Irony is a wonderful thing.
One year ago, thousands of misguided schoolchildren around the world hit the streets campaigning for climate change action, but now the same campaigners have been confined to their bedrooms.
Undeterred by the COVID-19 restrictions, Australia’s school climate strike organisers went ahead with an online protest action conducted in the comfort of suburbia.
Thank our lucky stars for electricity, fossil fuels, rare minerals for all those smartphones, tablets, computers and plastic for the ubiquitous earbuds for them to be able to take part.
Protestors were able to enjoy a four-hour live stream with musical performance, talks, discussions and story–telling with a guest appearance by environmentalist Tim Flannery.
No doubt, Flannery retold his famous 2007 story about the time he told the Australian public that, “even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and our river systems”.
Let’s not forget he also warned that Brisbane and Adelaide could run out of water by the end of 2007. He also warned again in 2008 that, “the water problem is so severe for Adelaide that it may run out of water by early 2009”.
He didn’t want to have Perth feeling left out and the prediction that it would be the 21st century’s first ghost metropolis, adding that primary production will be wiped out.
In 2020, Western Australia still accounts for nearly 40% of the world’s iron ore exports and we still have 2 million people in Perth.
Maybe he told the story that as the former Climate Commissioner of Australia from 2011-2013 he earned around $180,000 per year for a 3-day working week to make predictions and decisions that affected billions of Australian taxpayers’ money.
Through their virtual protest, climate change campaigners tried desperately to keep momentum going whilst normal people focused on the real health and economic challenges we are actually confronting.
One of the leaders of the school strike movement in Australia, Jean Hinchliffe. pronounced that “People need to realise that the climate crisis is equally as important and as equally damaging, if not more so than the COVID pandemic and we definitely need to be focussing on both.”
Australia is a democracy and everyone is entitled to their view, but let’s back the truck up a bit and put this into perspective.
More than 600,000 Australians have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No one knows when or even if a vaccine can be found. Millions are relying on welfare through Jobkeeper or Jobseeker payments.
Meanwhile, online climate protestors sit snuggled up in their warm houses, sipping coffees with the lights on and watching a four–hour live stream on their devices powered by progress made in previous decades. You just couldn’t make this stuff up.
Fifteen-year-old Sydney student Ambrose Hayes claimed he was feeling stressed for making sure the live-stream event actually worked because test runs had not gone smoothly.
Never mind the stress endured by frontline healthcare workers in hospitals and intensive care units around the world. Poor old Ambrose is stressed!
Hayes also claimed he was looking to a future where the lessons of COVID-19 can feed into the climate cause.
I’m looking forward to Australian children going back to learning the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic rather than pouring millions of taxpayer dollars into their schools’ sustainable garden beds.
Our wise 15-year-old hopes that when social restrictions are lifted, people will “appreciate human connection more”. He proclaims that this period “also hopefully makes them appreciate what they have and they might want to take action for what they have right now.”
Anyone who has recovered from Covid-19 is no doubt grateful to have been able to have had ventilator designed and built by the industrialised world and the reliable fossil-fuel electricity that powered it.
Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg who inspired the climate strike movement around the world is now 17– years old.
Her plans for a year of travel and activism were blocked due to COVID-19. The United Nations COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland in November is no more.
Some bright spark thought it was a great idea to invite her to sit on a CNN COVID-19 expert panel with public health experts.
No doubt the aim was to boost ratings for the lagging television channel that used to be respected, Instead, the decision was rightly criticised by normal people asking what on earth she was doing on a panel of supposed “experts”. Although to be fair, she is just as expert at Covid science as she is at climate science.
Greta converting cult status to “expert” status gives us all hope. Perhaps my cricket tragic husband’s sporting knowledge might finally get him that long-awaited call up to open the batting for Australia.
This whole climate change online protest brings back memories of one of recently deceased actor Jerry Stiller’s finest moments in Seinfeld.
Discussing the conundrum of the chicken, the rooster and the hen at the first meeting with his son’s future in-laws Stiller proclaimed loudly, “something’s missing!”
His son’s prospective mother-in-law gave him that look and shot back, “Something’s missing alright.”
And that’s the only normal response to give any climate striker as the world fights a real crisis.
Something’s missing alright.
Illustration: NSCB/Giggling Goose Production/Fred Barron Productions/West-Shapiro Productions/Castle Rock Entertainment.
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