Feeling anything but powerless

by Phil McNamara (photographs courtesy of Tri 4 The Planet)

During January and February, Third Fuse will donate $10 from every paperback sale of Red Reflection and $4 from every e-Book to Tri 4 The Planet.

On a recent Sunday in December, I competed in my first triathlon. It’s not a sport I’d ever considered but when my daughter, Darcey, asked if I was interested in the Better Medical Moana Triathlon and joining the Tri 4 The Planet team (a group getting active for their physical and mental health while getting active in climate advocacy) I decided to give it a go.

Some of the Tri 4 The Planet crew post race at the Moana Triathlon.

There is lots of evidence that climate change is not only impacting our environment but also a wide range of health outcomes, including mental health in our communities2,3. As someone who has felt overwhelmed by the urgency of climate change action and saddened by our slow response, and isolated as a result, I know very well the effects of climate change on my own mental health. But I am also aware of the need to stay active and exercise to counter these feelings. There is also lots of evidence that shows the health benefits of keeping active and exercising for people who care deeply about our environment4,5. So, I felt privileged to get an invitation to compete with a group of people that understand the connection between climate change concern and mental health decline, and keeping mentally and physically active and mental health improvement.

One of the other benefits, for me, that came out of participating in the Moana Triathlon was the realisation that I am not alone in my concern about climate change. Tri 4 The Planet set up a tent for its team and supporters, and their coordinator, Gemma Dawe, spoke positively to the crowd of athletes about the huge impact that little actions can have on this hugely important global issue. It was a nice feeling to be amongst like-minded people that, instead of getting sad about climate change, get active physically, mentally and politically.

Tri 4 The Planet’s tagline is ‘Healthy humans for a healthy earth’ so, if you are feeling overwhelmed and isolated in the face of climate change, a triathlon or some other form of physical or mental activity may help. Tri 4 The Planet welcomes new people to the group and get together for, not only triathlons but also, regular training, plogging (picking up rubbish while jogging)6 and catch-ups to drink coffee and chat. If you are not in Adelaide you can follow their social media (see below).

Tri 4 The Planet was formed by Gemma Dawe following the death of her boyfriend, Leif Justham, on a Western Australian highway as he rode around Australia educating people on how to use their power for good. Leif spent his last day in Adelaide as a supporter at a West Lakes Triathlon, and now Tri 4 The Planet is continuing his mission through participating in triathlons – raising awareness about climate change while keeping mentally and physically healthy.

Feel free to leave a comment below. I am particularly interested in the different strategies you are using to deal with climate anxiety. I recently read about another good strategy called Active Scepticism (by Soknes) in Rebecca Huntley’s book How to talk about climate change in a way that makes a difference.3 It’s a really informative book if you get a chance to read it. Check out my review here.7

Contact Tri 4 The Planet

  • Instagram: @tri4theplanet
  • Facebook group (by request): tri 4 the Planet
  • Call/Text Gemma Dawe: 0491730728

Useful links

1: Better Medical Moana Triathlon: https://moanatriathlon.com.au/

2: Climate Change and Human Health (AMA position statement): https://www.ama.com.au/position-statement/ama-position-statement-climate-change-and-human-health-2004-revised-2015

3: Active Scepticism: http://www.futureleaders.com.au/book_chapters/pdf/Climate-Health-and-Courage/Susie-Burke-and-Grant-Blashki.pdf

4: Beyond Blue info on climate anxiety: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/personal-best/pillar/in-focus/what-is-climate-anxiety-and-how-can-it-be-managed

5: Blackdog Institute wellbeing strategies: https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/resources-support/wellbeing/

6: Plogging: https://thirdfuse.com.au/project/plogging/

7: Book review: https://thirdfuse.com.au/2021/03/26/book-review/

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