Khory Hancock, aka the Environmental Cowboy, is starting a climate change movement.
Khory Hancock, aka the Environmental Cowboy, is starting a climate change movement. Contributed

Cowboy's green calling

LOOK after the land and the land will look after you.

That was the ethos instilled into Khory Hancock when he was a young man working alongside his dad, Lloyd, on a Central Queensland cattle property.

It's a message that has stuck with him, and now he plans to take that phrase to the extreme.

Moving beyond looking after a 30,000-acre station, he wants to protect the whole planet.

After leaving school, Khory studied a dual degree in environmental science and environmental planning at university. He later found work on big-ticket carbon farming initiatives, and now he is adopting the persona of the Environmental Cowboy in the hope of creating a climate change movement.

With a crew of about six people, this year he filmed a documentary about climate change that he hopes will empower young people to make a difference.

The doco involved taking two young people from the city on a trip to the outback, as far west as Winton and north to the Great Barrier Reef so they could see the impact of climate change first-hand.

Khory was quick to clarify his goal when producing the documentary was to make the climate change message engaging and entertaining - he wasn't about berating farmers or people working in agriculture.

"Farmers are part of the solution,” he said.

"I touch on that in the documentary through carbon farming.

"Carbon farming provides an income to farmers during times of drought, where they give the country a chance to recover. They can destock it and it can be used for future cattle farming.

"But it also sucks carbon out of the atmosphere and allows the forests to regrow a little bit.”

Khory developed the Environmental Cowboy persona when he was trying to work out why people were not listening to the science around climate change.

"The science on climate change is settled,” he said.

"Everyone seems to know about it.

"We have people who are denying it, then there are people who are not viewing it as something that is a big challenge.

"This year we have had three major climate related events in Queensland, the first one being 90% of the state was drought declared, that's the highest percentage recorded in history. The second one was Cyclone Debbie, which was a major weather event that caused major record floods. And the third one was the second mass coral bleaching event in a row, which has never happened before on the Great Barrier Reef.”

Khory self-funded the documentary himself, and will use his 35-minute show as a pitch to the Discovery Channel and National Geographic in an attempt to flesh the concept out into a series.

When the Rural Weekly caught up with him, he had just resigned from his job as an environmental officer working on the Gold Coast Light Rail Project.

Leaving his job was a defining moment that means he can be 100% focused on his cause.

"I am trying to create an environmental sustainable movement; so we all have a common goal of being carbon neutral,” he said.

"The predictions are if we keep going the way we are going the temperatures will rise by seven degrees by the end of the century.”

And, as for calling himself a cowboy, well there is a reason for that too.

"I wanted to create a persona that was going to bring the environmental message in a creative and fun way,” he said.

"When I started to delve into human psychology, to find out why people weren't believing climate science, I learnt that for a message to be heard it had to be entertaining and it had to be engaging.

"A lot of Aussie people like humour, that Russell Coight style humour.

"I don't see myself as an activist, I see myself as a strategist. I don't want to just be saying 'we need to change, we need to change', I want to be saying 'here are some solutions'.”

Fast facts

Khory's documentary will be released in January.

Search "Environmental Cowboy” on Facebook to find out more.

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