The lead up to the New Year has been an outbreak of resolutions, intentions and gratitude juxtaposed against the bushfires devastating Australia. The dichotomy between the two has been jarring and I have been left in a liminal space of contemplation of the connection between the two.
We all grieve as we watch the bushfires decimate homes, towns and land. Some have linked it to climate change but very few to a personal response to climate change. Denial of the need to change our carbon emissions comes from the very top, from our Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Morrison has argued that at just 1.3% of global emissions that Australia couldn’t have done anything to change the outcome of bushfires this season. He doesn’t say that it’s not only the current drought and bushfire season that we should be thinking of but the future of Australia and the world when making decisions around our contribution to global emissions.
Morrison also ignores that Australia’s population is 0.3% of the global total, making Australia per capita a serious offender of emissions. This denial isn’t just Scott Morrison’s. It is ingrained in Australian community as our emissions only continued to rise in 2019 with no end in sight. But if the change we need isn’t coming from our Government then the only way to lower our emissions is to individually change the way we live and embrace climate change lifestyles.
It’s easy to say that, to call for everyone to change the way they live, to eat less meat and dairy, to drive less and take fewer flights, and to choose to pay for renewable energy. It’s harder to actually do it.
I used to live a low impact climate change lifestyle. It all started around 2014 when I began a Climate change PhD as my form of activism, I joined 350.org and became a vegan and led a nearly zero plastic waste lifestyle to embed my ethics in the way I lived life. And I was a passionate, zealous advocate for a few years until Fibromyalgia. Pain, fatigue and despair that my choices didn’t matter and weren’t having an impact slowly changed everything. I gave up my PhD. I gave up my vegan values. I gave up my climate change novel. And that’s the place I currently sit in. Someone who knows better but makes the quicker, easier choice that doesn’t include climate change in the equation of decision-making.
Starting a new year gives us the opportunity to reflect on our choices, values, goals and future. In Australia, we have also been shown climate change in action. After contemplating what’s occurring in the external world around me and my internal world, I commit in this new decade and beyond to lowering my own climate change contribution via eating less dairy, using more public transport and returning to a nearly plastic-free lifestyle. As Barack Obama beautifully stated “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” In this new decade, let us be the change that our Earth needs.
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”