This event was one of 7,347 events held in 188 countries as part of an International Day of Climate Action on 10/10/10
1964 was a year of the dragon. It was the year Hazelwood started tipping pollution into the atmosphere. Since it was also the year I took my first breath—and I imagine it chugging away through all the moments of my life—I feel this strange and horrible connection with the accumulative plumes of deadly greenhouse gas it has created. By my calculations Hazelwood’s black balloon contains around 740 million tonnes of pollution. Accepting that adult elephants weigh about 5 tonnes, Hazelwood is responsible for a herd of around 150 million elephants, in the room! Hazelwood is a death machine.
This northern summer, more glaciers carved into the ocean and more ice melted than ever before. Both Antarctica and Greenland are now losing ice at twice the rate they were in 2002 — as much as 400 billion tons each year and accelerating. Thousands upon thousands of people died in flash floods in Pakistan and China, and in fires in Siberia. As devastating droughts grip West Africa, millions of people are facing starvation. 2010 is on track to be the hottest year ever, as the sun sets on the hottest decade since instrumental records began.
What makes this empirical evidence particularly disturbing is that it directly matches the peer reviewed findings of literally tens of thousands of scientists who are experts in their fields—oceanographers, solar physicists, biologists, atmospheric scientists, geologists and snow and ice researchers from the world over—who for decades have been warning our decision makers that climate change is a deadly threat. Clearly their voices were drowned out by the fossil fuel lobbyists responsible for the countless Hazelwoods now littering our planet.
We could kick our addiction to fossil fuels starting NOW. As Beyond Zero Emission’s Zero Carbon Australia 2020 report demonstrates, we have feasible, affordable renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions to bring our stationery electricity emissions to zero within a decade. And achieving this will generate many thousands of new jobs in local more secure and sustainable economies. Besides Big Coal and emerging Big Gas, who could not want this for Australia?
Clearly I’m questioning the obvious here; why do we have to come out to this industrial relic and risk arrest speaking common sense while this dirty plant is allowed to continue spewing dangerous greenhouse gas into our air? Something is very wrong with this logic!
Fundamental to the duty of care of any government is to do its best to protect its citizens, its public property and territory from threats and harms. Yet after decades of climate warnings, our very life support system—our most valuable public asset—is now collapsing.
Meanwhile, as the horrifying evidence mounts, decision makers from both major political parties continue to largely ignore—in many cases outright deny—the science and marginalize the experts, as they use our taxes to bankroll the very corporations which have been largely responsible for our climate’s devastation. By any definition this is wicked behavior.
Assaults and crimes on our environment are just that; Hazelwood is a crime scene.
As our precious little time for real action slips into the pages of history, we are increasingly weary of hearing politicians say they care about climate change as they waste our time proposing false solutions and more problems for the future—such as gas and the pipe dream tech for carbon capture and storage—while continuing to approve new fossil fuel projects of all types. We know that only climate policies based on the most credible, up-to-date science—which calls for zero emissions and mass efforts to draw excess carbon out of the atmosphere—will secure a safe climate.
As just causes throughout history have shown, civil disobedience is the inevitable result of governments defending practices which are unjust. In this case our leaders are expecting us to continue to participate in a system that threatens our very survival; the survival of all life on earth as we know it. It is telling that, as more and more of us challenge the absurdity of this situation, democracies everywhere are responding by imposing greater restrictions on our rights to protest. Just look at this show of might to defend the rights of climate criminals; our taxes at work.
Ultimately we are here to demonstrate that if our leaders are not prepared to protect our future then we will. Social uprising and chaos will result if they continue to defend a system that threatens to destroy us.
It is encouraging that the likes of James Hansen, NASA’s chief climate scientist, is not only prepared to testify in court on behalf of climate protestors—he even travelled to a small courtroom in Kent in south east England to testify on behalf of the Kingsnorth Six—but has himself joined the growing ranks of arrestees for taking non-violent climate action.
In my view the people arrested here at last year’s Hazelwood rally—and climate arrestees all over the world—deserve to be honoured. Ultimately it is for the benefit of others that they taking significant personal risks to directly challenge the laws protecting climate crimes. This is exceptionally courageous and generous. They have justice, if not the law, on their side.
In finishing lets acknowledge and thank everyone involved in the grassroots climate action movement. The tireless and selfless work put in for this just cause is a gift. Although I know that to say that the pace of change feels frustrating is a gross understatement, progress on this issue is being made. I hope you can see that together we are ‘moving forward’.
Thank you people, YOU are the vanguard of this movement, our greatest hope for a future that is best and fair for all.
Thank you again