Climate Rally, Friday 20th September

‘Organisers estimate 300,000 Australians have gathered at climate change rallies around the country in one of the largest protest events in the nation’s history.’[i]

It was wonderful to see the schoolkids shouting, waving their homemade placards and getting involved at the Coffs Harbour Rally. There were also rallies close by, at Bellingen and (for the first time) at Nambucca.

Excellent speeches by two schoolchildren, a local ecologist Mark Graham and a wonderfully angry poem by local green Christian Jason Johns – followed by a noisy march through the city.

Can such demonstrations help us become more aware of, and responsible for our entanglements and effects on the world, especially as most people (particularly in so called ‘developed’ countries) are not closely connected to natural processes in their daily lives?[ii] And will politicians, business leaders and others with power and connections realise the call – that action is needed now.

After the demo (and then having a pinch of scalp removed for a biopsy) we went for fish and chips overlooked the Kalang and Bellinger Rivers. On the way to shore, we stopped to watch a Kookaburra patiently knocking a snake around and trying to eat it.

While eating we saw an Osprey hunting, a Brahminy Kite fly by, mobbed by Peewees and then a White-bellied Sea-Eagle – this is majestic, sublime and so rare in the world. The IUCN Red List now includes 1,227 bird species (12% of known birds) as threatened with extinction – and 192 of them as critically endangered.

My personal wish is that biodiversity loss – which is undeniable – and as important – is linked in with climate action. Biodiversity underpins environmental services we take for granted and much more.

We are all consumers responsible for growing ecological deficits and the rapid decline in biodiversity and species numbers (Australia being one of the world’s worst performers).[iii]

I have been trying to get our local council Nambucca Shire to progress a Biodiversity Management Plan and was informed two weeks ago that: ‘The project will be identified as a potential project for delivery in the 20/21 financial period through the Environmental Levy.’

Shame is what we should be feeling for letting down the world. Our fellow creatures and fellow citizens with less resources and less ability to weather the effects of climate change and of course future generations.

[i] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-09-20/school-strike-for-climate-draws-thousands-to-australian-rallies/11531612

[ii] Humans are ecologically creatures, making sense of all that happens, at every moment, as cognitive scientist Mark Johnson puts it, we are: ‘weaving together the threads of our lives. In order for us to have coherent experiences, to make any sense at all of what happens to us, to survive in our environment, and to enhance the quality of our lives, we must organize and reorganize our experiences from moment to moment.’  Mark Johnson, Moral Imagination, U of Chicago P, 1993, p152. ‘Our senses and minds are adapted to perceive and process the parts of the world that are relevant to our lives.’ Ellen Dissanayake, ‘Darwin Meets Literary Theory’, Philosophy and Literature, 20:1, 1996, p232.

[iii] https://www.footprintnetwork.org/our-work/ecological-footprint/. ‘In a few weeks’ time the Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services IPBES will release their first full report ‘Summary for Policymakers’ for 14 years. It’s going to be grim reading.’ Lisa Cox, ‘WWF rates Australia a zero’, The Guardian, 30.11.2018. The world’s wildlife populations have declined by 60 percent between 1970 and 2014. ‘Living Planet Report, 2018: Aiming Higher’, Grooten & Almond, eds. WWF, Gland, Switzerland.