What is the future you choose for your children and grandchildren?
Guest post by my friend Dr Michelle Hamrosi, Climate Reality Leader, DEA member, AP4CA Eurobodalla coordinator, Bushfire affected community GP
What is the future we choose for our children?
Our current path is leading to deepening intergeneration inequity.
We must face the uncomfortable truth: by staying silent we are complicit in stealing our children’s future. Despite decades of increasingly alarming evidence based scientific information about our planet’s heating, our governments continue to fail us. Our country burnt to the ground last summer, with 33 lives lost and three billion animals killed or displaced; more than 17 billion hectares burnt, with communities destroyed. Our Great Barrier Reef will be gone in a generation. Successive governments fail to recognise climate change and consequently lack policies to deal with this crisis. Instead they have been subsidising and propping up these polluting industries to the detriment of our community .
Let’s take a look at one, of many, recent examples – gas.
Instead of taking in the political spin, let’s listen to the experts. As Atlassian CEO, and renewable energy proponent, Mike Cannon-Brookes recently summarised on Twitter: Australian Energy Market Operator (AMEO) says? More gas generation not needed. CSIRO says? Gas generation is expensive electricity. Economists say? Gas extraction creates very few jobs. Scientists say? Gas is incompatible with our climate commitments under the Paris Agreement. Investors say? Gas has bad returns. As a doctor, I’d add an important point. Doctors say? It’s polluting the air we breath and harming our health.
But what do our politicians say? More gas!
What’s going on, you may ask? With what we now know, the question is perplexing. I have two words for this: vested interests. They’re crippling our democracy and blinding our politicians to act in our best interests.
As a doctor, it’s against the law for me to accept gifts or donations from pharmaceutical or other medical industries – these are safeguards for us, and for you, as patients. These rules make doctors a more trusted profession.
So, how is it that politicians and political parties can receive donations from polluting fossil fuel industries? According to data from Market Forces, In 2018-19, fossil fuel companies donated (a minimum of) $1,897,379 to the ALP, Liberal and National parties. Our major parties continue to vote against a Federal Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). The (unelected) head of the ScoMo-appointed National COVID Coordination Commission, making recommendations on billions of dollars of recovery spending, is gas company executive Nev Power.
Let’s call this like it is – out-and-out corruption. It directly undermines our democracy and it has eroded action on climate and other health and environmental policies.
I’m increasingly distraught by the situation we face. At the future our children and grandchild face, if we don’t face our current predicament – and do everything we can to change it.
I ask you, sincerely, to imagine our children’s future, if we continue on our current trajectory. My daughter, Lucinda, is two years old. I imagine her future, if we continue on our current climate trajectories – and it fills me with dread.
It’s 2050 and we are on well on the path to a hot-house hell. We missed the small final window, presented to us in 2020, on which to act decisively on the climate crisis. We had the solutions to act – the thinking, the economic modelling, the technology – but we were thwarted by policy paralysis; political parties beholden to donors; and an apathetic and panicked voting public.
Lucinda is 32.
She has not married or had children, as the future her generation faces is too precarious. When she leaves her share-house accommodation, which isn’t often, she first checks the Climate App. What is the air quality? Are there any extreme weather alerts? Are there any fires near her? Extreme storms and floods, along with a bushfire season year-round are now the norm.
She grabs her backpack, which stows away emergency survival gear, including a P2 mask. She usually goes out early morning or late evening as air is too hot and heavy with pollution. Winter is the only month where the climate is bearable these days. Heatwaves last for weeks – both day and night. Hospitals are unable to cope with the swell of presentations this leads to and suicide and violence skyrockets. In 2020, the age of pandemics began. Outbreaks of infectious diseases steadily increased. Over the past decade, life expectancy has reduced significantly. Food shortages are common and water contamination occurs regularly.
It’s more a decade since the Great Barrier Reef was officially labelled as a dead zone. The unprecedented mega fires of 2019/20 have only become more unpredictable and more ferocious and frequent. Many forests succumbed have never recovered, and dozens of communities across Australia, once thriving tourist hubs, are abandoned. Many of our iconic beaches have been lost to rising seas, destroying our coastal communities.
Lucinda has witnessed the massive decline of all living creatures – including the much-loved koala. When the age of year-round fire season began, in 2020, she was just a toddler. There was a photo, that year, of her, with me, at a ‘Fund Our Future Not Gas’ protest, her beautiful little face full of happiness and hope. She looks at this image, as I do, and wonders: ‘Is this the moment when we squandered our last chance to take the right path?’
Let’s not understate this – and let’s not fail to understand it. Our children’s future safety, prosperity, happiness, and perhaps, survival, is at stake. Are we happy to hand them a world that is significantly worse than the one we grew up in?
Each and every one of us must speak up – NOW. We must demand the end of the corruption, the end of the vested interests. We can no long sit on the fence, and hope for a better future. We must be play an active part of creating the better future.
Please join me in calling on the government to #FundOurFutureNotGas. Raise your voice. Write to and meet with your local member; talk to the media; spread the word with friends and family. We must speak up, and work together, before it’s too late.
*Many thanks Michelle for penning this passionate plea for affirmative action in the face of increasingly alarming inaction on climate change and the obvious corruption decaying Australian politics.
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And do whatever you can to support positive change in our environment!