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Byron Shire
July 7, 2022

Don’t Give Up

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David Lowe

Is it all too late? Is the end nigh? Has the fat lady sung? Is the human race run? If so, how should we live?

More than a few of us have jumped directly from saying ‘she’ll be right, there’s no need to do anything’, to ‘we’re all going to die, it’s too late to act.’

Both of these approaches to the climate crisis are passive, and play into the hands of those who have put life on earth into this precarious situation.

Doing nothing is against our national character. No matter how much Scott Morrison enthuses about ‘quiet Australians’, these are not the people we remember, or mythologise. What we love most as a nation is heroic failure. We admire people who fight against overwhelming odds, especially if they die in the process. This is what ‘having a go’ means.

Think about Breaker Morant, Gallipoli, Phar Lap, the Socceroos, Gough Whitlam, Kate Miller-Heidke at Eurovision. If they’d won and lived happily ever after, they would be in the same box as our victories at Beersheba in WWI and at the America’s Cup in 1983 – quickly forgotten.

And failure is never inevitable. None of us know what’s going to happen. The only surefire guarantee of failure is giving up, and waiting for the tide of history to drown you.

The tipping points are accelerating, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse appear to be under starter’s orders

Certainly the science looks very grim. The tipping points are accelerating, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse appear to be under starter’s orders, but these are not good reasons for inaction, or continuing business as usual.

A few years ago, failure seemed inevitable at Bentley as we waited in the darkness for hundreds of riot police to arrive. Only one person I spoke to that night thought we’d win. If the people of the Northern Rivers had been passive in the face of the threat from unconventional gas, we would now be living in a gasfield.

We stood up because it was the right thing to do, not because we thought we would win.

History is full of examples of people who didn’t give up in spite of the overwhelming odds against them.

In 1942, 21 year old Sophie Scholl and her brother began distributing White Rose pamphlets inside Germany, resisting the Nazis. They knew exactly what risks they were taking, but they didn’t wait for someone else to act. A few years after these young people were executed, the Nazis fell.

In 1965, Charlie Perkins and his fellow Freedom Riders had their bus run off the road and were assaulted when they drew attention to the apartheid-like rules governing outback Australia at that time. The Freedom Riders didn’t give up, or shut up. Today, the Moree pool where Aboriginal people were forbidden to swim has a mural proudly detailing that history, and Charlie’s film-maker daughter Rachel is doing the Boyer Lectures on the ABC.

In the UK, the suffragette Emily Davison was arrested nine times, went on hunger strike seven times, and was tortured in prison. In 1913 she died after being struck by the King’s horse. For most of her life, Emily’s cause was considered hopeless, but women gained the vote in the UK not long after her death.

The Brazilian rubber-tapper Chico Mendes fought to preserve the Amazon rainforest and the human rights of those who lived there. He was told he’d be killed if he didn’t stop, but he continued speaking out, and fighting for what he believed in. He was shot dead in 1988. His beloved forest, the lungs of the world, is now more threatened than ever.

Closer to home, a young Tasmanian sailor named Teddy Sheean found himself on a corvette called the HMAS Armidale in 1942, off the coast of Timor. After the ship came under attack from Japanese fighter planes, the large crew made it to lifeboats, but the fighters came back to strafe them. Wounded, Teddy strapped himself to the machine gun on the sinking plane’s deck and managed to shoot down one of the planes and save the survivors before going down with the ship. If he’d chosen to give up, everyone would have been killed.

57 years later, the people of nearby East Timor went out to vote for independence from Indonesia, although they knew many would be murdered by militias for expressing their views. They went anyway, because it was the right thing to do.

Giving up was not an option for any of these people, and it shouldn’t be an option now

Giving up was not an option for any of these people, and it shouldn’t be an option now.

Australians love to play the victim, but the truth is we are the luckiest, richest people in the world. In practical terms the average Australian is far wealthier in terms of practical things and information than almost any human in history. True, the people of the past didn’t have cat videos to distract them, but that’s no excuse.

So far the climate crisis has been disproportionately affecting the poor, the marginalised and non-human earthlings, but now it’s biting us.

It is our responsibility to use our wealth, education and position in the world to fight for what is right, just like we did in the Northern Rivers during the gas crisis.

In WWII Winston Churchill didn’t say ‘we shall give up on the beaches, we shall give up in the fields and in the streets’.

The volunteer firefighters who have been risking their lives to save our homes aren’t giving up.

The inspirational students who have been standing up around the world in ever-greater numbers to confront the climate crisis aren’t giving up, and neither should we.

On Friday November 29 there will be Solidarity Sit-Downs around Australia as part of the next International Climate Strike Day, organised by SchoolStrike4Climate and supported by Extinction Rebellion and affiliated groups.

These events will be demanding real climate action, along with increased support for indigenous land management and the Rural Fire Service. Every Australian event will be raising money for the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal.

In Lismore tomorrow there will be a Climate Change Solidarity Sit-Down in outside Kevin Hogan’s office at 11am. In Byron Bay there will be a Mothers ‘Nurse-in’ for Climate Action at 10am outside the library. There are other events happening all over the world.

Wherever you will be, find the latest information at Schools Strike 4 Action

Please join the students in solidarity, and think about what you can do to make a positive difference.

Just don’t give up.


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14 COMMENTS

  1. Fantastic, my i suggest a 20 hour sitdown fly direct straight into the capital of China , protest
    As long as you all would prefer!! Make as much noise as you can ..wave your placards, glue
    Yourselves, chain yourselfs , and show your
    Displeasure at the biggest polluters in the world !!
    At the taxpayer’s expense i would be more than
    Happy to use my taxes to protest this climate change emergency in China ..intriguing how the
    ABC , the Guardian, the Greens , extinction rebellion
    Are not to concerned china have no plans to stop
    Any carbon emissions until 2040 . Poor old Australia just cant do anything right according to the leftwing alarmist, including Sweden who have pulled bonds due to Australia’s inaction on GLOBAL Warming, bit rich coming from a country that
    Invented the plastic bag… hypocrites!! Anyway lets see how many signs and placards are protesting against the real polluters of the world over the weekend.. wont hold my breath ..1.3 percent Australia’s contribution to Global Warming..

  2. Makes me cry to read this just so meaningful and important ant I wish all Australians could have access to it and take on these wonderful principles

  3. Just like that demented Roman Emperor, our politicians and their “big-end-of-business-bosom-buddies” nonchalantly play their fiddles while our world burns!

  4. Well David ,
    What an inspirational piece. I agree whole heartedly, and as one recently evacuated from a rainforest area that has not burnt in over a million years, the fact that it is mostly been destroyed forever, has not daunted my enthusiasm for pissing into the wind.
    David Suzuki predicted this scenario in the seventies and some of us have worked unceasingly to ameliorate the affects of capitalism gone berserk, and while the alternate communities serve as a blue-print of what is possible and imperative for the survival of life on Earth, these fine examples have, however been treated as a joke by those fine, sophisticated folk who routinely fly to exotic locations and aircondition their way through an intollerable environmental holocaust, while condemning life on earth to a history that no-one will document.
    As an environmental scientist you can have no conception of how painful it is for me to witness the unfolding of, what has been warned of for decades. While our government has determined that no response should interfere with business as usual and to hell with the consequence.
    Well , THIS is the consequence, and this is only the beginning.
    Get your affairs in order and console your loved ones.
    Cheers G”)

  5. My name is robot and my pronouns are It and What?
    I think the allies as part of the Western world defeated fascism, the same ones some now like to call the colonialists.
    Australia had the women’s franchise before England, not before NZ, and only because it was considered more important than extending the aboriginal census to Qld and WA (two referendums together may both have lost).
    Whatever the truth of climate science, the environmentalists are not being open about the consequences of 100% renewable., the sheer size of it all. We have hundreds of wind and solar farms. Short of shutting down industry and cities, curtaling any form of transport, the scope of it all is not discussed really. And then the battery industry we will need, and the recycling industry on top of that, if we don’t just send billions of batteries and spent panels to China.
    Coal might be a defunct technology, but to destroy the infrastructure we have and have already paid for, is insanity.
    As for the rebellion … if you are considering attending this school strike today, how are you reading this post, I ask? If you have an issue with the world, then read, learn, plan.
    I have no worry about the future apart from the parts of the past being lost. We lose that, the future is Soma.

  6. Maybe planning not a good idea in whole; how do you tell a mouse not to make a nest in a crop. And how do you find an adverse idea on google as it stands when it comes to the new big end of town. Renewables have every corner cornered. And the anarchists are discussing the distribution of guns. The brave new world of population control is in its advent. Two meanings to control of population I mean, one, guiding our thoughts, the other ? Go figure.

  7. Over many years I’ve read just about
    everything Suzuki’s written so I’ve no
    trouble agreeing with David because
    I’ve always put my body where my
    mouth is… no pontificating needed.
    Yes, it’s called ‘having a go’…. Yes,
    Suzuki’s predictions are here.

  8. Ironic the UN should be holding its next meeting in Madrid, a few months after its last in Singapore, Madrid, where some eight years ago the country had, according to statistics, about 70% renewable energy, when the country was practically paying companies their profits, and which all just bankrupted their economy. I don’t know Spain’s situation now. Might be worth finding out.

  9. Robots are not capable of deceptions, just glitches. I have recently said in a post that the UN meets yearly, well that was my awareness as far as circuits go. The UNIPCC has been meeting throughout the world god knows how many times. We hear about GGeneva or Paris or Rrio. Singapore and the 6th Synthesis went unnoticed. There was August before that; maybe Mongolia. Their language certainly sounds like Mongilian to me. We’re talking a major player in the world and the roots are deep. You think we’re saving the world, the cavalry has arrived … well ask the Spaniards. Or ask Greta, no doubt she understands as Sweden is under record snow, must be climate change. The rain will come, even if in floods, and that will also be climate change. I blame Climate Change for losing on the races today.
    My name is robot and my pronouns are It and What the hell?

  10. Apart from Suzuki there was Lovelock, a more critical theory really because it accepted all the counter balances across the world ecology including the weather. For every five variables the IPCC computer models have I can name another five, and so on. Which is what the acolytes do, go on, and so on and so forth.

  11. What is it going to take for lethargic ghost followers
    to wake up & appreciate the broken planet we now
    live in. I’d sooner have a conversation with a seeing
    -eye dog than re-read the same old doggerel time
    & again from Robot and Barrow. ScoMo could do with 2 new
    team members. You’d both be happier there.
    ALP – ditto.

    • What are talking about Stefanie ? Both Robot and myself and not to mention the majority that voted
      Down this Global Warming hysteria..its called
      Democracy Stefanie..” do not believe in your views or opinions ” but will protect you with my life to
      Express yours ” sound familiar Stefanie!!
      The word Emergency should not be used loosely
      For instance the industry i work in , if the alarms
      Sound we muster to a safe meetimg point ..meaning we may be in grave danger
      Or if a Ambulance has its sirens on with someone
      Critically ill ..now those scenarios are a Emergency
      Stefanie.. now our shire Council in there wisdom
      Without the consultation of the rate payers might i add ? To declare a climate emergency ! . have we water overlapping mullumbimby streets due to sea level rises?
      A Category 5 cyclones bearing fown on us ?
      No we do not !! The Above are Emergencies
      Orwellian stuff this hysteria is..

      • Hey Barrow and Robot. When you cast a vote, it doesn’t change facts. It doesn’t change science. the outcome only shows how self-centred and stupid the majority can be.
        If this is not an “Emergency”, how have farmers, doctors, insurers, and ecologists all got it so wrong? And how have they all come to the same conclusion as the climate scientists and meteorologists? And the same conclusion all those governments around the globe that have already declared a climate emergency? And why then is the government finally helping our farmers out?

  12. Hey robot. (and Echo) I thought comments were supposed to relevant to the topic under discussion. And coherent. Why publish garbage? Better still, why bother writing it? Just get on fakebook

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