On July 5, 2008 about 5,000 citizens of Melbourne gathered in the City Square to protest man-made Climate Change and then marched through the City Centre to make a HUMAN SIGN saying “CLIMATE EMERGENCY!” in the nearby Alexandra Gardens. An aeroplane was hired to take photos for the media – for an aerial photo of the “CLIMATE EMERGENCY!” Human Sign and other photos of this great event see: Climate emergency rally Melbourne July 5 2008 over at GreenLivingPedia.org.
The Climate Emergency Rally involved more than 50 community groups concerned about lack of Australian State and Federal Government action on climate change and variously linked to an Australian Climate Emergency Network.
Reports, photos and video of the “CLIMATE EMERGENCY!” Human Sign and Rally were transmitted around Australia by the various TV and newspaper networks.
I was there with members of my own local Yarra Valley Climate Action Group (our beautiful Yarra River Valley is the heart of the 15,000 square kilometre City of Melbourne region in Victoria). For pictures of the Banner of the Yarra Valley Climate Action Group see: Climate emergency rally Melbourne July 5 2008 over at GreenLivingPedia.org.
Like the other Climate Emergency Network groups, the Yarra Valley Climate Action Group (YVCAG) seeks to INFORM others in various ways about the Climate Emergency and Sustainability Emergency and has placed a series of well-referenced and succinct “10-point Climate Emergency Fact Sheets” on its website. SOME of the more serious of these key Climate Emergency Facts are summarized briefly below for these various Facts Sheets by way of background to this Climate Emergency Rally report.
MAN-MADE, CO2-DRIVEN GLOBAL WARMING SCIENCE INFORMATION. Top US climate scientist Dr James Hansen (Head, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, GISS, New York) says that we have gone too far: “The evidence indicates we’ve aimed too high – that the safe upper limit for atmospheric CO2 is no more than 350 ppm“, and wants a “negative CO2 emissions” policy of cessation of CO2 pollution and reducing atmospheric CO2 pollution (e.g. by use of renewable and geothermal energy, re-afforestation, returning carbon as biochar to soils).
GLOBAL WARMING DANGERS AND SOLUTIONS FOR OLDER PEOPLE. Heat waves will differentially kill elderly people. In 2003 there was a heatwave in Europe that killed 35,000-50,000 in Europe and nearly 15,000 in France. Older people were differentially affected, the problems being that older people are frailer, more prone to heat stress and have diminished brain signalling of dehydration stress. Retirement benefits require GDP growth, carbon-based growth is no longer possible but cheap, non-carbon energy alternatives are already developed. For people who are self-funded retirees on superannuation schemes or government pensions it is necessary for GDP growth to compensate for outlays and inflation.
“COAL IS KING” AUSTRALIA CO2 POLLUTION FACT SHEET. Australia is the world’s #1 Developed Nation CO2 polluter. Consulting the US Energy Information Administration database we obtain the following information on “annual per capita fossil fuel-derived carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution” in “tonnes (t) per person per year” for Australia and other major polluters (2004 data): 19.2 (for Australia; 40 if you include Australia’s coal exports), 19.7 (the US), 18.4 (Canada), 9.9 (Japan), 4.2 (the World), 3.6 (China), 1.0 ( India) and 0.25 (for Bangladesh).
POLLUTION DEATHS FROM FOSSIL FUEL-BASED POWER PLANTS. “Annual coal-based electricity deaths” [and "total annual fossil fuel-based electricity deaths"] are 170,000 [283,000] (the World), 11,000 [13,000] (India), 47,000 [47,500] (China), 49,000 [72,000] (the US), 3,400 [6,900] (the UK), 4,900 [5,400] (Australia) and 2,700 [3,800](Canada) as compared to 110  (heavily renewable-based New Zealand).
Individuals and organizations linked to the Australian Climate Emergency Network (CEN) have a common set of values and objectives, specifically a goal of a safe climate future for all people, all species, and all generations that can be achieved by the Global Community concurrently halting man-made greenhouse gas emissions, removal of excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and actively cooling the Earth. The core values of the Climate Emergency Network (CEN) are as follows: “We have no right to bargain away the lives of others. Our goal is a safe climate future for all people, all species, and all generations”. The Australian CEN asserts that “The Global Community must concurrently halt man-made greenhouse gas emissions, remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and actively cool the Earth” and has listed the following as its key Objectives:
1. All levels of all governments across the globe must recognise and work together to fulfil their responsibility to secure a safe climate; it is their moral and legal duty-of-care to their citizens.
2. Underpinned by legislation, governments must lead a large scale transformation of the economy to a post-carbon society.
3. Given the extreme urgency and enormous scale of transformation required, governments must recognise and declare a Climate and Sustainability State of Emergency, whilst respecting basic human rights and freedoms.
4. The community must be engaged in recognising and supporting the Climate Emergency. Therefore, we will work to engage citizens in taking responsibility for recognising and responding to the emergency.
Unfortunately “Coal is King” in climate criminal Australia, the World’s #1 coal exporter and the Developed World’s #1 annual per capita CO2 polluter. The irresponsible and myopic State and Federal Governments of Murdochracy Australia – concerned more about VOTES than about the welfare of the Planet – are simply refusing to act in a timely fashion, while paying spin-based lip-service to the seriousness of man-made Climate Change.
The Melbourne Climate Emergency Rally came at the end of a disastrous fortnight in which 2 (TWO) new, huge fossil fuel-based power plants were announced for the State of Victoria (of which Melbourne is the capital); the State Government of Victoria stated it intended to bill responsible community groups for the legal costs associated with their ethical opposition to the enormously CO2-polluting Victorian desalination plant project; and the release of economist Professor Ross Garnaut’s Draft Report on Climate Change warning that Australia risked losing natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu if it didn’t act now to combat global warning – but which, in addition to many other major flaws, paradoxically supported continued but “cleaner” coal burning-based electricity in Australia.
Below are some quotations from the speakers at the Climate Emergency Rally in the heart of Melbourne.
Andrea Bolch (president of the organization “Your Water Your Say”):
“The proposed water factory [one of the world's biggest desalination plants] will emit up to 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 per year; a new power station is being built to power it. It can never be carbon neutral. There are alternatives to securing our water future with a fraction the emissions and a fraction the cost. Three times the capacity of the proposed factory falls on our city and runs into our bays every year. Collect that, and recycle our 2 billion litres of sewerage effluent; that is responsible, sustainable, climate safe water policy.”
Emeretta Cross (a Tuvaluan mother who left the Pacific Island nation of Tuvalu that is slowly being submerged through man-made global warming and consequent sea level rise):
“With the rising sea levels we’ve got salt water seeping through and it’s actually killing off the natural agriculture. We need to import produce so then it becomes a problem with pollution. It also becomes a health crisis for our people, let alone the possibilities of migrating around the world. [it was a] mother’s responsibility to teach the children about what they stand to lose. It is today that we have to do something for our families and our friends both here and abroad.”
Dr Bob Brown (Senator, Leader of the Australian Greens Party and great advocate for the environment and human rights):
“We are one of the most vulnerable nations in the world. Climate change is a disaster which is on our doorstep. We, in this wealthy lucky nation, must take a lead for the rest of the world to follow. By 2050 we need a reduction in greenhouse gases by 90 per cent if not a totally carbon-neutral economy.”
David Spratt (author, together with Philip Sutton, author of Climate Code Red: The case for emergency action (Scribe, Melbourne, 2008), an extremely important book endorsed by NASA’s Dr James Hansen as “a compelling case … we face a climate emergency”):
“Today, we actually have the economic and technical capacity to make this change if we have the so-called political will. The idea of emergency action with as many resources as is necessary is no longer a radical idea, it’s simply a necessary idea.”
Hopefully the Melbourne “CLIMATE EMERGENCY!” Human Sign will inspire other Climate Action Groups around the world to do likewise. The time for ACTION is NOW.
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