The Coalition just won the Australian federal election. This result has enraged many. Those who’ve been most outspoken have typically been young lefty progressives, a political box I have put myself in since before I could vote. Empathetic, waste-conscious future-minded people have taken to digital platforms across the board to express their grief. A grief I understand. Facebook feeds, Instagram stories, magazine websites, blogs and the rest have become a minefield of political aggression. I (mostly) align with their views but I do not agree with their methods. Our steps, big and small, must be taking us towards a healthy planet. The essentiality of this is clear. What are the best steps we can take to get there? That’s not clear. What’s clearer is the steps that damage the cause. One such step is looking down your nose and shoving impassioned (albeit often truthful and genuine) pleas down peoples’ throats. This is a heartfelt and compelling gut-reaction. But it is not helpful. If you’re pissed off at what I’ve just said, I ask you kindly to wait until you’ve read my explanation before you exit. It is you I want to help.
Most Australians agree that climate change is real and nearing catastrophe (from the latest Lowy Institute survey). 84% of Australians think our government needs to focus on renewable energies and infrastructure. Only 14% think coal and gas is the way forward. Updated survey results will come out in the next month. We’re almost all on the same page. So why point the finger at Baby Boomers or Young Liberals? All that serves to do is make masses of people feel alienated. It’s self-sabotaging, and it’s a huge turn off. I’m on your side but reading petulant tripe condemning whole groups of people makes me want to buy a Hummer and dump garbage into a clean river. Imagine how more conservative people are made to feel by it.
Just because a person votes Liberal does not mean they don’t give a shit about the environment. This is but one among many areas of government policy. Yes, it is probably the most pressing. And yes, offshore detention is fucked. But there is more to running a country than building renewable resources infrastructure and assisting refugees. Politics are complicated. The major political parties have wildly discrepant views for most areas of policy. Further complicating the issue is the reality that what a major party says it will do and what a major party does are (for a variety of reasons) seldom in sync. So yeah. Labor said it would stop Adani and Labor promised to keep emissions reduction targets. Would they have, if elected? Maybe. Maybe not. Voting Liberal does not a bad person make. Striking at people for exercising their democatic right to vote? Asshole move.
It is now common to hear the argument “what good is the economy if you don’t have a planet?” and I mostly agree with it. We need our planet. I also see renewable energies as a great source of economic productivity. But if you’re going to make that argument, then I will counter with, “there’s no point having a healthy planet if everyone on it hates each other’s guts”. And I hear the replies, “but we won’t all hate each other if everyone just agrees with ME.” Well, humans are different. If we were all the same life would be fucking dreadful. Embrace differences. Celebrate common ground. Saving the planet from climate change requires all our hands. We are all responsible and we almost all agree we need to do more. So I ask those who made it this far to look at your steps with an open mind and question them. Try to decipher which are helpful and which are not.
In a time where axes fly from all over politics and media to drive us apart, we don’t need another wedge. Climate change is a massive challenge. An already devastating one. Let’s overcome it with composure, education and consideration. Not rage and tantrums and division. It is not the last serious issue our generation and the next will have to overcome. We’ll have to figure out AI and overpopulation and a bunch more that we can’t imagine right now. Let’s use climate change as a blueprint for how we tackle future world-threatening problems. Because hate sure as shit ain’t gonna cut it.