By Declan Kerr
You don’t need a degree in environmental science to know that. It’s fair to say that if you’re not a politician, CEO or a media mogul, you realise that climate change is killing the planet. What has become even more clear is that we can’t rely on politicians to save us. We need radical change, and to get that we need radical action.
Every new scientific report details in increasingly depressing terms how dire the situation is. There’s going to be hotter summers, more bushfires, more extreme weather events, rising sea levels, dying crops, and terrifying super-viruses. Particularly frightening, the release of gas from melting permafrost could create a positive feedback system of warming, which some scientists fear could be eventually unstoppable. According to the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2018 report, we have 12 years to turn it all around or risk an intensified climate disaster of existential proportions.
The question of the environment is deeply intertwined with the rights of Indigenous people. Projects like the Adani coal mine are part of the ongoing assault on Indigenous land rights that is more than 200 years old. Indigenous land is constantly being stolen and sold off to the highest bidders, often big polluters. The weak legal protections that exist for Indigenous land rights are frequently suspended when they get in the way of profit.
Who is to blame? The responsibility for this disaster lies squarely at the feet of politicians and big business.
Despite the crescendo of alarm from the world’s climate scientists, both the Labor and Liberal parties have continued full steam ahead with their fossil fuel addiction. The Adani mine, the re-expansion of coal fired power stations and fracking are all examples of this complete rejection of human need in the name of profit. There is no plan to support a transition away from fossil fuels. Instead, politicians are brandishing lumps of coal in parliament, demonstrating their commitment to maintaining the interests of the fossil fuel industry.
Politicians couldn’t fight climate change even if they wanted to, because under capitalism, things are done for profit, not human need. This puts them fundamentally against the interests of ordinary people who will be most affected by climate change. We live in a system that produces enough to sustain the global population two-and-a-half times over. Yet capitalism has condemned half the population to poverty and wrecks the world with war and environmental destruction. At the end of the day, the role of politicians is to run the state in the interests of Australian capitalism and ensure profits for the fucking bosses. Mass mobilisation is required to hold politicians accountable and challenge the dominance of the rich.
This is why we need radical action.
History has shown that when the oppressed stand up and fight back, they can demand what is condemned as impossible. Mobilisations of the oppressed and working class have ended wars, toppled fascist dictatorships and won concessions that make life under capitalism more bearable. This can fuck up the system, hit the bottom line of the powerful and help draw thousands more into the movement.
The School Strike 4 Climate last year brought out thousands of school students and busted the myth that young people don’t care. It was only politicians like Prime Minister and prominent scumbag Scott Morrison who dared direct rhetoric against the movement, telling students to shut up and leave it to the folks down in Canberra. Other noises of disdain were directed towards the slogans taken up by the protestors, which were condemned as being too angry and having too many swears. Okay, et fucked.
That strike was not a one off. The School Strike 4 Climate movement has set March 15 as their next national strike date, and this time the university students will be joining them, with the National Union of Students voting in December to get behind the national day of action. I encourage all QUT students and staff who are concerned about the future of our planet to not just attend the demonstration, but get involved in the movement, and help us put serious climate action on the agenda ahead of the coming federal election.