- Date published:
7:10 am, November 22nd, 2019 - 52 comments
Categories: climate change - Tags: australia, bushfires, climate adaptation, fire, how to get there, permaculture, powerdown, regenag, tipping point, transition towns
I think most talk of "adaptation" stems from emotional & institutional denial and deeply underestimates the severity of #ClimateEmergency.— Peter Kalmus (@ClimateHuman) November 21, 2019
We won't just adapt and go about our business; what we're seeing now is just an inkling of what's coming. It will be more like "abandon." pic.twitter.com/WnfqLhdFdf
Shit keeps getting more real. Despite the immensity of what we face, I am less concerned about us having the technical skills to transition than I am about the number of people still thinking that green BAU will save us. I wonder if that is in part because many people cannot imagine a world without our current standard of living and lifestyle, and there is the fear that if BAU doesn’t survive we will end up with nasty, brutish and short lives. My fear is that this fear and denial is stopping us from setting up resilient, regenerative and sustainable systems in time to prevent a nasty, brutish and short future courtesy of runaway climate.
I take some comfort from the Powerdown, Transition, Permaculture, Regenerative movements, because they have been organising and planning for a long time. Indigenous movements also tend to have regeneration and resiliency built in as well as inherently connecting the environmental and social justice issues that are needed in sync to respond adequately to the climate crisis.
Which means that as things spiral out of control and we are forced to consider abandoning large scale human infrastructure, we already have working models of what to do. These movements were built around mitigation and adaptation, and they tend to circumvent the ostrich-esque cul de sac of ‘it’s too late, let’s just adapt’, and instead sees them as two sides of the same coin. Reducing climate risk and learning how to live well in the long crisis are interdependent approaches. When we use a regenerative approach, the things we need to do to mitigate are the things that will give us more chance of surviving. Saving graces.
Long time and renowned Australian permaculture leaders and educators, the Bradleys from permaculture farm Milkwood, put up a post a few days ago in response to the bushfire crisis and people desperate to know what to do about the climate catastrophe. They name a couple of key aspects in climate action: the necessity of working on multiple levels at once, and the need to avoid binary traps in thinking that keep us powerless.
But then there’s also the long-term strategies for how we all mitigate and adapt to this climate crisis together, as communities. And how exactly do we do that?
Some of the work to do is home-level, everyday habitual change. Some of the work to do is community-level, citizen initiated-and-led change. Some of the work to do is top-down system change.
On the problem of binary thinking (lefties take note),
Unfortunately, some of the binary signals and arguments that we are all receiving – as this ‘what should we do’ climate conversation gathers steam – can fracture momentum, good intentions and even, in some cases, the will to act…
• If you stay at home and grow food, you’re ignoring the real fight – you should be out on the streets.
• If you take to the streets on a climate march while using your mobile phone (made with/of fossil fuels), you’re a hypocrite. Also, you flew in a plane last summer (BUSTED!) so now you’re a wanker as well.
• If you start a community initiative, you’re pretending it will change your government, but obviously it won’t because look at our current government and how much attention it pays to our communities.
• If you don’t make your own yogurt from scratch, you’re a wasteful capitalist dedicated to upholding the Patriarchy.
• If you DO make your own yogurt from scratch, you’re just re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic while virtue signalling (especially if you tell anyone). Also, add in the industrial milk you used, and you’re basically Satan.
• If you make cashew yogurt, you are also Satan (see above, but substitute industrial Amazon-clearing cashews for the milk bit).
These are all snippets of actual discussions I have had in the last 6 months.
And I am here to tell you this: do not get binary on yourself, when it comes to responding to our Climate Crisis. Do not let others get binary on you, either. Do not define your efforts, or your ability to make and participate in change, by your imperfections.
Focus on what you CAN do, and get the hell on with doing those things.
Everything we do matters, now.
And the antidote to those internal and external challenges?
Your response might look like: recycle AND stand up for indigenous rights AND have a ‘climate conversation’ dinner party. Change your lightbulbs AND lobby your local member of parliament to take action on climate. Divest from big banks who support fossil fuel companies AND take your keep cup. Vote for change AND start a garden AND support your local food bank AND join a climate strike AND make your own yogurt.
That is new system building, where what we do at home is as important as political change, because they are part of the same interconnected web. Resiliency and sustainability are always interconnected systems.
Because the more options we all have, the more diverse and resilient our collective response can be.
Milkwood are going to start writing about the following, so keep an eye on their blog. But I thought this post could also serve as an invitation to share resources, ideas and experience of what is happening in New Zealand. I’ll be writing more posts on this #howtogetthere.
• Community level: Examples of fabulously effective, community climate-response initiatives – things that are already happening – for you to plan and learn from.
• Household level: a swag of new habits and skills you can start on immediately, that effectively respond to climate change and will make a real difference, at your place.
• National level: where are the most effective places to point the time and energy you have for this? We talk to the experts about effective strategies, to make your time and input count.
• International Level: is any kind of international response, or individual response to international solutions, even an actual thing, when it comes to the climate crisis? Simply put, yes. And there’s a lot you can do.
Moderation note: no climate denial under my posts thanks.