It was a great day at the Peoples Climate march yesterday, but after some more water under the bridge, I had time to put things into perspective.
As I previously mentioned, over 30,000 concerned citizens marched yesterday in Melbourne as is their democratic right. But it got me thinking.
Where was everyone else? In a city that has a population of 4.35 million, that is just 0.6% who attended the call to action on climate change. It doesn’t sound like a lot when you compare it to these other events that occurred on the same day;
- The Royal Melbourne Show had about 80,000 people through the gates.
- The Victorian Football League Grand Final at Etihad Stadium saw 23,816 raving fans attend the game.
- Even the home renovation TV Show “The Block” open day saw approximately 20,000 fans walk through the set.
I am sure there were other events that I missed, but that is quite a turnout.
I realise too well that we are a free and democratic people here in Australia. We can do whatever we like within the law during our own free time. I am only comparing attendance at events, not judging. Even Ben and I hope to go to the Royal Melbourne show this year as well.
However, the figures may indicate that concern about the effects of climate change is still not a mainstream issue or even on some people’s radar (yet).
So let me ask this. What will it take to make the rest of the population show their concern if not with a climate march like yesterday?
Do we need another Angry Summer like the last few? Do we need our reservoirs to nearly dry up again? Do we need a repeat of the Black Saturday bushfires?
I hope not. These events in themselves were terrible and horrible enough, but with the current climb in global greenhouse gas emissions, they are more than likely to occur again soon.
What will it take?
Archdruid John Michael Greer of the Archdruid Report observed that;
Until the people who claim to be concerned about climate change start showing a willingness to burn much less carbon, it’s unlikely that anyone else will do so, and so I think it’s a pretty safe bet that fossil fuels will continue to be extracted and burnt as long as geological and economic realities permit.
I tend to agree with him.
So whilst the Peoples Climate mobilisation was a brilliant way to raise awareness and beneficial to the wider cause, there is so much more to be done.
Lifestyles need to change to more sustainable ones. Legislation needs to change to put a price on carbon emissions forcing business to change. Governments need to stop talking about it – or start talking about it – as the case may be, and begin to embrace renewable energy technologies and strategies to reduce consumption and phase out fossil fuels.
These things are all still in front of us if we are to bring the climate back to within a habitable range for our children and grandchildren.
Without such changes, our continued presence on this planet is indeed uncertain, as the climate science suggests.
So what can you and I do to keep the momentum going now that hundreds of thousands throughout the globe expressed their concern yesterday? I suggest we set an example, lead from the front, and continue to place firm pressure on the gaping wound that masquerades as our federal governments.
Some people power is good, but a lot more is a whole lot better! Keep applying pressure where necessary.
Sadly I think it will take all of the above, plus a more environmentally aware government to wake up the general population. All we can do is take our own efforts to the next level and keep spreading the word however we can spread it. Keep spreading the news, keep living the life, keep signing the petitions, keep walking the marches and above all, keep hoping.
I wonder when it is the lemmings start to think that maybe running with the crowd is not such a good idea.
Erin / The Rogue Ginger says
This is really interesting Gavin. I chose not to march because I speak to so many people that do march but they continue to buy items that add to our resource depletion. If 30,000 gave up plastic or at least cut back significantly that would send a bigger message because that 30,000 can easily turn into 60,000. Same as if 30,000 stopped supporting companies through their weekly grocery shop that support governments who don’t understand climate change. Even if the government did change their mind there is still a lot more to be done on a grassroots level.
someone older and wiser than myself has suggested that soon economics will cause people to change and governments to care. For example, as home insurance goes up and up with the increase in natural disasters, people will be forced to consider the situation as it hits their hip pockets. I heard on the news recently that in some areas – eg blue mountains – insurance may become unavailable as it’s just too expensive to keep insuring people where these expensive disasters occur.
You no doubt heard about China not wanting to buy our dirty brown coal anymore, and this is good news. This may mean that the big banks who invest in coal will see that they are going to need to get with the program and support more sustainable forms of energy.
Meanwhile, yes, we need to keep marching, signing petitions and writing letters. And I completely agree with Erin above, our daily choices are so important. I’m currently using toilet paper from Who Gives A Crap (online company) and handing it out to others to try. This means I don’t have to give my dollars to the big supermarkets to supply one of life’s necessities, and others are following suit. The toilet paper is clean and green, and 50% of the profits go to building loos in developing countries.
Gavin, I think you are correct too, and it will take more disasters to shake people out of their lethargy. In the meantime, something that makes a massive difference is growing your own food and teaching others to do the same – and the number of people doing that is growing worldwide. Even people I know who voted Liberal are growing their own food because they are starting to worry about chemicals and their health.
Veronique - sustainableholdfastbay.com says
I agree that action in the private sphere should not be under estimated. If 10% of the population decided to lower their emissions by substantially decreasing consumption, it would make a huge impact. Stephen and I have reduced our household emissions by 90% of the average Australian per capita emissions. It did take us a couple of years to achieve this level but, looking back, we could have done it in 12 months. We have also eliminated all waste to landfill and have zero electricity bill (on a 1.5 kw PV system). 🙂