For humanity to survive, we must make Australian politicians feel our fear and rage | Peter Garrett and Paul Dorure


There are no more climate deniers. No matter how angry we feel at missed opportunities, we always celebrate that the battle of ideas, at least, is won.

Now there are climatic hawks and climatic doves. The hawks see a global emergency and the need to mobilize as if human civilization is at stake. The doves – the moderates in the business community and the governments that serve their interests – see a serious environmental problem that we must address, but slowly and without too much disruption, especially for them.

While we welcome the ‘all aboard the climate train’ phenomenon, we view the rhetoric and support for action over time, and into 2050, as spurious at best and fatal at worst.

This is because action is needed now. There is no choice because the world is now burning, flooding and melting. Now is the time that lives are lost and homes destroyed. It is now that billions of dollars of value are being destroyed, with disruptive economic change looming.

Everything happening in the world is exactly as planned, albeit sooner than expected. James Hansen, one of the world’s foremost climatologists, addressed the US Congress over 30 years ago, warning: “If we burn all fossil fuels, we will destroy the world.

Three decades out of all reputable climatologists agree with this harsh assessment. But now it is not a forecast, it is the primordial fact by which all actions must be judged.

Who can forget the immense wall of fire and smoke that swept through eastern Australia two summers ago, with barely believable scenes of warship evacuations from the beaches where people had been? fled, and millions of acres of decimated landscapes and a billion native creatures burned alive.

That same intensity was reproduced this year with wildfires in northern Europe and North America, while devastating floods destroyed entire cities in Germany. Then came a rainy event in China where a year of rain fell in one day.

The political response in Australia? Plans for scaling up coal and gas development across the country, including the immense Galilee Field in Queensland and the Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory, approved by the federal and state governments of both tints. The Prime Minister is moving forward with a “gas recovery,” where super-warming gas methane will be pumped into the atmosphere in large volumes, hastening our descent into the fires of a warming hell.

Australian politics are sleepwalking towards the apocalypse, towards a state of imbalance so savage that the Covid pandemic will appear calm in comparison. Our repeated lower ranking as a nation taking serious climate action is hardly surprising, such is the toxic combination of submissive politicians and the greedy cabal of fossil fuel and energy companies determined to extend their harmful business model to the world. planet.

The next phase of the fight between the climate hawks, which now includes some big players, and the climate doves, is underway. The Doves still believe that you can negotiate with Mother Nature, that she will slow down the physics and chemistry – and climate impacts – as we gently guide our economy to catch up, and there are windfall benefits to be reaped. of the ensuing chaos.

At this critical juncture is the climate movement drowning, swept away by a rising tide of greenwash and rhetoric, similar to former Prime Minister John Howard’s line that “We are all environmentalists now” . Or is there a safer path that can be taken, leading to true security and survival? And what would it take to embark on this path?

To begin with, Australia needs to realize that the world and the global economy on which our prosperity depends evolve around us. The debates of our political leaders about the industry whether they support it or not are absurd, as if their views have an impact on the reaction of the market. Despite the coming price swings, the fossil fuel industry is now in a global death spiral and a new green industry is rushing to replace it.

We also need a broad citizens’ movement to emerge, with good old-fashioned political organization bringing together friends and enemies, farmers and city dwellers, across generations, to chart a new and equitable path in clean energy.

We must remember that there are few examples in history, apart from war, where transformational social change has occurred without a mass civil uprising.

This means more targeted civil disobedience, in Ghanaian tradition, on a large scale. We’ve seen this emerge before Covid with groups like Extinction Rebellion and Youth Climate Strikes, showing the mainstream environmentalist movement that taking to the streets is as important, in some cases more important, than clicking our screens or write reports. To be successful, acts of protest must be completely non-violent and genuinely peaceful, otherwise public support will decline.

The other element of this approach, personified by Greta Thunberg and the school strike movement, provides an important lesson for climate emergency advocates. They do not engage in detailed debates about politics and economics. This is the task of the experts, not the protesters.

They just said to listen and then act on the basis of science. Do what the experts say we should do. Don’t count on us for the answer. Don’t let us give you hope. Only Do your job as leaders. Act.

It will be crucial that the traditional legal and business worlds line up behind this movement. Like the class action lawsuit launched by eight young people to prevent the approval of an extension of the coal mine by the Minister of the Environment Sussan Ley. Like investors voting against Exxon’s board and demanding that the company change.

Finally, if we are to achieve the dramatic emission reductions needed over the next 10 years, they must be achieved through our current political and economic system.

It requires every member of parliament to feel the anger, fear and determination of the Australian people, through all the options available, including meetings, phone calls, office occupancy and countless community-driven actions. . It’s old school, it can’t always be done virtually, and it can work.

The threat here is not to life on Earth. The threat is to humanity and the ecosystems that support us. As climatologists around the world note in the latest IPCC report: “Life on Earth can recover from drastic climate change by evolving into new species and creating new ecosystems… Humans cannot.

Peter Garrett is a musician, activist and former Federal Minister of the Environment. Paul Gilding is a fellow of the Cambridge University Institute of Sustainability and former Executive Director of Greenpeace International

Midnight Oil’s new single Rising seas is published on Friday

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