Opinion

“Life is about language,” which is why ‘climate emergency’ fits

Ian Campbell 9 October 2019

Some of those in the packed and vocal gallery at today’s meeting of Bega Valley Shire Council. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Having earlier accepted the term ‘climate emergency’ in the wording around the Shire’s soon to be exhibited Climate Resilience Strategy, a rescission motion from Cr Robyn Bain brought the matter back to the chamber for discussion at Bega Valley Shire Council today.

“Life is about language,” Cr Bain told the overflowing room of onlookers.

In Cr Bain’s view the term ‘climate emergency’ is divisive and should not influence the Climate Resilience Strategy.

“We need to bring the majority with us,” she said.

It was a position supported by councillors Mitchell Nadin, Tony Allen, and Russell Fitzpatrick.

Josh Shoebridge and David Porter, community members who spoke in favour of Cr Bain’s motion today. Photo: Ian Campbell.

The motion was lost with the votes of councillors Sharon Tapscott, Jo Dodds, Liz Seckold, Cathy Griff and Mayor Kristy McBain, who all spoke strongly in favour of using the term as a way of adding importance and urgency to the document.

I have wrestled with how to report this meeting, the people involved I respect and they are all entitled to express their view. But I couldn’t bring myself to simply give a blow by blow account – as important as that is. In my thinking, I kept coming back to this idea of – where the majority of people sit on the issue.

It’s a point that was debated as much as the climate issue itself today in the chamber, a plebiscite to gauge local views was even mentioned at one point. What is the majority view, of course, depends on your politics and the community you mix in.

Some of those in the packed and vocal gallery at today’s meeting of Bega Valley Shire Council. Photo: Ian Campbell.

“Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities,” that’s the majority according to NASA.

“In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.

“Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.

“There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world’s climate. However, there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring,” NASA says.

To my way of thinking – that’s the majority to listen to. Which is not to say you don’t listen to local people whose livelihoods might be challenged by taking climate action.

The sort of debate I witnessed at Bega Valley Shire Council today is out of date and “wasting critical time” as Cr Dodds said.

Some of those in the packed and vocal gallery at today’s meeting of Bega Valley Shire Council. Photo: Ian Campbell.

When it comes to the need for urgency, just last month the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report and highlighted, “the urgency of prioritizing timely, ambitious and coordinated action to address unprecedented and enduring changes in the ocean and cryosphere.”

The report reveals the benefits of ambitious and effective adaptation for sustainable development and, conversely, the escalating costs and risks of delayed action.

“The open sea, the Arctic, the Antarctic and the high mountains may seem far away to many people,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC.

“But we depend on them and are influenced by them directly and indirectly in many ways – for weather and climate, for food and water, for energy, trade, transport, recreation and tourism, for health and wellbeing, for culture and identity.”

The work and advice of the majority of the world’s scientists won out today in this small corner of our planet, but the debate is not done yet.

Some of those in the packed and vocal gallery at today’s meeting of Bega Valley Shire Council. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Council’s Climate Resilience Strategy will be out for public comment at the end of this month, only staff and councillors have seen it to date. According to Cr Griff the document deals with areas including – “community leadership and partnerships; risk and liability; opportunity and innovation; targets and performance measures, plus forecasting mitigation and adaptation strategies.”

All councillors seem largely supportive of the draft strategy.

However, that 28 day comment period and subsequent debate around the adoption of the strategy will be further flashpoints in the local discussion.

Where will the majority of the local community sit once comment on the Strategy is complete? Perhaps that will be one of the key findings.

But if “life is about language” then the world’s scientists seem to be saying we have a ‘climate emergency’.

What's Your Opinion?

21 Responses to “Life is about language,” which is why ‘climate emergency’ fits

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Clr Pat McGinlay 1:15 pm 12 Oct 19

Congratulations again to the majority of councillors of Bega Valley Shire Council, for recognition of overwhelming world scientific evidence and voting accordingly.

Alas, here to your immediate north, the majority adopted a watered down, insipid motion that refused to even use the term ‘climate change’, never mind ‘climate emergency’. Language as asserted, in this thoughtful article is indeed powerful. Our Eurobodalla Shire Council insisted that any references to the heart of the matter use the the language ‘a variable and changing climate’. Climate variability is a given, be it seasonal, annual or decadal. What has been ignored is the overwhelming mass of scientific data that shows the longer term underlying trend of warming, that underpins and influences shorter term variability, I.e. climate CHANGE.

And time to act is running out. The consequences are potentially in the medium to longer term, simply catastrophic; hence the ‘Emergency.’

Cheers, Pat

Frances 10:55 am 12 Oct 19

There’s your problem – stop asking for people’s “opinions” on this climate emergency. It is a fact. You don’t ask people to give their “opinion” about a medical diagnosis because they are not qualified. And they are not qualified to give their opinions about climate change because they are not scientists.

Jen Severn 10:07 am 11 Oct 19

Ask Cr Bain, ‘If you went to ten doctors and nine of them recommended emergency surgery to save your life, would you have the surgery?’ And it’s not nine out of ten — it’s 97 out of a hundred.

Geoff Berry 8:39 am 11 Oct 19

Spot on, we must listen to the scientists in their areas of expertise and act to show care for Country.

Dorte Planert 7:08 pm 10 Oct 19

At least 5 Councillors have read some of the 7000 climate science reports. It is a great start to focus on better alternatives, not just for farming. We all know, we can do better, we can care more for our environment and still run businesses, enjoy small luxuries, no need to go back to Stone Age. Council is now on the way to do, whatever it can, taking Climate Change into account and that is commendable. Cr Allen also can read up on alternative farming methods or e.g. reducing methane by simply feeding seaweed products to cattle, which are widely available and a proven good solution. If wooden bridges need to be replaced, Council surely can find the best solution. If concrete is lasting longer and withstanding sea level rise, flooding and other nature havocs, which Cr Bain is concerned about, then it might be the best solution, withstanding the impact of Climate Change. If we need to reduce more CO2 to counteract the concrete production, we could reduce logging and plant more trees… I just feel sorry for so many, who are only getting bogged down in their own opinion, not getting informed and even become aggressive, like the bully in a checkered flannelette shirt, punching the air with his fist, who insulted me, when I walked past him with my poster on the way out, grinning and saying: “I can smell you. You are smelly”. Perhaps he did not like the smell of science labs or the truth? He obviously did not expect my friends to stand up and tell him off for his impertinence, and then I heard him exclaiming: “Don’t touch my partner!”

Debra Bartlett 6:47 pm 10 Oct 19

Conservative governments and their supporters tend to stress that children should not be agitated and goaded into worries over the changes which may or may not be affecting the global climate. When I was a child I remember sleepless nights over the possibility of nuclear war but at that time governments finally came together to limit the catastrophe facing the world at that time. They were right to act and I was right to be worried. Children are now facing a similar catastrophe and their future is not going to be the comfortable one that their parents and grandparents enjoyed, nor is it one which can be solved by heads of states sitting down together and agreeing that mutual destruction is the supreme idiocy. Every single person is now responsible for thinking carefully about their impact on the planet and every councillor, politician, business leader, teacher is now vital in facing this emergency which will impact every creature on the earth. We are right to be worried and it is WRONG to fail to act now. Uncomfortable or inconvenient it may be, but vital changes need to be made. This is not a left wing conspiracy nor a plot instigated by some nebulous elitist group. It is a real disaster heading your way, our way, everyone’s way. We must get over biases and prejudices and do something for future generations rather than just continue our own smug and comfortable life.

Carol Holden 5:58 pm 10 Oct 19

Well done Ian. Great article looking at the facts. I’ll throw in my lot with the vast majority of scientists.

Marisa 5:06 pm 10 Oct 19

The UN Council does not tell us what to do!
Have a look at there countries. Are they doing anything for the climate? No.
Local councils are following an foreign funded union. Look at all reports. It’s ALGA. Research that then it takes you to IKLEI. Then follow that and you end up with the UN agenda 2130.

The scientist you talk about have been paid to do the peer reports. Look into the names of those so called scientists then you find that they are not real scientists but data analysis.
Honestly.
To call an emergency is bogus. Only the federal government can do that not local councils. This is not there domain. They are stepping out of there duristiction. Not what they were voted in for.

Councils are run by the greens! We all know the greens are nothing but trouble. They know nothing about the environment nor how to stop nature from doing what it’s doing.

Ian. You never really show the other side of the debate with facts. Only what the greens have.

    Marianne Kambouridis 8:08 pm 10 Oct 19

    Marisa,
    You appear to live in ignorance of what is around you.IF you feel climate emergency is a hoax, then you must feel that the following is not really happening?? Warmer weather, less rainfall, dying livestock, fewer native species, loss of habitat, felling of old-growth forests, rampant population growth in cities, climbing unemployment, loss of topsoil, more frequent extreme weather, raging bush fires and you say it’s all a hoax.

    I certainly will NOT be voting for you….ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Marisa 12:18 am 11 Oct 19

    So population growth, unemployment, causes climate change! What idiocy.
    Dying livestock is from the droughts . Bush fires are from a arsenist.
    The data is no different from previous years. We have had worse droughts. Years ago. What about the federation one. Plus the one in the 60’s?
    Get real!!!!!
    You are so delusional coming out with such rubbish.
    You shouldn’t be voting at all considering you have no brain!!!!!!

Russell Jennings 11:46 am 10 Oct 19

Great article. A very enlightening day where we at last get an idea of where out councilors sit on the political and social spectrum. I had my suspicions and these were clearly confirmed today

Dale Willis 5:49 am 10 Oct 19

The elephant in the room is that us humans are over populated. I think there are plans even now to pump up the Queensland population by 3 million people over the next few years. Sydney and Melbourne are both seriously congested, yet our governments are still saying population is good for the economy. It all seems foolish to me when the real answer is never talked about and everybody knows .
Thanks Ian.

Olwen Morris 11:34 pm 09 Oct 19

Our climate IS in a state of emergency. It’s not yet summer and already much of the country is in drought, fires are raging in the north, rivers are drying, animals are dying and still our governments prevaricate, procrastinate or deny that human impact is contributing to the warming of the planet. When will politicians just LISTEN to the scientists, accept what they say and act NOW!

Zan 10:38 pm 09 Oct 19

Spot on Ian, great report

Vivian Harris 8:20 pm 09 Oct 19

Thank you Ian for understanding the science.

Robyn bain 8:20 pm 09 Oct 19

Yes life is language and I have to say the majority of people speak through the ballot box. On that basis climate emergency doesnt cut it.

    Vickie Goldsmith 6:54 am 10 Oct 19

    100% of voters in my household want ice cream for dinner, but I go with nutritional advice.

    Marisa 5:08 pm 10 Oct 19

    Yes climate change is a hoax.
    Virtue signalling by leftist socialist ideology.

    Marianne Kambouridis 8:01 pm 10 Oct 19

    Councillors who do NOT agree on climate emergency are not prepared to change their over-indulgent lifestyle. Those who also agree with these ‘voted representatives’ are no different. And this idea of ‘language’, forgive me but that is bull sh**. IF we choke on semantics, then all humans are doomed. At every crossroad of societal change, there will be winners and losers. This is the reality. Some livelihoods will be impacted upon and other opportunities will surface. What we all need to focus on is ONE PLANET! Once we lose our water, oxygen, soil, trees, climate and jobs, it will be too late to make changes to our lifestyles, diet, transport, farming, fossil fuels, sustainable ignorance and general empathy for our environment. Change has to come, from the top
    ( Governments to the bottom-us-then of course, Cr. Robyn Bain!!.)

    Marisa 12:22 am 11 Oct 19

    Marianne.
    Until you can debate with real evidence and facts.
    Go away to your cotton bubble. Sip your lattes. Virtue signal to your greenies.
    We want intelligent people who know what they are on about!
    Not hypocrisy.

    Terry McGee 7:46 pm 19 Oct 19

    Marisa

    You tell Marianne to go away until she can debate with real evidence and facts, but then produce none of your own. That’s hypocrisy!

    There is no room here for debate, the science comes down only on one side. The climate is changing, worldwide and fast. And the cause is known, fossil fuel overuse. And if you look at our rate of use of fossil fuels, it’s not surprising its having an impact.

    So, settle down, stop reading right wing and fossil fuel funded propaganda, and realise that you are on the wrong side of history.

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