A global call to action.

Last summer, as I watched the Tasmanian bushfires tearing through the wilderness, I was overwhelmed with grief. The places that I loved were being destroyed. A certain low-level despair was constantly with me for weeks as I checked the online fire maps every few hours, looking to see how much of this cherished landscape had gone up in flames. I couldn’t sleep properly and I was anxious and depressed.

The irreplaceable and fire sensitive Antarctic Beech of the Lamington Nation Park.

The irreplaceable and fire sensitive Antarctic Beech of the Lamington Nation Park.

Grief has continued to stay with me this year as I watched other places close to my heart be destroyed. Rainforests fires in Eungella National Park, the Amazon, and now Lamington National Park. These are ecosystems that are not meant to burn and will not recover in my lifetime. Let’s not forget the Great Barrier Reef and the kelp forests of Tasmania which are also rapidly disappearing and dying.

A fire ravaged Eucalypt forest

A fire ravaged Eucalypt forest

As an environmental scientist I fully understand the grim reality of climate change and have been expecting this for some time. It just that it is all happening way earlier than I expected, or that anyone predicted. As I witness the destruction of these beautiful natural environments, I have felt a loss which is similar to losing a loved one. I have been shocked by the level sadness that I have felt, and most surprisingly, anger.

Like all angry people I am looking for someone to blame. We have known about this for decades yet we have done nothing. So whose fault is this? Our incompetent politicians? Big business? Fossil fuel companies? Climate skeptics? But blaming others isn’t going to fix anything, and I think it’s only allowed me to have a convenient excuse to do nothing. It’s someone else’s fault, someone else’s problem.

But maybe I’m partially to blame. Maybe I should have tried harder. Maybe I should have not thought twice about putting climate change posts on the Tree Projects Facebook page because I didn’t to have to deal with the deluge of negative comments from climate deniers. Maybe 15 years ago when I was a young and passionate activist I should have kept campaigning about climate change instead of giving up when I got frustrated that no one was listening. Maybe I should have been like Greta and protested outside parliament every week.

Maybe as a scientist I am partially to blame. The science community obviously have failed in conveying the message of how important this issue is. Maybe we should have spoken more loudly, be more demanding and assertive.

The uncomfortable truth that I have come to realise is that climate change is my responsibility. After all, it’s happening to me, it’s affecting my life. But it’s also affecting you, as well as your children and grandchildren.

We have already left this way too late. Global temperature rise by 1.5c is inevitable. However, if we continue to do nothing it will get much, much worse. I cannot stress enough how important it is to act now.

Please consider attending the Global Climate Strike on Sept 20. If you can’t make it to a strike show your support by posting on social media.

Want to do more? Write/call your federal/state/local politicians and demand action. Write a letter to the newspaper. Disinvest from organisations who support fossil fuel companies. Join Extinction Rebellion. Be like Greta and strike outside of parliament every day.

If everyone who cared spoke up, we would have a voice so loud that the world’s leaders would be unable to ignore.

Steven Pearce