Climate change: time to act not blame

CALL FOR ACTION: More than 20 000 Australian students gathered in Sydney for the School Strike 4 Climate in March.
CALL FOR ACTION: More than 20 000 Australian students gathered in Sydney for the School Strike 4 Climate in March.

Last summer, as I watched the Tasmanian bushfires tearing through the wilderness, I was overwhelmed with grief. The places that I loved were being destroyed.

I couldn't sleep properly and I was anxious and depressed.

Grief has continued to stay with me as I watched other places close to my heart be destroyed, Eungella National Park, the Amazon, and now Lamington National Park.

These are ecosystems that are not meant to burn and will not recover in my lifetime.

As an environmental scientist I fully understand the grim reality of climate change and have been expecting this for some time.

It just that it is all happening way earlier than I expected, or that anyone predicted.

As I witnessed the destruction of these beautiful natural environments, I have felt a loss which is similar to losing a loved one.

I have been shocked by the level sadness that I have felt, and most surprisingly, anger.

Like all angry people I am looking for someone to blame.

We have known about this for decades yet we have done nothing.

So whose fault is this? Our incompetent politicians? Big business? Fossil fuel companies? Climate skeptics?

Maybe as a scientist I am also to blame.

The science community obviously has failed in conveying the message of how important this issue is.

We should have spoken more loudly, be more demanding and assertive.

But blaming others isn't going to fix anything, and it's only allowed me to have a convenient excuse to do nothing.

If it is someone else's fault then it's someone else's problem.

The uncomfortable truth that I have come to realise is that climate change is my responsibility.

After all, it's happening to me, it's affecting my life.

But it's also affecting you, as well as your children and grandchildren.

We have already left this way too late. Global temperature rise by 1.5c is inevitable.

However, if we continue to do nothing it will get much, much worse. I cannot stress enough how important it is to act now.

Please consider attending the Global Climate Strike on September 20. If you can't make it to a strike show your support by posting on social media.

Write and speak to your federal, state and local politicians and demand action.

If everyone who cared spoke up, we would have a voice so loud that the world's leaders would be unable to ignore.

Dr Jennifer Sanger is an environmental scientist based in Hobart, Tasmania.