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Living Lightly column

Lighting the spark for climate action

By Lauren Salathiel

The climate science is indisputable and it’s writ large across our skies in smoke and embers.

Whether your community has been affected by fire, or choked by smoke, what has become clear this week is that we can no longer afford to watch on as our national leaders fumble with inadequate pseudo-responses to what we should all agree is a climate emergency.

We must act.

Individual micro-gestures are no longer enough. Swapping out plastic straws for paper won’t do.

Communities need to band together to take strong, sustained action and to implement drastic cultural change. We need to change our expectations, our sense of entitlement to a certain way of life. Our patterns and culture of consumption and our inability or unwillingness to do without. Our investment choices. Our economy and dependence on GDP – which sees disaster as good for business – as a measure of national “wellbeing”.

Most of all, we need to change our willingness to accept anything other than an immediate, comprehensive government commitment to swift action towards zero emissions, global climate leadership and an end to our extractive economic mentality.

I think this week has demonstrated that we might just be equal to this gargantuan task, and that life would be better in so many ways if we stepped up.

This week, we’ve all seen the power of human connection, generosity and ingenuity as people have taken heed of the information bushfire experts have provided, and then rallied to prepare and protect each other and care for their non-human counterparts.

We’ve marvelled at just how capable our friends, family members and neighbours – and even kind strangers – are in the face of danger and desperation.

Action has unfolded spontaneously and under the direction of local leaders, producing localised responses to unique needs and trials.

These are the necessary ingredients for true climate action! Credible information and advice. Strong, resilient, connected, committed communities. Local knowledge, skills, nous and imagination. Generosity of spirit. Enlightened and down-to-earth local leadership.

We’ve got all the necessary parts, we just need to put them together, use our imaginations and make that radical cultural change towards the world we want – one without fires, exploding houses and piles of dead wildlife and stock beside the roads.

One where our neighbours – human and non-human – and our global neighborhood really matter.