Thoughts On Climate Change From Women’s March In Sydney, Australia

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One of the larger anti-Trump protest marches in non-US cities around the world took place in Sydney, Australia, on January 21. After assembling in beautiful Hyde Park, a group of several thousand marched downtown to fashionable Martin Place in the city’s Central Business District.

Australia climate change

Ever since The Donald (aka Don the Con) swept into office on a magic carpet fashioned of lies, hatred, and virulent contempt for climate change realities, caring and thoughtful people around the world have promised to proclaim their opposition to this overblown buffoon. Since my wife and I were in Sydney visiting family, we decided to lend our voices to the chorus of dissent.

Being Part Of The Throng

The crowd outside the American Embassy was 90% women. Many carried handmade protest signs calling out Trump, the known sexual predator, for his disgusting attitudes toward women. This is a man who has bragged publicly that he would “date” his own daughter if only he was younger and not related to her. When Trump uses the word “date,” it is a euphemism for what most women would consider sexual assault.

There were speeches and protest songs. The atmosphere was one of non-confrontational anger. It was like a throwback to the days when Joan Baez, Buffy Sainte Marie, Janis Ian, and Mary Travers gave voice to the angst brought on by the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War.

It was a curious thing for me to be part of a crowd made up mostly of women. It’s something I am not accustomed to. Were it a protest rally of men, there would have been a feeling of rage about to explode into violence in the air, but there was none of that nascent sense of darkness emanating from this group.

Being in the minority was an odd experience for me. White males just assume they are always the dominant force, but not in this group. The vibe at this convocation was one of unity, of shared purpose, and higher possibilities. I sensed my wife and the women around her were drawing power from this group of females who dared come together to express their common beliefs.

Climate Change In Australia

Australia is ambivalent about climate change. On the one hand, all its cities are located along its coasts and are endangered by rising sea levels. On the other hand, it has enormous reserves of coal. Much of the Australian economy is based on mining coal and exporting it to other countries. The destruction of the Great Barrier Reef along Australia’s northern coast is attributed to pollution flowing outward into the Pacific from those mining operations.

Some in Australia want to reinvigorate the coal industry, citing reasons similar to those espoused by Donald Trump — jobs and a stronger economy. The answer to that is that if we continue to burn coal and other fossil fuels, the ability of the earth to support human life will be seriously degraded. Profits over people is a short-term solution — at best. There are no jobs if human society ends in a fatal crash.

There is a plan afoot to close the Hazelwood coal-fired generating plant near Brisbane and the nearby coal mines that feed it. The idea is to replace the electricity with clean renewable power from solar panels. Just yesterday it was revealed that dismantling the old facility and cleaning up the site will cost about half a billion dollars more than expected because the environmental damage is so great.

The Empowerment Of Women

Years ago, as George W. Bush was beginning to spread his own brand of darkness across America, I attended a conference at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. One of the distinguished speakers was Harry Belafonte. I got to ask him if he saw any hope for humanity in a world dominated by neocons who spoke openly of creating their own reality. Today, we have apologists for Donald Trump telling us that “alternative facts” are the basis for their own world view.

Mr. Belafonte paused and then said, “The empowerment of women.” I didn’t quite understand his meaning then, but after the events of this weekend, which brought millions of women together to express their common bond and shared purpose, Belafonte’s message is clear.

Throughout history, men have led the way toward colonizing and enslaving huge numbers of the world’s people. Men have led us into wars. Men have made “profits over people” the dominant theme of business. Men have spearheaded the extraction of fossil fuels without regard to consequences.

Expecting men to clean up the mess they have made is unrealistic. The pathway out of darkness will be lit by the compassion and collegiality of women. The world at large, and America in particular, needs to bring women to the forefront of political institutions.

The Democratic Party in America doesn’t need to bend itself into a pretzel trying to appeal to Trump supporters. It needs to tap the power of women. It needs to find qualified female candidates to oppose the incumbents in Congress who oppose Planned Parenthood, oppose holding Wall Street to account for its avarice, oppose the expansion of fossil fuel interest, oppose the dismantling of social justice programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and affordable healthcare for all.

Women can give voice to a needs of the earth and human society in a way that men cannot. There are plenty of people today wringing their hands about how awful the Trump maladministration will be, how it will eviscerate cleantech solutions to global warming, and denigrate renewable energy initiatives. The Democrats are at a loss to understand how Trump and his mantra of hatred happened.

The answer was revealed over the weekend. Millions of women in the streets demanding social justice and caring for the planet we call Mother Earth. That is where the power to effect permanent, lasting change can be found. In the words of Bob Dylan, “keep your eyes wide, the chance won’t come again.” It’s time to tap that reservoir of power — now, before it is too late.

Photos by the author

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

Steve Hanley has 5240 posts and counting. See all posts by Steve Hanley