Faulting Modern Society - The Extinction Rebellion
As I got off the tram this morning at twenty past eight, cold and sleep deprived, I started hearing a faint yell echo from down the street to my left. All around me curious commuters looked around too, hearing the cries get louder and more enchanting.
From seemingly out of nowhere around 100 men and women on bikes paraded past, holding signs and yelling jovially:
"What do we want?"
"When do we want it?"
As they sailed past, I waited for the little green light to signal that I could freely start my walk to work and it got me thinking.
This is one of those pivotal moments in history. I am living through a similar uproar of energy to the civil rights movement of the sixties and the suffragettes of the late 1800's.
Will this be the time that is remembered in fifty years as the protests that started the action on climate change? Will I tell my grandchildren about it?
I went online as I walked, checked the news and read an article or two about the group that was demonstrating.
There have been multiple protests across Australia in the past week all run by this organisation called "Extinction Rebellion". Known for their extreme tactics to enlist people to the cause I was surprised by the peaceful bike procession I had just seen. What was so extreme about that? They weren't even impeding traffic that badly, they were on bikes for goodness sakes!
I rounded the corner onto London Circuit and noticed a police motorcycle fly past towards Northborne avenue where I'd seen the bikes only moments ago. I watched his pursuit as it stopped on the intersection between Northborne avenue and London Circuit.
There, laid out, were the bikes.
My heart skipped a beat, I thought maybe some lunatic had run them down. I half-turned to go help when the cries reached my ears again.
This was a part of the protest.
They were blocking one of the busiest intersections in the city, laying on the ground and chanting for change.
I immediately lost interest in their protest. The article I had just read about their extreme tactics flew back to my mind and I realised what was happening.
These protestors were interrupting traffic flow, forcing people to stop and look at them while they screamed towards parliament hill, a further 5km away.
At that moment I realised where the fury at these protestors and people like Greta Thunberg was coming from.
They were making their voices heard, but at what cost?
I watched as people honked them in their cars, yelled out their windows and threw their hands up in disbelief. I watched the pedestrians shake their heads and scowl, taking a short video and tapping out a message.
Few looked happy at the disruption.
Not one skipped up to the crowd to join in the protest. All avoid eye-contact and made their way around the group to get on with their day.
These protests are not causing the change they so desire. They claim the government is deaf to the Earth's needs but ignore the change that is in motion because it isn't happening fast enough. So they protest, they yell and they scream and they demand action. But they don't explain what action they need.
They cry out that the Earth is dying, and maybe it is. But they give no indication of a truly viable solution. That is the problem with these protests. The demands are empty.
To the protestors I ask you this:
What would you have the government do?
Would you instantly close any non-renewable energy company? What would be your interim solution for the workers on those mines and within the oil and gas industry while the renewable energy solutions are built?
If you were in power right what change would you make in this moment that is better than the changes the current government are making?
Would you look into the faces of those you have now kicked out of a job and say "Well when the Earth dies you won't have a job!" in your shrill voices?
I ask you, what is so wrong with the solution the current government has proposed?
No-one is doubting your science, the current government is not claiming that the climate's changes are not real and that your concerns are not valid. They are simply trying to create change in a manner that doesn't impact drastically on Australia's workers or our economy.
Yes, we want a future for our grand-kids and the generations after that, but they also need a stable platform to build from. Not one that was there but was torn down and built on wobbly foundations raised up by "hope of a better future".
If you want to make a difference, work with the government. We are all on the same side in this debate.
If you think their proposition for reducing non-renewable energy and implementing renewable solutions is too slow offer viable alternatives.
Blocking traffic does nothing towards starting a conversation about change, it only puts your banners on the news as a reminder of why I was two hours late to work this morning.