Why Did Australians Take Part in the World’s Biggest Global Warming Civil Disobedience Action?

climate angel

Police removing Climate Angels from protest

Des Pensable copyright 2016

On Sunday 8th May about 1500 keen Aussies of all ages from around Australia moved onto the beach at Horseshoe Bay located by the mouth of Newcastle harbour armed with about 200 kayaks and canoes with the primary objective of stopping any coal boats from leaving. My partner Joanne and I were there. A secondary objective was to block a railway bridge denying access to coal trains.  Sixty six people were arrested there.

This civil disobedience action was organised as part of the world’s biggest week of civil disobedience involving 17 countries.  It shows the power of the Internet and passion and dedication of the activists.

So why did all these Aussies from all walks of life decide to protest using civil disobedience? Why were they prepared to risk arrest and heavy fines?

Last year along with over 190 other countries the Australian government signed an agreement at the Paris Climate Change conference (COP21) to phase out carbon emissions over the next few decades to help the world fight anthropogenic Global Warming which if unchecked posed an existential risk to the world.

This is a fancy way of saying unless we get off our rear ends and do something to move away from fossil fuel based economies and keep fossil fuel in the ground we’ll all die in a climate cataclysm in the not too distant future. This is not a scientific opinion it is cold hard fact backed by overwhelming evidence.

Global warming is not a scientific or technical problem as we have the means and technical knowledge to solve it. It’s a political and social problem.

The political problem in Australian is the LNP government which is a right wing conservative government full of climate change deniers who in a blatant show of hypocrisy immediately after signing the Paris agreement moved full steam ahead to sell more coal, open more coal and coal seam gas mines; and cut back and penalise any actions to move towards more renewable energy in Australia.

The LNP government’s anti-Global Warming stance has been savagely condemned around the world with Australia being called a leaner rather than a lifter and even more disdainful – a member of the Axis of Carbon (Evil) along with Canada.

Canada has repented and is now a leader in Global Warming action but only after the Harper Conservative government was replaced by a pro science liberal Global warming “believer” government. The sacking of Australia’s worst prime minister has made little change in the government’s dismal Global Warming denialist stance.

In an absolute debasement of science in Australia, the LNP axed the Climate Change Commission; eliminated the portfolio of Science Minister, which was later resurrected in title only, then proceeded to strip the CSIRO and Bureau of metrology of Climate scientists. It made large cuts to science in particular University research and climate science.  It made massive cuts to renewable energy and  finance.

The latest punishment handed out to scientists is to force the CSIRO to spend a large proportion of its future activities on finding ways TO SELL MORE coal and coal seam gas.

Hence, the civil disobedience actions in Australia can be seen as a direct result of the frustration felt by many Australians stemming from the LNP government’s reckless anti-science determination to deny the reality of Global Warming and set Australia on a disastrous economic course to SPEED UP Global Warming rather than help the world reduce it.

The activists are above all concerned about the futures of their families and the world’s environment which is our planetary life support system. There is no planet B.

So how did Australia end up with a global Warming Denier government?

Like many third world countries Australia is now suffering from the resource curse. We have fossil fuel wealth and greedy extractivist fossil fuel barons want it. As Naomi Klein has pointed out, in her book and movie “This Changes Everything”, the result in the third world countries has been extensive political corruption and environmental destruction fuelling Global Warming. That is precisely what is happening here.

The political problem in Australia originates from the fact both the major parties in concert with the local and foreign banking and mining plutocrats have chosen policies to allow the sale of as much of our fossil fuel mining assets to foreign investors as possible.

It’s not surprising then that the foreign owners of our coal mines and coal seam gas leases want to continue producing coal and coal seam gas for sale on the world market. It’s also not surprising that they would expect and help fund a denier government to avoid action to keep the fossil fuels in the ground.

A further complication is that the three eastern states Victoria, NSW and Queensland have generated most of their electrical power from burning locally produced coal for decades and this is continuing. It made sense until the world’s climate scientists discovered that it was bad for the world’s environment.

To make things worse, against the wishes of the majority of citizens, the state governments have progressively sold off most of the state owned power generation systems to private corporate owners in back door fire sale deals well lubricated by large donations to the main two political parties.

The stench of corruption in these deals is strong with NSW being found by ICAC to be the most corrupt government in Australia’s history. NSW has recently made it illegal to protest about virtually anything involving fossil fuel corporations to stop people demanding actions on Global warming.

These private corporations don’t wish to close their newly acquired fossil fuel power plants or switch to renewable energy as they pulled a massive scam on the state’s citizens and are making a nice profit from their power supply monopoly using coal powered systems.

They don’t really care about Global Warming or the fact that the large majority of people in Australia want to phase out fossil fuel power, opting instead for renewable energy like solar and wind power. They care only about profit on their investments.

To stop any move away from the use of fossil fuels the mining lobby in what’s called the revolving door policy have hired a large number of senior public servants and ex-politicians to public relations and lobbying positions to ensure they can control any meaningful government attempts to limit coal and coal seam gas production.

The final major political problem is the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP).  This agreement subordinates Australian environmental laws to TPP trade law. Both the LNP and Labor have agreed to ratify it after the next election.

If we ratify the TPP agreement and wish to fulfil our international obligations to the Paris agreement to keep fossil fuel in the ground then we can be sued in a secret corporate court outside Australia by the foreign owners of our coal mines for loss of profit. This will cost us tens of billions.

Is it any wonder with a Global Warming emergency on hand and a totally morally corrupt anti-science anti-people conservative corporate puppet government that Australians all over the country are turning to non-violent civil disobedience in a desperate attempt to force our oligarchy to act?

One thing is for sure – there will be a lot more civil disobedience until we can get the kind of benevolent democracy that we at one-time claimed to have.

Check out the links below

What the Newcastle activists were thinking

Great coverage with lots of pix by the Newcastle Herald

Tens of Thousands Take Part in Global Actions Targeting World’s Most Dangerous Fossil Fuel Projects

A Pacific Islander’s View of the Protest Action

Jo Breakfree Newcastle 2

Jo and Des with Pacific Climate Warriors

 

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Des Pensable

Des is a native of Sydney where he currently lives with his partner Joanne. He has a PhD in neuroscience and worked as a biomedical scientist where he published widely in several areas of science. Since retiring, he’s been a keen writer of poetry, stories and philosophy which appear on his web, blog site and on line literary publications. He is also a performance poet that appears regularly in venues around Sydney.

2 thoughts on “Why Did Australians Take Part in the World’s Biggest Global Warming Civil Disobedience Action?”

    1. The world is full of happy news Murray. You’ll find it on commercial TV and news everyday and night. It’s there to occupy people’s minds so they don’t take a positive part in our democracy. I try to write about the real news that matters.

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