A new initiative is starting in Greece, with the aim of spreading across the world: Support Earth - www.facebook.com/Supp%CE%BFrt-Earth-102088898198786/. Elias Adam, one of the hundreds of people who have already joined, shares with us a few words:
"#SupportEarth is an initiative by members of #SupportArtWorkers, scientists, activists, citizens and environmental groups, with the aim to massively mobilise people on the 5th of June, World Environment Day. We urge people to use any and every domain in the public sphere (streets protests, social media storms etc) to stand in solidarity with environmental struggles across the world.
Beyond the mobilisation on the 5th of June, we want to catalyse mass environmental action. We want the global community to rise up, network, and support local environmental struggles. From the mountains of Greece threatened by oil drilling to the Amazon"
This picture was taken during a protest by Άγρυπνοι Πολίτες / Agrypnoi Polites, The Awake Citizens in Athens.
Since an environmental bill that allows oil/gas drilling in NATURA protected areas in Greece, was voted on 16 days ago, a group of citizens called Άγρυπνοι Πολίτες / Agrypnoi Polites, The Awake Citizens has been peacefully gathering to protest, spending the whole night outside the Parliament.
We spoke with Melina, a ceramics artist and one of the people there:
"I was never in an environmental organization, nor did I engage in any form of activism. I have been living away for most of my adult life, due to the virus this is the longest I’ve stayed home in more than a decade. I joined the first gathering the day before the bill was voted on. The future this change brings is dark, what I love and need-the silence, the beauty, the wildlife- will be wiped out. The atmosphere was very pessimistic; I felt like there was nothing we could do, that made me feel deeply sad, weak, powerless, and mostly desperate.
As I have plenty of time in my hands right now, since the gathering I spent long hours in distress in front of my computer reading about the law, confused by the complexity of it all, the load of information, I kept thinking “what are we going to do?” An environmental organization I recently started following on Facebook proposed a meeting to discuss, I thought there it is! At least I can ask questions, get some things clear, I thought. I discovered a lot more than that. I found empowerment. If you start noticing those that make a difference, you realize resistance is actually possible, not only that, resistance is happening in many corners in Greece, people are changing the course of history right now, you just have to pay attention.
I texted back my friend, “no I’m not coming to the beach today, I have to go be a tree in front of the parliament”, she laughed of course and said she was proud of me. Admittedly I might have gone a bit mad, but taken the situation our whole planet is in I think I am excused. I wish I were a lawyer, that would be a lot more helpful right now but hey, I am who I am and I can offer my skills, and my presence. I need to educate myself, inform others, take part in as many actions as I can, raise awareness and remember that we can fight, we won’t always win, but at least that heart-breaking desperation can be alleviated in the company of those who are trying."
If you're in Athens, you can join them. They're holding a special event tomorrow: www.facebook.com/events/243058983457159/
To wrap up our #MothersDay series we've got cofounder Éadin O'Mahony's mum, Barbara, sharing her thoughts with us this evening:
"We have never lived such long lives as we do now and our lives seem much more comfortable as they did generations ago. Us women have many more opportunities and freedom than we ever had. I am proud of all of this and I don’t want to go back to the middle ages! But, I also see that we are losing the simplicity in life and this carries a very high cost.
The experience and joy of drinking pristine water, breathing fresh air in broadleaf woodlands and walking bare foot over healthy wildflower meadows is now a rare one. Losing clean water, air and soil is negatively affecting our health and wellbeing. And there we are; back as a sick society and a sick world. We need to act on the state of our planet or we will all suffer and there might be no future generations. It needs to be done now and no excuse should be accepted.
A BIG TASK!!!"
Penultimate post of our #MothersDay week, from Sine Fiennes, mother of our co-founder Sicily Fiennes and Francesca Paloma Fiennes:
“I remember the first time my twin daughters, Sicily and Francesca, aged about 8, came home from school and started talking about what they’d learnt that day about climate change and how we all had to help the world from being strangled by pollution, waste, emissions and the CFC levels breaking down the ozone layer. What impressed me was the sense of personal responsibility which had been been inspired in these two young girls, and this carries on to this day. At home we have always been conscious of what we put into our bodies and where the footprint of that food has been. It has always made sense to cycle as much as possible .... it’s a no brainer .... exercise and zero pollution. Being vegetarian for 30 years, and now fully vegan, for the last year is also an intuitive choice which benefits the climate along with many other pluses. I’ve always had an aversion to the big multi national corporations .... Kelloggs, Colgate, Unilever, Procter and Gamble etc and these products don’t come from the supermarket to our home! Now climate change is a very serious problem with sea levels rising, the ice caps melting, the seas heating up, coral and marine life suffering and it all speeding up even faster than scientists have predicted. Sicily especially has always campaigned strongly for raising awareness on this topic and our dinner table discussions are often based around this. But essentially to help the planet is a logical and intuitive gut feeling which I’ve always allowed myself. And as a mother of three intelligent and switched on daughters and the grandmother of one little cheeky scamp, I see it as my responsibility to act on and trust these instincts.”
Our next #MothersDay feature comes from Myrto's mom Hará (=Joy): fierce plant and flower protector, gorge explorer, and stray cat rescuer (yes, the house is full of cats!).
"I don’t believe that love and appreciation for nature depend on the generation one belongs to. What’s important is to have come into contact with the natural world from a young age and to have learned to respect it. Living side-by-side with people from the countryside, working alongside them gives you unique memories that later help you look at nature with love and awe. Yet, some young people tend to over-idolise nature and life in the villages because they haven’t come to know what it means to work in a field or fish in the sea for a living. These people may love nature from “afar” but they haven’t come to love it for its true rough and wild beauty. It’s different if you are only there on holiday. That said, I do also believe that younger generations are more sensitive to environmental degradation and climate change. They get informed, they act, and I think a big part of this generation truly cares for the natural world."
We continue our #MothersDay feature with longtime Climate Collective superfan and someone that has spent the last years bridging art and environment in Greece and abroad, Chris' mom, Nadja
"Out Into: dance like the sea, move with the branches, be moved by the fictitious sciences, read for the goats, think by the octopi, stray with the dogs, consider vampyroteuthis infernalis, fight for making oddkin, stay with the trouble, command like a witch, dream like an anarchist poet/ess, conjure the dead, dive with the birds, scrutinize entanglements, explore the multiverse, live in love."
Kicking off Mothers week with Mayra's Mother. Remember to talk to your own mammas as well and submit any stories if you want to 🙂 👩
"When I was a child growing up in the 70ies in a small town in West Germany my first personal encounter with mankind’s destructive intrusion into nature was the sudden abolishment of vast grasslands where wild flowers like golden butter cups, yarrows and violet bells were growing, and where bees, wasps and butterflies filled the air. One of these meadows, called “the Bilz”, was the hotspot of my childhood. My fellow friends and I would play there during long summer months in the shadows of old forgotten apple trees whose characteristics and branches we knew by heart as they became our spaceships, houses or castles. I still remember the sandy trail that crossed this large space. It changed with seasons, - from being muddy in autumn to being smooth in summer, and filled with ice to slip and slide on in Winter.
Through my youthful eyes I observed and could not understand how adults permitted that our lawn was from one day to the other overtaken by bull dozers and trucks. I still remember me crying and shouting in our kitchen. I don’t remember how my parents reacted but I know that they were not the kind of people who would protest, and I at that time did not know what to do. So I just screamed. Today I know, that crying when a tree falls or when nature is destroyed in front of your eyes, is not enough and I am very proud of children, who do protest in public. It’s so good to see so many young people claiming for clean rivers, healthy forests and meadows full of wild flowers."
Happy Mothers Day! We wanted to take a moment to honour all the amazing mothers at the moment, who especially in the coronavirus crisis are balancing work, kids, household, and holding everything (and themselves) together. That, and with the idea of 'mother earth' and gaia; it's important to take these times to reflect on how now is a time to rethink our relationship to the planet, to nature and wildlife and to each other. Each member of the climate collective has gotten a story of their moms which we will be releasing throughout the week! If you feel inspired to also talk to your moms (and dads!) about their own climate change thoughts please submit a story!
Next up we feature Agisilaos Koulouris, from Extinction Rebellion Hellas, talking about a campaign to withdraw a new environmental bill in Greece, which amongst other things permits oil/gas drilling within NATURA protected areas:
"In the midst of the corona virus pandemic, Greek people are in a lock down and the parliament is functioning with less than 10% of its MPs present, and thus unable to conduct a just democracy. At the end of April, the Greek government will try to pass a new law disgracefully named ''Modernization of the Environmental Legislation'' that effectively withdraws environmental regulations so that new ''investments'' can be made that will undoubtedly destroy the country's and subsequently the Earth's environment for the sake of short-term profit. We are witnessing the demolition of the democracy as this health crisis being treated as an opportunity by the right-wing neo-liberal government. And we need to act now.
This bill promotes hydrocarbon mining and withdraws regulations for oil and gas extraction while companies like Total, Repsol, Exxon-Mobil and Edison have been awarded licenses in 2018 to drill a sea area of 60.000 square kilometers that equals 30% of the country's mainland
Also in the making is a new pipeline project, the ‘’Eastern Mediterranean (EastMed)’’ that will transfer natural gas form Israel, through Cyprus, Greece, and into the rest of Europe and strengthen the fossil fuel industry.
These projects, are taking advantage of Greece's weak financial position that hasn't yet recovered from the 2008 crisis. Through these developments, the E.U. will achieve more energy independence from outside suppliers, thus saving billions of euros and increasing its strategical power. The caveat is that this process, sponsored by powerful EU countries and the fervently capitalist Greek government, will cause a whole country to be environmentally destroyed, inflicting suffering on the Greek people who will not benefit at all from these new sources of non-renewable energy. These happen inside the supposedly progressive E.U. that frequently points the finger at more authoritarian foreign governments, while it's house is burning. Make no mistakes, this the modernization of colonialism, not of the environmental law."
We need to stop this bill. Sign the petition here: www.change.org/p/να-αποσυρθεί-το-αντι-περιβαλλοντικό-νομοσχέδιο-withdrawal-of-the-anti-environmental-bill?utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=custom_url&recruited_by_id=3b67b475-3f0f-4b58-a9e8-ecf0a0e816f0
And follow Extinction Rebellion Hellas for more information!
Today we want to share with you the wonderful work of Transition University of St Andrews, who are tackling climate change with a whole range of interesting and hands-on approaches! 🥳
"In short, Transition University of St Andrews (Transition) is a community group of students, staff and local residents, initiated in 2009 as a response to climate change and economic uncertainty. We are a bottom-up approach to reducing dependency on fossil fuels and building community resilience. Like other towns in the Transition Network we see communities as the starting point for reimagining and rebuilding the world we live in. Our projects and activities are driven by the shared vision of people across St Andrews. The Transition movement is about feeling like you can make a difference in the world. It is about learning new skills, connecting with people and creating a new story for you and your local area.
Our work scopes themes like zero waste, smarter travel, local food, sustainable spaces, and research and climate literacy. Since 2012, we have saved 1250.51 tonnes of carbon equivalent. But it’s not the figures that fuel our action, it’s always been the energy of the people we’ve been lucky enough to work with. Our Transition community reaches a thousand more each year. As people come and go, it is a comforting thought to know these people continue to make a positive difference in their communities all over the world."
If you are in the St Andrews, Scotland, area make sure you keep an eye out for their events or pop on over to one of the many wonderful community gardens to stick your hands in the soil and reconnect with Nature herself 😉 Thank you for hard work Transition University of St Andrews!
*With the Australian bushfires slowly going "out of fashion" in the international media, we thought we'd offer you an overview of the situation. In this feature, Sophie Sievert-Kloster gives us a very informative account of the problems facing local fire brigades, ways to help affected areas, and the power of communities coming together in the wake of disaster.*
"The fires have been burning since September but only recently they have attracted such international media attention. Even though the bush fires are part of Australia’s ecosystem, contributing to the cycle of nature’s renewal and regrowth, the duration and scale of the fire season have changed dramatically over the past few years. This fire season has lasted almost 6 months now and even though it will hopefully end soon this is just the beginning… The effects of these fires will carry on for the foreseeable future and the bigger and longer these fire seasons get, the less local communities will be able to recover in between bushfire seasons. The same applies to the affected ecosystem.
Even though each state traditionally has its own rural fire brigade to mitigate the effects of the fires, with the exception of some more senior staff, the majority of firefighters are volunteers. Most of them come from rural communities and have other jobs too; working 15-hour shifts to fight fires places a really big burden on them both physically but also psychologically. Recently the Australian government introduced a scheme, where firefighters will start getting paid or receive a grant, but in my view, it’s too little too late. There have also been some issues with deployment and reaching affected communities on time, due to miscommunication from the government about its plans to deploy army reservists. Just in general, the government’s response to the crisis has been shocking. The PM still refuses to acknowledge climate change and its role in the bushfires. In fact, Denmark and Canada offered to send firefighters to Australia to help with the situation and were turned down by the Australian government.
Overall, there has been a big international response and fundraising movement, yet, what people often don’t realise is that their donations to certain organisations cannot be moved across states. So when specific wildlife rescue organisations or fire brigade units in New South Wales and Victoria, for example, receive the bulk of donations, other more neglected areas, which might be in greater or more urgent need of financial support, have no way of profiting from these funds. One of the best things you can do to help is to support local businesses in the affected communities, though this may be difficult for people abroad. For people who cannot financially contribute, one of the best things you can do is talk about it, raise awareness and understand the magnitude of these fires! … and if you’re Australian to vote and petition your local MPs demanding response. Another really cool way to help affected communities is to support local artists and authors who have often really come together to raise money and help their communities. The communities are honestly amazing in these kinds of crises. People were opening their homes, providing food, raising money to help rebuild burned houses, and it is these positive things I try to focus on."
Today we bring you the wonderful Allie Whalen — mother, blogger and environmental optimist, she shares her insights on getting kids involved in conservation and caring for their surroundings! 🥳
“When I talk with people about conservation or changes we've made in our lives, children are often my favorite audience. They have such a huge capacity for imagining ways to solve problems. It gives me so much hope when I spend time with kids working on conservation together. If we are serious about taking care of our oceans and making changes to improve the environment, then we must take the time to educate children and lead by example.
Kids are capable of so much more than we give them credit for. If you want to inspire the kids in your life to take action with conservation simply equip them with tangible ways they can help or educate them on issues facing our oceans. I have been teaching my kids about problems with plastic in the ocean and we have been watching different documentaries so when it came time to do our beach clean up they were stoked! We see the plastic problem every time we visit the beach. It was easy for them to see how we could make a difference.
We also invited some friends to join us because everything is more fun with friends. We gathered our trash bags, walked down to the beach, and after reminding the kids that we would play after picking up trash, we got to work! The older kids each took a trash bag and spread out grabbing trash like it was priceless treasure. It quickly turned into a competition to see who could fill their bag the most. Some of our favorite finds of the day were toothbrushes, golf balls and at least half a dozen shoes! Everyone we saw at the beach stopped to thank us for what we were doing. It was great for the kids to see that we were an example to others as well.
If you don't have easy access to a beach then pick any outdoor space where you live. It's the most fun for kids to focus their efforts on the place that they spend the most time. Kids will be so motivated by seeing their hard work pay off. You can build on that motivation to broaden your area of focus and start helping other communities. When kids start noticing how small changes make a big impact on the world around them, that desire to help will continue to have a snowball effect.
Please don't ever discount what kids can do to help. Remember to ask them their ideas (and listen!) and ask them what they think would be a good solution to reducing our use of plastic. There isn't a tried and true method of fixing the plastic in the ocean but reducing or eliminating disposable plastics will certainly have a positive impact. We will have a bright future indeed if we teach kids how to take care of our resources.“ — Allie Whalen
Have a wonderful weekend and stay environmentally positive, dear readers! 😘
Next up we feauture Marios Iacovides, talking about corruption and environmental degradation in Cyprus 🇨🇾🌴
"On a small place like Cyprus one grasps easily the relationship between environmental degradation, corruption, and social inequality.
Until recently, the island’s southeast coast near the Cavo Greco national park had been the only left untouched by mass tourism and developer exploitation n the area. Offering privacy and tranquility away from crowds, loud beach bars, and uncontrollable water sports, it used to attract nudists (nudism is still illegal in Cyprus) and people interested in snorkelling and was a rare haven for the island’s LGBTQ community.
Cyprus offers EU citizenship through real estate investment. This has created a luxury property bubble that – through systematic derogations from environmental regulations such as Natura 2000that have caused the European Commission’s condemnation – has left locals struggling to find affordable property and created the island’s first homeless people.
Some of these luxury properties are now being built close to the national park. The developers have created a “beach” for the rich owners, by encroaching on the coast and removing rocks that had been a habitat for marine life.
The land there is owned by the powerful Church of Cyprus. One of the villas has been sold to a Malaysian that was on Interpol lists for having embezzled public funds. He “donated” € 300 000 directly to the Archbishop of Cyprus, who then intervened on his behalf to the Minister of the Interior. The Minister convened the Council of Ministers, which within 24 hours had granted the Malaysian citizenship.
At the same time, thousands of refugees from war-stricken countries are locked up in camps awaiting for years for their asylum applications to be processed. And the island’s few remaining natural habitats get destroyed … It’s heartbreaking."
Today we are in ‘memorandum’ for Raphael Coleman, also known as Iggy Fox, our friend, collaborator and most featured person of the Climate Collective 🌏
Thank you for inspiring everyone with your fierce passion and love for the environment. Celebrated Extinction Rebellion activist and founder of The Wildlife Workers Network.
Here are some words from his mother:
“Beloved Raphael, beloved Iggy-
You were a force of nature, and now you are a new kind of force : you are atoms of chlorophyll, you are water, you are an ants nest, you are moss on a stone, a birds feather, a wolf’s paw print, a tiger, a tree, a praying mantis, a stingray, a squirrel. You are the sky and the sea and the forests and the mountains and the marshes and the deserts and everything in between. With your scientist’s and your writer’s eye, I think that’s how you’d see it.
You didn’t believe in heaven because you knew heaven was here on Earth. You saw it clearly and you helped others see it. It’s all here. All we could ever wish for or need us is all around us.
I feel my life is over because your life - your physical life, your life in that multiply tattooed and apparently healthy young body - is over. But you wouldn’t want me or anyone else to think that. I know -so deeply and so strongly that you could be sitting next to me holding my hand and telling me this, that sadness and grief are part of the human cycle and that nobody is immune. And that Homo sapiens is amazing and inventive and joyful as well as selfish and destructive. And that our natural urge to do the right thing is what we must hang on to - and what must triumph - if our civilisation is to remain decent and our world worth living in.
I will forever see you in the kindness of strangers, in the comradeship of people with a common cause, in family love, in friendship, and in the passion of our fellow activists. You are with us now just as you are with all those honoured to have a place in that big generous heart of yours, a heart that failed far far too soon.
Let’s celebrate him, with love and rage in our hearts : love for him and for this planet , rage against the injustices and damage knowingly inflicted by its elected and non elected leaders.
But mostly, love.”
When he passed he was doing anti-poaching training in South Africa. Let’s do Raph proud and fight for a future he can’t be part of but fought so hard to achieve.
A new and exciting socio-cultural initiative is starting in Athens: Generation Symbiocene, bridging art, community and nature 🌿 We spoke with their coordinating team:
"GEN (S) is a community working towards repairing the emotional connection between humans and the rest of the living world, starting in Athens through the creation of a space of expression and the organization of artistic workshops in parks.
It all started recently when we were discussing our eco-anxiety and looking for ways to exit the wrongly coined « Anthropocene». Inspired by the positive and hopeful story of the Symbiocene, a term invented by Glenn Albrecht defining a new era of companionship in human-nature relationships, we decided is was time to change the narrative and to cultivate naturecultures (nature and culture being inextricable concepts). One of us took part in the START - Create Cultural Change program, and Generation Symbiocene was born !
Starting on February 13th, we'll be inviting people interested in the Symbiocene to meet with us every two weeks in order to build the GEN (S) community.
From March to May, join us in the parks of Athens to (re)connect with the natural world through creative writing, music, movement and story-telling ! We've also prepared a scavenger hunt & painting activity for the little ones 😀
If you want to know more about us and our actions, come talk to us next Wednesday (05.02, 18.00-21.00) at Raraou: www.facebook.com/events/513718162835573/ "
Soon after the global Fridays For Future began, a group of academics and concerned citizens started Researchers Desk to directly link academics and people and address common questions around the environment and climate change. We spoke with their founder, Toya:
"Researchers Desk was born 24/5-2019 at the 2nd Global School Strike For Future.
More and more climate related researchers are joining as we move forward in our aim to make the urgency of the climate disruptions known to, and understood by Everyone.
We give Street Lectures, hold classes and lectures as well as being available for discussions and Q&A's."
Co-founder Sicily Fiennes spoke to Dawa, an advocate and campaigner for Tibetan climate and social justice. Here is his story:
S: Why have you come today?
D: I came to join the Global Climate Strike and I’m trying to create awareness about my own homeland, Tibet. Tibet is known as the 3rd pole. We have 2 poles we know of and Tibet is the ‘3rd pole’. Tibet is the highest plateau in the world and holds the largest freshwater reservoir in Asia. The climate effect is happening faster in Tibet than the north and south poles.
D: Glaciers are melting, more than 1.4 billion people in Asia rely on the rivers of Tibet, so it’s affecting them.
S: What do you think of governments are doing about it? They’re making all of these weak commitments but 2050… it feels too late for me.
D: It’s not too late, at least the younger generations are doing something the leaders should have done a long time ago, but they missed it. But it’s ok, we now have a generation who belongs to the 21st century, they have the power. Within 30 years, they’ll be the new leaders- that’s a really hopeful sign.
As Cop25cl comes to an end, many young people express anger and frustration over its outcomes. But we must remain optimistic! Nick Fitzpatrick:
"Sat bewildered in my FlixBus seat at the start of a two-day journey back to Sweden, I attempted to gather my thoughts on the latest dismal attempt to slow down civilisation from heading towards the cliff. Was the ninety hour return bus really worth it?
This was my third COP, and despite a hectic schedule of events, I left Madrid more convinced that indigenous peoples and youths call for action are falling on deaf ears. They definitely heard us (and kicked us out) but still emissions continue to rise. That’s of course unless you double count reductions, use Kyoto credits and play with dodgy carbon markets to inequitably solve the climate dilemma. Sorry but when has the ‘market’ ever been equitable for all? But at least now countries will be able to access loss and damage finance under the Green Climate Fund…if only it didn’t take almost a year to get money from it. Imagine trying to rebuild your only hours that was destroyed and being told you have to wait 365 days? Surely we can do better than this...
Despite the fluffy bottom-up nature of the Paris Agreement, it was clear this time is our last chance to address humans ever-increasing impact on the planet. At a time when economic growth is still unquestionable and CO2 emissions have grown more than 65% since the formation of the UNFCCC process it is clear as day that we are nowhere near ready to tackle this problem together.
It’s obvious we need to try our hand at transformative action elsewhere…don’t give up! Let’s begin practicing a truly sustainable post-growth future."
At Cop25cl we spoke with a delegation of indigenous Ecuadorian people and we asked them about indigenous representation in this year's climate negotiations:
"First of all, indigenous rights should be acknowledged and respected. What the United Nations need to do is support the existing initiatives by indigenous people on the frontlines around the world. We are tired of our governments ignoring us. With fires in Brazil, Asia, Africa, North America this is a crucial year. We need to fight for respect" ✊🌳
📷: Agisilaos Koulouris
At Cop25cl we met with Icelandic environmental advocate Aðalbjörg Egilsdóttir, who shares with us how Iceland is not as environmentally friendly as people would like to think... 🇮🇸
"I have been doing all that I can but I still don’t feel like it is enough. I have been striking, calling for more action inside my university, working on climate education, but I feel like I’m not being heard. The Icelandic government says that they’re listening but they’re not showing it.
We actually asked our government to declare a climate emergency. We met with a few ministers with our demands and also an action plan. They refused. When they’re on international platforms, like here on COP25, they talk about how great they are and how much they’ve done, but we change our heating and electricity to renewables decades ago and barely anything has happened since. We’re just constantly increasing our carbon footprint and if you look at our international carbon footprint it’s the third highest in the world. And it’s like they don’t realize that we need more action, we need them to take this seriously and do what needs to be done. We have presented them with ideas and demands. The only thing they need to do is act on it.
Even though I don’t feel like I’m being heard, I have to keep going, and I will. I will be vocal here at #cop25, I will be vocal at the climate strikes when I come back home, at work and at the university. I just hope that they will actually start to listen soon."
Reporting from Cop25cl, Australia is gathering a very bad reputation for its climate record. As fires are raging in the country, Maike Puracal shares her experiences 🔥:
"This is the new normal and I'm scared"
"Australia is experiencing its worst bushfire season on record, and it’s not even peak summer yet. Gross land and water mismanagement and a hotter and drier climate has cause the most horrific annihilation of world heritage bush land, as well as its wildlife and people’s homes and lives. Over 1.5 million hectares have already been completely destroyed, including world heritage Gondwana rainforest in the north of New South Wales, the oldest rainforest in the world. Sub-tropical rainforest areas which have always been too wet to burn have been razed to the ground. We thought we were safe in Sydney, but the city has been choked by smoke for over a month now as the outer suburbs burn. A lack of wind has left a relentless smoke haze across the city, affecting our health and obstructing the sky with an orange glow.
The Morrison government’s response to this ongoing tragedy was to encourage families who have lost their homes to get excited for the upcoming season of cricket. The only real action so far has been a $48 million dollar recovery pledge to affected farmers, which farmers described as a “drop in the bucket”. Nothing about cutting emissions, nothing about protecting the landscape and wildlife. The summer is only going to get hotter and already this year more records than ever have been broken for high temperatures and low rainfall, but the people in power continue to deny climate change and line their pockets with big coal companies.
This morning I went to collect my washing from the backyard and found it covered in a film of ash. The morning news warned the smoke won’t ease anytime soon and to avoid exercising outdoors. Growing up we always joked we’d eventually have to all move south when climate change makes Sydney too hot, but scientists are warning that already this summer we’ll be reaching 50 degrees if nothing drastic is done. This is the new normal and I’m scared.
As the Cop25cl continues in Madrid, we highlight more stories of people who are taking on the most urgent socio-environmental struggles back in Chile.
"“I have been living in Chile for almost three years and never expected to see protests like we have seen for the past six weeks. I was actually out of the country when they started and it’s illegal for foreigners to participate. In the wake of the COP25 being moved to Spain, six local environmental organizations got together last weekend to clean the river that runs through Santiago, the Mapocho - which is a form of protest that foreigners CAN participate in!
The movement was called #mapochorioabajo. I am thrilled to see Chilean activists at the COP25 speaking up about the environmental implications of the socioeconomic inequalities in Chile. The sign on the bridge reads ‘Chile sacrifices the environment and communities for industrial development. The social crisis is also environmental.’ The cleanup was very tough and eye-opening. We found mattresses, broken bottles, escooters, and even dead animals. It is clear that the city is not paying enough attention to its waterways. As one of the longest coastlines in the world, Chile has a responsibility to take care of its water!”
Solidarity and power to the people of Chile! 🌍✊
Our team is currently at Cop25cl, where representatives of all Governments have gathered to finalize negotiations on the Paris Agreement. The Conference would initially be hosted by Chile, but due to weeks of social unrest, Spain stepped in to host the event instead. One of our followers urged us to highlight the deep-rooted social (and environmental) injustices that the Chilean Government is inflicting on its people.
"I would like you guys to keep us in mind because part of what people are asking the government of Chile is about the climate. The main topic however, is a new society where we respect each other and that also includes taking care of the environment."
The Climate Collective Team has always firmly believed that the social and environmental crises that our world is facing are inextricably linked and should always be viewed in that way. We stand in solidarity with all people fighting for a more equitable and environmentally just world. ✊🌍
We spoke to Mr. Austin, a macaw, at the Global Climate Strike. He’s hear because global warming is destroying his homeland, the rainforest.
He believes in Fridays for Future
We spoke with Marc Delalonde, who is a cultural manager and a current fellow at START - Create Cultural Change:
"I was studying ancient history when my "awakening" happened. Hearing about the ecological crisis, I started to watch documentaries, to read reports and articles, and to change many things in my life, beginning with cutting meat out of my diet. When offered with a PhD to continue my research, something I had been dreaming of for years, I suddenly felt it wasn't right. I could not hide anymore and live my life like I didn't know what was happening to nature.
I chose to start over, to work for change through culture and art. Why? Because these are tools we can use to deconstruct the social and cultural representations upon which our (capitalist) society is based, which sees nature and culture as opposite concepts. If we are to put a stop to the ongoing ecological disaster, we have to understand that we, as humans, are part of nature. It is essential to (re)connect to the Earth. We need a natureculture!
It's time to change the narrative wrongly coined as the "Anthropocene", which tells a story of failure and irreversible collapse. We cannot protect something we don't care for, and we cannot care for something we don't love and respect. This is where art can be a powerful agent of change, because it generates emotions.
Art should be a tool used to tell a different story, a story of hope and symbiosis (“living together”) between humans and the rest of the natural world. This is what I am working on at the moment for my next project in Greece, which will hopefully come to life soon!"
Project link: www.startgreece.net/fellows/marc-delalonde
Photo credits: Emmanouela Kyriakopoulou and Johanna Ochner
Photo descriptions: 2.Project Symbio(s)Art in Hamburg, Germany (21-31 October 2019) in the frame of @START – Create Cultural Change. Autumn is when hedgehogs prepare for hibernation. Children learned about the needs of hedgehogs and built a small house for them to be safe/warm during winter.
3. They also learned about the animal's life and ecosystem through painting. ©Johanna Ochner
4. Meanwhile, a group of adults of all ages wandered through the park and wrote down what they could see, hear, smell, touch, as well as emotions they experienced. ©Johanna Ochner
5. Feeling inspired, they wrote an excerpt of their "Sumbiography": the story of their life from the perspective of nature! ©Johanna Ochner
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