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Editorial: A climate of duality

Michael McDonald Echo editor 1995–2010

Good, bad – go figure.

Religions have described the human condition – and the nature of the universe – as part of an eternal battle between good and evil. A neurologist might ascribe it to brains made up of variable genetic material and synaptic anomalies, while an astrophysicist might see us as at one with the random chaos – not to mention chaotic randomness – that is the stuff of stars and the dark bits in between.

Stimulus, response, stimulus, response, rinse and repeat.

Enter climate change into this duality and unwanted brain-warming goes off in many heads. There are those who deliberately ignore it because it does not fit into their commercial agenda. That same neurologist might look at the coal-loving, politician-buying Koch brothers and see that psychopathy reflected in abnormal activity in the amygdala – http://bit.ly/2GO2Vcf. The boffin would rejoice at the opportunity for research among MPs who bring varnished lumps of coal into parliament, such as our prime minister for this week.

There also walk among us those who cannot face climate change because it is too large, like death. There are those who have spent too many late hours burning their brains at both ends on websites dedicated to provoking paranoia and untruths. Both provide rich pickings for a new field of ‘climate-denial’ psychology. The Australian Psychological Society offers background on that field – http://bit.ly/2GLnKF6 – and a support network for those dealing with the fallout.

Equally, there are those who get the reality, such as that shining star of youth activism, Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg. Her 11-minute TED talk ‘The disarming case to act right now on climate change’ is well worth a look – http://bit.ly/2GNR3Xv. Ms Thunberg has no doubt lent inspiration to the next Australian school students’ strike on March 15 – schoolstrike4climate.com. Adults are welcome to support this action, too.

The duality of denial and acceptance of climate-change impacts will determine whether or not the human race – and planet Earth – gets across the line in one piece.

One commentator in the dualistic Facebook universe suggests journalists should stop asking politicians ‘Do you believe in climate change?’, as if it’s a matter of faith, and ask instead ‘Do you understand climate change?’ And given their positions of responsibility I would add, ‘If not, why not?’

Education on this vital topic is free and easy to obtain. Anyone could start here: environmentalsciencedegree.com/climate-change.


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