THERE’S nothing quite like Machattie Park in spring.
This calm little urban oasis is in full leaf and flower, although at the moment there are also many beds full of tiny seedlings waiting to grow into their summer glory.
Walking quietly around this beautiful park, the problems of the world seem particularly remote, which is an excellent thing.
But the problems exist, and they are set to affect us deeply, one way or another.
The latest international climate talks at Bonn, which will continue until November 17, are the latest in over two decades of talks grappling with rising planetary temperatures in the wake of continued greenhouse gas emissions.
The talks are being chaired by Fiji, a country for whom climate change is not “elsewhere” but “here”. The country is made up of 300 volcanic islands including low-lying atolls that are highly susceptible to rising sea levels. In 2012, the Fijian village of Vunidogoloa began relocating to higher ground due to sea-level rise.
Another country on the frontline of climate change is Bangladesh. Climate change refugees, farmers from low-lying deltas, are pouring into the capital Dhaka as the sea creeps over their traditional lands.
Destitute, they are filling the country’s already crowded slums. From the other direction, melting snowpack from the Himalayas is worsening the floods that break the banks of the country’s rivers.
The Bonn meeting represents the 23rd session of the United Nations’ Conference of the Parties (COP). The last “big one” was Paris in 2015; these smaller meetings are the ones that happen “in between”.
Australian delegates will find some positive talking points, but for a country sharing the highest per-capita greenhouse emissions (fourth in the world after Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates) they are unlikely to be taken very seriously. Our latest policy offering is the National Energy Guarantee (the NEG) which is all about prolonging coal use for as long as possible.
Successive Australian governments have simply failed to come to grips with climate change. Frank and fearless advice based on scientific research is being turfed in favour of vested interests. The CSIRO has been gutted, with climate researchers hardest hit.
It’s not a pretty picture, but there is one thing we need to do, above all. That is to find ways to remain engaged when it would be so much easier - so much more pleasant - to turn away.