Veteran environmental campaigner Murray Muzz Drechsler has joined the Extinction Rebellion holacracy, in an effort to make governments at every level sit up and take notice as the climate crisis becomes the climate emergency.
Drechsler says that Extinction Rebellion (XR) will be holding the Byron Shire Council accountable for their actions.
‘They have declared a climate emergency but they haven’t acted upon it. Not only have they not acted on it, they are going to clear critically endangered wetland rainforest for a bypass. That’s not going to happen.’
Drechsler says the bypass isn’t the only local issue, he says the situation at Tallows Beach needs to be addressed. ‘There have been several fish kills at Tallows and one at Belongil. You’d think after three of four fish kills they would know what was going to happen.’
Mayor Simon Richardson says that the actions that have created the climate emergency have been decades in the making. ‘It will not take months to solve them. We all need strong determination and commitment to tackle these problems and we can do this by resisting the actions that are creating the problems and so we need those committed to resist the problems to do so.’
Mr Richardson says that Council is currently along the path of establishing a 5MW solar farm are by far the biggest for this area and most of NSW. ‘We are also along the path of establishing a bioenergy facility, which will be the first in Australia. We also resisted the push to lose the use of our transport corridor for mass transport and council’s funded feasibility study on the rail corridor has shown that both a rail shuttle and bike path are both possible and viable. They estimate just using shuttles to get to our markets and festivals alone will take over 700,000 cars off the road each year.
‘All three of these projects are head and shoulders above what is happening elsewhere. And we are looking to do far more.
‘Our work in improving fish migration along the length of the Brunswick River through removing causeways and upgrading them with bridges and our riparian river bank work both have huge benefits for native fish and speaking to a Fisheries employee relayed to me the other day that Byron is doing more in this area than any other council he knows of in NSW and we should be promoting our successes in this more.
‘A progressive council in the Northern Rivers is the least of the planet’s problems and though we are far from perfect, we are trying hard within the confines of our powers to try and lead our community in areas we can.’
Drechsler says the reason why we are facing extinction on a planetary scale, including humans, is because we are constantly putting money before people and people before nature.‘We’ve got it arse-about which is why we are looking at the end of it all.’
Drechsler says there will be a few interesting actions including a die-in and a die-out. ‘There will be a lot of information available on the day. Extinction is a serious thing. We’re looking at one million species becoming extinct in the next few years, then more on top of that and humans within 50 years – if we’re lucky.’
Mayor Richardson says we need those who are committed to creating solutions to the problems to do so; as it is only through creating alternatives and applying solutions that we will ever step back from the brink. ‘We who are committed probably have parts of both these responses in us, though most have a dominant impulse; mine is to try and create solutions and this requires bringing people together and at times, compromising to find ways to move forward.
‘Resisting change requires little compromise but on the other hand, can polarise us and it is the polarisation and division in our societies that is a cause of much of our problems.
‘As an old activist myself I look at some new groups with envy, as it is empowering to have a steely unwavering focus standing on a stage or in front of something and saying no.
‘Regardless of whether one focuses on the problems, or focuses on the solutions, it is crucial they each see each other as necessary and don’t dissipate energy by attacking each other.
‘There are plenty of others who are neither resisting change nor seeking solutions and they would be better targets for both sides to try and influence. Those individuals and organisations resisting aren’t perfect, and nor are individuals and organisations seeking solutions, including Byron Shire Council, but we all need to keep being committed, and accept that our perfection is a luxury for which the planet cannot afford to wait.
Drechsler says we are living in a life threatening situation. ‘This is an emergency. We need to treat this as an emergency and do things we normally wouldn’t do. It’s crunch time. People say “When shit gets real I’ll be there”, well, shit’s real.’
Drechsler feels it has taken a Greta Thunberg, a 16 year-old to make it real. ‘We need to treat this as if the house is burning, because it is and it’s everybody’s fight. In 50 years time there will be no “Where were you when extinction happened?”, we’re not going to be here. We’re screwed – that’s what extinction means. It’s the end.’
If you want your say on the climate emergency, XR will meet in the park outside the council chambers in Mullumbimby this Friday from 9am for a peaceful family picnic.