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Byron Shire
February 26, 2021

Here & Now #118 Out of control

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Here & Now 118 picS Sorrensen

Pouébo, New Caledonia. Sunday, sunrise.

I can’t work out if I’m angry, sad or blissful.

It’s a strange brew that’s fermenting in me. And I don’t mean the French wine I had last night with the fish and papaya. I’m referring to the combination of emotions that swirls in my guts.

I’m not proud to be Australian.

It’s high tide here on the tropical east coast of New Caledonia and I’m watching the sun rise. A minute ago, there was a glow. Now the sun has popped up from the sea like a yellow buoy and laid down a golden path across the water – straight to me. To me!

I’m blissed out.

I couldn’t sleep. Tinnitus aside, the lapping of waves so close to the bungalow where I was sleeping (camping-mat leak necessitating alternative accommodation) called me. A few steps from the bed and the ocean is lapping at my feet, drowning the cicadas in my head, undermining the coconut palms and mangroves, and nibbling at the small dune on which I sit.

Behind me, the narrow strip of land between the sea and the mountains – where the Kanak people of the east coast grow their yams, taros and chickens; where they meticulously tend their cemeteries; where they congregate in their meeting houses – is at, or below, the level of the sea.

That small dune is all the barrier there is. I’m sitting on top of it and the sea is lapping at my feet. Get it? Vulnerable. Climate change mitigation is a global urgency.

How can the Australian government even call itself a government? Government means steering society for the benefit of its members. This government doesn’t steer. It careens. It is a drunk driver with no map, veering all over the road, plowing into poor people, following garbled orders from blind pigs sloshing around in the backseat.

I’m angry. (But the sun’s warmth has skipped across the ocean and hit my face…)

Climate change is a problem. (Oh really? Yes, Tony.)

The big sea is just right there, muscling against the beach. It’s stunningly beautiful but deadly dangerous. Every now and then a bigger wave makes me retreat further up the dune. I’m pretty much at the top now. I hope the tide is turning.

Sometimes, in my more hopeful periods (last Thursday, 6.45pm, was one), I think the tide is turning.

Maybe governments around the world are starting to listen to their scientists. Maybe they are putting social needs above self interest. Maybe they will steer their people to a safer future like leaders are meant to do.

Maybe. But not Australia.

Increased unpredictable weather and sea-level rise will dramatically affect those who don’t have a cache of taxpayers’ money stashed away under a business mate’s mattress and a government car to take them to higher ground.

It will affect the people who live here. And these people have never done anything to deserve having their land and lifestyle destroyed. They have lived here for thousands of years in harmony with sea and the land. They honoured their ancestors and learned from them. They loved their children and taught them the way. The sustainable way.

That way will disappear. That makes me sad. (But a balbuzzard hangs silently above me looking for fish…)

In Australia we don’t honour our ancestors. We whack them into nursing homes even before they’re dead. We treat what they learned (integrity, honesty, thrift) with contempt. We don’t love our children. We plug them in and teach them greed.

We condemn all the world’s children to a climate-changed future while we take holidays to tropical islands and squander the common wealth like there’s no tomorrow.

I’m not proud to be an Australian.

 

 


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7 COMMENTS

  1. ‘I’m not proud to be an Australian’

    As soon as I read that in the opener I knew it was going to be an self-flagellating rant.

    Too bad these aimless lefties always sing that mantra when things don’t quite go the way they’d like. There are many millions of people globally who’d love to change places with them. Fortunately we have a government that weeds out the desirables from the others.
    Maybe this one should just say away and leave a place for someone who IS proud to be called Australian.

  2. Do any of the supporters of the Global Warming theory, now renamed Climate Change. ever read the accredited latest scientific papers on Climate Variations?
    I note that hey are studiously ignored when citing this phenomenon.
    It is now established that Earth Temperatures have not varied significantly for the last half century.
    Sea levels have not varied either.
    No wonder that the supporters have renamed ‘Global Warming’ “climate change”. This of course is an natural phenomenon, and beyond the capacity of humans to alter.
    Another late paper from the Climate scientists is that we are heading for a Mini Ice Age, their description, not mine.
    Why are nature lovers still flogging this dead horse??

  3. Thanks. I really liked this writing. “How can the Australian government even call itself a government? Government means steering society for the benefit of its members. This government doesn’t steer. It careens. It is a drunk driver with no map, veering all over the road, plowing into poor people, following garbled orders from blind pigs sloshing around in the backseat.”

  4. Did this ramble have a point? Lots of islands will sink into the sea over the next hundreds of years just as they have for Millenia. It is the way of coral cays. They start as a volcano become encircled by a coral reef then slowly sink and decay back to open ocean.
    If there was a problem with rising sea levels there would be hundreds of countries that would be making a noise. Venice comes to mind. Most waterfront towns in the Mediterranean. Kiribati, Maldives and many atolls in the South Pacific will steadily dissolve. It is nature doing what she does.
    Go and buy a Prius or something if it makes you feel good by please stick to the climate facts.

  5. Thank you for your story. It’s how I feel too. For the other comment writers, I’m sorry you are so uninformed and uncaring. Also, your mocking and insults make you appear stupid.

  6. I’m with you S, Sue, Anny and many more of us. But we are being “governed” by fools, – greedy, grasping fools.

  7. I know you are very proud to be an Australian S, and your works and words make me proud to be one too. Wonderful article from the shores of Melanesia, who are indeed the world’s greatest gardeners… they truly love community and the land that gives them life. The Pacific offers Australia a fantastic model for rural sustainable development… Perhaps studying village life in back lots of Vanuatu or Fji for your next journey?
    Melanesia has been cut up in French and English and German areas like New Hebrides, Solomon Islands & PNG. One day they will unite again, but even now the joy of being in a Melanesian village is unsurpassed. You know that from healthy the lap lap foods, the nakamal, happy kids, kava bars and the most beautiful singing in church that one can imagine… Angelic Harmonies, even with the raspy voices of old guys.
    S, you’re a wonder worker. Your article not only lends your eyes to our imagination, as we sit on this beach with you watching the sun go up (clue: Pacific Rising), but you do more… your challenge cleverly flush out those limited thinkers who hide behind the flag to deny climate science, and gave them a mirror to polish!

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