Climate Change and Denial

prompt and photo credit:

Recently I was walking into a shopping centre to buy my groceries when I overheard a man declaiming to his wife that climate change wasn’t caused by human activity. According to him the planet goes through natural cycles of warming and cooling. There is nothing to worry about, he assured her.

He was a young man and, while not wanting to make superficial judgements about people based on their appearance, he did not appear to have the demeanor of a leading climatologist. To me he looked more like your average tradie.

Whatever his background he was very sure of his opinions and his wife positively wilted under the force of them.

Walking on I wondered what made him so adamant. As I went about buying food in the unavoidable single use plastic bags that industry wraps basic essentials in, I considered Elizabeth Kubler Ross and the stages of grief she defined:-

The 5 stages of grief and loss are: 1. Denial and isolation; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Depression; 5. Acceptance. People who are grieving do not necessarily go through the stages in the same order or experience all of them.

I’m wondering whether these people who declare so dogmatically that climate change is not a result of human activity are actually in denial. After all, coming to the realization that the climate change is caused by our own actions can raise questions about our fundamental approach to the environment. Most people fear making big changes in their lifestyle. They are comfortable with things as they are now.

Comfort aside, the evidence that something is seriously wrong with the climate is growing. Still though our politicians are refusing to act or even acknowledge that action is necessary. Over here in Australia the current conservative Government is perfecting the art of double-speak. I recently read that our latest Environmental Minister is on her way to the Pacific Islands to assure the people of Tuvalu that Australia is upholding the Paris Climate Change Agreement. Meanwhile the people of Tuvalu are shoring up their coastline as the sea washes away their homes. Many have already had to evacuate to New Zealand.

Yesterday I read an online article about the recent heat wave in Europe. The article described how the temperatures were the hottest on record. However, the writer assured readers, scientists could not attribute this to climate change. What scientists? The science teachers at the local conservative high school? It’s funny how these scientists who deny climate change are rarely named.

Yesterday I also read that the Medieval Warm Period that many climate change deniers use as evidence for their argument did not occur across the globe but was a localized event. The current rise in temperature is occurring across the globe.

To me it’s alarmingly clear that climate change is happening and that human activity is the cause. If I apply the Kubler Ross stages of grief to myself I would say I’m in depression. All my previous blog posts about climate change have been a kind of bargaining – a way of imploring people to wake up before it’s too late. The recent election results in Australia sent me and many people I know into depression. We really believed that we could change the situation politically and influence government policy. What actually happened was that many voters were swayed by the media. Rupert Murdoch and a couple of billionaire miners convinced people that acting on climate change would cause massive job losses and result in economic catastrophe.

“There are no jobs on a dead planet”.

I have a set of Oracle Cards that are based on Native American philosophies. Recently I read the commentary on one card that finished with a prayer that all people would find healing. These days I find the prayer that springs to mind for me is that all people will wake up to the reality of climate change. If more and more of us move into a position where we accept the reality we will able to find the ways and means to create positive change.

The Flood – climate change

a channel of water flowing out to sea, with the sun reflecting on the water.
Photo credit and prompt:

As the rain falls – and falls – and falls the rivers flood across the plain and other places in the world bake in devastating droughts I find myself yearning for answers – what’s going on?

Climatologists have discovered a massive hole beneath Thwaites Glacier in western Antarctica.

A gigantic cavity almost 300 metres tall and two-thirds the size of Manhattan has been discovered growing at the bottom of a glacier in West Antarctica. .. They think it would have contained 14 billion tonnes of ice, and said most of that ice melted over the past three years.”

A National Geographic journalist, Elizabeth Rush, was onboard a research ship which journeyed to this glacier to investigate what was happening earlier this year. Her account of watching cracks form in the face of the glacier and break off into as huge icebergs (a process known as calving) is alarming yet the experience of seeing this awesome yet terrifying sight had an unexpected effect on her. Towards the end of her article she writes:-

“Along with Thwaites the overwhelming majority of the world’s glaciers have begun to withdraw. I have even recently read about their disappearance in the news, yet another reality that would have been unthinkable a decade ago. Lately, I have been wondering if it might be possible to think of calving events as both a physical sign of the cracks our very lives press into the ice and also, as the definition suggests, a kind of birth. A rapturous moment where we might glimpse the opportunities that come with inhabiting an age of earth-shaking transformation, transformation that some human beings more than others set in motion, and that we, all of us together, have the power to slow and to shape.”

This idea of shaping new ways of living on planet Earth has been something that has been preoccupying me for many, many months. Late last year I wrote of my quest to find new stories that could lead us forward. The quest has led me hither and thither but it wasn’t until I came across the idea of Symbiocene Era on Eoin Mac Lochlain’s blog that I began to see a way a draw all these disparate ideas together.

Searching online I learnt the Symbiocene is a word coined by an Australian environmental philosopher, Glenn Albrecht. He proposes that the Anthropocene* we hear so much about these days doesn’t have to be the end of life as we know it. The growing ecological crisis gives us an extraordinary opportunity to create a new era – the Symbiocene- an epoch where all life co-exists in harmony.

The scientist Suzanne Simard has discovered that different tree species in a forest communicate and send nutrients to each other through a complex network of fungi enmeshed in their roots.

This understanding of forest ecology can be seen as an example of survival through co-operation. Darwin’s idea of survival of the fittest is now being reworked as our understanding that survival is a group project grows. We’re all in this together – humans, the animals and the environment. So many indigenous and ancient cultures have always known this. Listening to them can expand our world view.

Beyond these finely tuned understandings of the material world another story is unfolding.

So many of us now are undergoing a strange and confusing inner transformation. The structures of our outer world are crumbling. The far right is rising, capitalism and patriarchy are fighting dirty yet deep within so many of us something fundamental has shifted. Increasingly we are questioning these dictates from those in power who seek to control us.

As we wake each night at 1:11, 2:22, 3:33, 4:44 and 5:55 to stare into the darkness of our own inner landscapes we are haunted by our faults, our wounds and our traumas. As we go through a collective dark night of the soul we slowly clear away this inner debris using whatever spiritual tools we have learnt in the past – prayer, meditation, dream analysis etc. Slowly, slowly we grope our way towards a greater understanding and illumination.

We are more than our physical bodies. We exist on many planes. We feel the Earth’s pain. Species extinctions tear at our hearts. Environmental destruction, the dying rivers in the deserts, the seas choked with plastic and the clear felling of forests hit us at our core. Instinctively we know we must change – both within and without.

The floodgates have opened – whether or not you think human activity contributes to climate change or that we have 12 years to change things doesn’t really matter. The evidence is right there in front of us. The time to act is now and the way forward lies in co-operation.

* The Anthropocene is a proposed epoch dating from the commencement of significant human impact on the Earth‘s geology and ecosystems, Anthropocene including, but not limited to, anthropogenic climate change

Crazy Horse’s Prophecy

This weeks The Lens Artists Challenge asks us to post photos about something different –

A while ago I found some leather offcuts at a recycling depot.   I purchased some but it wasn’t until I got back home that I noticed one thick piece of hide had the words “Crazy Horse” written in thick black marker pen on the back.

One thought led to another until I searched for information about Crazy Horse, the Native American Chief, online.   I found this prophecy he made four days before he was killed.

“Upon suffering beyond suffering, the red nation shall rise again and it shall be a blessing for the sick world. A world filed with broken promises, selfishness and separations. A world longing for light again. I see a time of seven generations, when all the colors of mankind will gather under the sacred tree of life and the whole earth will become one circle again. In that day, those among the Lakota who will carry knowledge and understanding of unity among all living things, and the young white ones will come, to those of my people to ask for wisdom. I salute the light within their eyes where the whole universe dwells, for when you are at the center within you and I am at the at place within me, we are as one.”

Here’s what I made with the leather:-


Rock of Ages


DSCF9143-02Down in south west Victoria, Australia there is a rocky point known since white settlement as Point Ritchie.   To the local aboriginal tribe, the Gundjitmara, the place has always been called Moyjil.


Since the  1980s archaeologists have been studying evidence of aboriginal occupation at Moyjil.   High up on the cliffs in a spot that is off limits to the public they have found evidence of a fire pit that could possibly date back as much as 120,000 years.  If this can be proved it totally rewrites the story of human habitation in Australia.   Up until now the aboriginal settlement of this part of the country has been estimated to be around 30,000 years.

Elsewhere in Australia scientists have discovered evidence of aboriginal habitation that dates back 65,000 years.  The idea that habitation could date back even further is too much of stretch for some scientists who feel the fire pit might be nothing more than evidence that a tree burnt down to the ground all those many, many thousands of years ago.

Which ever estimation proves to be correct there is something about Moyjil that gets to me.   Clambering around on the rocks there I have often had the sense that I am walking with ancient spirits.

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A friend and I went looking evidence of aboriginal settlement ourselves one morning in late summer a couple of years ago.   At the base of the cliffs we found circles of fire blackened stones surrounded by reddened rings.  The markings were so subtle it was hard to take photographs of them so I will post a video that is absolutely fascinating viewing.

Rivers of energy

Helene Vaillant asks “What do you see?”
wall  Pixabay

I see
The universe spinning
energy flowing like a river

– standing off to the side
detached –
thinking that somehow
watching makes you part of it

The currents are moving fast now
flowing in all directions.

Some are clear
noble and brave

Some are depraved
Some are fearful
Some are hate filled
Some are ugly

Others are just plain mediocre.

Standing off to one side
detached –
thinking that somehow
watching makes you part of it.

It’s time to jump in the river
it’s time to stand for something


Native American Prophecy

There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.

And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt.

The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word ’struggle’ from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.DSC_0048.JPG

Deep listening in the Australian Bush


These are troubled times.

Yesterday my head was full of troubles – and ideas – and opinions – mine/other people’s – all  bubbled like a stew in my mind – achieving nothing – getting kind of toxic or at the least – getting in the way – stopping me being.

I went bush.

Just over 5 minutes drive from my house there is a scrap of remnant bushland – the real stuff – never logged – never farmed.  It’s the kind of bush that is hard to relate to.  No great stands of majestic trees, no tumbling waterfalls or great vistas – instead dry, tangled scrub and spiky native grasses.

I have been told there are grass trees quite some way from the carpark so I set off down the dusty track to find them.


It was a hot day and even though I was in the bush, 21st century noise still intruded.   I could hear the distant rumble of cars on the highway, a farmer was using heavy machinery in a nearby paddock and jets roared overhead from time to time.

The track wound on and on.  The heat was only just tolerable and I thought of turning back more than once.   Still those grass trees were calling me.   Eventually they began to appear.  Most were some distance off the track and being mindful of both snakes and of disturbing the delicate native plants I didn’t venture closer.


Grass trees only grow a few centimetres a year.   The largest of the ones I saw yesterday had to be hundreds of years old.   In other parts of Australia grass trees lose the foliage around their trunk.   Tufts of grass grow atop twisting black trunks.   The variety down here doesn’t.   Instead thick clumps of foliage hang down in dark, dense curtains.   The plants look more like presences than vegetation.   Some are almost monstrous,  others are delicate and whimsical.

This bush reserve is managed by a dedicated team of nature lovers. Wooden benches are placed at intervals through the bush.   Just past the grass trees I sat on one to get my energy up before turning back.

Sitting there in the afternoon heat I finally stopped – moving, thinking, feeling scattered – I just was.   From time to time a jet passed by – high and detached.   I could still hear the farmer banging about in the distance.   The traffic was a subliminal murmur occasionally punctuated by the roar of a motorbike or a heavy trunk.   The 21st century is never far away from me these days.    Slowly though, the sounds of the bush asserted themselves.   Birds chirped, leaves whispered together, little critters rustled through the undergrowth.   I watched a bird hopping from branch to branch.  I photographed the abstract patternings of the tangled undergrowth.  Mostly I just sat gathering up the energy to walk back to my car.20190316_144618

My mind slowed down.   No great insights about current events, political ideologies, the massacre in Christchurch, climate change or family dramas came forth.   Instead I simply quietened down.   I grew more peaceful and more attuned to the moment now.   I came back into myself.


The Australian Aboriginals have a concept called Dadirri – Deep Listening.   They say the answers we all seek are there if we listen deep enough.   If we stop and listen deeply to what another is saying we can begin to understand them.   If we listen to the bush we can learn how to live in harmony with the Earth.   If we listen to our own hearts we can learn how to live peacefully with ourselves.

It was a long walk back to my car.   The grass trees looked different as I approached them from another angle.   I found one close to path that I had overlooked before.    I took some photos and resolved to come again with a better camera.   It will take me a while to learn to photograph this place.   It will take me a while to fully learn the art of deep listening – the rest of my life probably.

The path goes on –IMG_20190316_203330

prompt:  Six word Saturday



The invisible becoming visible


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A while ago I made a spirit doll of a female shaman with horns.   This morning she caught my eye as I walked past the shelf she stands on.

Questioning me,
the antlered spirit doll
becomes archetypal

Why has she manifested in my life?

Going online I did some research.   Horned goddesses appeared in several ancient cultures but most, like the Egyptian goddesses Hathor and Isis, had cow horn headdresses.   These days images of magical females with similar horns are turning up in contemporary art and popular culture.   The Disney fairy, Maleficent is one.   Online I read a Jungian analysis of Maleficent.

“So this story of the Sleeping Beauty deals with what happens to our feminine feeling consciousness when it is repressed, ravaged and rejected by both our society and our own ego-consciousness.  When we reject this feeling and imaginative aspect of life, it gets twisted and becomes the negative mother—the witch who wants to kill us or curse us.  And we are left cursed with our masculine, left-brain thinking that cuts off our feminine wings and power, grounding us in a masculine reality that hates and fears the Divine Feminine’s beauty, freedom and power.   

But the negative mother doesn’t just make our lives miserable: she pushes us to become more conscious. Her curse ultimately becomes a blessing, since it makes each of us face our fate and live our purpose.  That’s the purpose of archetypal stories—they show us a path to travel that will bring us to greater consciousness.”  emerging archetypal themes

Maleficent is the 13th fairy – the forgotten one.   She represents the connection of women to nature.   In our patriarchal cultural this connection has been ignored – it has become invisible.

Re-appearing now
rewriting Sleeping Beauty
– magical healing

Maleficent is healed by love and the natural world around her is restored to health.    In this way the movie becomes a metaphor for reclaiming our forgotten relationship with nature – a sacred relationship of interconnectedness.

Ancient stories 
of goddesses and fairies
finding new forms

As fascinating as these ideas are they still don’t answer my question as to why the doll I made has antlers.    Following link after link online I eventually found an article about the deer goddesses and female shamans  deer mother  While I am familiar with the ancient horned god, Cernunnos, I didn’t know that there is archaeological evidence of horned females deities and shamanic figures that date to neolithic times.

Landesmuseum Halle (artist reconstruction of neolithic headdress found in Germany – image source here

These ancient female shaman are associated with the deer and reindeer of the far north.  Their sacred significance was about connection to the tree of life, motherhood, fertility, birth and rebirth

Returning to us
images of the sacred
spirit of nature


prompt:  Today’s d’verse prompt gave me a way into writing about something that’s been on my mind all morning.  My response stretches the idea of poetry and of haibun  so I hope that’s ok with Merrill – the creator of the prompt (and with the rest of the poets who write for d’verse).