Archive for ‘climate movement’

September 26, 2011

Last Post: AYCC are tools and muppets

As promised at the outset, this site is shutting down.
It’s been simply delightful adding denialist nutjobs to the ‘send to spam’ list. I love how they spew bile and then claim to be the injured party. I love thinking about the conversations they will be having with their children/grandchildren in 20 years time…

Anyhow. This below is an email that those buffoons at the Australian Youth Climate “Coalition” have been sending out to try to get people along to their ‘powershit’ event in Brisbane. And how are climate activists supposed to get there? Oh, they’re to fly… I defy you to make that up. Or this –

Dear xxx,

You’€™re an incredibly smart and ridiculously talented young person who will probably rule the world some day. You don’t normally do conferences – because, let’s be honest, most of them are dull and pointless and your time is precious.

But then you hear about something potentially quite cool: an opportunity to hang out with other attractive, intelligent, hilarious people just like you. People who read about what’s going on in the world. People with awesome dance moves. People who aren’t naive enough to expect our current leaders to wake up and smell the catastrophe they’re creating for our generation, unless we make them solve it.

You buy your ticket, go to this event – and it goes beyond all your expectations.

You hear from cool speakers like Dick Smith, Christine Milne and that amazing young girl who sailed around the world on her own. You get to talk to them afterwards, furthering your fabulous future career as you make connections that money can’t buy. You go to workshops run by the heads of the top non-profits in the country, like Change.Org and GetUp. You participate in an insanely fun media stunt that makes headlines around the country.

You meet that handsome boy or girl of your dreams. Seriously. Did you know 43% of Power Shift participants met their current life partner at Power Shift?

And you realise two things: that you are powerful, and you are not alone. That there are way more young people in Australia who love life and care about climate change than you could have ever thought possible, and that when you all get together, you really can change the world.

You come home, barely believing that you nearly didn’t go in the first place, brimming with new-found skills, connections and confidence. And you decide you don’t have to wait any longer. You’€™re ready to lead, not follow.

It all happened because today, you decide to click here and buy your Power Shift ticket, right before normal tickets close in 48 hours.

Part conference. Part festival. 100% life-changing awesomeness or we’ll alter the space-time continuum to send you back in time to before you read this email, and hire Leonardo DiCaprio to enter your subconscious via your dreams to encourage you just to press ‘delete’€™ instead. But we have a feeling that won’t be necessary.

Power Shift. Sat 15th – Mon 17th October. Brisbane. Check it out today before normal tickets end in 48 hours.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you,

The AYCC team

P.S. Why now? Why today? Because from Friday the normal price closes, and you’ll have to pay $100 per person, or $90 per person for a group of 5 or more. Check it out now.

Now that I’ve wiped the vomit and tears of despair off my keyboard. I have only this to say: “Shit-for-brainses. Yeah, you – you’re trying WAY too hard. You’re an embarrasment.”

September 7, 2011

Circus next Wednesday & must-read Guy Pearse article

According to the Fin, the Government is introducing the carbon tax legislation next Tuesday, with slanging match (sorry, “informed parliamentary debate”) on the Wednesday, but no vote until mid-October.
Well, this will be edifying.
I reckon someone should put together a “bingo card” of all the phrases that will be used (“great big tax on everything,” “the Australian people,” “secure investment” etc etc).

But given that all the big NGOs (except FoE) are bought and paid for, and behind the carbon tax as “the best deal in town,” they aren’t going to do that. I refer to the totally must-read article by Guy Pearse in the September Monthly…

August 19, 2011

Sept 29 event on climate change with Penny Wong and Prof Mike Young

This is a cut and paste from The Environment Institute.

We are pleased to announce that Minister Penny Wong and Professor Mike Young – along with a panel of three more South Australian leaders – are participating in a free public forum on the complex and ‘wicked’ problem of climate change.

Currently, we struggle to get our climate change discussion past immediate hip-pocket lines. In our public debates it is difficult to talk about the sort of future we want for ourselves, our families, our communities, Australia and globally.

This forum will tackle the issue head on. What type of leadership is required? What does it take to create and manage significant and complex change? And could it be that we’re actually seeing a lot of this leadership but missing the wood for the trees?

The forum is not a debate on the science of climate change. We have more than enough knowledge about human impact to act. However, given most people in our community accept the science but the debate about how best to act can seem viciously polarised and stuck, what should our leaders do?

Book now! This will be a very popular event and there are limited places despite the selected venue.

We hope to see you Thursday, 29 September, 6-7:30pm at the Masonic Hall, 254 North Terrace, Adelaide.
This event is being held as a partnership between the Environment Institute and the Leaders Institute of South Australia.

June 9, 2011

Repost: “Don’t preach to the converted on carbon tax: it’s the money vote that matters”

From “The Conversation” website.

June 8, 2011

Climate Commissioner Tim Flannery interviewed

Adelaide Climate News was fortunate to get a few minutes of Climate Commissioner Tim Flannery’s time before last night’s event in Elizabeth.

A blog post about the event, which was both well-attended and well-organised will appear here later toda. For now, here’s a transcript of the interview, with a few appropriate hyperlinks thrown in.

Could you explain a little bit about why the Climate Commission has come into existence and what you would like to see it doing over the next year or two.

Tim Flannery: The Climate Commission came about as the result of an election promise by the Gillard government, at the last election. We’re an independent commission, so even though we’re funded via the government, we don’t take direction from government. We started work in February this year, and our brief is pretty simple: it’s to get out among the Australian public and discuss aspects of climate change, whether it be the science behind climate change, the economic options that a country like Australia has available to it, or what’s happening internationally in terms of action to address climate change. We don’t speak about policy, we’re not briefed to speak about government policy, and we don’t want to speak about opposition policy. But we feel that there is a real need for a group like this that people can interact with, who can give unbiased and objective advice on where things stand. So that’s really our role.
So we’ve been going around the place, every fortnight or so now, to a different part of regional Australia, visiting business places, industry places, meeting with opinion leaders, having community consultations and so forth. It’s been extremely interesting.

And how long with this work continue for?

Tim Flannery: The Commission has a lifetime of four years. Who knows what will happen in the future; it’s very difficult to say. But we feel that’s appropriate, because this is an issue Australians will be struggling with decades from now, it’s not going to go away. When you look at what needs to be done to get to a point where we’re secure globally from dangerous climate change. It’s four decades at least of transformation ahead of us.

I just yesterday wrote a piece that ended with ‘this problem’s been two hundred years in the making, it’s not going to be solved in two years.’

Tim Flannery: Exactly. And we’re not going to get anywhere in a democracy without a well-informed public. So it’s very important that people understand the basics.

And have you been surprised at the attendance and the kinds of questions at the events, or have you been pretty much getting what you expected?

Tim Flannery: Better than what we expected. We’ve been having quite large attendances, full houses by and large. What surprised me the most has been the diversity of people attended, from welded-on climate skeptics through to people who are passionate about the subject but with a very large number of people in the middle, which is really good. So I think that’s probably the group that benefits the most from the interactions. And we do poll people as they leave, they fill out the little form and we ask how the event went. And 80 to 90% have been saying that it was valuable and they learnt something, so that’s good.

There’ s nothing like the Climate Commission in England, which is the country I know, and I don’t think in the United States. Are you aware of anywhere else that has done this sort of thing?

Tim Flannery: I think you have a Climate Commission in the UK but it’s got a very different objective – to keep the government accountable legislatively. No, I think it’s a novel model for Australia. I think it’s quite an interesting one. The other thing we do that I didn’t mention was issue reports. And I was very pleased to see that our science report that was release two weeks ago in the Federal Parliament received bipartisan report [The Critical Decade]. That speaks to our independence and the credibility of the information in the report.

Final question – you’ll be aware that there have been, unfortunately, death threats against climate scientists, and I don’t want to overplay this. There is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek campaign that Friday 10th June should be “Hug a Climate Scientist” day.

(Flannery chuckles)

I personally feel that’s a bit maybe tokenistic, and I have stronger opinions myself on what climate activists and people who are concerned about the issue could do to support climate scientists. I’m wondering what you would like to see individuals and groups concerned about climate change doing that they’re not already doing around things like peer-to-peer education and so on.

Tim Flannery: I think that the death threats come from psychologically deranged people. People don’t normally threaten to kill other people over a difference of opinion. There’s a psychological problem there. And I think part of the issue is the sort encouragement that they receive from various quarters, for lunatic views and the way people egg each other on and this sort of thing. So I tend to just not comment on such things publicly because I think commenting on them just encourages them, but that’s my view.

Do you want that on the record or off the record?

Tim Flannery: That’s on the record.

And what would you like to see – I’m not asking you to be a guru, I know it’s very difficult, you don’t want to tell other people what to do – but what sorts of things do you feel support climate scientists in their work and the things like the Climate Commission in its work. Because you’re only six people, with a scientific panel behind you it’s true, there’s only so many events you can hold, so what else do you think would help in the broader mission?

Tim Flannery: I think helping to create a calm space where we can discuss these things logically and fairly is very very important. And I think everyone who’s interested can play a role in that. So I wouldn’t dismiss those with a contrary view, but instead engage them in a reasoned sort of debate and ask them why they believe the particular things they believe and where they get their information from and so forth. At the end of the day that’s the only way to change these views, is to engage with people rather than dismiss them.

Thank you very much.

June 8, 2011

Clive Hamilton: “Climate science the target in a culture war”

The death threats received by Australian climate scientists such as Will Steffen, Andy Pitman and David Karoly haven’t come out of the blue.

They are an extension of the vicious attacks on climate science and climate scientists that can be found in the mainstream media, mostly news outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch.

The virulence of the recent attacks on Cate Blanchett, who did no more than publicly back a carbon tax, is precisely the kind of rhetoric that encourages threats of violence from climate deniers.


The conclusion to this piece, full of disturbing details of death threats against US climate scientists, is worth noting.

Like those whose opinions they value — shock jocks and television demagogues — climate deniers are disproportionately older, white, male and conservative —those who feel their cultural identity most threatened by the implications of climate change.

While the debate is superficially about the science, in truth it is about deep-rooted feelings of cultural identity. This makes deniers immune to argument. Their influence will wane only as they grow old and die.

June 7, 2011

Hug a Climate Scientist Day?

So, about this “Friday is Hug a Climate Scientist Day” thing.

I’m not sure the jokey “hug” meme is a proper or effective response to the death threat stuff that has presumably inspired it.

I think it should be “Get Bolt and Abbott and the other clowns to repudiate the use of moronic anti-science rhetoric publicly and repeatedly” Day, and Saturday could be “Have Bolt and Abbott and the other clowns publicly and repeatedly describe anyone who sends abusive emails etc to climate scientists, let alone death threats, as an embarrassment to bipeds everywhere” Day. (The titles may need some refinement, it’s true.)

I *ALSO* think that practical solidarity with climate scientists looks a bit different than what is presumably going to be a blizzard of tweets and feel-good photo opportunities.

Practical solidarity looks like, IMHO
– becoming effective climate activists, who innovate instead of repeat dinosaur formats (rallies, marches), and who have up-to-date websites instead of embarrassingly ugly and usually out-of-date ones, who reflect on how the movement can grow, learn, organise and win, and implement those ideas, instead of whining about climate deniers and the government and big business all the time.
– skilling up on science communication so that it isn’t left just to scientists to communicate this stuff. They are busy, and it’s not their skill-set.
– skilling up so become able to read the actual scientific papers themselves and then convert them into “English” (or French, Mandarin, whatever)
– skilling up on the use of youtube and powerpoint etc to help people who think that the science is too hard to understand (it isn’t) to understand it, to the level that matters to them
– thinking beyond the next march or rally or protest about the weakness/strength of this or that legislation, and having a strategic vision
– learning to ignore climate trolls, especially the ones who start out all aggressive and sneery and then when you call them out on that adopt a victim/more conciliatory “you might learn something” line (it’s a variation of concern-trolling).

What do other people think?

P.S. Has anyone asked these climate scientists what – while we are all waiting for the denialists developing a conscience and a cerebral cortex- THEY would like to see the climate activist movement do?

EDIT at 3.30pm, 7/6/11: I picked this thing up via some tweets, which on second look have lead back to a funny cartoon at Crikey. I am sure the cartoonist, “Firstdog,” is NOT trying to create an opportunity for feel-good do-nothingness, and that he/she is very interested in what practical solidarity would actually look like (and I appreciate that question doesn’t make for a funny cartoon, which is what their job involves!).

UPDATE: I’ve sent out requests for statements from real climate scientists (I know a few) about what they would find useful in terms of practical solidarity. Have already had this brilliant reply –

The most rewarding thing for a climate scientist, in my view, is to see our long hours of hard, heading-bashing and often depressing research and associated outputs taken forward through effective, clear but not dumbed-down communication into appropriate issue-focused debates.
There is significant pressure on us to score well for our institutions by publishing in high impact journals, which makes communication through more accessible, interdisciplinary journals or material for policymakers and lay public, less common and less valued by our peers. Also, in many cases, we are not great communicators, and the visibilty of our work, which we do after all to contribute to relevant debates, is vastly enhanced by those people who are trained or train themselves to turn academic jargon into a more accessible and visible form.
Perhaps those already demonstrating the drive to motivate and faciliate the debates could take more advantage of training opportunities or learning by doing to further compliment our incremental and sometimes rather inaccessible work. I somehow feel that it will do more good than a hug-and pleased to report that I don’t need to seek out strangers for one if I need one.

June 5, 2011

Sat June 11 laff riot on climate change, Port Adelaide

This is happening as part of the Adhocracy thing (June 11-13) hosted by Vital Statistix at the Waterside.

Waterside Hall

RIOT has been commissioned by Malthouse Theatre and Tipping Point through the Dara Foundation Climate Change Commission. TORQUE SHOW co-founders (Ross Ganf, Vincent Crowley and Ingrid Weisfelt), with collaborators (Carlie Angel, Daniel Jaber, Ninian Donald, Gabrielle Nankivell, Luke Smiles, Che Biggs and Geoff Cobham) will undertake a creative development of RIOT over three days as part of Adhocracy.

One of the challenges to widespread public engagement with climate change is that it’s largely been a science-led issue. We may accept the lessons of science as truth, but as a truth without meaning. RIOT asks: how can the climate become a protagonist in our life story? How do we reconnect with climate as a template for relating to our world? How do we bring a sense of urgency to a problem that is happening at a rate difficult to perceive in our day-to-day lives? Drawing on ideas that include Alvin Toffler’s prosumer and Augusto Boal’s spect-actor, RIOT explores the immediacy between our actual selves and the chaotic events we are setting into play through climate change.

Exercising the right to protest may be our single most dynamic engagement with democracy and social change in contemporary society. It is a transgression of space from a place of meeting to a point of authority. Using the form of a protest march, to create a work where climate triggers a peaceful protest into a chaotic ‘riot’, RIOT aims for a cyclical feedback loop with an audience, and in doing so, to theatrically create a tipping point in real time.

RIOT carries two very important purposes: to re-ignite protest as a form of political expression for a contemporary society and to arm its participants with a contemporary language through which to protest climate change. The work is conceived as a series of events that occur during a festival. It will have three components to a season: A ticketed physical theatre show; a free large scale climate change protest; and a series of prosumer/user generated interactions with RIOT.

Over Adhocracy, the collaborating artists will explore the choreography and other content of RIOT through investigating motifs and gestures of protest and riots, non-violent protest techniques (the physicality of passive resistance), stylization of how crowds and crowd controllers move when order is lost, flash mob techniques, and how to achieve an expanded contract between audience and performer. The artists will commence with a conversation on climate change amongst the creative team, led by Che Biggs Research Fellow – Distributed Systems and Climate Change Adaptation at the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab and director Ross Ganf, which audiences are welcome to observe and participate in.

CREATIVE TEAM: Ross Ganf, Vincent Crowley, Ingrid Weisfelt, Carlie Angel, Daniel Jaber, Ninian Donald, Gabrielle Nankivell, Luke Smiles, Che Biggs and Geoff Cobham

* Climate change conversation (public welcome) at 1pm, Sat June 11 (60mins)
* RIOT showcase and audience experimentation, 3pm, Sun June 12 (80mins)
* RIOT showcase and audience experimentation, 3pm, Mon June 13 (80mins)

*If you plan to participate in the showcases, please where comfortable clothing (no heels!)

June 5, 2011

“Say Yes” rally June 5 – analysis and ideas

We demand innovation of businesses.
We demand courage of our politicians.
We demand of ourselves… not so much.

First, let me say this: I’m glad the “Say Yes” rally in Adelaide happened, and the organisers deserve applause and thanks. They didn’t have a lot of time or money, and they pulled it off.

Opportunities like today – a chance to see that plenty of other people are concerned (despite what you’d believe if you thought the Murdoch press reflected reality) – are valuable. We need occasionally to go to the well to refill the leaky bucket of optimism and passion for climate action.

The event was short, sweet and.. not enough.

We have been doing rallies like this – on various issues be it (pro-peace, pro-tolerance, pro-planet) – for a long time. If they worked to build a movement that grew, learned, organised and won, then, well, we would Be “There” by now. But we’re not. (Footnote 1)

The rally followed an entirely predictable format. After some music, there was an entirely competent introduction, followed by three speeches of variable audibility and interest. [For what little it is worth, here’s the speech I would have given.] Nobody said anything that the people attending didn’t already know or agree with. People had no opportunity to communicate what they didn’t know, what they thought could be done, what they wanted to happen next with the campaign for a climate safe Australia (which is a much bigger issue than just a carbon tax/emissions trading scheme)

So here are some questions

Why gather 2000 people who have knowledge, ideas, passion and commitment and have them listen to 30 minutes of music and 30 minutes of speeches telling them what they already know

Why gather 2000 people and disempower them by having them listen for an hour, as if they are simply empty vessels to be filled? Or sheep to be shepherded? I am sure that the organisers do not think that, but their actions create that impression. I looked at the faces of people during the speeches, and many seemed bored and irritated. That’s not the way to enthuse and engage and encourage.

How many of those who attended the rally will be able to tell a mildly skeptical friend or neighbour “yeah, it was exciting and inspiring, you should come next time.” (That, to me, is a key definition of success.)

Why not give permission to people to mingle and meet with those stood around them. How else are we to create the loose networks of people across the city?

Why not structure some of the hour so that all the people who are teachers, or health care professionals or students could gather in different parts of the park, just to exchange names and details.

Why not structure some of the hour so that people from different parts of the city could mingle based on where they live. For example, when I was walking down my street about to start putting the “conversation” letters in post-boxes, I met someone who had also been at the rally, and we had a really useful conversation. That was a happy accident. The organisers of the rally could have created many more of those happy accidents.

Why not have a a space after the rally where people who have questions about the science of climate change could talk with experts face to face, and get impromptu lessons. It would make people feel more confident in their (inevitable) dealings with the small number of vocal denialists. It would give the experts valuable experience.

Why not have a “suggestions box” so that people can submit their contact details and ideas for what the movement could be doing to improve its power?”

Why not have an agreed post-rally meeting place for those who want to talk more over a coffee or a sandwich?

Why not have a “video booth” where people can record brief comments that could then be posted on youtube, showing just how many people outside the “latte-drinking inner-city professionals” demographic want action.

So, it’s good that the rally happened. But if we keep on as we have been keeping on these last 30 years or more, then we are not going to “win”

Next up – an analysis piece on the Dangers Ahead… (betcha can’t wait).

If you’re really time-rich with a high tolerance for shockingly clumsy graphics, see these videos
From Cannon-Fodder to Ego Fodder

Meetings from Above

Footnote 1: For good (IMHO) analyses of the state of the Australian climate movement, see these two recently articles.
The first is from the latest “Chain Reaction,” by Holly Creenaune, a member of Friends of the Earth Sydney.

In part she writes

“Bad policy aside, it’s the debate – or lack of it – that is the real problem. The public cannot participate in a discussion about a perfect price or the market that could work magic: the debate is inaccessible, ignores concerns about justice, and is not relevant to our daily lives. We’ve been stuck for decades in a media and policy vacuum of neoliberal market mechanisms and a contest over complex science. Real solutions, community voices, or the elephant in the room – our coal exports – are locked out. It suits government and industry to keep the debate on this limited terrain – but we desperately need to build a message and a movement that can reject false solutions like carbon trading, halt privatisation of energy infrastructure, and put forward new ideas.”

The second is by Anna Rose, one of the founders of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (a more mainstream lobbying outfit – sort of like “Stop Climate Chaos,” only effective.)

“But the time has come to be honest. We are failing because as a whole the Australian environment movement does not understand power, has not built power, and has failed to effectively exercise the power we have built.
“To win campaigns we have to make it harder for those in power to continue with business as usual than it is for them to give into our demands. Yet currently, it’s easier or politicians to continue with business as usual, and to give in to the demands of industry lobbyists from the coal, gas, mining, aluminium, cement and electricity generation industries — everyone, that is, except us.”

June 5, 2011

“Say Yes” rally June 5 – factual report

This is a factual report of the rally today. An analysis piece will be posted shortly. (Betcha can’t wait!) (Here it is.)

Around 2000 people gathered in Victoria Square/Tarndanyangga this morning for a pro-carbon tax rally organised by “Say Yes Australia.” Similar rallies have been held in capital cities around Australia, as part of an effort by the coalition of environmental groups and unions to put pressure on the Multi-Party Committee on Climate Change. The committee is currently deliberating over legislation that will create a ‘price on pollution.’

After a twenty minute set by the “Bearded Gypsy Band”, Catherine Zengerer of Radio Adelaide opened the event. A “welcome to country” was made by a young woman, called Jessie, on behalf of the Kaurna people.
Three speakers then took to the platform– David Brewer, an organic farmer, explained the consequences of a changing climate for farmers, and sad that a carbon tax would force businesses to take the necessary action.
A 17 year old Australian Youth Climate Coalition called Yen [sorry, didn’t catch surname. Edit 5/6/11 – Phan] reflected on the previous two years of climate (in)action at the Federal level. John Connor of The Climate Institute then took the stage, saying that the coming weeks, while the MPCCC deliberated, were crucial. He stated that there was struggle going on between those who wanted action and “the Captains of Industry, who like not paying a price for pollution”, those who reject the consensus of climate science, those who will use a carbon price as a scapegoat for the increases in electricity prices and difficulties that manufacturing is facing due to a strong dollar. He also singled out business and media for running a fear campaign . He encouraged people to take pre-formatted letters from stewards and distribute them to their neighbors, as part of a campaign to have “A million conversations” about the need for a price on pollution in the coming weeks.
Catherine Zengerer then closed the speech portion of the rally with news that 10,000 people had attended rallies in Sydney and Melbourne, with 3000 in Hobart. People mingled and dispersed to a final further set by the Bearded Gypsy Band.

Although there were several “No to Carbon Tax” people present, there were no altercations for the Murdoch media to report. They’ll just have to do what they always do – make stuff up…