WALK AGAINST WARMING YOUTH CONTINGENT
1pm Sunday 11 November
The Rotunda @ Glebe Park
It’s finally arrived!
For months the groundswell has been building; chats around the water cooler, whispers in the classrooms, murmurs in the lecture halls, posters on pillars, leaflets in letterboxes, emails running hot, ads in the newspaper, sound-bites on the television – all leading up to this Sunday and the Walk Against Warming!
These protests will be taking place all around the country and have come just at the right time, with Prime Minister John Howard yesterday trying to justify his lack of serious action to stop carbon emissions by saying, “I don’t think the world is about to come to an end because of climate change”.
This is despite the fact that the more than 2,500 scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will release on the 17th of November a report that likely to predict global temperatures to rise by at least 3 degrees this century. The IPCC predicts that a rise of only 2 degrees is all that is needed to trigger unstoppable climate change.
Maybe our Prime Minister should listen to Australian of the Year Professor Tim Flannery, who said that “Three degrees will be a disaster for all life on earth”.
With a three degree rise, “We will lose somewhere between two out of every 10 and six out of every 10 species living on the planet at that level of warming. It will set in train a series of climate consequences that will run for a thousand years.”
What’s more, this prediction is the conservative estimate, with the IPCC predicting that the Arctic ice cap (that’s been around for the last three million years) will disappear at around the year 2100, while recent measurements show that accelerated melting could well mean that this will take place in the next twenty years.
Increasingly, scientists are starting to think that a six degree global temperature rise in the next 100 years could occur. This would have a profound effect on ecosystems, fresh water supplies, arable land, sea levels, the severity of the weather, the spread of deserts and disease, and other factors.
These factors could in turn lead to the permanent flooding of the world’s coastal cities, severe shortages in the supply of food and fresh water, and widespread social, environmental and economic collapse that would force millions to become refugees; trying to find refuge in a world where climate change affects every continent.
I may be wrong, but this sounds close enough to the world coming to an end for any intelligent person or government to start taking the precautions necessary to avoid it. Behaving in the way our current crop of politicians are – continuing to advocate the mining, export and burning of coal and not even taking the easy steps of improving energy efficiency standards – is not called taking precautions, it is called stupidity.
This is why the Walk Against Warming is so important. If our politicians will not listen to the Australian of the Year, or to the Nobel prize-winning scientists of the IPCC, then will they listen to us?
Yes, although as individuals we have little power, together we can change the world. This Sunday hundreds of thousands of people will be marching around the country to demand that our government take the steps that are vital for it to take, from investing in solar, wind and geothermal energy, to improving public transport, to ending the logging of old growth forests, to setting real targets on emissions reductions.
History shows that mass social movements can stop wars and end injustice by showing governments that by continuing in their current course they will start to lose the things they really care about, from credibility and votes, to legitimacy and the ability to govern.
The Walk Against Warming is a show of strength of the movement to stop climate change and will be an amazing day. It will show how far this movement has come in changing public opinion on this issue. But, it is also not the end of the movement and much more needs to be done to build the popular mandate for a real change in climate policy. For this reason, and due to the urgency of the challenge of climate change, all people with a concern for their (or anyone else’s) future should join the demonstrations.
As part of the Walk Against Warming demonstrations in Canberra a Youth Contingent will meet up at 1pm on the day. We will start at Glebe Park and then march to join the main community action in what should be a vibrant, fun and powerful highlight of the Walk, and which will energise other participants.
Young people will be coming from schools, workplaces, universities and from everywhere else from all over the ACT to demand that action be taken to deal with what is the biggest threat facing our generation.
On Sunday I hope that you will join us in rescuing our future.
PS: After Sunday, the campaign continues so don’t just get angry, get active! Check out these websites to find out how: