As dawn broke on a new year, the reality of climate change sunk in for many Australians. We’re only halfway through a summer of ongoing crippling drought, choking air quality and stifling heat extremes, the bushfire crisis destroyed lives and decimated regional communities (both human and wildlife). The environmental, economic and mental health impacts will take many years to address.
If it’s making you stressed, anxious or depressed, you aren’t alone. Climate change will not be solved solely by individuals. Systemic global, corporate, national and local action and adaptation is required. But we can all do something, and even a small step can help mitigate feelings of fretfulness or a sense of helplessness.
Channel your climate anxiety into positive actions which you can take right now.
1. Reduce your impact at home
Cut your carbon footprint with simple energy-saving actions and technologies, from lighting, pool operations, hot water, and cooling. Not sure where to start? Get free advice and discounted products such as solar power through the Council-backed energy-savings advice service. Attend a free workshop on this topic (Solar in Strata 1 April; Taking Climate Action at Home 6 May). Details: secondnature.org.au/calendar.
2. Volunteer your skills
Consider volunteering with a combat agency or charity that you support. You can search volunteering.nsw.gov.au or consider lending your skills to rfs.nsw.gov.au/volunteer or ses.nsw.gov.au/spontaneousvolunteering
3. Get involved in a local environment program
Make a difference in your local community while also doing good for the planet. Learn more about programs in the eastern beaches including:
- Grow it Local – link up with backyard, balcony, and community and window-sill farmers
- Living Connections – provide backyard habitats for local fauna
- Bushcare - learn about native plants and wildlife and enjoy wellbeing benefits by caring for local bushland
4. Be a climate hero with your Super
The average Australian puts around $9,000 into their super each year. To ensure your money can influence decisions for the greater good, select a super fund that provides fossil free options, cutting support for climate-damaging investments and reducing your carbon footprint. Check out http://superswitch.org.au/
5. Learn and talk more
Sharing collective knowledge can help build capacity to cope. Come along to the free Climate Change Forum and Film Screening on Thursday 19 March, Bondi Pavilion. You’ll hear from experts about impacts and solutions and the acclaimed 2040 documentary from award-winning Damon Gameau will be screened. Bookings: climateforumandfilmscreening.eventbrite.com.au
6. Reach out for help
You may experience a range of emotions after you or your loved ones experience a disaster, including anxiety, forgetfulness, sleep disturbance and more. Having someone to listen to and support you is important. Contact your GP or call the NSW Mental Health Line – 1800 011 511 if you need help.
In response to our community, Waverley Council has declared a Climate and Biodiversity Emergency, renewing and strengthening our commitment to action on climate change. We are calling on all governments to act now and protect our environment for future generations. Together we must learn from this summer’s devastation and prioritise support for local communities, as well as health and emergency services, to address the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss.