The recent NSW election has left me wondering when the massively overdue “climate election” is ever going to eventuate in the minds of the population, the media barons and the big corporate donation swilling major parties. With fish kills, record March temperatures, a global epidemic of extinction all around us we saw the politics of human entitlement once again prevail.

Every election for decades has been supposedly about jobs, hospitals education and roads, and that old chestnut law and order. Whilst there’s no under-estimating the importance of these things it’s a bit like being anxious about whether the airline food cart will reach you before the plane crashes.

The environment is not a luxury issue. We cannot afford to place it down a long laundry list of perennial squabbles about government spending priorities as though it’s just another ‘issue’ to “have a policy on”, but this is exactly how the major parties keep treating it.

The re-election of the Liberal National government in NSW is a disaster for our Koalas, our native forests which will be threatened now with clear felling, our rivers, and native vegetation generally and our atmosphere. These impacts cannot simply be fixed in the next electoral cycle, environmental impacts are now on a one way trajectory.

The re-election of the LNP is also a disaster for civil liberties, for the right to protest, for sensible drug policy, homelessness and numerous other issues but these are human social issues and we can keep fighting about those amongst ourselves for as long as our planetary life support systems allow us to.

It certainly isn’t easy being Green. I was personally very disappointed to see Sue Higginson narrowly miss out on the chance to represent our great innovative region and the values we stand for. The re-election of Tamara Smith in Ballina with an increased majority was a bright spot, and the Greens held their ground across the state, but it is always an uphill battle fighting a status quo as entrenched as the two party system and the corporate power blocs that support them. Sue and the Greens ran a uniquely people-powered, positive and policy driven campaign and are to be commended for avoiding the dirty smear tactics used by both major parties. The preferencing discipline of the Greens helped Janelle defeat the Nats finally and congratulation to Janelle on her win.

Tamara and Janelle will be faced with a tough job in opposition and we will need to support them to hold the government to account on its election funding promises and to fight for our environment and civil liberties.

But in the bigger picture it’s a case of where to from here?

I think we all need to take a pause for some self-care before rushing to our next battle. We have another four years of environmental vandalism and an escalating police state in NSW to endure, a federal election that is bound to be frustrating and a world of rising global fascism ahead.

Those of us whose political motivations arise from an understanding of the interconnectedness of life can become very exhausted fighting the overwhelming human-centeredness of this society. It is the irony of activism that the ecologically literate end up in offices and on computers; greenies end up in log dumps and mine sites; animal rights activists in feedlots and abattoirs; and human rights activists visiting detention centres and prisons as we bring attention to the sacrifice zones of a corporatised world. Where we are dealing with the general public we are often abused and attacked. But when we have suffered a loss, or even when we are simply exhausted we need to return to the source of our inspiration to rebuild.  I personally returned to the forest after election day to soak up the city of trees and critters. No social media buzz, no more shouty campaigners, no more self-interested humans to endure, just the peace and aliveness of a relatively intact forest in the late Anthropocene.

What I find almost amusing (if not so sad) is that the very people who can’t think out of the human social and economic box are the ones who are going to be most shocked when the climate crisis triggers social and economic collapse. Whilst our planet Gaia is threatened with system break down, it is still an immensely more adaptable and resilient system than late stage capitalism is. Our planetary ecology has inbuilt mechanisms of resilience whereas our economic system simply has algorithms that defy physics. When it stumbles, it falls and with it not only our economy but much of our social progress.

Extinction is beckoning us from its edge, and as humans we stand in a long queue with thousands of other species in front of us falling over the edge whilst we frantically busy ourselves with money, social conflict and self absorbtion. We really ought to not be in such a hurry to get to the precipice.

Maybe the coming federal election will finally be the climate election where human entitlement gives way to a realization of the genuine plight of all life support systems on this planet. Don’t hold your breath, instead, keep breathing.

We need to connect to nature, re-invigorate ourselves, and in our deepest being know that all we can ever do is accept things exactly as they are and find a resourceful way forward. Who knows how long humans will take to understand our collective predicament, or if they even will in time, but fear not oh ecological ones. The bacteria will survive the worst catastrophe possible and life on Gaia can re-emerge and re-evolve, whether humans choose to avoid this fate or not is up to us. The great matrix of life arose out of bacteria in lava flows, it will survive the Anthropocene.

How many elections do we need to fight over potholes, jobs and government services until we realise the environment is more than simply the stage on which the human social and economic drama is played out. The stage is on fire and we literally fiddle while it burns.


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