Melbourne’s Extinction Rebellion Declaration Day

About 150 people attended Extinction Rebellion Day in Melbourne in the Treasury Gardens.

There was no blocking of bridges, no arrests made. It was a pretty tame affair, really. The Climate Guardian angels were present and provided a note of solemnity. Composer and choir master Stephen Taberner was there and gave a quick workshop on street chants.

There was a short march up to Treasury Place where the declaration was read out. A copy of the declaration was also handed to a security officer between the locked bars of the Australian Government offices.

Read James Wight’s report on Precarious Climate: The Extinction Rebellion begins in Australia and why many people are calling for civil disobedience in calling for climate action.

I am reminded of physicist Brad Werner’s seminar paper in 2013 presented at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, reported on by Naomi Klein.

But it was Werner’s own session that was attracting much of the buzz. It was titled “Is Earth F**ked?” (full title: “Is Earth F**ked? Dynamical Futility of Global Environmental Management and Possibilities for Sustainability via Direct Action Activism”).

Standing at the front of the conference room, the geophysicist from the University of California, San Diego walked the crowd through the advanced computer model he was using to answer that question. He talked about system boundaries, perturbations, dissipation, attractors, bifurcations and a whole bunch of other stuff largely incomprehensible to those of us uninitiated in complex systems theory. But the bottom line was clear enough: global capitalism has made the depletion of resources so rapid, convenient and barrier-free that “earth-human systems” are becoming dangerously unstable in response. When pressed by a journalist for a clear answer on the “are we f**ked” question, Werner set the jargon aside and replied, “More or less.”

There was one dynamic in the model, however, that offered some hope. Werner termed it “resistance” – movements of “people or groups of people” who “adopt a certain set of dynamics that does not fit within the capitalist culture”. According to the abstract for his presentation, this includes “environmental direct action, resistance taken from outside the dominant culture, as in protests, blockades and sabotage by indigenous peoples, workers, anarchists and other activist groups”.

Read more at the New Statesman: Naomi Klein: How science is telling us all to revolt

The time for escalation of resistance has come. I hope it hasn’t come too late.

Watch an excerpts video of the Melbourne Declaration being read out:

The declaration as announced on Facebook:

§ We demand that the Australian government and the media tell the truth about the climate emergency and honestly inform the public that we are facing a threat to human civilisation that imperils the life of most people on Earth.

Our leaders have promoted the falsehood that climate change is not a serious or imminent threat to our survival. We are in a climate emergency and the population deserves to be informed.

§ The earth is already too hot. It is reckless beyond imagining to continue making our planet hotter. We demand that all levels of government work to rapidly reduce greenhouse gases to zero by 2025. We must also commence the massive task of removing excess greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere until we restore a safe climate.

Urgent action is not only required but achievable. We must move to an emergency footing to address this threat to our survival.

§ Our democracy has been corrupted by vested interests and our political representatives have failed to protect us. We demand that the emergency transition be directed by a Citizens’ Assembly as we move towards a democracy fit for purpose.

We need a national Citizens’ Assembly to initiate, direct and oversee the implementation of those solutions that governments are clearly unwilling or unable to achieve without such assistance.

We hold the following to be true:

This is our darkest hour. Humanity finds itself in a crisis unprecedented in its history.
Unless this crisis is immediately addressed, it will result in the destruction of all that we love and hold dear: this land, its peoples, its ecosystems, and the very future of the human race.

The science is clear: we are in the sixth mass extinction event and we will face catastrophe if we do not act now.

Biodiversity is being annihilated around the world. Our seas are poisoned, acidic and rising. Flooding and desertification will render vast tracts of land uninhabitable and lead to mass migration. The insect population of the planet is plummeting, threatening the very basis of our global ecosystem. The breakdown of our climate has begun. There will be more bushfires, unpredictable and destructive storms, increasing drought, and famine as food supplies and fresh water become scarce and unreliable.

But this is not just a matter of adjusting to new difficulties. We are fast approaching the point of no return. Unless we act now everything around us will begin to die with terrifying swiftness and our species too may perish. Already millions of lives have been lost. Soon it will be billions if we do not act.

Across Australia we are already seeing the onset of disaster.

This summer we have been ravaged by fire and flood, our arable land killed by drought, and our rivers choked by rotting fish as we continue to mismanage our ecosystems. In an age where we are losing species to extinction at a rate far greater than normal, we have had our first mammalian extinction directly due to the climate emergency. The Bramble Cay Melomys has been sent to extinction by the unnatural flooding of its island home in northern Queensland. Our culture of endless expansion and consumption killed this little life, but it is not too late to save ourselves. The ecological crises destroying this land of ours can no longer be ignored or denied by anyone who claims to have reason, conscience, or morality.

In accordance with these values, with truth and with the weight of scientific evidence, we declare it is our duty to act on behalf of the security and well-being of our children, our communities, and the existence of life on earth.

Australia’s economy is founded upon the values of industrialisation and commercialisation of the natural world. It has dispossessed and impoverished the Indigenous people of this land and tragically degraded country that was cared for over tens of thousands of years. No longer will this nation be one of destruction and genocide. We need to hear the ancient wisdom of the world’s indigenous people, and treat our home with deep love and respect. The land is our mother. We cannot live without her and all the other species with which we share her.

We, in alignment with our consciences and our reasoning, declare ourselves in rebellion against our government and those corporations that threaten our future until such time as our demands are met.

Some of our political representatives openly deny that we are in a climate emergency. Many advocate change that is too gradual, ineffective or insufficient to the global crisis we are facing. We believe this is done in order to protect the profits of their political donors. But we are not content to die because our leaders lack the wisdom and courage to do what needs to be done to ensure a safe climate future.

The wilful complicity displayed by our government has shattered meaningful democracy and cast aside the common interest in favour of short-term gain and private profits.

Like a termite colony undermining the structure of a house, consumer capitalism and the politicians it has bought will destroy the foundations of life on this planet. When politics has become corrupted by the powerful few it is our right as citizens to restore meaningful democracy. It is our right to protect the security of the land and its peoples where our governments have failed. It is our sacred duty as people who believe in life and love to rebel.

As much as we are powered by a knowledge of the imminence of complete desolation, we are strengthened by hope and the knowledge of what is possible.

In Tasmania, after Lake Pedder was lost, protestors left behind the idea of politely asking power to change its mind, and used direct action to save the Franklin River from being dammed. Thousands of people from all over the world joined the Franklin River Blockade, and thousands were arrested.

Prisons overflowed, but the campaign ended with the river being saved. The hand of power was forced, and all because of the far greater power of the people deploying direct action. The same happened to the Terania forest in New South Wales in the 1970s. This will happen again in the Galilee Basin when the Adani mining licence is cancelled and all fossil fuel extraction is banned once and for all time. Do not think that we haven’t tried everything else possible. This is our last resort.

We hereby declare the bonds of the social contract, which the government has rendered invalid by their complete failure to protect us, to be null and void.

We call upon every principled and peaceful citizen to rise with us. To be freed from oppression by the powerful few we will cast aside social divisions based upon race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, religion, and gender, and come together and fight for our lives. We will not allow corporate profiteers to dictate government decisions that place us and future generations in deadly peril.

This rebellion is for everyone, and it is international.

We are a global movement. We stand with every other land rising with us, all over the world. Our near neighbours on Pacific Islands are already losing the land under their feet. We stand with and acknowledge the traditional owners of the land. Indigenous Australians have already faced the consequences of ecological and cultural destruction and the Traditional Owners’ objections to mining on their lands have been repeatedly ignored or overridden. We say no more. We say enough!

We will no longer stand idly by and witness the destruction of our only home by the greedy few. We are many. We will act. We will rise. We demand justice. We will protect ourselves. We will prevail.

With love and rage

Extinction Rebellion Declaration Day Melbourne


December 2011: Is it possible to decouple economic wealth from carbon dioxide emission rates?


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