Last night I dreamt I was in some kind of group therapy situation where people were asked to sing out their grief. People with hollow eyes got up one by one and sung tearful laments to loved ones that had died – husbands, children, friends. It was heartfelt and deeply sad.
When it was my turn I found I couldn’t sing. I couldn’t find any words and besides I wasn’t sure just which aspect of my grief was I meant to sing about. Was it the personal grief I have experienced when key people in my life have died or been afflicted in some terrible way or was I at the group therapy session because I needed to express the grief that now gnaws at my heart?
I slept fitfully for the rest of the night and woke with my mind full of thoughts about what I am currently grieving. The air today is full of bush fire smoke – it’s not as bad here as in some other areas of the country but it’s still enough to significantly reduce visibility, to make the eyes sting and to induce coughing fits. The health experts say to stay indoors as much as possible, particularly if you have existing breathing issues and are older. Falling into those categories I choose to heed the warnings. There’s nothing much to go out for anyway – the roads are clogged with huge 4WDs full of tourists, the shops are full of tourists driven off the beaches by the smoke, even in the tiny scraps of the natural environment left round here I can still here the sound of traffic. At the same time many people have gone back to work (after their Christmas holidays – remember Christmas? – we had that a few weeks back – it feels like years ago). Many of these workers are now busily employed carving up this landscape into yet more housing estates, shopping malls and roadways. It’s mayhem out there!
Getting back to grief – it’s never far away – there’s the grief over the fires – over a billion animals dead they are saying now – huge tracts of the country burnt and, even though it’s cooler, the fires are still not completely out. Here in Victoria, Australia our hottest weather usually comes in February and early March so who knows what fresh hell await. Many people who have lost their homes in the fires are saying the insurance will not cover the cost of rebuilding because of new laws about building fire resistant houses. Implementing all the new requirements is extremely costly.
The experts are saying recovery from all of this will take years. The government is still procrastinating. They have halfheartedly agreed that climate change is a reality and that they accept the science but just what they intend to do about that I have no idea. I think they’re planning to look into using renewable energy sources or maybe they plan to buy carbon credits. It doesn’t make sense.
There’s no talk about climate change mitigation. There’s no talk of implementing any of the very worthwhile and effective measures proposed by the Climate Drawdown people… and besides, there’s just too much talk and not enough action.
Meanwhile it’s business as usual. The environment round here is still being carved up for more housing estates, shopping malls and roadways. Trees are still being cut down at an alarming rate. It’s not just here – habitats for native animals are still being destroyed across the globe – trees are being felled so fast I’ve decided there is a global war on trees right now. The seas are still full of plastic. Babies are still dying of preventable diseases in poorer communities.
What is wrong with people?
Climate change is just the masthead of a much darker, more insidious problem. Even if we could put in place measures to drawdown loads of carbon tomorrow we’d still have all the other issues that confront us. The soils would still be depleted from the overuse of pesticides, the seas would still be overfished and full of crap etc. etc.
What gets me (among a myriad other things) is how celebrities can suddenly turn around and donate millions of dollars to the bushfire causes at some high class, high profile fund raiser and – most cynical of cynical – an Australian mining magnate donates $70 million when he earned that money carving up the environment and digging fossil fuels out the ground to sell to us so we can burn it and increase the carbon in the atmosphere – (this sentence is in dire need of punctuation) – so anyway all these people donate all this money while other people across the globe are struggling to feed their kids or buy the medicine they need or even live in adequate housing –
What kind of system is this?
So this is why I can’t sing my grief – it comes out in a heated rush that is anger as much as grief – this is why my words are blocked – my throat is choked with smoke – my heart is breaking.
What is the future of this planet?
No doubt people, if they bother reading this to the end, will offer me platitudes that are somehow meant to console me. Please don’t. This isn’t about me. This grief I feel is a response to global events. Just wait – this shit won’t just happen in Australia. For some strange reason Australia, the oldest continent, is the first one experience what climate change really means. It will happen where you live. Maybe not a fire – maybe it’ll be rising seas, or storms or increased heat that makes it impossible to grow food… this ain’t over yet. It’s just beginning.