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Canberra bushfires in 2003, during which four people died and 470 homes were destroyed.
where it should be. Why are there not masses on the streets – not just marching, but occupying buildings and government offices en masse? Why is half the population still voting in favour of continuing to destroy the very biosphere that keeps them alive? Why are you, personally, not taking this matter fully in hand? Obviously, the answers are complex. An AEU ACT Climate Committee? What can we do in the face of that? First, we can come to grips with the enormity of what we face. This is not meant to induce depression, though it may, at times, and with reason. But it is important to face reality as best it can be known. The responses we hear about at the moment are not sufficient. Mucking about with long-life electric bulbs, a few solar panels, a bit of recycling… these are the responses of thirty years ago, when perhaps we had the luxury of tinkering at the micro-level. We no longer do. The big gap in the social move-
ments that have developed has been the lack of union involvement. Faced with neoliberal legal regimes, unions have been driven back into concern with pay and conditions, to the point where members think this is what unions are about. Unions used to shape this country. We must step up again. What could we as AEU members do? I suppose there are two areas. • As members of society and unionists, we might decide to: • Set up an educational process, via our own branch leadership and UnionsACT, to encourage other ACT unions to become involved • Find ways for other members to materially engage with the issue, whether through personal divestment or other means • Engage with pushing the issue through electoral means. • As teachers, we can bring together or develop materials for other teachers on topics such as:
• ‘The Anthropocene’ and its implications • Planetary boundaries and their implications • Using school gardens as sites to educate students about the carbon cycle, perhaps in partnership with the CSIRO (what methods lead to least carbon loss/greatest sequestration, and how do we measure it?) These are only suggestions. I don’t want to be prescriptive. The membership of this committee will decide what to do. The difficulty is the gap between what needs to be done, and our customary view of what it’s appropriate for us to do as people who don’t identify as ‘activists’. The time is past now when that distinction has any meaning.
Would you like to become a founding member of the AEU ACT Climate Committee? Email email@example.com to express your interest. AEU ACT BRANCH