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Overheard at the GetUp Climate Torch Relay finale, Sunday 12 October

By Overheard - 13 October 2008 31

The GetUp Climate Torch Relay reached its finale yesterday with a great event on the lawns in front of Parliament House.

While Messrs Rudd and Turnbull were otherwise occupied with the melting global financial system (as opposed to melting polar ice caps), Greens leader, Senator Bob Brown was on hand and spoke passionately, vehemently and inspirationally.

Can’t tell you too much about what he said as I was running around taking pics and helping people off-stage etc.

It was a brilliant day. It was short on political rhetoric and big on tips and traps for reducing, recycling and reusing. The GetUp theme was: Be a super hero for climate change, so there were orange capes for to don to signify their will to reduce their use of precious natural resources.
(On topic, I just realised the living room light that’s been burning usefully since 5.30am is now surplus to requirements. Back with you in a few seconds. Flick!)

(Slideshow and more below)

The day was a chance for green-related groups to get some exposure. For example, the latest ‘No Dam’ issue of the Mary River in Queensland was news to me. I’ll certainly be visiting EarthBasics in Fyshwick soon to pick up some earth-friendly cleaning products and thereby stop washing bucket loads of ammonia and other chemicals into the environment. And unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to go chat with ‘Australian Ethical Investments’ about their work.

The day cheered my little community-minded heart no end, as people were encouraged (with a little/lot of jibing from the MC) to have a chat to strangers about what they do to reduce their consumption. My personal tips were the wind-up torch I bought recently that powers one of my mobile phones as well. Or the simple practice of dropping a washing-up tub into the kitchen sink so the grey water can go on the lawn instead of down the sink.

Rhys Muldoon took the microphone-shaped baton during the main part of proceedings, showing what an eminent professional he is, geeing up old and young alike as the torch made its way to the stage, and the elected ones got their 15 minutes of stage time. (As reported elsewhere, I was given some excellent advice from Len of Len’s Hairdressers in Puckle Stree, Moonee Ponds on how to get the suits off stage if needed, but ultimately, with Rudd and Turnbull nowhere to be seen, I didn’t need his hair-sweeping broom to clear the politicians out. Katy Gallagher was slightly in awe of the hard act she had to follow in Bob Brown and MC of the time, Rhys was actually having a chat to me and unaware Katy had finished her shorter than short speech, having to make a mad gallop up the steps to back-announce her.)

Mostly, it was a great day for entertainment. Unfortunately Dubba Rukki weren’t available but there was some great music from Equinox, Chorus of Women, Sarah Daphne Foo, Cyrenes, Fizz, Locki Gillis and Chris Kunze, and the wonderful Simone Penkethman.

Go Google their ar$es!

The impetus from the day will be only carried through if everyone present (and everyone not present) can find the motivation to switch off the V8s and the cricket and 90210 or whatever dross they’re watching, and GetUp (off the couch), StandUp and put some political pressure on our elected brethren and sisteren to do something about climate change.

Oh, and you can probably do something too. Are you actually watching that TV or can it go off now?! That wrapper that just went in the bin: does it have a recycling sign on it?

Disclaimer: ‘Overheard’ is not a member of GetUp (yet) nor is he aligned with any political party or any movement that isn’t somehow related to music.

What’s Your opinion?


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31 Responses to
Overheard at the GetUp Climate Torch Relay finale, Sunday 12 October
Overheard 11:58 am 14 Oct 08

RuffnReady said :

johnboy said :

RuffnReady said :

BTW, this stuff is my career and my life, and I’ve cut my footprint in half in 2 years through behaviour change alone. It CAN be done, you just need to think a little differently and ACT ON IT.

And you want widespread adoption of that you need to create financial incentives for it.

I favour price indicators.

Why does everything have to include a bribe? You may be right, but that’s a sad comment on what we’ve become, no? The thought of short-changing our grandchildren should be enough to initiate the change process – as the Native Americans say, we do not own the land, we are stewards of the land for those who come after us.

Agree, with one qualification. There are some who may plan never to have grand-children or children for that matter, and maybe their motivations are a bit more generally altruistic than what their offspring may have to endure. (And yes, I realise it’s possible you intended ‘grandchildren’ to be a more inclusive term than direct lineage.)

Granny 11:49 am 14 Oct 08

Overheard said :

Come for the bright orange capes, stay for the behavioural change opportunities.

Granny, Rhys’s mum was there and we had a great old chat about life the universe and contemplating marriage for the second time! (Which I was a couple of years ago.)

Please tell me she was wearing a bright orange cape!

*hehehe*

Oh, and I’m all for sistren, only I’d never heard of it. I shall use it all the time now however!!

*chuckle*

WildWoila 10:59 am 14 Oct 08

SamTSeppo said :

But just like the incorrect beliefs about Easter Island and environmental collapse, it makes for a great parable that seems applicable to modern-day life, so it lives on.

Please illuminate me – what’s incorrect about the Easter Island environmental collapse theory? I quite enjoyed Jared Diamond’s book on the matter, but can’t say I’ve read any further.

WildWoila 10:58 am 14 Oct 08

Overheard said :

AND FINALLY, can I just say that having flown out of or landed in Canberra roughly 200 times, there is ALWAYS a new perspective or view I get of this town that’s been my home for the last 42 years (89.5% thereof) and I love it dearly and in oh so many ways.

If you’re serious about changing your ways, then I suggest you reconsider your flying habit. Great, you’ve got a wind-up torch. That would save about a billionth of the CO2 that your flying is responsible for. Change the big stuff first, not the small fry! And job-related or not, in the end it’s your decision to be on that plane.

Skidbladnir 10:55 am 14 Oct 08

Good heavens, “Brethren and sistren”?
Where (or when) did you go to school, Overheard? Thats old-school English, which was dead in English by the time of Shakespeare…

Since Shakespeare, brethren is a group of either men or women, but modern usage English is brethren being used for religious groups, with fraternity for men or mixed social or close groups and sorority for similar groups of only women…

Reading that phrase turned my mental image of you from harmless trivia announcer into something roughly like Catweazle…

But, hooray for event coverage!

SamTSeppo 10:51 am 14 Oct 08

Why does everything have to include a bribe? You may be right, but that’s a sad comment on what we’ve become, no? The thought of short-changing our grandchildren should be enough to initiate the change process – as the Native Americans say, we do not own the land, we are stewards of the land for those who come after us.

I think it’s entirely possible that humans have triggered a climate change process over the course of 200+ years of industrial revolution, but I’m not convinced that the actions of a few countries can make any real difference right now. Face it: Australia has just over 20 million people. Short of completely shutting off industry and all climate change -related processes, any changes made here will be completely counteracted by other countries. Rather than making changes at home, you’d do better to spend your time trying to lobby for other places to change. California alone has 36 million people — trust me when I say that for every bit of effort made in Canberra, its effects will more than be swallowed up and abused by Sacramento. Spearheading change is good, but don’t shoot yourself in the foot if others aren’t going to follow suit.

Finally, I think you’re mis-quoting Native Americans a bit. They lived in transformed landscapes and human-affected land just as much as us, but were limited by their technologies in the changes they could effect. The Native Americans as stewards of the land view was born primarily of the 1970s nascent environmental movement and radicals who appropriated Native American culture for their own ends, without concern for data or facts. But just like the incorrect beliefs about Easter Island and environmental collapse, it makes for a great parable that seems applicable to modern-day life, so it lives on.

RuffnReady 10:20 am 14 Oct 08

johnboy said :

RuffnReady said :

BTW, this stuff is my career and my life, and I’ve cut my footprint in half in 2 years through behaviour change alone. It CAN be done, you just need to think a little differently and ACT ON IT.

And you want widespread adoption of that you need to create financial incentives for it.

I favour price indicators.

Why does everything have to include a bribe? You may be right, but that’s a sad comment on what we’ve become, no? The thought of short-changing our grandchildren should be enough to initiate the change process – as the Native Americans say, we do not own the land, we are stewards of the land for those who come after us.

Actually, I think it comes down to education from a young age about the impact of all consumption. Very few people today make the link between their consumption and its effects eg. flick a switch=pulling coal out of the ground.

It also comes down to real political will to change, and leadership, which just isn’t there – as we saw with the carbon trading backflip, economy will always trump environment in the current system. We need an entire paradigm change, a new way of viewing our lives.

Education–>Awareness–>Action

It’s a pity humans only respond to crisis and not warnings of impending crisis. 🙁

Overheard 7:47 am 14 Oct 08

I made that last comment because I’m off to work with (not for) the kangaroo network, so I thought I’d best be clear that all of the above comments are from ‘Overheard’ the private citizen and principle of ‘Overheard Productions’.

Four Nut Post Bag!!!!

Enjoy this lovely rain.

Overheard 7:45 am 14 Oct 08

And I’ll finish with this, he says, as he sits in a not too shabby little bar airside at Sydney, having written the above comment on the muggle-side at Canberra airport. I work in travel policy and delivery (or did until 14 days ago, but like the woman who left the pants factory, I still like to keep my hand in).

I’ve just gotten off a plane that’s one of what we euphemistically refer to as a ‘smaller airline’. They don’t put out a ‘complimentary’ (= included in your ticket price) meal service. They don’t distribute scores of little packets and non-recylcable bits of plastic and tat. They do offer these if you want to purchase them. Today there was too much turbulence. I LOVE turbulence — reminds you you’re alive and you’re a visitor in that environment, defying the laws of gravity and therefore subject to its terms and conditions — a bit like scuba-diving (which I don’t do) ane encountering a hostile shark or squid or angry jellyfish.

Anyhoo, too much turbulence = no trolley service which they apologised for while I cheered. We were in the air for 23 minutes; I’ve had bus rides that go for longer than that. Just maybe factor that into your travel decision, and while you CAN say no to trolley service on other airlines, just have a look around next time and look at what others are consuming, throwing away, etc.

(Though the plastic cutlery on the kangaroo network does make excellent picnic-ware.)

AND FINALLY, can I just say that having flown out of or landed in Canberra roughly 200 times, there is ALWAYS a new perspective or view I get of this town that’s been my home for the last 42 years (89.5% thereof) and I love it dearly and in oh so many ways.

For the record, I’m not clocking on for the company for another 16 minutes, but it’s time to start heading in that direction.

Overheard 7:39 am 14 Oct 08

RuffnReady said :

Nice work, Overheard.

Can I just say that I think all these arganisation make a mistake by concentrating on climate change alone… the issue is long-term sustainability, and that incorporates: climate change,
non-renewable resource depletion (ie. fossil fuels, minerals),
renewable resource destruction (ie. fisheries, soils, water resources),
pollution (of air, water and land),
overpopulation.

Now had a chance to digest some more information about GetUp courtesy of a brochure I picked up on the day: ‘People’s agenda for the new Parliament’ from late last year. (Sounds a bit Cultural Revolution, but I’m here to tell you it’s an absolutely cracking read.)

Again, I am NOT currently a member of GetUp.

Very briefly, this document comes from a poll of 32,500 people on Tuesday 11 December 2007 (so you can do your own maths about the timing and relevance etc.)

To quote (and my comments are in square brackets):

“Three issues stood out as the most important priorities for the Parliament:

1. Becoming environmentally sustainable and combating climate change. [Note the order.]
2. Making high-quality primary, secondary, and tertiary public education accessible to all Australians.
3. Respecting the rights and improving the living standards of Indigenous Australians.’

and the next seven of the top ten issues (as voted by the populace) are about:

4. health care
5. poverty and the wealth gap
6. withdrawal of troops from Iraq
7. human rights and civil liberties
8. community infrastructure and planning
9. workers’ rights
10. democracy

I’m not finding much not to like.

On point 3, they say, in part, ‘We want an official apology to the Stolen Generation that begins a comprehensive plan for true reconciliation.’ (Again, dated Dec 2007.)

I’ll leave all of that sit and invite you to look at http://www.getup.org.au for more information.

Overheard 5:55 am 14 Oct 08

Yes, no, maybe, and all of the above. If it gets numpties like me who may not have given the subject too much consideration before at least an ‘in’ to some of these issues, then that can’t be a bad thing.

Come for the bright orange capes, stay for the behavioural change opportunities.

Granny, Rhys’s mum was there and we had a great old chat about life the universe and contemplating marriage for the second time! (Which I was a couple of years ago.)

Btw, johnboy deserves a purple heart for dealing with my woeful photo-sizing and web-logging or cataloguing or whatever the hip term is. Sorry if the slideshow is a bit plump and sluggish — it’s just aping its owner.

Granny 12:50 am 14 Oct 08

I grew up with Rhys. I haven’t seen him for nearly a decade, but I still sometimes pop around to say g’day to his mum. I’m glad it was such a good day.

: )

johnboy 12:20 am 14 Oct 08

RuffnReady said :

BTW, this stuff is my career and my life, and I’ve cut my footprint in half in 2 years through behaviour change alone. It CAN be done, you just need to think a little differently and ACT ON IT.

And you want widespread adoption of that you need to create financial incentives for it.

I favour price indicators.

RuffnReady 12:02 am 14 Oct 08

Nice work, Overheard.

Can I just say that I think all these arganisation make a mistake by concentrating on climate change alone… the issue is long-term sustainability, and that incorporates: climate change,
non-renewable resource depletion (ie. fossil fuels, minerals),
renewable resource destruction (ie. fisheries, soils, water resources),
pollution (of air, water and land),
overpopulation.

I say this because even if you don’t believe that climate change is occuring, it’s hard to argue with peak oil, toxic pollution, the disappearance of fisheries, etc etc.

Anyway, good job all.

BTW, this stuff is my career and my life, and I’ve cut my footprint in half in 2 years through behaviour change alone. It CAN be done, you just need to think a little differently and ACT ON IT.

Joel 6:50 pm 13 Oct 08

*sees pictures of himself, swears ‘campaign diet’ will be replaced by salad-only diet from Oct 19*

It was nice to meet you Overheard. And you were the one ‘biggin it up for RA’, not me!

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