Politics

Here Are All The Politicians Who Think Naughty Children Shouldn’t Protest The Climate Apocalypse

Bill Shorten, who couldn't find a spine in a chiropractor's, reckon the kids should protest "on the weekend."

Climate Strike

A few days ago, the UN released a landmark report on climate change that confirmed what many scientists have long feared: three degrees of warming is now ‘locked in’ for the Arctic region.

That might not sound like much, but the knock-on effects are disastrous. Even if we overhauled our entire fossil fuel industry tomorrow, declaring a national emergency and immediately shifting over to renewables — which we absolutely won’t — it still wouldn’t halt the melting of the Arctic ice.

More than that, the melting of the Arctic ice will in turn guarantee more warming. Ocean acidification will make the air unbreathable. Entire cities will have to be abandoned. Food production will be disrupted, increasing the risk of famine and disease. And more warming will come. As journalist Naomi Klein put it in her treatise This Changes Everything, “once we allow temperatures to climb past a certain point, where the mercury stops is not in our control.”

These things are not about to happen. They are currently happening. And yet some of Australia’s leading politicians reckon that there’s a more pressing issue to be considered: children not missing a single morning of school.

Yes, that’s right, according to politicians on both sides of the aisle, not to mention a range of political commentators, children shouldn’t be spending today attending a historic and important climate strike. They should be sitting in a classroom.

Some of the usual conservative suspects have complained about the climate strike — Daisy Cousens, Andrew Bolt and Scott Morrison have all offered their distinctly out of touch and unwanted two cents, with the latter saying that schools need “more learning” and “less activism.” Which is bullshit, of course — nothing about scientific facts is “activism” — but it’s predictable bullshit, given that our Prime Minister has spent his entire career slavishly dogwhistling the climate change denying and racist far right.

What is less predictable is the vitriol some Liberals have reserved for the strike. The NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes, for example, has stressed to 2GB that those attending the climate strike are breaking the law.

“The law is clear and always had been, kids are required to be at school on school days,” he said, presumably while lacking the self-possession to realise that it might be bad optics to appear on a radio station in order to threaten children piss-scared over their dystopian future with jail.

Meanwhile, Christopher Pyne has voiced his disapproval for the strike with the bizarre argument that climate change is “inevitable.” Yep, that’s right kids, according to a man so politically sharp he’s best remembered for that one time he enjoyed riding a tram, the slow and painful collapse of all human civilisation is just one of those things.

More disappointing still has been the typically soggy response from the man supposedly deemed with heading up Australia’s major opposition party, Billy “Checks Notes” Shorten. Shorten, who couldn’t find a spine at a chiropractor, did acknowledge that the children have a right to protest and that the government’s inaction on climate change is startling.

But he also stressed that the children should do their protesting outside school hours. Which is not how a strike works, for the record, and is something that you’d expect the head of the country’s Labour movement to understand.

“In an ideal world,” Shorten told reporters, “they would protest after school hours and on weekends.”

No Bill, in an ideal world, children wouldn’t have to do the job of their elected officials and take a stand on the encroaching war-decimated, famine-ruined, burning hellscape that they’re going to have to call a home.