Saturday, February 16, 2013

Earth Poisoning Diary (week 2)

It's not just the climate that's heating up, it's the response to Earth poisoning. Here's some examples:
In Washington DC the director of the Sierra Club was arrested with 46 others in the first act of civil disobedience in his organization’s 120-year history. About time too.

This was to protest the US's importation of a particularly toxic form of Earth poison: diluted, heated Canadian bitumen, falsely advertised as "oilsands" so they appear less polluting. One third of the energy in this bitumen is needed to turn the other two thirds into something we can burn, in order to further poison Earth. Also arrested was Bill McKibben who with his colleagues, is "trying to spark a movement like the ones that overturned the great immoral institutions of the past century, such as apartheid."

The leading climate scientist, James Hansen, was also arrested, not for the first time. But no-one went to jail.

I have learned of others being arrested in Australia, especially trying to stop coal seam gas fracking, which poisons not only the air and ocean but also the groundwater.

Closer to my home, on February 20, 2013, the Environmental Defender's Office is running a meeting called "Civil disobedience in a time of climate change". Speakers include Jonathan Moylan and Lucy Manne, co-director of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.

Last week, I was keynote speaker on "energy, health and climate change", at a workshop organised by the Climate and Health Alliance. I met some people there working to stop the expansion of the largest earth poison coal port in the world (Newcastle, Australia).

Four other Australian medical doctors so far have indicated they also might be willing to be arrested, perhaps with me. Another has offered to be in a support group. I had a letter from a sympathiser in France, who was puzzled that a non-violent protest could lead to prison. Apparently you have to do a lot more than protest in her country to be taken seriously as a dissident. I said I expect to have to decline bail and refuse to pay fines, perhaps several times, before prison is ordered. I want to be a conscientious objector to the deliberate massive earth poisoning my country supports; being arrested is not enough. Mainstream Australian media — thus the public —  will pay no more attention to my arrest than a climate change-related famine in Somalia. In this country you need to be a sports star to be taken seriously.

Two colleagues have warned me I might be raped (scary prospect), two others offered to bake me a cake with a hidden file.


  1. Apart from the story, those links are very useful, Colin. I admire your courage in taking a Gandhian stance. Prison is no laughing matter. As your co-director on BODHI unable now to pull my weight there, I'm very concerned. I think people should realise how much our freedoms have been stripped from us in this country which assumes it is one of the last bastions of freedom on the planet. Sadly, it's not. Wake up Australia.

  2. Thank you, Denis. For those unaware of our work at BODHI, here is a link: This is an NGO we started in 1989, trying to promote sustainable development in South and South East Asia.