Climate change is the topic of the year. Every day there are new catastrophes – first-of-a-kind bushfires in Queensland, storms that ram Sydney and the coast, drought.
In the wake of thousands of students, including some from the Border and North East, taking to the streets there have been two more call outs this week for action to stave off climate calamity.
Renowned naturalist David Attenborough – a lifetime advocate for the natural world – at the UN Climate Control conference in Poland, urged world leaders to act on what he described as “our greatest threat in thousands of years”. “If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon,” Sir David said. “The world’s people have spoken, their message is clear, time is running out, they want you, the decision-makers, to act now.”
Half a world away Melbourne’s Marco Bellemo, 17, stood up during the ABC’s Q and A and called out the inaction of successive governments on climate change, indicating it showed a wanton disregard for future generations.
He was no kid “headed for the dole line”, which Resources Minister Matt Canavan had suggested would be the ultimate fate of the student protesters. He was thoughtful and articulate. When Amanda Vanstone suggested that, yes, politicians did care, the activist hit back with: “I don’t believe that, because I see the Liberal Party still wanting to build new coal…. And if you’re supporting the fossil fuel industry then you don’t truly care about the future generations.”
The calls to act have exploded in recent months. From experts. From the public. From the children who will inherit the mess. It will be a key issue in the coming federal election.
It’s time for politicians to understand that the young are well informed, not puppets of “socialist” teachers. And their views are, increasingly, finding public backing. The public who vote.
David Attenborough said we are staring into the abyss of our own doom. Our youth feel the same. The calls to act get ever shriller – let’s hope we haven’t left it too late.