Walking in the crushing crowd of the Climate Strike last Friday filled me with both joy and despair. It is not new that the young challenge the attitudes and complacency of the old. It has even been thus. But has there ever been so much at stake?
Let’s do the joy first. Perhaps if I write about joy for long enough, my despair will leave me. So many people: 150,000 in Melbourne. That was joyful. Such calm and good will. The rain holding off. The light police presence. The myriad of witty banners. The ability of young people to chant so loud for so long. (My voice quickly wore out.)
“We are at a tipping point,” my friend commented to me. It felt like that. Children in their school uniforms. Mops of hair. Prams. Parents holding their children’s hands in the pressing crowd.
Can the young keep up their protests until they win against the excuses of the old white men, bent on blowing up our planet. Insisting on change.
Remember, the young have won before. Many times. The Vietnam War. Nuclear disarmament. Women’s rights. Family violence. So take heart dear ones and don’t give up. If you stay the course, you will win. I’ll be there with you.
And you do not have to carry my barrage, my weary feeling that here we go again, out to stop the old white men from blowing up our planet. Here we go again, trying to counter their arrogance, their hubris, which is just a cover for their fear of the faceless corporate polluters whose money keeps them in power.
Pathetic old men
It needs the energy of the young to lead. Their refusal to cower. The US President, Donald Trump, whose best effort was to taunt the 16-year-old climate activist, Greta Thunberg, after her stunningly powerful speech at the Climate Action Summit in New York. She, cunningly, turned his taunt back on him by making it her Twitter profile description.
How patronising is our own Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, with his patronising platitudes in response to the world-wide protests? Don’t worry, , he responds. It is “needless anxiety”. That is the problem, isn’t it? Denial. Climate change denial.
More pathetic still is the ever-missing-in-action excuse-for-an Environment Minister, Sussan Ley. Two birds with one stone for a conservative government: token woman, poison chalice. What can she do but hide?
Take to the streets to overturn the $4 billion subsidy we pay to the polluters
But back to joy. It felt SO good to walk the streets, to claim them back from the cars. We spent just one afternoon doing what people did for thousands of years until the 1950s: walking wherever we liked, unfettered by the domination of cars, fearless of being run down, and killed or injured.
We have surrendered our world to the domination of the car and we must reclaim it. Get on your bike, leap to your feet, demand your fair share of the streets. Got on the trams and trains and talk to your fellow travellers about the latest research on how much is costs Australia to prop up our inefficient mining industry: $4 billion. That includes:
- $1,900 million in fuel subsidies
- $550 million in reduced tax payments for the gas industry’s production of condensate
- $368 million on tax write-offs for capital works
- $330 million on deductions for exploration and prospecting
- $312 million in accelerated depreciation write-offs.
Meanwhile, conservative commentators, like Judith Sloan, whine about the renewable sector receiving half that amount of money, claiming it is a taxpayer scam.
So on ya bike, young and old. The kids have spoken.