Responding to the brilliant students striking for climate

Today in 1600 places in 105 countries our kids are striking for their future. They are filling us with hope and the fact that they need to do this is embarrassing for every adult on the planet. 

We need to respond.  

Most Australians agree with the need for climate action. Many of us have and are trying to find solutions. I have spent my entire life attempting to create an economy and society that looks after the earth so that it will look after us. My message today is that none of us have done enough. We haven't managed to cut through. We’ve been up against the largest, most expensive fossil fuel funded PR campaign in history. A study in the early 2000s showed that whilst 97% of scientific papers supported the consensus on climate change, 53% of newspaper articles said climate change wasn't real. A more recent study found that the other 3% of scientific papers all had basic flaws.

Have you seen the last few days of climate related media?

  • Journalist David Wallace Wells is speaking everywhere about his new book that connects the dots between climate science predictions and society. It’s called “The Uninhabitable Earth”. It is incredible reading.
  • Yesterday National Geographic reported on a study that found we have to stop using fossil fuels by 2030 to avoid two degrees, or "catastrophic warming” as the UN calls it.
  • The Reserve Bank deputy Governor gave a great speech on monetary policy and climate change.
  • A new report found that one in ten Australian homes will be uninsurable by 2030.
  • Lenore Taylor wrote about the sad history of Australian inaction on climate and why it has occurred.
  • The ACF released a website to see how hot each postcode in Australia will be. It is very limited in that it only looks at temperature and therefore not at any of the other climate impacts. It only looks at the middle of the road predictions. But what it says is that Bendigo wont have a winter anymore by 2050 and that we’ll have a new season called new summer, where the average temperature from mid December to mid February will never drop below 30 degrees.

And our kids are protesting in the streets. What they are saying with brutal honesty is that pragmatic incrementalism is not going to cut it. Their future is at stake. And we need to solve the climate crisis before they finish uni. We need a million solutions. We cannot tell our kids that their future is ok anymore. It is not. They have just lived through the hottest summer on record. By the time today’s school students kids reach 50 years of age, either we will have ceased using all fossil fuels and changed our economy from consumption based to circular or civilisation will be collapsing as the planet becomes uninhabitable. Global warming and all of its solutions and impacts will be the defining issue of their lives.

It is worth checking in with this movement and where it started. Here is sixteen year old Greta Thunberg at the United Nations and her ted talk and at DAVOS speaking truth to power.

"Some people say that I should be in school instead. Some people say that I should study, to become a climate scientist so that I can solve the climate crisis. But the climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is to wake up and change.  And why should I be studying for a future that soon will be no more, when no one is doing anything whatsoever to save that future? And what is the point of learning facts in the school system, when the most important facts given by the finest science of that same school system clearly means nothing to our politicians and our society?”

- Greta Thunberg

By being involved in the climate strike our kids are learning public speaking skills, teamwork, science, event planning, civics and citizenships, writing, reading, communication, critical thinking, problem solving, geography and science.  This is the most authentic education they can be part of right now. 

A big Bendigo response to our children?

We should bring all levels of government together with business, the community sector and students to run a year long Bendigo Climate Summit. We need to come together to draw a line in the sand, hear the latest science and plan for zero emissions and beyond to a time when we are drawing carbon down from the atmosphere.

The timing is good here. We have local, state and federal government representatives that understand the need to act on climate, if not the urgency.

Drawdown, by Paul Hawken is a great framework to use because it is positive, because it involves every sector of the economy and because its the only long term goal that makes sense. Here’s Paul’s Bendigo talk from the beginning of last year.

This future is coming whether we like it or not. Bendigo can either play a leading role and ensure we have a future, or we can just let the future happen and not have a future. There are cities around the world who are ready for action, for investment and for government support. Bendigo needs to plan, design, fund and build a new transport system, energy system, food system, consumption system, housing system, water system and more. We also need to restore our local ecology so that it protects us from the coming heat and we need to strengthen and renew our social sector to ensure that heat stress and climate breakdown do not create a new underclass of poverty.

Wouldn’t a Bendigo Climate Summit be a great response to our children today?

The other response is simple. We need to turn the upcoming federal election into THE climate election. We need to campaign and vote like we are living in a climate emergency. Our political parties are not like our footy teams, to be stuck with through good times and bad. They can wreck the joint. Vote climate!

In the meantime, I’m so proud of these brave young people telling it like it is. All power to them.