 homes and businesses along our coasts. Ireland is considered to be one of the less-impacted countries with respect to climate change, so we also anticipate it will become a safe-haven for climate refugees, dramatically altering our population density and rural environment. The millennials will witness many of these changes in their lifetime, so they feel a greater sense of urgency to address the problem than the generations before them. As lecturers, I think we have a real obligation to educate them about the challenges they’re facing to improve their odds of being able to adapt and alter how they plan to prepare for climate-related risks. 

5) Horyou supports people acting on their dreams through the work that you do. What are your ultimate goals or ambitions? 

My goal is simple. All I really want is to leave this planet a little better than the way I found it. I live by Alice Walker’s words: “Activism is the rent I pay for living on the planet.” I started my academic career in water research because I thought clean fresh water resources were the greatest global challenge facing us today, but as the scientific evidence began to mount up I soon realized that climate change was an even greater challenge and would create disruptions in our water cycle that would lead to even greater global instability. So, if I’m going to leave this world a little better than I found it, I feel I have to do whatever I can to help solve climate change. Sometimes that feels like an impossible task because solving climate change requires an understanding of so many disciplines, but ‘many hands make light work’ so I contribute in whatever small ways I can, be it through teaching, writing, research, or activism. Together with my colleagues in the academic and NGO sectors, I think we’ve made good progress in advancing understanding of climate change in Ireland, but we still have a long way to go and there’s no end to the battles we face to create real action on climate. I know no one can solve climate change on their own, so I just feel privileged to get to help out in whatever way I can and I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by colleagues who are a joy to work with and inspire me to keep going.

Aside from educating the next generation of hopeful change makers in the world Cara blogs at caraaugustenborg.com and will soon launch “The Verdant Yank,” giving her Irish American perspective on Ireland’s environmental issues. Dr. Augustenborg’s main aim is to make environmental issues part of the national conversation. She wants to help people to understand them in the context of the economic and social fabric of societies at this critical time. We are proud to have featured Dr. Augustenborg on the Horyou blog.

Written by Dearbhla Gavin

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By Dearbhla Gavin

On January 9th the second meeting of the Pendulum Summit, a conference on self-empowerment, leadership and success, took place in the Convention Centre, Dublin. I went along on my first mission as part of the Horyou family with some hesitation, I will admit. It has long been the tradition that business is driven by pursuit of “success,” often measured by money and possessions accumulated.

The ethos of Horyou and indeed my own philosophy for some time is that equality and opportunity among all, as well as health and happiness, are the ultimate success. It is this constant conflict of schools that prevents consensus and collective action, two essential components of any functioning society.

Thankfully, as soon as I took my seat and saw the tagline “What is your dream?” beaming from a giant screen across the stage, something told me this wasn’t going to be your average business conference.

It definitely was not. Over the course of the day, a host of speakers took to the stage. International thought leader Keith Ferazzi spoke on the importance of relationships and how, for good or bad, our whole lives are based on connecting with others.

Best-selling author of 80 books and advocate of holistic health and spirituality Deepak Chopra opened us up to the centrality of awareness and consciousness in everyday living and how applying a few basic principles to our thoughts and interactions with others can very definitely change the course of our lives.

His joking opening remarks, “In the next 60 minutes, we will try to solve all of the problems of existence,” were met with a round of applause. I felt his recognition of the complexities that exist was important, and indeed he reinforced the need for rational thinking throughout, possibly reaching out to the many bureaucrats in attendance who weren’t quite convinced of his wisdom just yet.

His words brought the realization that we are in fact made up of connections and infinite possibilities. How these connections are leveraged and applied determines the outcome.

The people and projects I have discovered so far with Horyou have shown me that there is an entire world that can benefit from the practice of a few core things – compassion, courage, solidarity and love.

These among many others are what drive the engine of Horyou to reach out to every corner of the world and showcase the positivity being practiced every day.

The Pendulum Summit showed me that the motivation for change within the Irish community is there; it will be my job to reach out to everybody ready to join the adventure.

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By Lucas Bullens

It was a privilege for Horyou to be invited to the fourth edition of the Web Summit in Dublin, Ireland. With a staggering 22,000 attendees this year, it is the largest technology conference in Europe.

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A total of 11 Horyou team members participated at the summit – seven from Geneva and four from Paris. Everyone woke up bright and early the first day to start setting up a stand at the event. The stands were quite small and intimate, and we had numerous other startups for neighbors.

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We were located in the area called The Village, where the Center Stage was located. The rooms were constantly filled with a sea of people, and the Horyou stand got quite a bit of attention (handing out Swiss chocolate being one of our many weapons for attracting people). During the course of the day, the rest of the Horyou team members arrived at the summit, and after a busy day at the stand, we finally packed up and journeyed back to our respective apartments to rest before heading out to dinner. Afterwards, we went to the Night Summit, a kind of pub crawl, which was organized by the Web Summit. People enjoyed the Irish nightlife experience and continued their networking in a more casual setting.

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The second day of the Web Summit, we were able to network, discover and really take in this incredible experience. Our media team was lucky to meet and interview the legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk, who was promoting his foundation at the summit. After this special encounter, the media team continued conducting interviews around the venue. Before all heading out after another exhausting day, some of the boys fed their “need for speed” by trying out prototype electric motorcycles. It was a great day!

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The final day, we all arrived motivated to finish off the summit off with a bang. We continued exploring, meeting new people and networking, while the media team managed to get hold of John Sculley, the ex-CEO of Apple, for an interview.

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Just after lunch, the entire team took part in an epic flyer distribution session. We were positioned next the area of the venue called The Town, which was a prime location in terms of visibility. Once we were done with our session, we were rewarded with a front-row seat to a group of shepherds failing at gathering a flock of multicolored sheep. Having not eaten lunch ourselves, we hurried to the Food Summit to grab whatever food was left there.

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The grand finale was the arrival of Bono. The Center Stage hall was packed. Bono, together with Eric Wahlforss (founder of SoundCloud), sat for a talk on the Center Stage. Afterwards, we gathered the remaining team members and headed to the Food Summit for a closing dinner party. Premium traditional Irish food and drinks were served. The Irish folk music gave everyone an irresistible urge to dance. And the presence of Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny seemed to make people shout out: “Free Water!”

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With full stomachs, we all headed back to our apartments. But the night was not over. Some of us met up at a club called Opium, where the closing party was held. The following day, the team went their separate ways and flew back home.

All in all, the Web Summit was a wonderful and eye-opening experience. It showed us the magnitude of the tech scene. !

See you next year!

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