ABOUT 200 Extinction Rebellion protestors held up traffic on St Georges Terrace for a couple
of hours on Monday morning as the group picked up the pace of their pre-Covid campaign to get the McGowan government to declare a climate emergency.
Police arrested 27 people, including Mt Lawley neurologists Carolyn Orr, as they conducted a die-in on the terrace as part of a three-day campaign.
Dr Orr is unrepentant about her activism, saying XR is only going to get bigger and next year police can expect 30,000 people on the streets.
This week’s SPEAKER’S COARNER comes from a speech given by Mt Lawley neurologist CAROLYN ORR. Here Dr Orr argues the pandemic is being overcome because people listened to experts, and she calls on people to do the same about the climate.
WE are here today to save ourselves and to save our children.
Each of the last four decades has been warmer than the one before. Since the mid 20th century Australian summers have become longer by
a month. The last five years have been the warmest on human record. Last year we saw Australia’s first megabushfire.
It won’t be our last.
We know that if we continue on our current path, we are on track for a world that’s four degrees – or higher – warmer than the safe baseline by the end of this century.
Even if Paris agreement targets are reached, we will hit 3C global warming by the end of the century. If we follow the accelerating trend of the last 10 years, we’re currently on track to hit 2C before 2040. At this point Australian summers in our major cities will be experiencing highs of 50C.
We face a nightmare future of ever-increasing deaths from fire, heat and smoke as megabushfires become our new norm; unprecedented cyclones, hurricanes and storms; spread of tropical disease into previously temperate regions; huge parts of the world becoming uninhabitable; global agricultural failure, mass starvation, refugees on a scale never before seen, and inevitably, war.
Fights over toilet paper during Covid were ugly enough. I hope none of us ever \ witness fights over food.
In 2020 during Covid Australians acted together quickly, cohesively and on a grand scale to face down a threat we all recognised was huge and imminent. Because Australians listened to medical scientists, we are now overcoming the pandemic.
We need to get to that same scenario with climate change:
• Where we listen to climate and environmental scientists with the same breathless attention and urgency.
• Where carbon emissions and CO2 levels are discussed by ordinary people hanging rapt on every scientific pronouncement.
• Where pollution levels and extinction events are water cooler conversation.
• Where the climate crisis dominates social media.
• Where everyone recognises net zero by 2050 as a plan to fail.
• Where fossil fuel companies and their lobbyists no longer pull our political strings.
• Where countries compete to reduce emissions the fastest.
Climate change is the biggest thing that humans have ever done. It can only be met by a response that is bigger yet. Something transformational needs to occur.
Extinction Rebellion is that transformational event. We are this country and the world’s best hope to save the future for ourselves and our children. And we already know from history that peaceful civil disobedience is what we need to break the deadlock on climate change.
We have seen this strategy work for the suffragettes, for Indian home rule with Gandhi, and for the civil rights movement with Rosa Park and Martin Luthor King. We are their direct inheritors.
And we know this strategy works for climate change.
In the UK two years ago tens of thousands of demonstrators blockaded the City of London.
At first these people were castigated as loonies and anarchists. But then person, after person, after person, after person was arrested.
Tens, hundreds and finally over 1000 people were arrested performing acts of non violent civil disobedience.
Witnessing this mass voluntary sacrifice, public opinion swung massively in favour of the protesters and less than one month later, the UK declared a climate emergency and committed to net zero.
Here in Australia our numbers will only grow as the urgency and the scale of the problem is recognised by more and more people.
Today we have hundreds on the streets.
In September we will mobilise 5000 people.
Next year, there will be 30,000 of us on the streets of Perth.
We will do this, because we know that our future is not preordained.
Because we recognise this we will demonstrate again, and again, and again!
Some of us will choose to sacrifice our liberty to make the point.
We will do it because we are morally compelled to do so, and because we know we’re on the right side of history.
We won’t stop until the climate emergency in this country is treated as just that – an emergency.
So let’s save the future for ourselves, our children, and our children’s children!