Friday, September 20, 2019

Protest and Survive

In an open letter, 250 academics at Australian universities, professors, researchers and lecturers from more than a dozen institutions have declared support for the Extinction Rebellion movement and its global week of non-violent civil disobedience in October. They say the federal government’s inaction on the climate crisis requires civil disobedience in response and they feel a “moral duty” to rebel and “defend life itself”.

“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.” 
They say it is “unconscionable” that current and future generations will 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 letter says. “The ‘social contract’ has been broken, and it is therefore not only our right, but our moral duty, to rebel to defend life itself.”
Peta Malins, a lecturer in criminology and justice studies at RMIT and one of the letter’s signatories, said as academics they were “suggesting this is an emergency because all the evidence points towards us having reached a crisis in terms of the climate”.
“The reason we are advocating for non-violent civil disobedience is because, so far, all attempts to reason with the government to take the urgent action on climate that’s necessary for our survival have not been successful,” she said.
The planet’s average temperature started to climb steadily two centuries ago, but has rocketed since the second world war as consumption and population has risen. Global heating means there is more energy in the atmosphere, making extreme weather events more frequent and more intense. The level of CO2 has been rising since the industrial revolution and is now at its highest for about 4 million years. The rate of the rise is even more striking – the fastest for 66m years – with scientists saying we are in “uncharted territory”. Billions of tonnes of CO2 are sent into the atmosphere every year from coal, oil and gas burning. There is no sign of these emissions starting to fall rapidly, as is needed. Billions of tonnes of CO2 are sent into the atmosphere every year from coal, oil and gas burning. There is no sign of these emissions starting to fall rapidly, as is needed.
The felling of forests for timber, cattle, soy and palm oil is a big contributor to carbon emissions. It is also a major cause of the annihilation of wildlife on Earth
Greenland alone is now losing almost 4 trillion tonnes of ice per year. Mountain ranges from the Himalayas to the Andes to the Alps are also losing ice rapidly as glaciers shrink. A third of the Himalayan and Hindu Kush ice is already doomedSea levels are inexorably rising as ice on land melts and hotter oceans expand. Sea levels are slow to respond to global heating, so even if the temperature rise is restricted to 2C, one in five people in the world will eventually see their cities submerged, from New York to London to Shanghai. As heating melts the sea ice, the darker water revealed absorbs more of the sun’s heat, causing more heating – one example of the vicious circles in the climate system. Scientists think the changes in the Arctic may be responsible for worsened heatwaves and floods in Eurasia and North America

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