I took myself off to the School Strike for Climate, in solidarity with those mired in the fallout from the excesses and ineptitudes of the Baby Boomer generation. I planned to go along with some neighbours and their kids, but I took the train before them, and got happily lost inside the crowd.
Waves of chants washing out from the steps of the old Treasury building: ‘What do we want?’ ‘Climate Action!’ ‘When do we want it?’ ‘Now!’ Excited groups of teenagers in school uniform, families of three generations, a scattering of old campaigners. A happy chaos as the organisers marshalled us for the walk down Collins Street and the brief liberation of claiming public space to speak out.
Didn’t manage to meet up with my neighbours, but heard from their parents that the kids won’t be the same.
‘The crisis is political—which is to say, not inevitable or necessary or beyond our capacity to fix,’ says Wallace-Wellsby. We have chosen this and we can choose our way out of it. But the pathway is not technological innovation, or our individual choices as consumers, or the way we think about the natural world, or more science, though all these things are part of the shift we must make. The pathway is political.
The UK Guardian’s George Monbiot offered this blunt observation to the young organisers of School Strike for Climate and Extinction Rebellion:
‘Ours is a society of altruists governed by psychopaths. We have allowed a tiny number of phenomenally rich people, and the destructive politicians they fund, to trash our life support systems. While some carry more blame than others, our failure to challenge the oligarchs who are sacking the Earth and to overthrow their illegitimate power, is a collective failure. Together, we have bequeathed you a world that – without drastic and decisive action – may soon become uninhabitable.’
It is time to mobilise politically, and I believe that means in part a local politics, where we move out beyond our tidily fenced domains and move on from congratulating ourselves, as the geese waddle their way across the main street, on living in our very country town. How are things going, actually?
This year, Clean-up Australia Day in Barrm Birrm netted a new minimum of rubbish. That’s good news – less rubbish, less people using this bushland as a dumping ground. As we finished up for the morning, we wondered why this might be happening. Maybe, as the town grows north, perhaps the bush feels more like our collective backyard and therefore something to look after. Barrm Birrm certainly needs all the help it can get.
This long summer has been hard. The grasses are more than parched. Lack of rain has stressed the shrubs; some trees are looking more than sad.
Living at Riddells, we will sleep soundly as the burghers of Brighton contend with sea level rise, but we will have our own difficulties. Jen Bendell paints the big picture: climate catastrophe, social collapse, possible extinction. David Wallace-Wells just says: The Uninhabitable Earth.
Hard times are coming, but how keep a grip on what is happening and not dissociate? Last year, 16 year old Greta Thunberg decided to spend Fridays not at school but camped out on the steps of the Swedish Parliament. She ended up on TED in Copenhagen: ‘The one thing we need more than hope is action. Once we start to act, hope is everywhere. So instead of looking for hope, look for action. Then, and only then, hope will come.’
Ross Colliver, Riddells Creek Landcare