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Byron Shire
May 7, 2021

Byron rally told: ‘These times require us to change our lives’

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Paul Bibby

Hundreds of locals gathered in central Byron today to stand in solidarity with the victims of the country’s devastating bushfires and to demand meaningful action to address the crisis and halt climate change.

Young and old alike met at Railway Park and then marched to Main Beach for speeches and songs, with The Echo estimating that around 400 took part.

Protestors at Main Beach where hundreds rallied today. Image: Paul Bibby

The rally was attended by former Opposition Leader John Hewson and a range of local community leaders.

‘Despite our love of the natural beauty of this country we have not always taken our custodianship seriously,’ said Michelle Lowe, one of the organisers of the event and also a local mum.

‘We have not understood the importance of it. That our beloved country with its wild spaces, and mystical animals

‘This past few months I have watched and read obsessively and I have felt deeply sorry that I have betrayed mu country and the animals and plants that I was meant to look after.

‘Despite my understanding, wonder and love, I am also responsible for the climate crisis we are experiencing.

‘But I have had my eyes wrenched open and I am mourning the simple love of nature I had in childhood.

‘These are not normal times, these are deeply grave times. Times that will require us to change our lives, how we consume and how we engage with our leaders.’

Photos Jeff Dawson


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31 COMMENTS

  1. “Hundreds of locals gathered in central Byron today to stand in solidarity with the victims of the country’s devastating bushfires.”

    Ah yes, so easy to protest.

    But how many of those “standing in solidarity” have actually contributed in a material way – such as help with the clean-up in local places such as Mt Nardi?

    Real, meaningful solidarity can require some physical labour to help out. Protesting is not enough! Get your hands dirty once in a while (never mind your trendy white linens – they’ll wash out).

    To those who *have* provided meaningful assistance: goodonya! That’s the true spirit of Oz neighbourliness.

    • You Know what Gordon- It is not easy to protest, to beg the boss for some time out so you can be at something important. You can also bet that many of us there today have done physical work, cleanups, planting trees, donating money, time and anything else of use.
      My friend I was there with was living in the fire zone, had to evacuate her house and leave everything behind so she stepped out of work today because she felt it was important to be there, supporting our young people who organized this and are trying to do something.
      So instead of criticizing because you assume something, don’t you think its time to unite together, to recognize that each is doing their part and what they are able.

      • Why should your boss give you time off to attend a protest? Why are all these protests held in business hours? If you are serious protest on your own time.

    • It’s easy to criticize from the sidelines rather than focus on the criminal politicians who continue to promote fossil fuels and ignore the climate crisis we’re living in right now. The PM had an opportunity to listen to expert fire chiefs, who warned of a catastrophic fire season and knew we needed to be prepared, but REFUSED!

      Had we been warned that terrorists were going to inflict such devastation on our country the PM would have thrown everything at it to prevent such loss of life and homes.

      No punishment is too harsh for these disgraceful pollies who have done nothing.

      • No punishment is too great for the arsonists who set fire to tinder dry countryside. They are the actual terrorists here.

        Incidentally how do you travel without some involvement with fossil fuels? You are also using technology which relies on fossil fuels. You people are hypocrites.

        • The Arsonist propaganda has proven to be a lie. We have had 30 pyroclastic storms in this half of our fire season, where annually we have about 2. These storms suck in air and inflame the fire like bellows, and create lightning and scatter burning embers for 10 kms, which is the reason for these unprecedented fires. The global mean average temperature is measurably increasing which is drying out soil and vegetation moisture, which has laid the ground for these fires, but which will also cause increased intensity of storms and rainfall and snow where the evaporated moisture comes down. Your feeble attempts to denigrate are going nowhere.

      • Why aren’t you all getting around naked as every item of clothing seen in those photographs has fossil fuels involved in the manufacturing process.

        • This is really getting worn out this old argument: because we can’t do everything we should do nothing. Such a convenient rationalisation for totally avoiding responsibility. Who has the right to assume what efforts any one individual is making to reduce their carbon footprint?

  2. The Byron Echo seems to think that Anti-Climate Change mores dominate the community when they are in the minority. Former mayor Jan Barham will rise again as mayor and an economic recession will soon come and change things. That is the forecoming future.

  3. If we are ready to learn by these terrible times then we have a chance to adapt.

    But when most of what we consume comes from all over the world.

    Who can do with out their mobile phones or me with my lap top?

    In my gardens where I only use the minimum of water, snake beans, Ceylon spinach and kale have survived the long period of no rain. Finger limes too.

    When the fire escaped from NIGHT CAP NATIONAL PARK on my back boundary here in September, the edge of Byron Shire, I had to reassess everything about my living here. I packed two survival bags and found a secure spot to bury essential papers.

    I also realised most of my possessions were sentimental, I also realised how much useless stuff I owned.

    When the fires raged through 40 hectares of my regenerating land in early November I had to accept the new reality.

    Rain forest burns when it has only its annual yearly rain fall.

    Organic to mechanical food production maybe has to go back to organic, synthetic fertilisers( fossil fuels) and the ecocide use of all herbicides is a major factor in the decline of our micro life and the dying of our soils.

    When I read that so called progressive Mullumbimby ‘s water use has barely dropped then our so called Green Council has failed miserably.

  4. There is power when multiple voices come together. Protests unite people. Protests raise awareness. Protests demonstrate the incredible power of ordinary people. They give a voice to the voiceless and hold government forces accountable for their actions. Remember people like Eddie Mabo, Noel Pearson, Catherine Helen Spence, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela. I would like to thank the organisers and all who showed up to raise their voices to bring attention to the inaction of our government in our climate emergency today. Gordon you can probably thank some of the marches, protest and rallies of the past for some of the freedoms and rights that you have the privilege of today. Now I’m off to wash my white Linens for tomorrow.

    • On the subject of water: Council now allows everyone to install their own water tanks. Even if you have town water, for water security reasons, from now on, assuming you have enough roof area to capture it, 100,000 litres would seem to be a reasonably safe target for the average family (at least for the next few years). Perhaps even more if you grow your own vegies.

  5. Change?
    Would love to know how many of them would give up on their long haul flights holidays…
    No more Europe, no more America, no surf trips in Indo.
    Oh but let’s blame the greedy politicians instead.

    • Voluntarism is necessary to help tackle climate change, but because substantial voluntary actions to cut emissions are only pursued by a minority, lobbying politicians to meaningfully act is also necessary.

  6. “Eddie Mabo, Noel Pearson, Catherine Helen Spence, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela.”

    Those people had credibility. These clowns don’t.

    • Harry M they were all called worse names than clowns, most arrested and looked down upon by those who feared change and a challenge of their status quo. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

  7. More demonising of a colourless odourless gas essential for life, CO2.
    ‘In order to rally people, governments ( the UN) need enemies.
    They want us to be afraid,to hate,so we will rally behind them.
    And if they do not have a real enemy, they will invent one (CO2/ climate emergency) in order to mobilise us.’
    Thich Nhat Hanh

    • No one believes you global warming skeptics anymore. Sophisticated globally positioned air monitoring data collectors identify the airs increasing percentage of greenhouse gas’s. The gas’s are transparent which lets the light through but dense enough to insulate the subsequent reflected heat. Its the Laws of Physics. the greenhouse gas’s take a few decades to consolidate at our the earths atmosphere periphery, and as such the average mean temperatures will be further increasing. And the goalposts of permitted emissions of greenhouse gas’s need to be set by Governments, otherwise skeptic dick heads like above wont do anything.

      • John, if CO2 is dense enough to let the heat in its dense enough to let it out again, to suggest a gas that makes up only .4% of the atmosphere, of which 97% is from nature itself and only 3% from man, going to kill us all is the stuff of fantasy, well actually The Club of Rome and their agenda (21) for global governance ( see Greens Policy in support) you need to do a bit more research. A CO2 rich atmosphere is great for plant growth and makes plants more drought hardy as they require less water. If CO2 levels were to drop to 280 ppm all plant life would cease and so would we.

        • Its actually light coming through but reflecting heat (different wavelengths), you know, like a glass greenhouse full of tomatoes – you can get a hint from the name Greenhouse Effect.
          Yes a CO2 rich atmosphere is great for plant growth, but apart from the plants and crops become less nutritious and wildlife is not adapted to the tougher plants, the forest and agricultural land is and will increasingly burn, and the heating and increasingly acidic oceans will see coral reefs increasingly die. Our wildlife and our food resources are being destroyed. The issue with atmospheric carbon is the balance between emission and uptake in vegetation and our oceans, and it is now well out of balance. The facts of whats happening outweigh your conspiracy theory.

          • Sir John Houghton, First chairman of IPCC

            “No matter if the science of global warming is all phony… climate change provides the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world.”

            At least the IPCC admits it phony

      • Since records began temperatures have fluctuated By by less than one degree” irrefutable!! ”
        Alarming dont think so ! So much propaganda
        And let’s face it, the leader of extinction rebellion in the UK, openly admitted the real reason for such
        Protests worldwide was extinguish all capitalism
        And may the rise of socialism bring wealth distribution!! Yes socialism has been such a success, failed in every possible way!!
        Definition of a socialist !
        Someone who has “Nothing” but wants to share “

        • This year 1.52 degrees C above that long term average – which includes, and been already raised by your “only one degree”.
          As for your “let’s face it” – well how about you “start facing it”? – although it would mean extracting your head from the space it’s been firmly jammed, and ask if any of those people were protesting because of what one person in the UK gave as their personal reason? Again, your arguments make no sense. No-one in these posts has mentioned capitalism, socialism, UK extinction rebellion, so please try and stay on a relevant topic and stop treating every headline containing the word “climate” as a personal soap box to vent your life’s frustrations. I can’t decide whether the greater absurdity is that you continually harangue us with your constant irrelevant denialism, or that it gets published despite the Echos’ editorial right to bin it, or that we then feel compelled to say what stupid posts these are when it is already patently obvious to all.

    • I know it is very frightening to confront our likely future and much more comforting to shelter in conspiracy theories.

      I don’t have the qualifications to make climate pronouncements but, like many, have considered the warnings and the growing evidence from the overwhelming numbers of those who are qualified, too serious in their consequences to dismiss and leave to chance. But while supporting ameliorative measures we ‘believers’ have desperately hoped that the deniers are right and scientists wrong.

      It’s unlikely the deniers among the media and political class equally hope they are wrong but probably some just don’t care. If they now harbour any doubts (and how could they not?) their continued efforts at sabotage are unspeakable.

      If we have to pick likely hoaxers there are two obvious possibilities. Those who have dedicated their lives to a derided and poorly paid career in seeking knowledge and those who have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of wealth or political ambition threatened by climate action.

  8. To all of you who marched when I couldn’t get there, thank you. I’ve been on firewatch on my farm for two months. I haven’t been able to grow food for my Byron and Mullum customers for three months. And I’m coming to terms with the reality that I now need to farm in a different way if I’m to adapt to a new climate. I think I can do it. But I need people in power to appreciate it will be difficult and to accept that climate change is happening faster than we can change our practice to cope with it. The reality is scientifically clear. It’s time to stop arguing about the cause and focus on the solution.

  9. Anton, with regard to the supposed admission by the IPCC that climate change is phoney – one person quoted out of context does not a rebuttal make. I’m sure that wasn’t the message imparted. Scientists are known to couch statements in such terms because they assume nothing; they are the ultimate sceptics. Science hypothesises on the basis of the best available evidence and then tests and retests the hypothesis modifying or throwing it out as new evidence emerges.

    As creatures adrift in a life that has no certainties, just fairly good tools now for observing our world and gathering and analysis data/evidence, it would seem a good idea to plan on a scientific basis. In the area of reducing emissions and transitioning to renewables, there seems currently little downside to this approach. Would it be really so bad to find ourselves in a cleaner world without the concentration of power in the ownership of the damaging resources on which we now so currently depend?

    What doesn’t make sense to me is doggedly hanging on to an idea in the face of minimal and overwhelmingly contradictory evidence – comforting and convenient as this strategy is. You could ask, ‘what if climate change isn’t phoney?’ and we continue to just let rip.

    • Anton’s quote is wrongly interpreted, and also wrongly attributed. This statement predates the modern scientific consensus on climate change, and was from a Canadian minister named Christine Stewart who appears to have had no involvement in the IPCC.

      • Well spotted and thanks Martin. Sadly, hardly surprising given Anton’s track record. He posts garbage on the premise that no-one has / can / will check it’s accuracy then starts an argument throwing in topics unrelated to the article, original post or reply. It’s called the “dead cat on the table strategy” favoured and perfected by conservative politicians when they have lost an argument or have nothing credible to say. Like climate deniers.

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