The struggle

Every day seems like a struggle at the moment.

To wake up. To get out of bed. To get dressed and feed the animals. To leave the house. To leave the driveway. To get on the train. To stay on the train. To walk to work. To be at work. To do my work. To leave work. To get on the train. To stay on the train. To go home. To feel content at home.

If it wasn’t for the love of my dogs, I’m not sure how I would be coping right now. I have family and friends and support networks. I have a psychologist. I have a doctor. I have a home and a job and transport. I have a soulmate. If my life were a ‘cup’ it would really be quite full.

And yet I feel so fucking empty.

I feel so full inside that I might explode, but I still feel hollow. It’s a contradiction, I know.

But what of this world in which we live? What effect should it have on a conscious and caring human being? What effect on an empath, on a person driven by logic, science AND by love? On a person for who solidarity is central to their own identity, a person who wears their heart and their values on their face for every person to see?

What effect should it have on me?

Because I’m waking up nearly every morning feeling depressed. I’m not really coping with all of the extra stress. I’m not really dealing with the fact that we are already in the midst of an existential catastrophe and yet half the world still wants to argue with me over the price of our humanity…

It fucks with me.

I’m sick of all the conflict, every single day. Not just the conflict in which I take part – though I am sick of so much of that too. But mostly it is the conflict all around me. The constant fight over what drives our society, and who profits from our economy. Because it sure ain’t people like me.

I’ve worked hard my whole life, as have my whole family, and nearly every person within a degree of separation from me. Yet we are all in debt. And yet, as we face down an impending pandemic (COVID 19), even in the worlds most advanced economies most of us are still worried about our lack of sick leave.

Me included.

I don’t even have enough leave to take off yesterday, or the day before. And yet I had to, because this world has got me waking up nearly every morning feeling depressed. It’s got me angry and sad and frustrated and feeling pretty close to giving up on a regular basis.

So I took two unpaid leave days, but not for anything fun. I used that time to speak with a doctor, find a new psychiatrist and have my first session.

It’s never easy that first session with a new psych. You have to relive your own traumas and reveal your fears all over again, and if you are like me then there is quite a lot of them. And it’s the first time you’ve ever even met the person. You can see the judgement in their eyes even as you can see their professional training strain against it.

You can feel the anxiety and wonder ‘what does she think of me’.

Honestly I don’t even know if I want to know the answer. What I really want though is some answers, and some solutions to our problems.

Yesterday I had to spill out my life story in a 45 minute conversation with a stranger, and I had to pay for the privilege. I walked away feeling drained and depleted. I can’t even get back in to see her for another 3 weeks, and I got nothing new to help me yesterday. Not this time anyway.

I need a break. I need some time off to recuperate. But more than that I really need to see some change.

We can not keep on kicking the can of climate change down the road. We can not keep burning fossil fuels. We can not keep allowing inequality to rise. We can not keep letting political leaders get away with telling us bold-faced lies. We can not keep locking up refugees, people with a disabilities, mental illness, different politics, or who simply fell into poverty.

We as a civilisation can not just keep on living like this, or at least I can’t anyway.

So I hope you’ll join me in making sure we have change, because I really, really, really want to stay.

Climate Justice: A story of betterment and hope

Here you go, just kidding. Here you go, just kidding.

That’s kind of how it’s felt for those waiting for Australian Government action on climate over recent decades.

It’s time to change that.

For too long discussions about have focused on loss; loss of reliable high-paying mining and engineering jobs, with no replacements in sight. Loss of environment and species.

The story we need to tell is one of betterment and improvement.

Of guaranteeing a living-wage job, for every person who wants one in every community.

Of making sure every person, in every community has a roof over their head, drinkable water in the tap and food in their belly.

Of enabling First Nation people to manage their traditional land, in the best interest of us all.

Of embracing First Nations culture and history, unique in the world in holding stories which provide a living memory of managing and surviving a rapidly changing climate.

Of energy independence for every community in every state – no matter how remote – and for our nation as a whole.

Of reducing energy consumption and costs for every household.

Of reducing the burden of negative impacts from pollution for people with respiratory illness, immediately and permanently.

Of ensuring every person has access to affordable, safe and reliable transport.

Of helping our neighbours achieve Millenium Development Goals by providing access to cheap, reliable and zero-carbon energy via responsible renewable energy exports.

Of preparing for disruptions like automation, and making sure all jobs lost are meaningfully replaced, with reliable and well paid work making use of existing skills.

Of supporting regional communities to transition to self-sustaining local economies

Of protecting local ecosystems and communities for generations to come.

Of making sure nobody is left behind in the process.

We need to tell that story.

We also need to be honest with people; we can’t pretend coal, gas and oil are viable industries. We can’t pretend those jobs are still going to around in ten years. We need those jobs to be gone, for the betterment of all.

But those who have jobs on the line need to know how we will make sure their lives and livelihoods are not only protected, but improved.

If we fail on that count, we may never win the support of the very people and communities we need, in order to make our collective transition work.

Consumption and climate

We could stop burning fossil fuels tomorrow and still find ourselves facing the mass-extinction of humans in our lifetimes. 

Every single day there is a new piece about the rate of climate change, the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, the ongoing shift from high-carbon fossil-fuel based economies to economies based on ‘renewable’ energy. But the carbon-intensity of our energy production is but a part of the equation. Sure, it’s huge and temperature altering part which in and of itself is cause for concern – but dealing with carbon intensity alone will not prevent catastrophic climate change.

The elephant in the climate war room is consumption.

We’re decades behind where we need to be in regard to reversing carbon accumulating in our environment and atmosphere to prevent runaway climate change from taking hold. Never in human history has the air we breath, or the oceans on which our food chains depend, contained so much carbon.

We just officially passed the annual low-point for carbon in the atmosphere and for 2016 carbon intensity did not drop below 400ppm. Years ago leading climate scientists including James Hansen agreed 350ppm as the ‘upper limit’ of safe atmospheric carbon levels – we’ve blown past that and are on track for a world in which 450ppm is the new global norm.

Yes, fossil fuels are incompatible with a safe future.

But what else is incompatible with a safe future, and what else must we stop using and doing? If we look to the long-term it turns out there is a whole range of every-day activities and products which are incompatible with a safe future.

Take my breakfast as an example:

The bread I ate with breakfast comes from wheat produced on an industrial farming process that destroys soils and is entirely reliant on a finite supply of phosphate based fertilisers; just look to Nauru for an indication of the impact of Phosphorous mining has on communities and the environment.

The bacon came from an industry heavily reliant on antibiotics, steroids and the abuse of animals. Excessive use of antibiotic is increasingly leading to new anti-biotic resistant ‘superbugs’ – a global health nightmare waiting to happen.

The oil we cook with comes from mass produced olives (or sometimes canola), sourced from an intensive olive farm in Spain – where biodiversity has been hit hard by mass clearing and over-use of pesticides and other chemicals.

The water in my cup comes from a mix of desalinated ocean water and local underground aquifers because we’ve already depleted our dams. I could go so much further into the water use by all of the ingredients, their cleaning, sorting, processing and transport. The plastic they come wrapped in.

Unless we reduce consumption, we will eventually run out of clean water. 

And that’s without even mentioning the land clearing required for virtually all the ingredients – including those which came from my garden. How much forest, bush or wetland was cleared to grow that wheat, canola, olive, avocado, orange, garlic and onion? How much land was cleared for the roads to transport it? How much land was cleared to mine the stone and tar for those roads?

My breakfast was a really mundane choice of example, but it serves as a simple illustration of the depth of our problem. But lets look a bit deeper.

Imagine a future where the existing system continues, powered by renewables.

For simplicity, lets ignore any impact from global warming.

Each years 80 million new cars will be produced, relying on steel, aluminium, copper and increasingly on rare-earths and lithium to enable advanced electric systems. They require rubber for tyres, silicone for a variety of parts often including brakes, grease for bearing joints and a variety of other materials including glass. Nearly all of these materials come from somewhere.

Over 1.4 billion mobiles phones will continue to be produced each year, requiring land-clearing for ever more lithium and rare-earth materials.

We continue increasing the rate at which we consume Earth’s resources to feed, house and entertain a perpetually growing population. Land clearing and resource extraction continue at current rates. Biodiversity decreases.

Eventually we get to a point where the supply chains for one of those key building blocks of modern life breaks down.

A major power runs out of fertiliser. Another has a superbug outbreak. Some nations – like Australia – begin to run out of water.

What then? Does war break out?

Over the last 60 years we’ve seen the extinction of  50% of all known biodiversity on earth, even in the absence of the worst impacts of climate change. Even before the worst impacts of fossil fuel emissions are felt, we’re in the midst of a man-made mass extinction. We can not afford to stay on this path.

The only answer to our problems is a complete systemic change. We must move on not just from fossil fuels, but from social and economic systems based on ‘perpetual growth’ and a consumption model reliant on ever-increasing demolition of communities and the natural environment.

If we don’t change the model, we won’t save a thing.

2015: Day 1 of the New Climate Era

People Climate Mobilisation 2014 - photo by Zeb Parkes
From the People’s Climate Mobilisation, Sept 2014

Today is Day 1 of the New Climate Era – a whole new reality for humankind.

Welcome to the new climate era, where the earth is never again like it was for the rest of human existence; where our very existence depends on changing our economies and lifestyles to become compatible with the sensitive and finite nature of life on earth.

We’ve now reached the point of no return in regards to preventing catastrophic climate change.

We must act urgently and with a social determination not seen since the immediate period post World War II, when social progress came in leaps and bounds around the globe and nations received self determination.

That was a time where the all consuming power of kings, queens, empires and oligarchs was repeatedly challenged and defeated in the name of a necessary progress.

Now it’s our turn.

We must challenge and defeat the seemingly endless power of corporations and their ill-conceived economic doctrine of ‘endless growth’, if there is to be anything like our modern civilization left for future generations to inherit. Continue reading 2015: Day 1 of the New Climate Era

Real life has taken a grip

Sleepy Kelpie
Image Credit: Maggie Sharp -https://www.flickr.com/photos/maggiesharp/6773363654/

Real life stuff has taken a grip on my energy and time for writing lately.

A lot of things happening in the world right now, but I’m focused on work and organising for the Perth Climate Mobilisation at the moment.

That and trying to take a bit of time for self care, I’ve enjoyed playing some games but been a bit short on sleep lately.

Need to fix that issue. Also need to do some shopping.

In a more exciting turn of events, hopefully this weekend we will finally get bring home the puppy I found a few weeks ago!

Also, I just received more hours at work, so that idea about sleeping more…

Not likely.