What do you write on a day of global climate action?
In the Australian Guardian today, Australian academics published an open letter which I am excerpting below. It says everything I want to say.
The science is clear, the facts are incontrovertible. We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, with about 200 species becoming extinct each day. This includes many species of insects, some of which are essential to our food systems. Many people around the world have already died or been displaced from the effects of a rapidly warming climate. July 2019 was the Earth’s hottest on record. Arctic peat is burning and ice is melting at rates far beyond even the most radical scientific predictions. The Amazon is burning at an alarming rate. All are creating devastating feedback loops, releasing more CO2 and reducing the Earth’s heat reflecting capacities.
Humans cannot continue to violate the fundamental laws of nature or ignore the basic science with impunity. As oceans rise and temperatures soar, ecosystems will continue to collapse. As resources diminish, social unrest and civilisation collapse are likely. The most marginalised and vulnerable in society will be hit first and hit hardest. And If we continue on our current path, the future of our own species is bleak.
Australia’s current climate policies and practices are dire. Rather than making the urgent structural changes necessary for a sustainable and just transition toward zero emissions, the Australian government is continuing to prop up and expand coal and other CO2-emitting industries. Australia is not even meeting its Paris agreement targets which, according to recent reports, are themselves far from adequate.
It is unconscionable that we, our children and grandchildren should have to bear the terrifying brunt of this unprecedented disaster. When a government wilfully abrogates its responsibility to protect its citizens from harm and secure the future for generations to come, it has failed in its most essential duty of stewardship. The ‘social contract’ has been broken, and it is therefore not only our right, but our moral duty, to rebel to defend life itself.
We also recognise the crucial role First Nations people in Australia and across the globe, have played for tens of thousands of years, and continue to play, in maintaining species, and caring for the land, water and air. We therefore declare our support for the urgent establishment of a treaty with First Nation Australians, to recognise Indigenous sovereignty and to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to continue protecting what they have already cared for, for so long.
You can read the full letter and view the names of the academics who signed it.
May this day be the day when everything changes.