[Image: Heirisson Island Tree Planting | © City of Perth]
As we hurtle towards a new decade, it's hard not to feel heavy-hearted about what the future holds for us all as so many beautiful parts of Australia burn.
My two kids are just 4 and 7 now, starting out on what should be a life filled with opportunity. But I can't help but feel that their opportunities will be so much more limited than mine were – when I'm not lying awake at night terrified that they will become climate refugees as the East Coast of Australia slowly becomes a more and more hostile environment to call home.
Combine that with the constant stream of climate change related data and research I channel into my daily life, and the sense of helplessness in the face of such an overwhelming challenge can become debilitating.
Yet life goes on. Questions from my kids about climate change need to be answered. Decisions about where our lives will be lived need to be made. Groceries bought. Toilets cleaned. All whilst trying to manage the underlying dread that climate change brings to our lives.
My wife and I think about this often. Not all the time as the basic needs of life need to be navigated too, but a lot. After the kids are in bed; over countless cups of tea in the morning; whilst sitting on park benches watching our two girls clamber uninhibited over climbing frames; after the latest 'fire status' update has come through on our bushfires app.
What to do? Where to live? How to build the resilience our girls are likely to need into the future? How we can do more in the fight to combat climate change – and what that 'more' should actually be?
All these questions – and all the middle of the night dread – can make it all too easy to do nothing rather than act. To be paralysed by the scale of it all and end up doing less and less, when the scale of the challenge asks us to do more and more.
So what to do?
One small decision we have made recently is to make sure we do tangible and pragmatic things, as well as campaigning strategically for things like fossil fuel divestment and policy change. Whilst the campaigning is essential in terms of making real change happen, we view the tangible and pragmatic actions we are looking to take as vital in maintaining our own mental resilience as we face up to the significant climate impacts we are going to have to deal with for the rest of our lives.
With our kids the age they are, we have settled on tree-planting as the first hands on action we are going to take – something positive we can do with a load of other families that ensures we are actively 'doing something' positive, whilst also keeping the 'climate action paralysis' at bay.
Hopefully this small forward step will distract our minds from the pervading sense of dread brought about by the bushfires currently sweeping the country – if not for ever, then at least for long enough that we can work out what our next step should be as we try to chart some kind of course through the beginning of the anthropocene.