A View From the Understory - September 2021

A View From the Understory - September 2021

Hope is strong.

If you’ve never written a letter to a politician, now is the time to start. The next federal election could be in November this year or latest May of next year. The most important action that you can take is to write to your local federal member, the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition telling them that you will not vote for a representative or a party that does not commit to zero greenhouse gas emissions and no new coal-mines and coal power-stations by 2030. Here is why.

Scientists began to warn us in the late 1970’s that we were living beyond our means, pushing the ecological limits of the natural world. They warned that the repercussions of this behaviour would be immense but advised that fortunately given we had time the tool-box of options available to combat this was large.

But the allure of the shiny things is strong and we failed to change our ways. Forty years later the warnings are now deafening. But unfortunately there are now no options left. Just choices. Making the wrong choice is unthinkable. To make it harder the people to whom we entrusted the tool-box, continue to work against the best outcome for planet and people in favour of protecting fossil fuel corporations.
On the 9th August the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group 1: The Physical Science Basis, released their report AR6 Climate Change 2021.

This working group of thousands of scientists from around the world addresses the most up-to-date physical understanding of the climate system and climate change, bringing together advances in climate science, and combining multiple lines of evidence from paleoclimate, observations, process understanding, and global and regional climate simulations. The news is not good. The report states that based on our current trajectory, global warming would likely increase to 1.5C by about 2030, twenty years earlier than expected.

In the words of United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres, “The alarm bells are deafening and the evidence is irrefutable. Greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk”.

He said, "This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet. The viability of our societies depends on leaders from government, business and civil society uniting behind policies, actions and investments that will limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius."

The report is large, detailed and concise. I urge everyone to look at the 42 page Summary document. I have included the URL link at the bottom of this article. Leslie Hughes, professor of Biology at Macquarie University and councillor at the Climate Council said the solutions were clear. "There must be no new oil, coal or gas exploration or infrastructure. We've got to stop subsidising fossil fuels. We've got to electrify everything and then run everything from renewable energy. We've got to change our diets," she said. "We've really got to change most of the ways that we do things. But we know how to do it and there are ample opportunities to do so”.

So it comes to this. We no longer have the luxury of a calm, organized transition away from the things that are harming us towards where we need to be. We will need to make big, bold, lifestyle changes around the power we use, how we get around, what we eat, what we consume.

As a direct result of decades of ineffective political leadership, on-going culture wars, bullying, connivance and resistance from fossil fuel corporations, media scare-mongering and influence from powerful vested interests, climate change has been neutralized in Australia by the political parties themselves. From the two main parties comes bipartisan support for doing very little. We need to change this to bipartisan support for doing what will help society. Our political leaders, the ones who have backed us into this corner, will not change willingly. We must now demand that they either lead or stand aside and allow those who will, into the picture.

There are some simple rules for letter-writing to politicians. Include your name and address. Be polite and keep your letter to under one page. Original letters are most effective so use your own words. State the topic clearly, focus on no more than three points and ask for concrete action. Then most importantly finish with a question and state that you expect an answer. An example might be; “Will you and your party commit to zero emissions and no new coalmines or coal burning power stations by 2030”.
Let’s get cracking.

The IPCC Sixth Assessment Report https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/

This article was first published in The Kuranda Paper.