Alice students fire up for climate action

By KIERAN FINNANE

 

“As the temperature rises, so will we!”

 

It was among the stirring messages from the School Strike for Climate leaders in Alice Springs this morning.

 

Some 200 of their peers filled the lawns outside Flynn Church in the mall, supported by 300 to 400 adults. That is a sizeable turnout for this town and the mood was elated even while the messages were sombre.

 

Four young women, (pictured, from left) Ruby Eldridge, Erin Wallace, Jordyn Kindness and Lucy McCullough, led the proceedings, passing the microphone between them.  They are local high school students who have joined the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.

 

“We are hoping to empower our generation, hoping history is not written for us but by us,” they said.

 

They described Australia as at the frontline of climate change, with prolonged drought, flash flooding, catastrophic bushfires, severe cyclones and heatwaves. And just at this time, when climate solutions should be ramped up, governments want to open up to new coal, oil and gas projects, “putting all of us at risk”, they said.

 

In Alice Springs seasonal temperatures are already on average one degree C warmer in summer, 1.5 degrees C warmer in winter. In these increasingly dry and harsh conditions, management of bushfires will become almost impossible.

 

This is one way that climate change is affecting us directly.

 

They referred to a new report to be released by the United Nations on the expected displacement, under 1.5 degrees of warming, of 200 million people due to rising sea levels.

 

This is due in the main to the mining and burning of coal, oil and gas, they said, calling on our governments to move beyond fossil fuels and build a sustainable economy based on renewable energy.

 

Instead, governments are actually helping companies like Origin Energy open the floodgates to new oil and gas projects, including fracking right across the NT, repeatedly acting against the wishes of traditional owners.

 

They called for a halt to new oil, coal and gas projects, and for action on “powering transition”, creating good, safe and meaningful work for everyone, a “just transition so no one is left behind”.

 

“What do you think?” they asked to resounding cheering and applause.

 

They were followed by Rita Tomlins and Vanessa Farrelly (pictured below, Vanesa on the microphone) of the Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network, the first of its kind, which works in association with the AYCC.

 

Rita described their vision for strong communities powered by renewable energy and called for a total ban on fracking shale gas in the NT.

 

It would irreplaceably damage country, she said, poison its groundwater, pollute the air, destroy sacred sites.

 

Communities have the right to have the final say about such projects on their country, and native title law is not strong enough for them to do that, to protect country from mining corporations and greedy politicians, she said.

 

Vanessa told the crowd about Seed’s campaign against Origin Energy, the largest and first to want to frack in the NT.

 

She described the risky processes involved and said Origin Energy want to use Territory lands as an “experimental guinea pig” for fracking in Australia.

 

She called on the students to write pledges to the CEO of the company, to “keep up the pressure” as Seed activists are, outside company offices in the capital cities every week.

 

With chants of “It’s our future!”, “Get it right!”, everyone moved in closer for a group photo, before moving off up the mall, along Parsons and down Hartley to Braitling MLA Dale Wakefield’s office. Some of them had written messages they delivered there and the lot kept up their rousing chants as they marched.

 

“I say climate, you say justice, climate, justice, climate, justice!”

 

“Boo, it’s hot in here, too much carbon in the atmosphere.”

 

“Climate change is not a lie, let’s not let our planet die.”

 

Along Stott Terrace, as traffic whizzed by, a group of male students from OLSH struck up a new chant: “If it’s not that far, don’t drive your car.”

 

I asked one of them, Joshua Graveling, why he thought the girls had been in the lead, and how the guys were feeling about it the issue.

 

He laughingly conceded, “They’ve done most of the work for us,” but he and his friends were “trying to have that backing voice for them” and the movement is about everyone: “It’s our future, my kids’ future, we’re the future of this land.”

 

 

 

 

 

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19 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Ian Rennie
    Posted September 26, 2019 at 8:11 am

    I totally agree in fracking being banned, full on totally banned.
    But have a think, people, about everything that supports the Alice (and other places the world over).
    Are you all willing to give up everything from pushbikes to computers.
    Just have a very good think about walking everywhere and even living a hunter and gatherer lifestyle. OMG! Can’t see you mob doing that, no more fast foods even, heaven forbid!
    I could go on and on but no use wasting my breath, just have a really good think.
    Oh yes, I am very much against polluting in the name of profits and pollies taking back pocket payouts to allow the country to be raped.
    Don’t happen? Pull my other leg.

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  2. Ranger
    Posted September 25, 2019 at 10:27 am

    @ Peter
    Nothing like some pub-talk anecdotal claims to refute climate change as some big conspiracy, eh?
    Forget the decades of research compiled by climate and environment experts, scientists, marine biologists; let’s just listen to climate change deniers with all their applied experience and expertise in the field (not*) and slag off at all the ‘lefties’ while we’re at it, hey?

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  3. Sue Fielding
    Posted September 24, 2019 at 11:22 am

    Thanks to the students in Alice for taking a strong stand. You are informed and passionate. Generations before you are leaving behind an enormously uncertain future, and more damage than we’ll ever know. I’m with you. So many are. Lead on. Gratitude.

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  4. James T Smerk
    Posted September 24, 2019 at 8:07 am

    I also think it’s sad we didn’t see more of our first Australians down there, after all they are the traditional owners of the land.

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  5. James T Smerk
    Posted September 22, 2019 at 11:24 am

    I think there should be more focus on the other countries (America, China and India) and doing what we can to get them to act. Locally there isn’t going to be much of an impact apart from annoy part of the population with no result.

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  6. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted September 22, 2019 at 11:16 am

    The school strike for climate is an international movement of school students who are deciding not to attend classes and instead take part in demonstrations to demand action to prevent further global warming and climate change with very good reasons.
    Should adults and students had mixed?
    Millions of people around the globe joined in protests to demand “an end to the age of fossil fuels”.
    Politicians and businesses are facing calls to take urgent action as more than 4,600 climate protests take place in 150 countries in what is believed to be the largest climate protest in history.
    The protests come ahead of the climate action summit in New York convened by UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres to urge countries to up their climate efforts.
    The United Nations calls climate change the “defining issue of our time”.
    The strikers young and old are to be commanded, but would it be enough to impress the world leaders?
    Will their actions help or could it be used by leaders to prove that the majority of the world does not agree or does not care?
    In demographics, the world population is the total number of humans currently living, and was estimated to have reached 7.7 billion people as of April 2019.
    According to 350.org, a major environmental advocacy group and a co-organizer of today’s events, more than four million people worldwide took part.
    Not many out of the 7.7 billion.

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  7. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted September 21, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    @ Philby: The sixth mass extinction is correct because the first five known periods are over:
    • End Ordovician, 444 million years ago, 86% of species lost.
    • Late Devonian, 375 million years ago, 75% of species lost in 69 millions years.
    • End Permian, 251 million years ago, 96% of species lost in 124 millions years.
    • End Triassic, 200 million years ago, 80% of species lost. In 51 millions years.
    • End Cretaceous, 66 million years ago, 76% of all species lost in 134 millions years.
    A “biological annihilation” of wildlife in recent decades means a sixth mass extinction in earth’s history is under way and is more severe than previously feared, according to research.
    If we make a graph of those times between each period peaks and lows it give us a time bracket to act but we need to know when the sixth mass extinction began.
    Scientists are divided when it comes to determining if the sixth mass extinction event is actually happening. For instance some studies divide the sixth mass extinction in two phases, beginning from 100,000 years ago.
    Some scientists however say that the actual beginning of the sixth mass extinction is not yet determined. As of now, palaeontologists are only seeing evidences that the earth is entering the sixth mass extinction event but these are not sufficient to show that the mass extinction is indeed happening.
    However scientists analysed both common and rare species and found billions of regional or local populations have been lost.
    They blame human overpopulation and overconsumption for the crisis and warn that it threatens the survival of human civilisation, with just a short window of time in which to act.
    I have a solution to put an end to it: Easy. Get rid of the human species who takes from mother earth but give nothing back because they have not understood the principle of ngapartji ngapartji –and the planet will live.

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  8. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted September 21, 2019 at 9:25 am

    We know for fact that extractive industries are responsible for half of the world’s carbon emissions.
    But there are other industries.
    In Alice we want more tourists and less mining. Good, and we want vacations and or monies from the tourism industry.
    But how many think of the negative impact on the world around us?
    There are one billion tourist arrivals in the world every year. That’s 30 every single second. By 2020 the number will increase by 60%.
    Tourism often puts pressure on natural resources through over-consumption, often in places where resources are already scarce.
    Tourism often leads to overuse of water.
    An average golf course in a tropical country, for example, uses as much water as 60,000 rural villagers. I
    It also uses 1500 kilos of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides per year. Can the students check Alice Springs golf club as a project?
    Tourism puts enormous stress on local land use, and can lead to soil erosion, increased pollution, natural habitat loss, and more pressure on endangered species. These effects can gradually destroy the environmental resources on which tourism itself depends.
    Can the students check with local tourism companies if they are eco-tourism champion?
    Climate change!
    Tourism contributes to more than 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with transportation accounting for 90% of this.
    In Australia there are many tourism activities that can cause coral reefs to damage. Did the students check?
    The number of annual Antarctic tourists has increased from a couple hundred in 1969 to over 20,000 at the start of the new millennium.
    What is the impact on the ice melting? Another school assignment.
    Students have the right to express their point of view and opinions but have they done their researches before marching?

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  9. philby
    Posted September 21, 2019 at 7:39 am

    Do I read this right. 200 students plus 400 adults? Alice Springs has a population of 20,000 I read so 3% of the population are attempting to influence the 97% who went about their business. By the way the sign they carried has been proven by real independent scientists to be a pack of lies.

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  10. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted September 20, 2019 at 7:32 pm

    @ Not Peter Wilkins: “The sooner you boomers die off, the sooner the rest of us can get on with fixing the mess you’ve left.”
    Think before you talk because those boomers are the ones who worked hard all their life without luxuries to build a life style you enjoyed today; they are the generations who invented the majority of gadgets used and abused by your generation:
    • Mobile phone is good but do all the family members need a mobile phone?
    • Motored vehicle is good but does every one need a huge 4×4 to drive every day in town? Even to go to a gym instead of walking or riding? Even go to school?
    Instead of asking the politicians to do something about the climate change why not ask our local government to ban the cars in town? Make people use public transport.
    • TV is good but do you need to have one in any bedroom instead of one in the family room?
    Ha!! That’s right, there is no longer a family room because there is hardly any family as a unit because everyone spends their free time on the mobile on face book or other social outlets.
    We have not created this mess but the ones who have misused and abused what we have created.

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  11. Domenico Pecorari
    Posted September 20, 2019 at 5:48 pm

    How disappointing to read the comments posted by Peter Wilkins, Davo and IDO, all of whom have stated classic arguments of climate change deniers, all of which have been discounted by the science. It is because of your stubborn scepticism that our youngsters have to march in the streets to have their concerns heard. Good on our students, I say, and on their informed parents.

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  12. David Woods
    Posted September 20, 2019 at 5:02 pm

    Anyone care for the Earth? I do.
    And I’m thankful that young people are leading the charge for others to do the same.
    It wasn’t just young people: “Some 200 of their peers (students) filled the lawns outside Flynn Church in the mall, supported by 300 to 400 adults.”

    View Comment
  13. Kathy
    Posted September 20, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    I thought politics was not to be taught in primary schools.
    It is a terrific subject for students to be taught in school as well as at home, but not to go out on school and walk the streets.
    These are the future generation, but let them learn how to help not just blame some one else for all the troubles for the world.
    Learn a few facts before rushing out and protesting, you may learn more about the subjects in the school class room.

    View Comment
  14. Interested Darwin Observer
    Posted September 20, 2019 at 2:44 pm

    How many of these kids would turn up if the Rally was held on a Saturday? Its not hard to get kids excited about missing a school day.
    Shame on the parents who don’t value school attendance.

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  15. Graham Buckley
    Posted September 20, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    Anyone for science? I am.

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  16. Not Peter Wilkins
    Posted September 20, 2019 at 2:12 pm

    @Peter Wilkins

    Perhaps it would better if these kids buried their heads in the sand alongside you and the rest of your braindead generation? The sooner you boomers die off, the sooner the rest of us can get on with fixing the mess you’ve left.

    View Comment
  17. Davo
    Posted September 20, 2019 at 1:35 pm

    An important day to protest climate change once again hijacked by the anti-fracking brigade. These kids probably drove to McDonalds for a burger afterwards, all while the agricultural industry and transportation are our biggest culprits.

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  18. Posted September 20, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    Some 15 years before most of these brainwashed kids were born those two prophets of doom, Bob Brown and Tim Flannery, predicted much of earth would be under water by now.
    I live at the beach and the level has not risen even one millimeter.
    There was snow at Katoomba last week.
    Scientists do not always get things right, particularly when there is a bucket of money involved.
    These kids were not born when the world was preparing for the disaster of Y2K only 19 years ago.
    It is no wonder the suicide rate is so high when we are constantly told the end of life as we know it is nigh.
    Teachers would be far more useful teaching kids how to spell instead of filling their heads with apprehension and fear.

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  19. Watchn
    Posted September 20, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    Good on them for having a go.

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