In Beyond Climate Grief, Jonica Newby canvasses the pain, anger and denial of our current climate predicament

  • Beyond Climate Grief, by Jonica Newby. NewSouth, $29.99.

This review was difficult. And neither the book nor the author is to blame.

It has been more than a decade since Kevin Rudd declared climate change to be "the great moral challenge of our generation", and even longer since we have known beyond reasonable doubt that fossil fuel is killing our planet.

The problem is now political rather than scientific. We know what is happening, we know why, and what needs to be done.

Sadly, we lack the leadership and collective will to accomplish the palpably obvious solution of a swift transition to renewable energy.

Despite increasing evidence that renewable energy is clean, economically viable, and socially beneficial, our politicians continue to waste time wrangling over ideological point scoring and disingenuous distractions based on protecting the economy or finding increasingly tenuous reasons to delay our necessary escape from coal.

Ongoing empirical evidence of environmental loss, gathering the existential threat of extinction, has delivered passionate grief, and a ground swell of protest over climate action delay.

During the past year, we have responded well as a community to the virus pandemic, which begs the question as to why similar collective urgency regarding climate change remains stubbornly fragmented.

Jonica Newby is a well-known science reporter, notably with ABC TV's previously popular but no longer broadcast program, Catalyst, and offers here a moving expression of climate grief, leavened by a diverse range of supportive therapies from psychologists, scientists, and fellow grief travellers, such as singer-songwriter, Missy Higgins, and comedians Charlie Pickering and Craig Reucassel.

The result feels perhaps a little rushed, and something other than what was originally intended, since - as Newby admits in her introduction - a "clear enough plan" to rationalise years of sadness and disappointment into climate grief when setting out in October 2019 was soon overtaken by "the biblical events of fire and plague".

She continues: "The book - and I - had to change . . . but the theme, of how we deal emotionally with the climate-induced changes ahead, could not have become more starkly, viscerally relevant".

Newby's emotional theme is well-chosen, canvassing grief, anger, and denial with a straightforward, breezy sense of informed engagement that leaves room for active, rather than passive, hope.

I share her grief and hope that you will too.

  • Ian McFarlane's chapbook of climate change poems, The Crucible, is published by Ginninderra Press.
This story A moving expression of grief for our surrounds first appeared on The Canberra Times.