An Accidental Walk into WWW.WalkAgainstWarming.ORG Climate Change Global Warming Rally
Topic: Climate Change
We'd planned a day in the city months ago to see a matinee theatre performance - then the 14 yr old had begged to visit the Japan National Foundation centre at Chifley Square in Sydney's CBD, to see Oz students' Japanese performances. Theatre-goers, we'd seen the Wharf Theatre Revue's "Waiting for Garnaut", with its strong satirical messages on climate change. So we weren't surprised to see people carrying climate change & global warming banners, T-shirts with slogans on the train to Martin Place.
The JNF was closed, and instead we found ourselves in the middle of thousands of people at Martin Place in the WWW.WalkAgainstWarming.org Sydney protest rally on climate change - see Katrina's pic - one of a number around OZ. It's happened again ... 2 years ago, in Athens, we had walked out into a teachers protests on our hotel doorstep as we were checking out. Actually, the number of rooftop solar panels, glinting away in Athens' sunshine was astonishing! And the realities of the Australian government response on climate change ? Still "Waiting for Garnaut" ? Not necessarily ... despite the activists' claims ?
"No Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050!" was the cry of a climate change researcher from UNSW. (His timeline seemed remarkably close to Andrew Campbell's in his ACTKM 2008 paper, ie the world will run out of oil in 30-40 years.) He expressed concern that key aspects of climate change had not been stated by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) in its documents. Notwithstanding the global credit crisis, speakers urged that governments recognise the global carbon crisis & get behind Renewable Energy. However renewables exploiting solar, hot rocks, wind, ocean & hydro still need engineering materials for construction, ie polymers, coatings, steel, non ferrous alloys etc, each with their own carbon footprint.
Maria Tiimon, of Kiribati spoke of what it all means for her country and her people, as they build defensive sea walls to combat erosion, increasing storm surges & inundation of her island. "It is an issue of human survival," an emotional plea, "we need human rights for climate change victims in Kiribati." (more from Maria Tiimon)
The rally, part of a national climate change coalition, was a build up for December 6's "Day of Action on Climate Change". The Walk also fell just as Australia's Federal Cabinet are deciding on our national emissions target for 2020; and just before the crucial international climate talks in Poland with the "Road to Copenhagen". 2009. This follows the Post Kyoto Framework on Greenhouse Gas Emissions -from Vienna 2007.
The feeling of the rally was not angry. Well controlled with a friendly police presence, St John's Ambulance support & lots of rally marshals. Not violent, but passionate, caring & embracing, with so many different people there, from babies to great grandparents. Incredible diversity. The Save the Red River Gum crew with their garbage can drums/tap dog style band, along with the jazz musicianists, and concerned OZ residents, hailing from Asia to the Middle East. All anxious about the planet and wanting solutions. Not necessarily happy with the Garnaut Report.
Rally Attendees - the usual "lefty" assortment of newspaper sellers, Green Left etc, along with people who could have been at the local shopping centre, the conservatively dressed grandfather & "20 something" grandson in suits with wind turbine lapel pins - not that many dreadlocks - very very suburban, to be honest.
I remember, as a newbie community activist in an embryonic group, NIRAG, in 1984, calling for research into Clean Coal & cogeneration technologies. Well informed, and alert to potential climate change issues, I had feared global warming. As a WCC councillor I had achieved unanimous support for resolutions supporting initiatives on Johannesburgh 2002 climate change & Kyoto Agreement on Greenhouse gases. But I had expected that climate change would not be a problem for my 14 year old daughter, until she reached middle age. I didn't expect the devastating evidence, such as Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth", so soon. She expressed her fears for what sort of world that her children might face.
I have heard Gen X/Y's lean towards Nuclear as a solution for climate change. Amazingly, with nuclear power back in favour, the US's Nuclear Regulatory Commission had to weigh in this year. Dodgy concrete and reinforcing steel being used in construction of Savannah River's $US 4.7 billion dollar nuclear plant project. Along with the US's NIST embarrassment, over the plutonium spill incident in Boulder, Colorado. Ignoring the R's - don't forget RISK MANAGEMENT !! Squandering the best opportunity in 30 years to demonstrate their cred to nuclear-phobes & skeptics. Absolutely astonishing ... so no wonder, 30 years ago, the Fox Commission Mining Inquiry findings, whilst supporting uranium mining, also called for a "rigorous, robust regulatory regime". The US Navy learned that risk management lesson the hard way in the 1960's with their loss of their nuclear submarine, USS Thresher & her 129 men. (Later they shared their approaches with NASA, after its space shuttle disasters - NASA set up "Lessons Learned".)
The night before the climate change rally, we had discussed Hot Rocks Renewable Energy approaches with UOW's Professor Paul Cooper (Head of School Mechatronics & passionate Futureworld member), as he also considered piping of CO2, as part of CCS (carbon capture sequestration-storage) raised in a recent APIA conference (also refer CO2 CRC & CFMEU perspectives). There are many issues, including legal, to be faced by the newly setup CCS taskforce. A few months back, in a technical scientific LIST Server discussion group, I had sought comment on challenges (corrosion, crack arrest etc) & technologies for piping CO2, mentioning the climate change imperative. Unintentionally, I set off an international flame war, of climate change skeptics vs climate change realists vs climate change realists who saw nuclear as our only saviour. Noteworthy, that the US was represented on all sides of the flame war.
Sasha Hunter, a North Coast high school student & just out of HSC exams inspired the rally. She urged attendees not to be crushed by the usual disempowering global warming catastrophe messages. Instead, to .. "Embrace the opportunity to solve the Global Warming Problems." a view shared by Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore,"How dare we be optimistic .... history has presented us with a choice .... we need a sense of urgency ... what we need is another hero generation .... we need a sense of generational mission .. to rise to the challenge of our best efforts ... more than we knew we could do."
There are different ways to create solutions & our global survival requires respecting those different paths. To be inspired by US Democratic President-Elect Obama's commitment for 2020, supported also by Republicans such as California Governor Schwarznegger....& perhaps also by Nelson Mandela, just as he created synergies in building bridges between opponents.
We had been at UOW the previous night, attending the annual Creative Engineering Design Project Team Finals. The design project, running since 1971, is mandatory for first year engineering students. The 2008 finals showed "functional" winning out over "fun". For the first time that I can remember, half the Design Project Team finalists had developed climate change solutions, macro & micro ... addressing both 1st world & 3rd world issues.
The "Lads from the Land" (Lachlan region?) showed their tractor trailer concept for planting 1000's of trees & to withstand drought, by delivering water to the rootball to increase local soil moisture levels in the crucial early period. Their target markets were mining companies, local councils and landcare groups in rural & remote mining areas involved in large-scale reafforestation.
Also participating in the "Engineers Without Borders" Challenge, one team designed & built an electricity free washing machine for Cambodian families. They'd even included a filter to eliminate phosphates & reduce drinking water pollution. Clear winners of the "People's Favourite" Prize! Internet online trading technologies enabled them to price their design's components from Phnom Penh outlets, instead of the local Bunnings hardware megastore. Ingenuity is expected of UOW's 1st year engineering students!
Another team showed their whirly bird /ceiling vent, modified to generate small amounts of power & fix humidity related indoor air quality (IAQ) problems. Their analysis also showed the surprising carbon footprint of construction materials for renewables such as solar. A small step, but each a small step to achieving the Triumph of the Commons, and not the Tragedy. Maybe we can't all achieve Michael Mobbs' "The Sustainable House", but BHG magazine each month encourages its readers to make that "one change" to save our planet.
The UOW Creative Design Project is about teams forming, identifying & together using their individual abilities to solve real problems, not theoretical approaches. For them the 20th Century activists, Ghandi & Mandela, might seem irrelevant, but in a practical way they are. Consider Nelson Mandela - "Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that generation”.
And, Ghandi's words (part of his philosophy of personal transformation), just as relevant for engineering students, as inspiring, for the Sydney Walk Against Warming crowd. "You must be the change you want to see in the world" ... to make a difference ... for the climate change movement's new poster child, Suki Reid, a preschooler. What sort of world will she find?