Talking about a revolution by grassroot resistance

RACHEL STEWART
Last updated 07:53 07/01/2013

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OPINION: Well, that thing in the rear view mirror was 2012. Done, dusted, gone. We now find ourselves stuck firmly on our ailing planet and hurtling into 2013.

It feels less like a smooth air- slicing ride on a now-defunct Concorde and more a rickety, seam-popping 1970s Pan Am Boeing 747 bumpfest. A very long, turbulent overnight flight to a secret destination.

When the sun finally comes up just where we will we find ourselves?

We certainly managed to avoid December's famed Mayan apocalypse but we're on track for the more sluggish, grinding kind of doomsday scenario.

We've been on that track for quite some time now. Have you noticed?

Unpredictable, brutish weather and dwindling resources, due to an expanding global population smitten with Western luxuries, and all set against a background of serious economic adversity due to unsustainable debt.

This is our new reality and, just like old age and ill-health, it's all catching up with us. As a species we will either adapt or die. So, if we're going to adapt one would think we'd be getting on with it and fast.

I know some individuals are doing just that and in growing numbers. The problem lies with the politicians who don't see anything other than doing the same old things as the only way forward.

It takes leadership, creativity and truly caring about the future of everyone's children and grandchildren - not just saying you do - to make real change.

Politicians don't generally own these qualities. They tend to possess the short-term view and strong conformity gene.

This leaves those with logical, working brains among us to make our own plans for the obviously very fractious future ahead. Until the multitudes rise up and force change we know the politicians will carry on their merry way.

Crisis? What crisis?

If politicians are the answer then it must be a very stupid question. I have all but abandoned any faith in politicians to fix anything. I still vote (remembering the suffragettes) but I do it very flaccidly. I cannot wholeheartedly participate in a system that is so clearly failing us all.

I'm talking about a revolution. It can only happen from the bottom up and when enough citizens reach a tipping point of frustration and anger. You disagree? Well, as if hammering away with the same old neo-liberal, money-is-God, Christian, white male world view has worked so darn well?

For me, 2012 will be remembered as the year that the politicians finally, and very openly, turned their collective backs on nature. You know, that silly, inconsequential "thing" all of our lives depend on. The "thing" that has to function if we are to continue as a species. The "thing" we all came from and will ultimately return to.

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Yet the most burning, searing, apocalyptic issue facing humanity is reduced to one sentence by the American President in his acceptance speech, only days after Hurricane Sandy seriously sucker-punched the financial capital of the world.

There was abject failure at the June Rio +20 UN earth summit, with global governments committing to nothing. This lack of action continued at the United Nations' climate change talks in Doha in December. New Zealand had the dubious distinction of winning the infamous "Colossal Fossil Award" for pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol.

The Arctic is now melting at three times the previous projected rate and all the while the planet is on track to miss the 2C warming limit for this century.

No, we're now going for broke and heading for between 4-6 degrees. The consequences are unimaginable and steadily approaching. Yet the beltway bandits and the media continue to act as though there are much more pressing issues. There aren't. Soon it's all anyone will be talking about.

Governments stand around looking gormless as yet another weather-related event unfolds on their turf. They promise aid and assistance, take photo-ops at the scene of the bushfire/tornado/ flood/hurricane while looking suitably grim and in control. The media moves on and we all await the next disaster. Have you noticed how we never have to wait long?

Insurance companies are running for the hills as premiums rise and certain types of cover become unattainable.

A few days ago Britain's National Farmers Union, in response to a severe 2012 on the weather front, started pressing the environment secretary for a form of extreme weather payment or insurance to "protect farmers from going out of business during the most difficult years". Good luck with that, and let's not mention the fat subsidy payments British farmers have received for decades.

As if taxpayers should bail out farmers for every climatic event that befalls them. This from a collective of the biggest climate- change deniers, apart from oil companies, the world has ever seen. Get real and start adapting your farming practices to the new conditions. 2013 will undoubtedly be just more of the same if we have the same stale thinking.

My hope for this year is that people wake up and realise they have the power to effect change. Without that change, and soon, we'll be up a very flooded creek without a paddle.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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