I grew up in Joh country. Farmers voted National Party. No-one ever voted Green. Greenies were anyone who protected the environment and, to farmers, that was seen as a threat to their livelihood.
It always seemed a bit strange to me that the people who were the most reliant on the environment were not its caretakers. Greenies were basically anyone who didn’t want to chop a tree down. They were hairy jobless hippies who chained themselves to trees. Trees were the enemy. They had to be taken down.
There was still this colonial mindset that we were at war with nature, that we had to control and dominate our natural environment in order to survive. Take this region for example. Once upon a time this was forest. In the blink of an eye nearly 75,000 hectares of Big Scrub rainforest was cleared. There were tree species that can trace their lineage back 240 million years. In a very short time cedar-getters and farmers cleared 99 per cent of the forest. It seems like an unbelievable policy but in the government versus forest battle of the 1900s the government gave land grants to selectors on the proviso they cleared vegetation. Basically you got land free of charge if you knocked all the trees down. It was environmental genocide.
Ironically such measures were promoted to create agriculture but in the long run, as we now know, the systematic deforestation of the globe is what threatens the security of food production because it has resulted in climate change.
Agriculture suffers on a degraded planet. Our food bowls are at risk of becoming dry and dusty places incapable of producing global nourishment. Climate change is real. It causes changes in temperature, rainfall; causes climate extremes like heat waves; affects pests and diseases; and in the long run will negatively affect soil quality and how it performs.
When will governments ditch the climate-destroying interests of big corporations and affect real change? That’s the question we should be asking our local members about their party allegiances and interests. With a state election in March and a federal election later this year, climate-change reform should be the primary platform of every party. After all if climate change makes the earth uninhabitable you are going to lose a lot of voters.
Last week in NSW we had a landmark ruling for the environment. It kind of slipped by unnoticed, possibly because there is an election looming and the government doesn’t want to piss off their major campaign contributors. (In 2017–18 fossil-fuel companies donated $1,277,933 to the Labor, Liberal, and National parties. Up 32 per cent from the previous year.)
Chief judge Brian Preston of the NSW Land and Environment Court handed down a judgment that confirmed a decision to refuse a new open-cut mine in the Hunter Valley. The reason? The judge acknowledged the proposed Rocky Hill mine’s contribution to climate change. He said: ‘The project’s cumulative greenhouse gas emissions will contribute to the total of GHG concentrations in the atmosphere. The global total of GHG concentrations will affect the climate system and cause climate change impacts.’
At last. Coal is dead. We all know it. The coal companies know it. That’s why they’re upping campaign contributions. Every coal mine around the world should be closed and replaced with renewables. Major political parties shouldn’t be funded by climate-change-causing corporations. If you want to do something about climate change then it’s not going to be enough just to reduce your plastics, use biodegradable products and buy an electric car. You need to change how you vote.
Australia’s major political parties are at odds with long-term human and planetary health and survival. So as we saw with CSG in our region, it’s time that we dropped this adversarial approach to environmental issues and realised that ‘greenies’ have more in common with protecting farming interests than the parties that originally sprang up to protect and champion them.
Vote for action on climate change and protest against the major parties by not voting for them. Vote for someone who puts the environment first. Because in the end, they’re putting you first.