March in March for survival

February 12, 2011
Photo: Peter Boyle

I have thought for a long time that it is essential the Australian climate movement tune in more directly to the natural climate cycle, and thus popular consciousness of climate itself.

We as a country have just experienced the traumas of floods, then the most intense cyclone in recorded history, and now devastating bushfires in Western Australia.

Deadly bushfires swept the country a couple of summers before that, followed by another record heatwave in South Australia in 2010.

Australian summers are becoming climatic nightmares — yet we stick to our arbitrary pattern of a literally midwinter rally, and then one in December, just before the start of the next cycle of catastrophe, when public memory of the last round of disasters is most distant and faintest.

Any PR expert would regard such a timetable as absurd. If we want to mobilise people, we should engage them actively when their emotions, and indeed their entire physical beings, are grappling with the direct consequences of a warmer world.

It's clear when this is. The end of the Australian summer — when floods, fires and cyclones are the talk of every tearoom, smoko break and tennis lunch — should be the moment when the climate movement goes for maximum mobilisation of the community around the climate question.

We should thus pull out all stops to establish a “March for Survival” (or some such title) date in March every year, starting now.

Does this mean scrapping the midyear march? Probably. It's a shocking time in many cities to try to get people onto the streets, due to the wintry conditions, and doesn't present us in our best light anyway.

If my memory is correct, many cities didn't rally last year on that date — Adelaide certainly didn't.

Let's get synched with the climate and the natural systems we are all struggling to defend, and via this, get the biggest psychological bang for our buck.

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