Principal Marc Light looks at the camera, he is wearing a grey suit and smiling. The King David School's logo is behind him, silver on a wood background.

The immediate and future impacts of climate change

This week Victoria experienced the extremities of weather patterns that are fast becoming the new normal. As I read of the start to one of the earliest bushfire seasons in memory followed immediately by dangerous flooding, I was reminded of the meme which is an image of a behatted dog sitting at a table with a cup of tea inside a house that is on fire. A speech bubble states “This is fine.”

How else can we respond to the progressively worsening news regarding the immediate and future impacts of climate change? As we hear of record after record being surpassed – most recently, Victoria’s driest ever September – many of us can feel that the only way to confront such news is to ignore it and to carry on as if everything is fine.

However, the alternatives available to us are not limited to ignoring reality or despairing in hopelessness. I take inspiration from our student leaders that confront the future with bravery and optimism.

Indeed, the antidote to apathy, inertia or what has been termed “climate anxiety” has been to become a proactive community member who takes responsibility for making changes that allow us to feel that we are part of the solution not just part of the problem.

This week, our students embraced activism on climate through participating in our Regen Week. The students organised a ride to school day, daily quizzes in our morning Kesher classes, an activist panel which explored the theme in our Welcome to Term assembly, a student environmental art competition and a Regen market which encouraged rehoming of clothing and household products.

One of the impediments to taking action on climate change is the sense that the problem is so big that we do not know where to start. Further, a tendency towards fundamentalist thinking can make us feel that unless we are perfect there is no point in trying to change. However, the rational response to this is that if we each try to make changes where we can, then collectively we can make a big difference.

As the world’s most famous youth activist, Greta Thunberg, says: “When enough people come together, then change will come and we can achieve almost anything. So instead of looking for hope – start creating it.”

What I loved about this week is the way that our students were all offered multiple opportunities to become involved in ways that were fun for them. They received education about the problems but this was supported with practical activities that they could take part in and this generates hope.

Observing the joy with which our student leaders have inspired their peers throughout this week has taught me an important lesson. Our students teach us that while saving the planet is serious business – there is no reason we cannot enjoy ourselves while we are doing it.

I believe that this is a powerful model for change and one that each generation can get behind.