Extinction Rebellion in Geelong: Tell the truth

Photo by Sharon Bush

“Act as if our house is on fire, because it is.”
~ Greta Thunberg, Swedish climate activist

Geelong rebels’ first local action – a so-called ‘Die In’ blocking traffic on the city’s main shopping street – took place on Saturday 12 October 2019. The purpose was to protest the climate and ecological crisis with a peaceful demonstration. The action was followed by a picnic in Transvaal Square.

On Facebook, the group explained:

”We will show the public what we are about and how we plan to change the game on the climate crisis. This is an inclusive, family-friendly, community-organised event and we invite all residents of Geelong, the Bellarine, the Surf-coast and surrounding suburbs to participate and to learn more about how to get involved in Extinction Rebellion and demand emergency climate action.”

DEMANDS
Tell the Truth: Government tell the truth about the climate and ecological crisis we are facing and declare a climate emergency.

Act Now: Government immediately adopt a radical emissions reduction target, one that will transition Victoria to a net-zero emissions economy by 2025, in line with a global red-line of 1.5°C of global heating.

Beyond Politics: Government must create and be led by decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.


WHY WE’RE DOING THIS
We are confronted by a climate and ecological crisis.

Human activity has brought global average temperatures to 1°C above pre-industrial levels, and unless we rapidly transition to net zero emissions and radically reforest, we will be locked into a course for 5°C warming.

We are also the cause of the sixth great extinction crisis, with species loss now occurring at 100 to 1,000 times the natural rate, and with 1 million species at risk of extinction, many within decades.

These tragic facts threaten both human life and civilisation, and non-human life and biodiversity.

The multiple impacts of climate heating are plain to see and will worsen as the planet continues to heat. Runaway climate change is guaranteed under a ‘business as usual’ scenario.

The mainstream media have failed to tell us the full, brutal truth of how dire the environmental crisis is.

Government action has been totally inadequate to address this existential emergency. Emissions continue to rise. Species continue to die. This cannot continue.

Another world is possible, and the solutions are within reach. But nothing will come unless we stand up and fight for a true democracy in which our voices are heard.

To save ourselves, it’s going to take everything we’ve got. We have to build upon the success peaceful civil disobedience has had and continues to have in the ongoing struggle for civil rights, women’s rights and LGBTIQ rights. We have to join together and act now, uniting in rebellion to protect each other and all life on earth.

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This event takes place on the stolen land of the Wadawurrung people of the Kulin Nation. XR Geelong wishes to acknowledge their sovereignty, which was never ceded, and pay respects to their elders past, present and emerging.

We are committed to aboriginal rights and sovereignty and recognise that first nations people around the world have been the frontline against colonial expansion and environmental destruction for centuries.


Tell the truth

Below is Mik’s speech at Extinction Rebellion Geelong’s die-in on Malop Street on 12 October 2019.

The truth is that our burning of coal, gas and oil is heating up the planet.

The truth is that this is causing a dangerous collapse of the ecosystems around us. And this is irreversible! An irreversible collapse.

The truth is: it is killing an ecosystem like the Great Barrier Reef. The Reef is dying – from warming and acidification

The truth is that Climate change is a matter of life and death!

The truth is about facts and figures – and I shouldn’t be shouting about it. We need to talk about the truth calmly and objectively. For everyone to listen, we need to lower our voices.

The truth is that around 200 species go extinct every day at the moment. 200 lifeforms – gone forever. Today. Tomorrow, 200 other ones.

The truth is that already now, today, half of Australia’s native plants are under threat from climate change.

The truth is that our burning of coal, gas and oil – and our industrial farming – is causing extreme weater events – storms, floods, droughts – and it is costing us billions of dollars, in Australia alone.

The truth is that the bushfires, they are getting worse: The truth is that an inspector from Queensland Fire and Emergency Services put it like this: “We’ve never seen fire at this time of the year as we’re seeing now. Never seen this before in recorded history. Fire weather has never been this severe this early in spring.” This is what he said and that is the truth

The truth, we normally think, would come from our meteorologists. They reported a few months ago that June this year was the hottest June on record. Hottest month of June ever.

The truth is that this July was the hottest July on record.

Nine out of the 10 hottest Julys ever recorded have all occurred during the last 15 years – since 2005.

The truth is that August came up as the secondhottest August on record.

The truth is that last month, September, was the hottest September on record. So what should we think about that? How do we think we are going, really? Nobody knows, because the weather reporters on tv only want to talk about the weather – not the climate… So we don’t hear the truth.

The truth is that the country of Iceland has held a funeral for its first glacier lost to the climate crisis.

The truth is that already, two billion people are facing “moderate to severe food insecurity due largely to the warming planet.” (Who says that? The United Nations)

The truth is that the United Nations warns us that “the climate crisis is greatest ever threat to human rights.”

The truth is “the climate disaster future” has arrived.

So… the truth is that Extinction Rebellion is right to raise the alarm.

Because the truth is that at the same time, last year, in 2018, global emissions of greenhouse gases rose by 1.7 per cent.

The truth is the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere jumped by 3.5 parts per million last year – and that is the largest jump ever observed.

The truth is that while the world’s leaders met at the United Nation’s Climate Emergency Summit in New York, our prime minister – who was in the US at the same time, where did he go?ScoMo thought it would be much more important to go and see a new box factory.

The truth is that ScoMo is getting away with lying. We hear him telling the global community that Australia is doing fine and on track to keep its commitments – its weak commitments – to the Paris Agreement, but how weird is that when his own Department of Environment is telling us that Australia is far from being able to keep our commitment?
While he is lying his own government is actually telling the truth.

The truth is Australia’s emissions rose again last year. Last year in March, Australia irresponsibly added 536 million tonnes of carbon emissions into the atmosphere – and this year even more: we raised that figure with 3 million tonnes more…. so we are now up to 539 million tonnes of carbon per year.

The truth is that the Victorian government, even though it’s been making progress here and there, the Andrews government is still approving new coal and gas projects – and tree logging projects – right across Victoria.

The truth is that if we continue like this, in ten years time this little rogue country of climate criminals with a population of just 25 million will be responsible for 13 per cent of global emissions.

We are, each of us as individuals, in average, we are responsible for some of the worst ecological footprints in the world.

The truth is that we are all part of the problem.

It is our burning of coal, gas and oil, it is the way we farm and the way we consume that’s causing ice to melt and sea levels to rise – and many other problems on the rise in our society.

The truth is that the Australian Medical Association – AMA – says that “Climate change will cause higher mortality and morbidity from heat stress and from increasingly severe weather events.”

“Climate change will cause increases in the transmission of vector-borne diseases,” says AMA

“The Climate Emergency will cause food insecurity resulting from declines in agricultural outputs,” and “Climate change will cause a higher incidence of mental ill-health.” Thats the truth

The truth is there’s an average of three farmers who kill themselves every day in this country.

And it’s not just AMA talking about this, the World Health Organisation, The Lancet, and medical organisations around the world, they are ALL saying the same: “This is a health emergency,” they say.

The truth is that Pope Francis, the leader of 1.3 billion Catholics, has declared a climate emergency and he says we have to abandon fossil fuels.

Islamic scholars have issued a fatwa – a religious ban – on fossil fuels.

The truth is that London, Paris, New York, Sydney, Adelaide, Hobart and 1,100 cities around the world have declared a climate emergency.

The South Australian upper house and the ACT have declared a climate emergency.

The truth is that doctors, engineers and architects in Australia have declared a climate emergency.

Professors at Deakin University, social workers and psychologists – even lawyers! – are calling for a climate emergency declaration

300,000 Australians have signed the official e-petition EN1041, asking the Parliament in Canberra to declare a climate emergency.

The truth is that Geelong’s Mayor and Deputy-Mayor supported Councillor Jim Mason’s and Sarah Mansfield’s call for this City Council too to declare a climate emergency.

The truth is that six of our councillors rejected their call, that’s the shameful truth!

The truth is that Geelong Advertiser reported this week that “a report has revealed the City of Greater Geelong is struggling to meet sustainability and emissions reduction targets.”

The truth is most of us don’t really know what we can do to help. The media is silent. Even our public broadcasters who are here to serve the people, and funded with our taxes, even ABC and SBS don’t seem to think it is their duty to step in and help.

The truth is we’re all responsible for climate change.

The truth is our governments can’t fix this problem alone. We need our governments to wake up, but we also need to wake up ourselves.

The truth is, as a community, we are just not getting it yet.

The truth is most people don’t even know what the atmosphere is made of. Let alone the science that explains how our air pollution can be so dangerous

People talk about this as if its something we’ve just found out about, but the truth is we have known about this problem since the 50ies. Scientists talked about this in science tv-shows in the US in 1958 – The Bell Science Hour – that’s more than sixty years ago.

The truth is that in 1965, the American president Lyndon B. Johnson received a report from his Science Advisory Committee, which stated that “By the year 2000 the increase in atmospheric CO2 will be close to 25 per cent. This may be sufficient to produce measurable and perhaps marked changes in climate.”

The thuth is that in 1977, more than four decades ago, the American president, Jimmy Carter, received a memorandum warning of “catastrophic climate change” – I’ll just read the header: “Memorandum to the President. Subject: Release of Fossil CO2 and the Possibility of a Catastrophic Climate Change“

As it was told in 1977 to the American president: (quote) “…once the climatic effects become evident not long after the year 2000; the situation could grow out of control…”
42 years ago! That’s the disturbing truth

The truth is that the first World Climate Conference was held in Switzerland two years later, in 1979 – so 40 years ago. Again, the scientists issued a clear warning to global leaders of the “potentially significant socio-economic consequences of human-caused global warming.”

The truth is that in 1981 the oil company Exxon had their researchers look at the problem, and Exxon’s manager said it was “distinctly possible” that the projected warming trend after 2030 “will indeed be catastrophic” and he even warned that by that time, the damage could be irreversible. When he stated that, 2030 was 50 years away. Now we are only 10 years away. “Catastrophic”. “Irreversible”. We knew. The fossil industry knew.

The truth is that then in 1988, world leaders met at an international conference in Toronto – and agreed to set the first global emission reduction targets, calling for a 20 per cent reduction of CO2 emissions worldwide within the next seven years.

The New York Times, 1988, headline on the front page: “Global warming has begun.”

The truth is that back then, Graham Richardson, was environment minister here in Australia, and he took a submission to the federal cabinet proposing that Australia should reduce its greenhouse emissions by 20 per cent, in accordance with the Toronto Target.

The truth is Australia had a prime minister then – Bob Hawke – who said this in 1988: “We’ve got little time to spare. The cumulative effects of past mistakes in our care for the environment are still to fully emerge, and to proceed with ignorant and unthinking ways risks future irreparable damage. We can’t continue to squander the earth’s assets.”

The truth is that CSIRO published a research report on climate change in 1988. It stated that “over the next 40 years it the greenhouse effect will lead to world-wide changes in climate, and changes to rainfall distribution, storm frequency and all other parameters that make up climate.”

So, folks: The truth is that our leaders have been fully aware of the science and the gravity of this problem for over four decades. But nevertheless, in one election after the other, they have been pretending it didn’t matter.

The truth is that generation after generation, election after election, our political leaders have failed us catastrophically.

The very unpleasant truth is that half of all emissions that come from fossil fuels have come in the last 30 years. AFTER we were realised the danger, AFTER we understood that we have to stop polluting the atmosphere as if it was an open sewer.

The truth is, though, that many of us weren’t really aware of how bad the problem is, because our leaders weren’t telling the truth – and they still don’t!

The shocking truth is that just 20 fossil fuel companies have produced 35 per cent of the carbon dioxide and methane since 1965.

The truth is that by now we have had four major IPCC Assessment Reports, we had 25 United Nations COP Climate Summits, we’ve seen breathtaking declines in the prices of solar and wind energy… And still, our governments keep looking the other way.

The global fossil CO₂ emissions continue to rise. Another 2 per cent up every year.

Not only have our government failed to take action and fix the problem. The truth is worse than that. Our government is funding the collapse with our taxes – handing them over to the polluting industries – subsidising the fossil fuel industry with more than 10 billion dollars every year. And rising.

The truth is that Australia has a government which says that, and I quote directly here:
The Coalition supports “sensible responses to climate change that include support for the high-quality coal and gas that we produce in this country.” Who said that? Matt Canavan – and he went on to say: “It is through the high-quality production of coal and gas that we will respond to climate change and reduce emissions.”
That is not true, Mr Canavan. That’s an outright lie.

When members of our own government get away with lying – who will tell the truth?

It is the very sad and absolutely frustrating truth that powerful lobby groups like the Minerals Council and people such as Gina Reinhard and Rubert Murdoch have been spending millions and millions of dollars on spreading lies and misinformation to the general public, leading to never-ending confusion and time-consuming disagreements.

The truth is that they have been doing this for no other reason than to delay the closure of these polluting industries that they make their profits from. To them, it is an investment, and they are just caching in – getting their returns.

The truth is their Weapons of Mass Confusion have worked very well.

The truth is that more than anything, it is because of THESE people’s playing games with our safety, that we now face an emergency.

Our kids fear for their future, some of them don’t even think they have one.

The truth is that there is too much power in the hands of the coal barons and the fossil fuel lobby. They are the reason we don’t have a climate policy – or a fee on pollution.

We can fix that! Give over the power to the ordinary people. Establish Citizens Assemblies.

The truth is that we lack honesty and transparency.

We lack honest leaders.

Photo by Sharon Bush

The truth is “it’s time to abandon our dependence on fossil fuels and move – quickly and decisively – towards forms of clean energy and a sustainable and circular economy.”
(Who said this? Pope Francis did)

The truth is that every Catholic member of the Australian government is not only ignoring and betraying their own religious leader. They are committing what the Pope calls a sin and what I would call a crime. A crime against life on this planet.

The truth is coal is NOT “good for humanity.” Not any longer.

The truth is that we cannot solve this crisis with the same mindset that has created it.

The truth is that the climate emergency is not good for business. And don’t forget that most companies in this country are NOT in the fossil fuel industry.

The truth is that 20 years of climate activism hasnt worked. It is now time to rebel. It is time for civil disobedience.

The truth is that we have solutions. But we have to start investing in them.

The truth is that Australia is listed as one of six countries with the greatest potential for planting trees that can slow down climate change.

We have do regenerative farming, we can produce clean hydrogen and ammonia for petrol, we can allow microgrids. We have the technologies – but we need y to support them – and we need our governments to believe in them.

The truth is we have to electrify everything. And that this will be better, cheaper, safer and healthier for us.

The truth is a majority of us are sick and tired of our government’s inaction on the climate crisis.

The truth is that 78 per cent of residents here in Geelong “agree or strongly agree that urgent action on climate change is needed now.”
(Who researched that? The Victorian government, based on all together 3,330 telephone interviews.)

The truth is that 73 per cent of Victorians prefer to buy from businesses that show they care about climate change.
(Who said that? Sustainability Victoria).

The truth is our concern for the environment is higher than ever.

The truth is that this month October is Buy Nothing New Month.

The truth is that “Unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong — these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.”
(Who said this? Winston Churchill – in 1935)

The truth is we can be decarbonised as a society by 2030 – in ten years – easily, if we WANT to. But we should aim at decarbonising society already at 2025, because for most of us, this is something we can do when we set our minds to it. Families, businesses, schools and universities, Councils. We can do this over the next five years.

The truth is “Everything counts. What you do counts.”
(Who said that? Said Greta Thunberg)

The truth is that “You are never too small to make a difference.”


Never before in recorded history

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services predictive services inspector Andrew Sturgess said this was a historic event: “We’ve never seen fire danger indices [and] fire ratings at this time of the year as we’re seeing now. Never seen this before in recorded history. Fire weather has never been this severe this early in spring.”
~ Brisbane Times – 6 May 2019

https://twitter.com/morss_alex/status/1184779288710701059?s=20
https://twitter.com/morss_alex/status/1184779958583021568?s=20

The truth emerges

How I wish more journalists would actually read this article about how vested interests tried to turn the world against climate science. And more importantly: UNDERSTAND the implications of this.

The issue boils down to a few words and values, such as Responsibility, and Integrity.

One day in the future, historians will be looking into who were responsible for the global collapse of ecosystems caused by rising temperatures which was caused by human carbon emissions. Their research and the evidence will be pointing at us who currently work in the media industry. The communicators.

Really, it’s absolutely shocking how the world’s journalists and editors have declined to communicate this story to the broader public – and it seems almost weird why they would not have been telling it over and over, again and again – the same way as they do with so many other stories that involve corruption, greed, and disgusting selfishness causing harm to innocent victims.

We are some 30-40 years down the track after the issue with climate breakdown became common knowledge, and now the climate catastrophe is breathing us in the neck.

At least by now we are beginning to see the truth being reported by a few genuine and responsible journalists here and there. And, hold on here! – but can we please pay an extra tribute to The Guardian and salute them for their efforts? – being one of the few newspapers globally that have stood out and makes an important difference simply by telling the truth.

→ The Guardian – 11 October 2019:
How vested interests tried to turn the world against climate science
“For decades fossil fuel majors tried to fight the consensus – just as big tobacco once disputed that smoking kills”

Honestly, (honesty being a rare commodity in social media these days) – that myriad of journalists colleagues of mine who still keep being cowardly silent or even ignorant about the need to communicate about this issue… I think they need some help – and also they should maybe try do do some self-reflection about what their lack of integrity will mean for themselves at a private level. How their kids will be looking at them say in 10, 20 or 30 years time: Is this how you want to be remembered?

To pretend the climate emergency isn’t happening, or that it doesn’t have any relevance to your work as a journalist and a communicator is simply no longer acceptable. In an emergency, new rules apply.
Face it, everyone of you out there who works in the media industry: This climate emergency we now are confronted with is something your reporting – or your lack of reporting – has been contributing to. You are directly complicit in this crime against life on Earth.

Your decision to look the other way is part of the reason humanity is in trouble.

I say: It’s time to make up for it. There’s still time. So let’s do it – and here is what you need to do: #TellTheTruth about the #ClimateEmergency.

Please.

“In it’s purest form, Civil Diso-Bedience is not just non-violent direct dance, it’s a way of life.”
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