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After the climate strike

  • 23 September 2019


The morning of the climate strike I woke up exhausted by climate change, depressed by the cruelty of our politicians and generally dismayed by humans. I've come to accept that cognitive dissonance and confusion is part of facing the reality of climate change, its impacts and what to do about it. This is especially true when we look at the temporal and spatial challenges: it's urgent and huge but we're slow and small.

The reality is that politicians and governments are doing nothing and the systems of power are corrupt and unresponsive to the point of criminal neglect, if not ecocide. Working in the area of climate change can grind us down as we also face the barriers against action: the many levels of denial, our frozen collective imaginations, the poverty of our intergenerational connections and the lack of precedents to guide us through uncertainty.

But this is the reality. Change is rarely a sudden transformative wave of happy solidarity that rushes to metamorphose everything at a cellular level. More often change is slow, iterative, incremental, difficult and filled with moments of waking up to a grey, unspectacular loneliness that illuminates a circuitous dark path ahead. Climate change is a crisis of unprecedented proportions and impacts. It's not fun.

Despite feeling flat, the kids and I went to the climate strike. The question was already being asked by commentators and social media as to the point of the strike, especially when it's been touted that marches have little impact upon politics. The hope is that we live in a time where we're transitioning from transactional commodified politics and morality into an era of collective concern for our common future.

These strikes aren't solely sites of protestation but rather a chance to step out of the individual grey loneliness to come together for our collective future in intergenerational solidarity. As Judith Butler talks about, there is something powerful and visceral about putting your body on the street, in the public forum, with other bodies and being vulnerable and exposed together.

However, after the strike the question of what to do remains. It's naïve and reductive to presume all 300,000 Australians who marched on Friday agree on what we need to do. It's evident that what's increasingly needed and long overdue is the nurturing of healthy climate change politics where we can debate and explore different approaches.

Do we approach it via radical state intervention? More securitisation? Or