The Mercury, Talking Point: Adani convoy to start in Hobart — for good reason, Bob Brown

THE Tasmanian coastline is being eroded due to global heating. That is because a warmer ocean now pounds the shores 20cm higher than a century ago. Each storm is bringing a battering ram weighing millions of tonnes slamming into the sand dunes or cliffs above its prior natural reach. The storms themselves are more powerful than before.
This disruption of the coast not only threatens roads, houses, wharves and other infrastructure by the sea, but is eroding the previously stable nesting sites of shorebirds, adding to the impending landslide of extinctions further inland. Ornithologists reckon one third of Australia’s bird species may be extinct this century due to such human pressures.
Tasmania, as an island, is seeing these effects more than many other places. The first reported catch of a snapper at Randalls Bay in the Huon River this week — previously the species was more confined to the mainland coast — made me think of the disintegration of our native marine ecosystem including the world’s tallest kelp forests and the remarkable Tasmanian handfish. There are other factors at play in nature’s downfall such as water pollution, urban sprawl, fish farms, plastics, deforestation and forest degradation but all, like global warming, are due to our human species consuming too much and ever wanting more from a finite Earth.
The single human-induced factor most threatening the global ecosystem, short of nuclear war or pandemics, is global warming. No acre on Earth is escaping it. Whether we look at the recent fires in Tasmania and mainland Australia, floods in Townsville or fish deaths on the Darling River, a hotter biosphere is in action. Global warming is the outcome of burning coal, oil, gas and forests.
A Melbourne psychologist told me that an increasing number of her clients are suffering the new phenomenon of depression, anxiety and terror at the ending of life on Earth as we have known it. There will be endless discussion about whether this is an illness or a reasonable reaction to what is happening on our planet, but a compounding factor is that it is thinking, caring people who are most affected.
British philosopher Bertrand Russell observed 70 years ago, “the trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt”. That doubt is now turning to despair.
Nor is the news going to get better. As Homo sapiens’ over-population of the planet grows, the demand for more goods from the planet’s finite storehouse grows even faster.
We are already using 170 per cent of Earth’s non-renewable living resources. The result is that every morning we wake to fewer forests, fewer hectares of arable land, fewer fisheries and fewer species than ever before in human history — and to more humans wanting more. Yet where is the government amongst Earth’s 200 nations that does not advocate growth of consumption as against a steady-state prosperity?
In 2019 Australia is the richest per capita, in dollar terms, of those 200 countries. We are also among the best educated, have one of the oldest continuous democracies and a level of domestic security many other regions can only dream about. So if we aren’t going to make an intelligent effort to get out of our comfort zone and take a stand to hasten the change needed to secure the planet’s future, who will? It is immoral for us to simply leave it to today’s children, more motivated (as seen in this month’s Hobart and worldwide demonstrations) as they may be.
That is why my foundation is organising this Stop Adani Convoy. It will be a cavalcade of vehicles from Hobart via Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to the Galilee Basin region of central Queensland where Indian billionaire Guatam Adani plans to open one of the largest open-cut coalmines on the planet. His Adani or “Carmichael” mine would, when the coal is burned, produce millions of tonnes more carbon dioxide per annum and inject them into Earth’s already overloaded atmosphere. Besides, Adani’s mine would open the way for six more adjacent coal mines in the Galilee Basin.
From there the convoy will circle back for a pre-election rally in Canberra.
The convoy has attracted nationwide attention. Hundreds, including farmers, doctors and other business people, have signed up to come. Some will drive only a few kilometres and others will complete just one section of the three-weeks long convoy route to Canberra. Others will begin in Hobart or join in cities along the way and continue on up to Queensland and then to Canberra.
A major aim of the convoy will be to keep 16 million Australian voters’ minds on our obligation to stop global warming if we are to hand a secure future to our children (we go to the polls on May 11 or 18).
While the Coalition squabbles about coal, Labor is sitting on the fence. No Labor member has ever crossed the floor to vote against the Adani mine. While polls show that more than 70 per cent of voters oppose the Adani mine, both of the major parties support it. The convoy, like the Franklin blockade back in 1983, is a potent way of having Australians change their vote to candidates who will not support Adani (or, better still, more coal mines or power stations) in the next parliament. Those candidates so far are the Greens and an impressive line-up of independents.
While the convoy is essentially a celebration of life on Earth, it will be no picnic. It will require a major commitment in time, money and public involvement by the otherwise ordinary Australians who are signing up to take part. When it heads off from Salamanca Place on April 17, as a symbol of the potential of technology to come to our aid, the colourful convoy will have a vanguard of electric cars.
– Former Tasmanian senator and Greens leader, Dr Bob Brown, is founder of the Bob Brown Foundation.

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  • Fred Tropp-Asher
    commented 2019-03-29 21:39:20 +1100
    This convoy is our chance to show our grandchildren that we are trying to stop global climate damage. And if we do not join in the convoy or similar activities, then we cannot stand with our grandchildren to help them live in the deteriorating world they will face.