As a climate scientist, I believe this federal election is the most important in Australia’s history.
The world will be watchingto find out if the Australians will continue to provide social licence for one the largest exporters to coal and gas to continue heating the planet.
The most recent Climate Change Assessment Report released by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is clear: humanity has less than a decade to avert a planetary disaster. The world must cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and reach net zero by no later than 2050 to limit warming to 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels.
Any further delay […]We will miss a short and narrow window of opportunity to secure a sustainable and liveable future for all.
Yet, there are plans in Australia. Both sides of politicsTo continue the expansion and use of fossil fuels, despite the fact that the Science says. As the International communityAustralia is currently working hard to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. 45 new gas and 69 new coal projectsIn the pipeline
In 2021–2022, Australian federal, state and territory governments provided a total of Subventions of $11.6 billion for the fossil fuel industries. There are also commitments to spend $55.3 billionSubventions for gas and oil extraction, co-fired power and coal railways, ports, carbon capture, and storage
6 books that offer hope for the climate crisis
The role of the creative arts
In an effort make climate change a key issue in the 2022 Australian Federal Election, 80 Australian authors joined forces to create the Writers for Climate Action.
Spearheaded by Kate Grenville, and supported by some of Australia’s most celebrated writers – including J.M. Coetzee, Helen Garner, Mem Fox, Tony Birch and Charlotte Wood – the group aims to use its influence to persuade readers to become part of the critical mass needed to vote for candidates willing to take Climate change requires immediate and effective action.
The inspiration to create the groupIt was created by Kate Grenville, who wanted to offer people a way to address the helplessness that they feel on an individual basis to make a difference about a topic such as climate change. It can often feel overwhelming. She said:
Writing is a quiet activity that allows writers to find coherence in chaos. […] that’s perhaps why people look to writers to make meaning.
In my upcoming book Humanity’s Moment: A Climate Scientist’s Case for HopeI spend a lot time explaining the important role that the creative arts sector plays in shaping the cultural change necessary to create the social tipping points needed to influence politics.
Many people feel powerless as a result of climate change because they have been framed in terms of energy policy, divisive politics and economics.
Engaging the creative arts sector in the most profound cultural moment in our species’ history is a golden opportunity to allow our most imaginative people to help us reimagine a future founded on shared cultural values.
Humans have used art to create a shift within their emotional world. Creativity can be used to inspire empathy, emotional engagement, as well as cultural understanding. It is difficult for people to feel empathy for a topic such as climate change, which can often feel overwhelming and overwhelming.
In his essay What the Warming Earth Needs Now is Art, Sweet ArtAmerican author and environmentalist Bill McKibben explains the critical role of creatives in this moment in human history.
If the scientists are right, we’re living through the biggest thing that’s happened since human civilization emerged. Our species has managed to raise the temperature of the entire planet in a matter of years, and to disrupt its most basic systems.
But oddly, though we know about it, we don’t know about it. It hasn’t registered in our gut; it isn’t part of our culture. Where are the books, then? The poems? The plays? The goddamn operas! You can compare it to the horror of AIDS in recent decades, which has resulted in a stunning outpouring in art, which in turn has had real political influence. When people look back on our time, the most important item will be the sudden spike in temperature. But they’ll have a hell of a time figuring out what it meant to us.
Can art influence minds in ways science can’t?
Enough is enough
Our creatives are the best people to bring about cultural change that will redefine our social values. Our writers are better than anyone to help us express the feelings we all have but struggle with.
As both a scientist, and as an author, I know that despite all the facts and figures I give, people will still be able to care about the natural world and other people.
Art has always been the most powerful way to access the world of emotions. It helps us. Imagine a world that we can’t see. It provides us with the images and language that we need to spark the emotional connection that will drive the individual action we all need in order to turn the tide of the collective crisis we are currently facing.
We will not see the political solution we need to climate change until we rewrite the cultural and social norms which are destroying all life on Earth. Individual voters have the option to either continue to burn fossil fuels to the point that planetary instability is possible, or to say enough is enough.
As extreme weather continues to ravage our country, it’s important to remember that our politicians are those we vote for and the people who we elect to run our society.
We are at an important crossroads. Australians are no longer able to be apolitical. We need sustainable living solutions already exist – we just need the social movement and political will to create a better world.