Here’s where we’re at with climate change: Reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggest we have 12 years to enact the drastic changes required to prevent a global climate catastrophe, which could see the world ravaged by wildfires, food shortages, flooded coastlines, and swiftly worsening poverty by as early as 2040. Here’s where we’re at with climate change in Australia: Our government is fighting with itself over whether or not we should fund more coal-fired power stations.
While a bunch of our elected representatives will be dead before they are forced to grapple with the most severe effects of climate change, effectively escaping the consequences of their actions, there is a group of people in Australia who will be forced to deal with those consequences more than anyone else: children.
Children don’t have a lot of political power in this country. You can’t vote or run as a candidate in an election until you’re 18. The rude and uncomfortable truth is that most people in power do not care what children have to say, even if it is about their own future. Luckily there is a tried and tested method for having your voice heard by the institutions that hold the power when you personally have none: collective action. Thus, the climate strike that will be undertaken globally by school students this Friday.
The school strike continues.
957 places in 82 countries and counting…
Everyone is needed.
Everyone is welcome.
Please spread the word!
Find your closest strike or register your own at https://t.co/ROmtFMrj6Y#FridaysForFuture #SchoolsStrike4Climate #ClimateStrike pic.twitter.com/DJfIgkL1eh
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) March 10, 2019
You might recall that this has happened before, specifically back in November last year. You might also recall that it raised the hackles of a bunch of our politicians. Scott Morrison, then still freshly in the job thanks to a hilariously inept coup attempt, said the children should be doing less activism and more learning. Matt Canavan, famous for dobbing in his mother over his citizenship scandal, had a big whinge about it on 2GB:
Taking off school and protesting? You don’t learn anything from that.
The best thing you’ll learn about going to a protest is how to join the dole queue. Because that’s what your future life will look like, up in a line asking for a handout, not actually taking charge for your life and getting a real job.
Obviously, this was a great sign. If the people in power are annoyed it means that, for once, they are listening. The schoolkids of Australia, using their collective power, entered the political conversation. Unfortunately, this concept seems to be a hard one for Australia’s conservative pundits to wrap their profoundly unique brains around.
Regular guest on the dreaded Sky News night-time shows and steampunk vampire cosplayer Daisy Cousens took a break from tweeting about how conservatism is the new punk to urge authority figures to punish the children for striking:
— Daisy Cousens (@DaisyCousens) March 12, 2019
So punk! She is also apparently under the belief that anyone that wagged from her school would have been instantly expelled, which, if true at the school I went to, would have seen just about everyone gone:
School is compulsory. If anyone from my school when I was there in the early 2000s had pulled a stunt like this we would have been expelled. I don't know what has happened to the education system.
— Daisy Cousens (@DaisyCousens) March 12, 2019
Gemma Tognini, writing in the West Australian, penned a column that started at Stalin (not sure about that one), worked its way to playing down the science on climate change (“an issue that the world’s most educated voices can’t reach agreement on“), and ended up at telling kids that their feelings on the issue are irrelevant and that the protest doesn’t count because there are no negative consequences:
I understand the emotion behind what’s going on but in the face of facts (still hotly contested) emotions don’t count. In the end Friday will come and go, Maccas will have a spike in sales, but let me leave you with this thought. A protest without cost is nothing but a day off. If we fail to teach kids that standing up for their beliefs comes at a price, then we have failed them greatly indeed.
“Still hotly contested” my ass.
Liberal Party senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, seemingly also quite confused about the purpose of a strike, said kids should be doing it on their own time:
— C Fierravanti-Wells (@Senator_CFW) March 11, 2019
And again with radio broadcaster Laurie Atlas:
Can someone explain to me why school children are striking for climate change on a Friday. Is Saturday or Sunday inconvenient?
— laurie atlas (@laurieatlas) March 12, 2019
I’m sure they could, but if you don’t understand now it’s likely that you might never.
Daily Tele columnist and Sky News host Caroline Marcus complained that kids were wagging school, saying that they had been “indoctrinated to this point where they think climate change is evil“. Crazy that they’re not all talking about how good climate change is.
.@carolinemarcus: Is it appropriate for Michael Daley to encourage students to wag school – basically that’s what he is doing.
That is the state of politics we are in – I feel like kids don’t know what they are protesting.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) March 13, 2019
And lastly, perennial brain genius and friend to all dogs Chris Kenny tweeted something borderline indecipherable about kids striking to get better marks:
Imagine students striking for better educational outcomes.#youknowitmakessense
— Chris Kenny (@chriskkenny) March 12, 2019
Just some amazing stuff from a bunch of people who are paid a truly enormous amount of money. Expect even more hot takes on this from our politicians and the people who fawningly write about them in their columns as the day approaches.
You can learn more about the strike here.Image: Twitter / @UnaMcIlvenna