I’ve just been to a protest here in Adelaide against the current Australian Government’s response to climate change. This rally and 129 others like it across the nation was organised by a group called GetUp! which I’m only just learning about, even though it is quite large and well organised. They’ve actually been sending me emails for a while now but I’ve been ignoring them on account of spam sent to me by totally unrelated organisations that use the same two words but put a pronoun between them.
I was actually a little surprised that rallies had been organised. I didn’t think people protested any more. I thought protests had been superseded by technology such as clicking “like” buttons on the internet. (Believe me, more than one third world warlord has been clicked down in flames at the hands of my mouse.) But despite this plenty of people still took part. We were informed that 55,000 people turned out to rallies around Australia and we were told that there were about a thousand people present in Adelaide. To me it looked like a lot more than a thousand, but I certainly didn’t try to count everyone because I didn’t have enough fingers.
The reason the rallies were held is because Australia’s recent federal election was won by the Liberal-National Coalition. The fact that the first four letters of the word Coalition spells “coal” was not a deliberate choice, it was just a fortunate coincidence for them. The Coalition is dominated by the Liberal Party and, since this is Down Under, here Liberal means conservative. The new government, led by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, is moving to eliminate Australia’s carbon price which was introduced less than a year and a half ago.
A carbon price is the most efficient and therefore cheapest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The new government wants to replace it with a watered down fig leaf called “Direct Action” that may actually increase emissions rather than decrease them. This has resulted in them being unable to find a single reputable Australian economist who will say their plan is superior to a carbon price. The reason the government says it wants to get rid of the most efficient way to cut emissions is to “save Australians money”. No, I don’t know how replacing an efficient process with a less efficient one will manage to save money. What I do know is, this century Australia has suffered from drought, record breaking heat waves, record breaking floods, and record breaking fires while the new government is attempting to do as little as it can get away with on climate change and appears as though it would prefer to do nothing at all. So I think Australians have quite a bit to protest about.
I got to the protest by physically leaving the house and walking along the parkland by the river. Or at least we call it a river, but a few years ago the plug accidentally came out and drained a section of it and real rivers probably don’t come with plugs. (But on the bright side we did find a few things that had gone missing.) Walking by the river was an exciting experience. It was just like moving around in a first person computer game except I was using my actual legs. It was good exercise too, which was fortunate because that’s something I haven’t had any of since my wii exercise board started screaming at me that I was crushing the life out of it. Anyway, it was good to be reminded that my thighs can be used for purposes other than cheeto bowl support.
I was ten minutes late because apparently reality has a fatigue bar that can’t be seen until you start to develop tunnel vision. But I was still in time to hear the original inhabitants of Adelaide welcome us to country. One of the first speakers was a member of the United Firefighters Union who spoke of the need to hire more people to deal with the increasing threat of bush fires resulting from climate change. Now you might say his union has a vested interest in seeing more fire fighters employed, but as an Australian I have a vested interest in not being burned to death, so I think there is room for us to work with them on this.
We also heard from the head of the State Bureau of Meteorology who spoke of how hot weather records keep being broken and Federal Senate Leader Penny Wong was there, but unfortunately South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill wasn’t. And if it doesn’t jump up and slap you in the face, I’ll point out that in a continent wracked by heat waves, floods, and fires, it’s amusing that a guy called Weather-ill has became head of a state government. It seems that when it comes to making bad jokes, compared to reality, even I’m just an amateur.
We were asked to take out our phones and send a petition to the Federal Government. Unfortunately I couldn’t do this as I haven’t bothered to connect my phone to the internet for the following reasons:
1. This feature would only be useful to me if I left my house, and
2. When I do leave my house it’s probably a good thing for me to take a break from the internet during that time.
However, they had actual physical paper petitions for people without internet phones to use, but I did have to ask a lady for help as I had trouble working out that the paper wasn’t touch sensitive and couldn’t be typed on. Fortunately, she was more than happy to help and in addition to her I met several other lovely people, including artist Damon Pearson who gave me an oil on canvas work entitled, “A Throw Away Planet” which I am very impressed with and will not throw away.
The speakers all gave interesting talks and none of their presentations dragged, although I did think an attempt to get cheers early on in the piece was a little unnecessary. This is Australia. You talk first, we cheer at the end. Get it right. When we did have an official cheer session, the organisers tried to keep the cheers positive, although the crowd was at first somewhat vocal in their disappointment with the new Prime Minister. It appeared that many people agreed that his action on global warming is Probably Inadequate to Successfully Save the World’s Economy And Climate. Or, to put it more succinctly, the current government’s action on climate change is PISSWEAC.