My Climate Poetry

Aside from an odd letter to a politician my first written words on global warming and the climate crisis were in the form of poetry. Writing under the pseudonym Amelia Angove in the 1980s these few brief lines foreshadowed an occupation that has dominated the last twenty years of my life. The climate crisis was briefly mentioned in four of the six slim Angove volumes published in the 1990s. Using fiction inevitably involved the baggage of spelling mistakes and occasionally the more serious factual errors or misdirection.

In the poem ‘Numblamungie 1989’ I wrote “it is easy to believe / the greenhouse effect / is a scientist’s creation” and “as phrophets (sic) of doom our lives / pass us by, preoccupied with / anticipating the greenhouse effect.” Obscure and somewhat ambiguous the second quote meant anticipating the consequences of increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere – that is global warming. The last verses published in 2000 (see image above) completed the process of using fiction as a vehicle included the following: “No 80. The ground is hard / and the water tanks are low; / perhaps El Nino / is merely the grandson / of global warming.”

By this time I had already published several opinion pieces (see here and here) and numerous ‘letters to the editor’ – mainly in the Bairnsdale Advertiser. Gradually the detail increased until it involved the 500 word blogs that appeared regularly on my website from 2013-23. An occasional piece like this one still appears. The objective analysis of the crisis had overwhelmed all the subjective, emotive attempts.

Since then the only verse written has been limited to lyrics for a few songs – all unpublished. One was a single verse set to the tune of ‘Plastic Jesus’: “Global warming, global warming, / it’s a fact that some of us deny / doesn’t matter whether it rains or freezes / it’s a happening now by Jesus / happening before our very eyes.” When Tony Abbott was opposition leader I penned a six verse song to the tune of ‘Nobby Hall’: “Your name sounds like a rabbit Dr No / and you’ve got a nasty habit Dr No / as the gutters deep you scour / in your endless push for power / with the devil you’d cohabit Dr No” went the chorus.

The first verse went “You deny there’s global warming Dr No / and of the greenhouse you are scorning Dr No / you did not hesitate / to say CO2 had no weight / and give science such a flooring, Dr No.” I still get angry thinking about the ten wasted years of climate denialism that the Abbott era inaugurated. Hopefully the words of songwriters and poets will express these emotions far better than I have been able, in the continuing struggle for meaningful climate action.

The poetry is available in pdfs here