On Friday, thousands of kids around the country were on strike from school to protest for climate action. Let’s just say, the 14-year-old-girl I once was is leaping around inside me, shouting, “At last!!”.
Those of us who have felt ineffectual, who have been angry, whose jaws have hung open in disbelief at political priorities, heard our voices shouting back at us from the video coverage of the self-mobilised schoolchildren.
Their banners and signs were well publicised, but most encouraging was the students’ commitment to change. They called for 100 per cent renewable energy in Australia and meeting our carbon emissions reduction target. They were taking initiative, and this probably extends to their everyday life decisions as well. It feels like a growing impetus.
I come into this fairly optimistically. The weekend before the protest, members of one of Australia’s most effective landcare organisations, Land For Wildlife, gathered on the Gold Coast. They were celebrating twenty years of support for land owners creating and maintaining precious habitat on their properties.
Of course I went too. I’m always excited to find out more about the land we live in: it’s enriching – and after all, ignorance of the natural environment got us into this climate mess. Visiting each stall like a native bee, I learnt the subtle difference between blue, red, and grey gum trees (koalas get the munchies for these). Again I realised there’s so much to appreciate in what I’d have glossed over as a patch of bushland.
Mind you, Land For Wildlife is government-funded, and the government is supporting major environmental initiatives. The point is that many of these rely on individual enthusiasm. It’s Australian landowners’ commitment and love that has provided precious habitat and wildlife corridors in developing areas and made Land For Wildlife a force in securing official protection for endangered habitat. It’s school kids’ voices and everyday choices that are initiating climate action.
Citizens’ enthusiasm for switching to renewable energy sources and understanding how they affect their environment makes these topics appealing in parliament – and more importantly, it effects immediate change, community by community.
Maybe decisions to achieve the climate target will get the green when Parliament sees we’re doing it anyway.