Culture

Please Stop Ruining The Planet For Us: An Open Letter To The Government, From Young People

"You are playing games with climate change. We aren’t. We don’t have the luxury."

Yesterday you showed us just how much you don’t get it. During question time in Parliament, you pulled out a lump of coal, passing it around the front bench like it was a puppy in the office.

For you, it was hilarious. You used it to tell us coal was wonderful, guffawing at your own brilliance. Forgetting the 3,000 Australians who die of air pollution every year, you told us not to worry; coal can’t possibly harm us.

This also came at the end of a fortnight of utter capitulation to the coal lobby. You want to strip money away from renewables and spend it on new coal-fired power stations instead. You’ve been on a cynical mission to mislead the public and blame renewables for power shortages. And don’t even get me started on your ‘clean coal’ horseshit. Not even 2010 Malcolm Turnbull buys that.

But perhaps most catastrophically, you’re still ready to hand over $1 billion to a dangerous company facing corruption allegations with a history of environmental destruction to help it build the monstrous Carmichael coal mine.

You’re playing games with climate change. We aren’t. We don’t have the luxury.

The thing is, you’re going to die before us. By a long way, and you know it. So while you spend your years on your parliamentary pension, surrounded by an accumulated wealth that makes you feel safe, know that we’ll be spending our time differently.

We’ll be spending our time cleaning up your mess. We will be living with your grandchildren in a world that is worse under any conceivable measure, because of your choices. Your Phyrric victory, our consequences.

We’ll be scrambling to defend our land after yet another bushfire season, even longer and more devastating than the year before. We’ll be rebuilding the homes along the coast that were lost to rising sea levels. (Including yours, Malcolm).

We’ll be working out how to grow food in a climate that subjects us to extreme heat and long droughts. We’ll be working out what to do when there isn’t enough food at all. We’ll be working out plans to harbour hundreds of thousands of climate refugees, because locking people up offshore in conditions tantamount to torture doesn’t cut it with us either.

We’ll be trying to stop wars between countries that don’t have enough water. We’ll be dealing with a perpetual and unrelenting diplomatic crisis because there just won’t be enough resources for everyone. As a population, we’ll agonise over how to distribute our resources between global famines and disasters.

While doing this, we’ll also be doing everything we can to make amends for what you (and prior callous, lopsided governments) have done to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people whose land has been destroyed without their consent.

You somehow got so deluded and lost in your own political point-scoring and moral cowardice you forgot about the actual consequences of what you’re meant to be doing. Well here’s a reminder; that consequence is us. We will spend the rest of our lives cleaning up the mess of your cheap ideology. You have the luxury of governing in a world where you will never have to live with your consequences.

But it’s not too late to turn it around if you really want to. You know the answers already. Stop undermining our renewable energy industry and finally let it flourish. Stop handing out billions of dollars in fossil fuel subsidies. Make a transition plan for workers and shut down our outdated, dangerous coal-fired power stations. And please, please stop building new coal mines.

It’s not even politically risky, public sentiment is already in our favour. The world is changing whether you’re ready for it or not. We’re about to take over, and in whatever spare time we can find when we aren’t dealing with the disasters you caused, you can be sure we won’t be kind writing about you in our history books.

Feature image via BRJ Inc / Flickr

Sam Regester is a Campaigns Director with @GetUp. He wants coal in the ground and solar panels on our roofs. He tweets at @samregester.