With quite heavy rain, Newcastle’s Day of Climate Action drew around 500 people. I must admit, the miserable weather, made it tempting to give it a miss but Cathy and I still trudged off in the rain. We need to take action and we need to do it now.
I’m afraid that events like Typhoon Haiyan and our recent bushfires, are giving us a frightening insight into the impact of climate change. While we can’t say that climate change caused all this destruction, we can say that climate change makes these types of events more likely.
Despite the clear warnings we are receiving from scientists and nature, our political leaders are dragging their feet. They haven’t considered it worth sending a senior Government representative to this week’s climate talks in Warsaw, they are axing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, they are putting an end to the price on carbon to name a few.
As Liam Phelan suggested at the rally today, “If our leaders aren’t leading, we have to do it for them!” We need to find ways of engaging the whole community in becoming more environmentally sustainable. It needs to happen at multiple levels and in multiple ways.
The four roles of social activism suggest some of the roles we can take in creating change. We need people who push the limits, people who working within existing structures, people who mobilise others and people who create alternative visions of how we can live. Today it was great to see people who are taking action in many different ways. While there are many things that make me despair, there are also many people who inspire me by their dedication and passion.
I’m often inspired by “normal” people who are doing amazing things (e.g., Hulbert Street in Fremantle.) There are people all around the place who are experimenting with how they can make a difference. At the rally today I was talking to somebody who lives near us who is getting close to being off-grid (at least for electricity).
I recently came across an acknowledgement to Country by Jim Ife.
I want to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land above which we are meeting, and to pay my respects to elders past and present. I say ‘above which we are meeting’, as a reminder that we are actually not meeting on the land, or interacting with it, or drawing energy from it. The land right here where we are meeting has been sealed over by concrete, and denied its natural interaction with the light, the rain, the air, insects, birds and animals. No plants can grow here. We have shut down this piece of land so that we could build this building, and we need to remind ourselves of this, at this time when a new relationship with the land is vital for our future survival.
Urban lifestyles can really cut us off from building a close relationship with the environment. Trying to become more environmentally sustainable can make a difference. Water tanks help us have a new appreciation for rain (even during a rally!). Growing our vegetables can help us notice what is in season, and question why “fresh” food from supermarkets lasts so much longer than things from the garden. (What do they add to make it last?) Riding a bike or walking makes us notice the weather and distance.
I often fear that we are doing too little too late. I sometimes find it hard when people are talking about where their next overseas holiday will be. I get annoyed when I go into the lunchroom at work and the air-conditioner is on when we really don’t need it. I’m frustrated that we use the car as much as we do and that I still haven’t stopped flying.
At the same time, I’m aware that there is a risk of being labled as someone who is always harping on about sustainability and who can be written off as a crackpot. I need to strike a balance between encouraging people to take action and being someone who is just annoying.
The beauty of today was being surrounded by people who are taking action, being inspired to take the lead and renewing my commitment to make a difference.
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