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The climate emergency and post-election trauma

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Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons

As our Federal Government continues its climate-change-denying ways, psychologist Lyn Bender offers tips on dealing with post-election trauma and continuing the fight in the wake of the climate emergency.

WHILE MANY of us are still processing our post-election trauma, new shocks are battering our hopes and our dreams of saving life on Earth.

How can we go on in the face of the never-ending signs of human self-destructiveness? We seem, as a species, to be blundering on towards our own annihilation.

It is important not to sink into immobilising despair. But three months after the election of a climate and environment trashing Coalition Government, where are we at?

Many seem to have gone into a kind of slump or malaise — and with good reason:

A non-opposing Opposition

The defeated Opposition has collapsed like a vanquished army now suffering occupation. The Labor Party  has surrendered its policies. It lies supine as the victors claim the spoils. In the face of clear evidence of corruption, the Leader of the non-opposing Opposition blinks into the light and declares that he can see no signs of corruption at a Federal level.

Dead-end future

Now those who are aware of encroaching disaster wonder, How I go on facing the prospect of a dead-end future?

More urgent warnings

The latest IPCC report warns that food wastage, deforestation, current agricultural practices, including meat and dairy production, and climate change are exhausting the Earth and creating inhospitable deserts.

The world’s food needs are expanding, as the Earth is depleted by human activity and by climate change.

A gloating Coalition Government

The coal industry lobbyists and our Coalition Government are promoting coal as though it's going out of fashion — and, of course, it actually is.

The Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor is spruiking retention of Liddell and coercing AGL to extend its life despite numerous breakdowns.

And Resources Minister Matt Canavan is crowing in triumph declaring that the election was a win for the high-viz mining sector.

Human activity is destroying all upon which our lives depend. Yet our political leaders blunder on in vanity, ego and folly, promoting the means for our destruction.

I have wondered how citizens, particularly in Germany continued on with their lives in the fear of another great war. After the devastation of "the war to end all wars", many of the seeds were sown for the rise of fascism and the disastrous war that followed. Is it merely hindsight that makes me see palpable fear of the future, in the war writings and "non-quiet" life of Erich Maria Remarque, author of all Quiet on the Western Front? Remarque's novels written from the 1920s until his death in 1970, describe violence, the rise of nationalism, economic collapse, social breakdown and targeting of ethnic groups continuing even after the 1944 defeat of Hitler. How did the people survive, physically and psychologically?

We are also facing political conditions that seem to be like those of the 1930s. 

President Donald Trump has also been using many of Hitler’s policies and tactics:

  • extreme nationalism;
  • extreme border enforcement;
  • scapegoating minorities;
  • denigration of the media; and
  • subversion of the democratic process.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison seems to be walking in lockstep with Trumpism. This is terrifying when combined with climate sabotage. The new/old Government proceeds heedlessly.

What can we do as individuals?

1. Acknowledge how we are feeling 

Facing the truth is more powerful than trying to put our heads in the sand. Lies to ourselves and by others are eventually exposed. Facing things can lead to better choices.

2. Self Care
  • Care for, and mutually support, family and friends.
  • Get involved in community groups and projects.
  • Exercise and eat less processed foods.
  • Get rest and meditate.
  • Enjoy nature and animals.
  • Notice and enjoy the good things in your life.
3. Taking action reduces despair
  • Do all we can to reduce waste and destruction.
  • Eat less meat.
  • Avoid plastic.
  • Walk more, drive less and use public transport.
  • Become involved with groups taking action on climate and the environment.
  • Lobby your local member of parliament.
  • Stay informed.
  • Be politically aware.
  • Join the world wide School Strike for Climate on September 20.
  • Remain inspired to take action.

‘How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment  before starting to improve the world.’ 

~ Anne Frank

Lyn Bender is a professional psychologist. You can follow Lyn on Twitter @Lynestel.

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