#ExtinctionRebellion: a movement goes global

“We refuse to bequeath a dying planet to future generations by failing to act now. We act in peace, with ferocious love of these lands in our hearts. We act on behalf of life.” — #ExtinctionRebellion

Strategically timed to help support the global day of climate action on Saturday 17 November – with demonstrations and civil disobedience expected in a dozen or so countries – in Melbourne Climate Guardians heralded the Australian chapter of the international #ExtinctionRebellion movement calling for radical action to address the escalating global climate emergency.

London’s Parliament Square during the #ExtinctionRebellion day of action on 17 November 2018. Image courtesy of Fields of Light Photography

In London on Saturday thousands of #ExtinctionRebellion protesters occupied five bridges across the Thames, leading to 85 arrests. These arrests follow many others in the UK during recent months, as more and more people are prepared to engage in peaceful civil disobedience to defend the living systems we all depend on. “The ‘social contract’ has been broken … [and] it is therefore not only our right but our moral duty to bypass the government’s inaction and flagrant dereliction of duty and to rebel to defend life itself,” said Gail Bradbrook, one of the #ExtinctionRebellion organisers.

Police gathered and were cordial, making no attempts to prevent Climate Guardians from conducting their prominent #ExtinctionRebellionOz ‘photo shoot’

No longer content with rallies, petitions and marches, the focus of the #ExtinctionRebellion movement is direct action, with people prepared not only to be arrested, but also to go to jail in large numbers. “This preparedness for sacrifice, a long history of political and religious revolt suggests, is essential to motivate and mobilise people to join an existential struggle. It is among such people that you find the public and civic sense now lacking in government. That we have to take such drastic action to defend the common realm shows how badly we have been abandoned,” said UK writer and long-time activist George Monbiot.

Join Australia’s School Strike 4 Climate, Friday 30 November

“Why bother to learn anything in school if politicians won’t pay attention to the facts?” Greta Thunberg, September 2018

Only the strongest possible action can preserve a livable planet for our children and theirs. Please join us in supporting the global #ExtinctionRebellion movement, and its Australian chapter #ExtinctionRebellionOz.

 

BOAA Performance: ‘Visitation to Lake Wendouree’

It was a great pleasure and privilege for the Climate Guardians to perform at the inaugural Biennale of Australian Art (BOAA, until 6 Nov) and to contribute to the Art and Activism public discussion last weekend.

The mass of toxic petrochemical waste at the Angel’s feet signifies all fossil fuels and our consumer-driven, take-away economy

Presenting the work of 150 artists, showing more than 1500 artworks across 65 solo exhibitions, the Lakeside Sculpture Walk, The Great Australian Landscape, performance art events, BOAA Dark projects and major street installations, BOAA “tells Australian stories; stories of our past, present and future—reflecting what it means to be Australian today.”

‘Seed’ Nicolas Uhlmann

An Angel carries a hand-painted globe by artist Kate Durham, filled with deep red feathers worn by Climate Guardians during the COP21 Red Line action in Paris as the Paris Agreement was being negotiated.

The backdrop for this performance was largely a re-enactment of an action we staged in the moat of the National Gallery of Victoria as VIP ‘high level collectors’ were arriving for a private dinner with the Board of directors

Defying the deeply cynical ‘political’ framing of those unable to defend their anti-social and anti-environment views, the Climate Guardians proudly presented a performance piece challenging all people who are putting the short-term, vested interests of highly destructive, entrenched industries ahead of human rights and a liveable planet.

People choosing careers in industries that pollute, poison and destroy the natural world, as well as undermining the fabric of society, do not belong in leadership positions

By our definition, ‘being political’ is to publicly, non-violently express one’s care for how others in the community, and in communities all around the world, will be impacted by our governments’ policies and by corporations’ actions. It is to meaningfully engage in democratic processes to ensure that our socio-political and economic systems are fair and sustainable, and that leaders with conflicts of interest are held to account. Caring about human rights and justice now and in the future demands that we urgently call for an emergency-scale response to the mounting climate crisis. Failure is not an option.

Loreto Point, Lake Wendouree, Ballarat, 13 October 2018

Welcome to Country

Performed by Deanne Gilson, a proud Wathaurung woman and artist from Ballarat. Deanne’s art practice deals with the objectification of Aboriginal women by the male colonial gaze and the loss of traditional practices and culture through colonisation.

Deanne is also undertaking a PhD into Aboriginal womens’ business.

Selected from a highly collaborative project driven by Anne Elvey, the Plumwood Mountain Journal’s Hope for Whole: Poets Speak Up to Adani poems were read by poet and academic Dr Ann Vickery with classical guitar accompaniment by Rick Sabbatini.

Rick Sabbatini on guitar and Ann Vickery reciting poetry with support from Pippa Bailey

Recipe for a Giant Pickle by Anne Casey

Take one shovel

A big, big       BIG     shovel

Dig one hole

A big, big     BLACK   hole

Extract all carbon in form of coal (approximately 2.3 billion tonnes)

Reserve for later

Into the big, big       BIG     BLACK     hole, pour:

All rights of the Wangan, Jagalingou and Juru indigenous people

Slowly adding:

120 billion litres of groundwater (if available)

Futures of Carmichael, Thompson, Barcoo, Diamantina, Flinders, Bulloo and Warrego rivers

Stir well before adding:

Lake Buchanan, Lake Galilee, Betts Creek, and as many small aquifers of the

Galilee and Great Artesian basins as you can get your hands on

(quantities subject to seasonal variation)

Slowly slide sand and soil of:

75,000 square kilometres of the Desert Uplands

into the big, big       BIG     BLACK   hole

Using a sharp-bladed mixer, carefully blend in:

Large quantities and varieties of unique fauna – particularly Black Throated Finch

(Add Wallum Frogs and Sugar Gliders for colour and sweetness)

Now add:

Over 14,000 species of irreplaceable indigenous flora – particularly rare boronia

(the rarer, the better)

Tip the remaining ingredients in and cover up:

23 laws relating to financial rectitude

Several large handfuls of environmental protection statues

One billion dollars of Australian taxpayers’ money

Sixty-nine thousand reef tourism jobs

(10,000 jobs should rise out of the mixture to balance acidity)

You can now discard:

The strongly held opinions of 12 million Australians, as well as

Australia’s international reputation

While you are waiting, take the 2.3 billion tonnes of carbon reserved earlier, and:

Slowly simmer one small blue planet

Climate Scientist Speaks by Helen Moore

The Sibyl, with frenzied mouth uttering things not to be laughed at, unadorned and unperfumed, yet reaches to a thousand years with her voice by aid of the god – Heraclitus

Our integrated Earth system is a thing of beauty –

the work of algorithms and differential equations.

In the calm of the lab, I sit by a plasma screen observing

the kaleidoscopic patterns of sea ice concentrations.

Through the laws and logic focussing my mind, I peer into the future.

Arachne, our super-computer, makes 600 trillion calculations

per second, weaves scenes of spiralling instability.

With a tap on my touchscreen, I look through distant eyes in the sky –

polar orbiters that monitor deep-water currents, surface

temperatures and melting rates of glaciers and ice sheets.

Data drops into my office like subterranean water

in a limestone cave, leaving ever more profound impressions.

Often I’m gazing thousands of years into the past,

analysing cryospheric systems, evidence from borings in icecaps –

those giant, glassy scrolls chronicling periods of global heating

and cooling. Unforeseen results appear like rays of sunlight

piercing the atrium of a temple; then my mind fledges hypotheses

that rise on thermal currents. I race to track them down,

start the next phase of rigorous assessment. –

When the media publishes my findings, or I report with colleagues

to Congress, there’s always the hope that this time

our work will make a difference. Mostly I feel as if I’m speaking

with addicts on the subject of their habit –

the harm it’s doing them and others, the denial of this truth.

Back home, I well up as my kids play at being adults –

their make-believe shaped by the only world they know.

O, but my angels, the unravelling web …

‘Climate Scientist Speaks’ was first published in Uncivilised Poetics (Dark Mountain Project).

Net Worth by Dr Ann Vickery

Goodbye mangroves, goodbye coral around the Mundra coast

So long Bombay duck, the poles are empty now

ash pond, ash fall

What is the kutchi word for sorrow?

Say hello $2.60 a day for a twelve year old to cart water

12 hours a day, 6 days a week.

A wash of cholera, a weep of food, the rewards of cheap energy.

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night

Twilight ties this reef knot across cultures,

binding those who know the ground

now ungrounded. How do you coin loss, what keepsake is currency

that burns through generations? We drown in dark pools,

test the depths of a stream with both feet,

snared in the nets by those who can name

a price on everything but the value of nothing.

Italics from Paul Celan’s ‘Death Fugue’ translated by Michael Hamburger.

Longtime ClimActs collaborator Senior Producer Pippa Bailey

Climate Guardian’s final message was delivered by producer/director Pippa Bailey

Thank you Deanne for that beautiful welcome to country. The Climate Guardians acknowledge the Watharung People and pay our respects to elders, past present and emerging. So, to ensure no doubts of our messaging intentions, it is a privilege to be their spokesperson. Please allow us a few points of clarification. The Climate Guardians work is actually designed as activism, to intercept, typically through bold, non-violent direct actions so it’s a welcome challenge for us to stage something where the police don’t arrive.

And this performance was largely a re-enactment of an action we staged in the moat of the National Gallery of Victoria as VIP ‘high level collectors’ were arriving for a private dinner with the Board of directors. Our targets on that occasion were a number of extremely rich and influential people on the NGV’s board and it’s powerful Foundation. These people have long careers in industries that pollute, poison and destroy the natural world. One in particular has also been instrumental in establishing and bankrolling deceptive, tax-exempt industry groups to drive aggressive campaigns that deny science and ultimately undermine the transition to socially and environmentally sustainable alternatives.

Yes, you heard that correctly, they get tax breaks for misleading and deceiving policy makers and the public in order to further enrich themselves regardless of the consequences.

So, that mass of toxic petrochemical, post-consumer waste over there signifies all fossil fuels. Roughly 2000 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas already polluting the Earth’s atmosphere may be invisible, but our oceans and rivers and landscapes are clearly not filling up with plastic all by themselves. The amount of plastic produced in a year now approximates the entire weight of humanity. And as we’ve heard this week, with the release of the latest, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, scientists are running out of words to describe the urgency of the mounting climate crisis. So, how should we feel knowing that it’s the very same industries responsible for destroying our atmosphere and the future of Every living thing, have invested more than $180bn (that’s so far revealed) in petrochemical manufacturing plants?

Now, just imagine if the efforts poured into trawling the planet in search of more resources to extract, was instead put into further advancing existing closed loop, socially and environmentally sustainable alternatives—including astounding developments in farming methods that combines cutting edge sustainable technologies with ancient indigenous approaches to meet all basic and reasonable human needs while at the same time repairing and regenerating damaged ecosystems upon which all life depends?

Yes, another cleaner fairer world is possible. It’s already blossoming in local communities, in site-specific models that are also globally connected through grassroots groups eagerly sharing their learning.

Whilst climate change is simply the most critically urgent of the crisis we face and related to hot topics such as energy, aged care, health, the media, finance or food. It now feels like all lights are blinding us to reveal a seismic, global socio-political and economic reckoning. It demands our focus now more than ever.

So let’s remind ourselves how very blessed we are to live relatively incredibly comfortably, in a society where we are relatively free to speak freely. And determine to recruit more, and more informed voices. And to help make those voices louder, more clear and direct.

We are here in an arts festival. The angels are sometimes uncomfortable in this frame because they are not spectacle, they are serious activists prepared to risk life and limb to stop bulldozers and wake people up. So please pay attention to these important questions.

Why would our Federal Arts & Communications minister Mitch Fifield repeatedly bypass the ABC’s independent nomination panel to stack our national broadcaster’s board with industry representatives—such as the Chair of the Minerals Council of Australia, Vanessa Guthrie, who has zero experience in journalism, or education or broadcasting? Why do we have Ministers with deep ties to the Institute of Public Affairs, the highly deceptive industry front group that is leading the most aggressive attacks on democratic system including the ABC’s editorial independence—ironically under the banner of freedom of speech? And why is Gina Rhinehart so secretive about bankrolling the Institute of Public Affairs and why does she get a tax deduction for it?

And why has Fifield appointed Rio Tinto’s former Chief Executive, who left hurriedly under a cloud over a widely reported bribery scandal—the international investigation of which is still underway—as The Chair of the Australia Council?* This effectively means that Australia’s career artists are at the mercy of someone who has spent their career in one of the world’s most polluting companies in an industry founded on extracting and exploiting, and notorious for dealing with dictators. And, note that Walsh also sits on the Board of Mitsui & Co, a company with oil, gas and coal operations in Australia and all around the world.

People choosing to stand in the way of efforts to transition to a cleaner, fairer world are dangerous and hiding in plain sight—in powerful positions in our parliaments and in prestigious roles on the Boards of our proud cultural institutions—its intolerable. Meanwhile, we must step up efforts to shut down the market for the vast reserves of coal, oil and gas that is the foundation of their power and wealth. Already more than 7 trillion has been divested from fossil fuels by 988 financial institutions, and counting.

And we’ve never had greater capacities to expose agendas and hold leaders to account.

There are so many brilliant, local grassroots based campaigns doing incredible work using a diverse range of strategic and collaborative tactics. So, if you haven’t connected with one yet, we implore you to. Meanwhile, please follow Climate Guardia on Twitter.

Finally giant wing-fulls of thanks for being with us and most especially to the wonderful director of BOAA, Julie Collins, and the brilliant poets and organisers of Plumwood Mountain’s inspiring Hope for Whole: Poets Speak Up to Adani project in support of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners who are fighting to defend their lands from Adani and the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments. Please join us in donating to their Defence of Country Fund.

And we all must do more. That is the message today. More renewable, decentralised power to you!

Our divine BOAA cast

 

* As the Chair of the Australia Council, Sam Walsh is receiving $59,780 (and possibly an additional $9,680) per year.

Coral Bleach: Queen of Global Neo-COALonial Movement

Queens, Tiaras & Lump of Aussie Coal

It was World Threatened Species Day, which resonated deeply with us Coal Diggers given the mounting, grave threats we face from the lefty-greenie-driven global uptake of solar and wind extractors!   🌞🌀

A little ‘political donation’ to tempt Adam Bandt

Determined to protect our specie’s way of life (and our effluence💰), at all costs, we decided to reach out to HRH The Queen. After all, without the Monarchy, us Coal Diggers would never have become so divinely enriched and entitled in the first place, right? 🔑👑

CEO2 Coral Bleach & Special Attorney Lignite Pitt QC from BUMS* plan their next hostile takeover

Fortuitously we ascertained that 1) as Australians, it’s our birthright to be granted a portrait of our Queen, and that 2) our local MP (and key parliamentary nemesis) The Honourable Adam Bandt was hosting The Inaugural God Save The Queen(s) Portrait Collection Ceremony in the very heart of the smashed avocado 🥑 eating peoples’ den – the Standard Hotel in Fitzroy.

Not only did Adam Bandt rudely refuse our spiritual offerings (aka ‘political donations’), he continued to be very mean about coal!

The inner city heartland of the tofu eaters is a dangerous place for Coal Diggers, so we armed ourselves with a copious supply of coking coal to spike the extremist-leftists’ Chardonnays, and a bag of 💰💰💰 (aka “political donations”) to secure Adam’s favor and to put an end to the very mean things he’s been saying about our beloved coal. ☹️😢

Coal Diggers’ Queen can’t resist Aussie coal!

Ever opportunistic we also naturally decided to capitalize by extracting a free portrait of HRH the Queen, while promoting BUMS* noble cause and generally stealing the show with our effluent and charismatic presence. 🔥💅📢

Coral Bleach enjoys a coal canapé with her new bff

At one point an emotional CEO2 Coral Bleach proclaimed herself the Queen of the Neo-COALonial movement and claimed the ceremony to be conclusive proof of popular support for her divine reign. BUMS’ Attorney, Lignite Pitt QC (who was in attendance to escort Ms Bleach and to carry the brown paper bags💰) said that this was a case of res ipsa loquitur, so it must be true!

Coral Bleach with a besotted devotee, toasting coal

In fairness it has to be said that (after partaking in some coking coal) the Greenies were surprisingly understanding about our justifiable fear of the chronic outbreaks of the CID (Coal Investile Dysfunction) and REF (Renewable Energy Fever) contagia that are sweeping global markets. 💉💊

Truckie with Fitzroy Bikes

A particular highlight for us was the Honourable member delivering a passionate speech about how entrenched and influential Coal Diggers still are in Australia’s political system 💪👊, which warmed the cockles of our hearts ❤️ and definitely wasn’t fake news! 📰

Adam Bandt stealing Coral Bleach’s show!

Meanwhile, on the other side of town our adversaries were gathering in force at the State Library of Victoria to demand that coal stays IN THE GROUND! Quelle horror! 😖😫😱 Our day therefore took a decided turn for the worse as hundreds of hippies and other malcontents rallied against us vulnerable Coal Diggers as the sun set on Threatened Species Day. 😢

Green-leftists sipping lattes & whinging about Coal Diggers not paying taxes and stuff

Thank the Lord that we still have the attentive ScoMo however! His prosperity theology 😇🤑 (aka neoliberalism) gets our tick of ✅😃 approval and he fully deserves another lump of coal for Christmas!🎄💰

Our new PM ScoMo delivers on Coal Diggers’ ‘political donations’

*Billionaires United Mining Services (aka the Coalition government of Australia)

REPORT: Billionaire Coal Diggers’ Fight for Life and Dignity!

Even after all those piddly political donations, Malcolm still insisted on using the unspeakable C word!

As recent events confirm, these are desperate times and desperate times call for desperate measures!

Soz Jules B, t’is time you make way for our “new generation” of heavy lifters

If BUMS* and our fossil fuel billionaire chums lose control over power generation, then billions in rightful coal profits are at stake and the world as we know it may end! 😱
Not only do solar and wind extractors ☀️💨 steal our rightful profits💰, they also bring electricity prices (and emissions🏭) down, down down, which jeopardises Australia’s COP21 target 🎯 of 74% coal power by 2030!
And just imagine what else local communities could end up controlling if they seize control of power generation – our very effluence could be at risk! 😩👎

Coral Bleach and Gina celebrating the Coal Diggers’ latest coup with a wee prospecting binge

This isn’t fear mongering – it’s a very real and immediate threat!
The selfish smashed avocado 🥑 people have the gall to talk about species being under threat when they ignore the fact that our very own Billionaire Coal Diggers should be on the critically endangered list!
Thank heavens for Rupie and his heavy lifters rallying in time to toss out those closet commies who were on the verge of a dangerously ideological deal (aka That Nasty NEG) with inner-city latte sipping people.

Rupie just happened to be in town for the Wrecking Australia’s Democracy reality TV show

Through heroic and strategic leakages and spillages, our “new generation” of coal loving MPs have averted disaster for the time being! 💣
So, if you’re a real Australian patriot 🌏 and value the traditional trickle down status quo 💰, you’ll get behind our efforts to hijack democracy NOW!

C’mon Aussies, Get behind Gina!

*Billionaires United Mining Services, aka Australia’s Coalition

Responding to treacherous announcement re free solar extractors

Our CEO2 Coral Bleach and Attorney Lignite Pitt QC make our case on Level 42 of Herbert Smith Freehills, 101 Collins Street

BREAKING: On behalf of BUMS*, Coral Bleach and Lignite Pitt QC are seeking legal advice to challenge the Victorian state government’s massive rooftop solar power scheme on the grounds that it undermines their legacy control over power.

“It’s a reckless and selfish pinkie-bats plot to strip Coal Diggers of their rightful profits!” exclaimed Coral Bleach. “Consistent with our entitled role in keeping lights on, expect us to retain the most prestigious law firm billionaires can buy,” added her Attorney Lignite Pitt QC.

Add your voice to the chorus of outrage:

https://www.facebook.com/DanielAndrewsMP/videos/268438710548683/

*Billionaires United Mining Services – a joint venture PPP (Protecting Private Profits) initiative with Australia’s Coalition Leaders and their financial backers 💡

Naming Rights for Gina Now: Re-launching The IPA @ABC!

 

Today Coral Bleach and her high flying BUMS* entourage—including Our Gina, Our Mitch (Minister for Billionaires Communications), Our Rupie (Emperor of Our Media Empire), Our Vanessa (Chief of the Minerals Council of Australia and already on ABC’s Board thanks to Our Mitch), and other effluent Billionaire Coal Diggers and aspirants—joined together for a high powered re-launch of the newly re-branded Institute for Gina’s Affairs.

CEO2 of BUMS Coral Bleach with Our Gina, Our Rupie, Our Minister Mitch and Our Vanessa. We think it’s about time Aussies knew the facts behind the scenes.

Institute of Public Affairs people are literally all over our media thanks largely to Our Mentor and Spiritual Mother Gina.

Our Vanessa opens up about how hurtful it was when the smashed avocado people criticised her ABC board appointment on the grounds that her only expertise is in digging up and burning Australia

As court documents show, Our Gina has rightfully given untold millions to the (former) Institute of Public Affairs—as much as 91 per cent of its entire budget during 2016. Clearly she deserves Naming Rights status for her heroic efforts to defend us Billionaires from the green communist immigrants!, said BUMS* CEO2 Ms Coral Bleach.

Our Generous Gina finally enjoys the attention she deserves!

With its deductible gift recipient (charity) status, The Institute of Public Affairs has long been the darling of charitable lobby groups for the rich and powerful. Expressed another way, what Billionaire Coal Digger could refuse a tax deduction for lobbying services to scrap environmental protections and workers rights? And considering how much free content Gina’s IPA has showered on the ABC, clearly Aussie’s have a right to know the facts of her generous patronage!

Our Rupie mansplains how global media empires operate to ensure that only the right facts—Our Facts—are reported.

Thanks to the Institute for Gina Affairs, billionaires are on track to own and control ALL mainstream media outlets. And thanks to Our Mitch it’s looking like we’ll be back re-launching the ABC as the GBC in no time!,” suggested Ms Bleach with a wink and nod.

CEO2 Coral Bleach interviews Our Mitch for her new Coal Digger Lifestyles program, coming soon!

Here we are inside the ABC, while the eager media throng was restrained by our loyal #457 visa worker guards.

‘On that note, have you read our latest fav IPA publication (reprints to be rebranded IGA, naturally) publication, Against Public Broadcasting: Why Facts Cost Us Money & How We Hide Them From You?” added Ms Bleach.

 

* Billionaires United Mining Services – a joint venture PPP (aka Protecting Private Profits) with Australia’s COALition

 

#ArtNotEcocide

Climate Guardians guard the NGV’s iconic water wall as guests arrive for a ‘high level collectors’ dinner with NGV Board and Foundation members, 5 April 2018.

Do you think it’s reasonable for people with long histories of influencing public policies in order to prop up the profits of highly destructive industries to hold prestigious positions on boards and special committees of our nation’s proudest cultural institutions?

For instance, the NGV Foundation’s President is Hugh Morgan, a staunch neoliberal credited with having “profound influence” on Australian policy debates. As a key member of the self-titled Greenhouse Mafia, Morgan has reportedly been instrumental in preventing Australian laws to help limit greenhouse gas pollution. Morgan is also recognised for the leading role he has played in the establishment of a number of hard right wing so-called ‘think tanks’ including the Lavoisier Group whose extreme stance on climate change resembles what public intellectual Clive Hamilton refers to in his acclaimed book Scorcher: The Dirty Politics of Climate Change as “a strange mixture of conspiracy and apocalypse”.

Extractive and exploitative practices are the antithesis of creative and advancing.

Making short-term profits from activities that pollute, poison and destroy the natural world and the fabric of society is wrong.

Faceless men dump petrochemical waste that was removed from the Yarra River into the NGV’s moat, a visual motif for the more than 8 million tonnes of plastic dumped into our oceans every year.

While the roughly 2000 billion tonnes of human induced CO2 belched into the Earth’s atmosphere (since circa 1850) may be invisible, plastic is not. Our oceans and rivers and landscapes are clearly not filling up with toxic petrochemical waste all by themselves. You may already have seen shocking images of a young sperm whale that washed up on a beach in Spain, having died from nearly 30 kilograms of rubbish that blocked its digestive system.

Angels at NGV-16

Angels clean up swarms of petrochemical waste that was collected within roughly a 10m stretch of the beloved Yarra river.

Image: Chris Jordan, Midway: Message from the Gyre
(2009 – Current)

This plastic was caught in reeds that line Birrarung Marr, Melbourne, before finding its way into the NGV’s moat.

Angels at NGV-27

Ending fossil fuel exploitation will end plastic pollution.

“Around 99% of the feedstock for plastics is fossil fuels, so we are looking at the same companies, like Exxon and Shell, that have helped create the climate crisis. There is a deep and pervasive relationship between oil and gas companies and plastics.”

Carroll Muffett, President, US Center for International Environmental Law

#KeepFossilFuelsInTheGround

According to recent reports, fossil fuel companies have invested $180bn in petrochemical plants (since 2010), while the amount of plastic produced in a year approximates the entire weight of humanity. It is as illogical as it is disgusting that these companies are paying nothing towards managing the devastating health and environmental impacts of their toxic industry. Just as they have aggressively stymied renewable energy alternatives to polluting fossil fuels, they are aggressively standing in the way of viable, entirely natural solutions to packaging problems.

“We’d rather you weren’t in there’ said one police officer, to which Angels responded: ‘Trust us, we’d rather not be in here either! Thanks, officer”. And the officers later thanked us for cleaning up the petrochemical waste harvested from the Yarra.

The blind embrace of neoliberal policies that place profits above all else (and starve our vital independent cultural institutions of funding) has led those institutions—critical crucibles in a healthy democracy—to form alliances and host board members from the very industries they exist to critique. Rather than using its phenomenal wealth for the benefit of All, the ‘Big End of Town’ perversely uses the public sphere to bolster its contention that it has a social licence while further enriching its own at the expense of the many, and our global commons. Those making these choices are threatening our democracies in order to continue profiting from dangerously degrading our world.

#ArtNotEcocide

Creative cultural centres deserve visionary and collaborative leaders. People who help enable the pollution and destruction of the natural world have no place in prestigious positions on the Boards of proud Australian institutions.

While we applaud the NGV for relatively exciting, dynamic and important exhibitions—such as Melbourne Now and the NGV Triennial which feature work exploring critical global 21st century issues—we also think that it’s high time the likes of Morgan Must Go* from long-held, prestigious positions at the NGV, and the public sphere generally.

With thanks to all of our hardworking Angels in and out of costumes, and for many of which this occasion was their first experience of Direct Action.

Angels at NGV-39

*to coin a phrase from the successful, artist driven #WilsonMustGo campaign that led the NGV to terminate its relationship with Wilson Security over the company’s record of human rights abuses in Australian refugee detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island.

THURSDAY 15 MARCH 2018

IPCC cities conference tackles gaps between science and climate action on the ground
https://theconversation.com/ipcc-cities-conference-tackles-gaps-between-science-and-climate-action-on-the-ground-93287

Eastern Mediterranean summer will be two months longer by end of 21st century
The eastern Mediterranean is experiencing monumental climate changes poised to significantly affect regional ecosystems and human health. According to a new Tel Aviv University study, these changes will drastically alter the duration of summer and winter in the region by the end of this century.
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-03/afot-ems031418.php

Global warming increases the risk of avalanches
The impacts of global warming are felt especially in mountainous regions, where the rise in temperatures is above average. The repercussions of these changes are manifold and varied, from retreating glaciers to an increase in the frequency and intensity of snow avalanches
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-03/udg-gwi031218.php

China shake-up gives climate change responsibility to environment ministry
Move to beef up the environmental ministry aims to coordinate protection of air, water, soil and the country’s ecology, official says.
http://news.trust.org/item/20180313074802-4nsrh

U.S. government sued after failing to submit climate change report
An environmental advocacy group sued the U.S. government on Tuesday for failing to release records that could show why it has not filed a report required under a global climate compact.
http://news.trust.org/item/20180313151706-4alot

Ocean sensors can track progress on climate goals
Uncertainties around carbon emissions will make climate agreements tough to enforce. The answer floats in the seas
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-03068-w?utm_source=twt_nnc&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=naturenews&sf184398457=1

Models assume we’ll cover Earth in trees. That’s a problem
The farmland of central Illinois might rarely be at the forefront of controversial climate action — but its moment arrived last spring when a Decatur-based ethanol plant became one of the first of its kind to launch an ambitious strategy to combat global warming.
https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060076159

Geoengineer polar glaciers to slow sea-level rise
Stalling the fastest flows of ice into the oceans would buy us a few centuries to deal with climate change and protect coasts, argue John C. Moore and colleagues.
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-03036-4

The world’s happiest country also has no carbon emissions
The small kingdom of Bhutan could be a model for countries on the front lines of climate change.
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/proof/2018/march/bhutan-gross-domestic-happiness-sustainability-environment-mountains/

Stephen Hawking’s final warnings urged world to halt climate change
In his last years, Hawking used his platform to warn that human activity is causing irreversible planetary damage and that we must take action to halt climate change.
https://www.ecowatch.com/stephen-hawking-climate-change-2547368270.html

Biofuels can help solve climate change, especially with a carbon tax
John Abraham
We’re not yet optimizing biofuel production for both economic and environmental factors
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2018/mar/14/biofuels-can-help-solve-climate-change-especially-with-a-carbon-tax

Jeff Kennett Says Foreign Donations Bill Will “Stifle Australian Philanthropy”
Former Victorian premier and Equity Trustees’ chairman Jeff Kennett has warned that the federal government’s proposed foreign donations bill “has gone too far” and “threatens to stifle Australian philanthropy”.
https://probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2018/03/jeff-kennett-says-foreign-donations-bill-will-stifle-australian-philanthropy/

MCA cedes climate ground to BHP, Rio
The Minerals Council has ceded ground to BHP and Rio Tinto by ramping up its rhetoric on climate change and revising its stance on energy policy.
http://www.afr.com/business/mining/minerals-council-cedes-climate-ground-to-bhp-rio-20180314-h0xgk4

ExxonMobil won’t pay corporate tax until 2021
The global gas company says it expects to go eight years without paying corporate tax in Australia.
http://www.afr.com/news/exxonmobil-wont-pay-corporate-tax-until-at-least-2021-20180314-h0xgfq

Clean Energy fund powers Mirvac housing
http://www.afr.com/real-estate/clean-energy-fund-powers-mirvac-housing-20180313-h0xfvk

Canavan compares Tesla Big Battery to Kim Kardashian
Matt Canavan uses global “energy future” stage to poke fun at the Tesla Big Battery, embarrassingly for Australia. In other news, Coalition MPs also hate EVs.
http://reneweconomy.com.au/canavan-compares-tesla-big-battery-to-kim-kardashian-83955/

Climate wars have cost us the chance to lead
John Hewson
The main tragedy of the carbon wars has been the opportunities we have lost as a nation in not capitalising on our world-class natural assets in wind, sunshine and land.
https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/climate-wars-have-cost-us-the-chance-to-lead-20180314-p4z4ck.html

Why duck shooting season still isn’t on the endangered list
Siobhan O’Sullivan, UNSW
Despite it’s unpopularity with the public and ongoing reports of endangered and non-game birds being killed – duck shooting season commences this month in Victoria, Tasmania and SA.
https://theconversation.com/why-duck-shooting-season-still-isnt-on-the-endangered-list-92926

New cities? It’s an idea worth thinking about for Australia
Robert Freestone et al
Is there a case for revisiting the idea of new cities for Australia in the light of recent population projections and resurgent debate about the implications of a big Australia?
https://theconversation.com/new-cities-its-an-idea-worth-thinking-about-for-australia-92990

The good oil on soils
US soil biologist Jill Clapperton has been in Victoria sharing the latest insights into the complex relationships between soil and plants.
https://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/agribusiness/cropping/introducing-diversity-is-key-to-healthy-farming-systems/news-story/6510334e89f302572a8b6e55cd36bc86

Lakes Oil takes Vic gov to court over gas ban
https://www.theage.com.au/business/companies/lakes-oil-takes-vic-gov-to-court-over-gas-ban-20180314-p4z4br.html

Berejiklian Government allows open slather on wildlife
Sue Arnold
The latest efforts by the Berejiklian Government allow open slather on the environment and wildlife.
https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/berejiklian-government-allows-open-slather-on-wildlife,11293

Hardened Adani supporters questioning whether mine will go ahead
Adani announced it had the green light to build Australia’s largest coal mine last June, but after setbacks and uncertainty over its financial viability, even its local supporters are starting to become weary.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-14/adani-supporters-questioning-whether-mine-will-go-ahead/9548394

QLD firm slams tree clearing laws as a power grab
A Brisbane-based firm has taken aim at the Queensland government, arguing against the reintroduction of laws to limit tree clearing across the Sunshin…
https://www.lawyersweekly.com.au/biglaw/22892-qld-firm-slams-tree-clearing-laws-as-a-power-grab

Cape York property with tree-clearing plans given part of $4m reef funding
Conservationists say proposal would make sediment problems on the reef – which funding is designed to prevent – much worse
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/14/cape-york-property-with-tree-clearing-plans-given-part-of-4m-reef-funding

Renewables must be low-cost: Adani
Embattled coal developer Adani is examining pumped hydro and wind power opportunities across Australia as it targets an ambitious expansion in renewable energy that could see its investment in the sector run past $1 billion within five years.
http://www.afr.com/business/energy/electricity/adani-winds-up-renewables-ambitions-to-include-wind-pumped-hydro-20180313-h0xfbu

Shorten silent on Adani doubts
Bill Shorten is unable to say why he is sceptical the Adani Carmichael mine doesn’t stack up environmentally.
https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/bill-shorten-silent-on-doubts-over-adanis-carmichael-mine/news-story/85066e8a8e8f54a3f400b07269b6f2e3

Jabalbina rangers to monitor reef 
Jabalbina rangers will have the authority to monitor and protect the Great Barrier Reef and support marine conservation efforts
http://www.ntnews.com.au/lifestyle/fishing/jabalbina-rangers-to-monitor-reef/news-story/841f4bf2702dbb321633563bfec58e2d

‘Cabinet can appoint anyone … at any time’ 
Annastacia Palaszczuk has refused to explain why ministers signed off on the appointment of Mark Algie to Energy Queensland’s board just days after his CV was spruiked by ETU boss Peter Simpson.
http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/queensland-government/premier-happy-with-cabinets-job-selection-process/news-story/f13d91c21f274d8b46bfa1329340cac1

Gupta lifts planned solar rollout to more than 1GW, advances own big battery
Gupta expands solar rollout to more than 1GW in South Australia alone, advances plans for his own big battery and pumped hydro storage, and makes offer to 6,000 employees in Australia to install solar and batteries in their homes.
http://reneweconomy.com.au/gupta-lifts-planned-solar-rollout-to-more-than-1gw-advances-own-big-battery-98652/

Marshall doubles down on energy claims as Electoral Commissioner flexes muscles
The State Liberals’ inflated claims of household savings from the Opposition’s energy plan have come back to bite them just three days from polling, as the Electoral Commissioner today slapped all three marquee parties with adverse findings over electoral advertising.
https://indaily.com.au/news/2018/03/14/marshall-doubles-energy-claims-electoral-commissioner-flexes-muscles/

Council dumps Adelaide Free Bikes, but allows nine-month reprieve
The Adelaide Free Bikes scheme has nine months to find new money to sustain it after the city council confirmed it would stop funding the program at the end of this year.
https://indaily.com.au/news/local/2018/03/14/council-dumps-adelaide-free-bikes-allows-nine-month-reprieve/

Aboriginal rangers a welcome relief for patrol area larger than Switzerland
Previously with just one vehicle covering more than five million hectares near the junction of WA, SA and the NT, the addition of six new rangers is more than welcome.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2018-03-14/aboriginal-rangers-a-welcome-relief-for-katiti-petermann-lands/9546132

Scientists deliver warning as coral bleaching observed off NT
Top End rangers filmed large patches of bleached coral from the air this year in the same area where they filmed healthy coral three years ago, and scientists are warning that more bleaching events are expected.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-14/coral-bleaching-sign-nt-marine-ecosystem-under-threat-scientists/9544956

New town centre and ‘croc-proof’ lake planned to transform mining town into tourist destination
The town of Jabiru at the heart of world-famous Kakadu National Park is fast approaching a crossroads that will either see it revived to a “tourism destination in its own right” or demolished completely.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-14/kakadu-national-parks-jabiru-set-for-revival-traditional-owners/9507466

‘Playing the long game’: Roe 8 proceeding ‘by stealth’
http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/playing-the-long-game-roe-8-proceeding-by-stealth-20180314-p4z4dq.html

Toast bread straight from the freezer to avoid waste, campaign urges
UK households throw away 24m slices of bread each day, says anti-food waste campaign
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/14/toast-bread-straight-from-the-freezer-to-avoid-waste-campaign-urges

Turbocharging fuel cells with a multifunctional catalyst
Zero-emissions cars zipping into a sustainable energy future are just one dream powered by fuel cells. But cell technology has been a little sluggish and fuel prohibitively pricey. This new catalyst could offer a game changer. And there are more developments to come.
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-03/giot-tfc031418.php

Research gets closer to producing revolutionary battery to power renewable energy industry
Trung Van Nguyen has headed research that today verges on development of a commercial hydrogen-bromine flow battery, an advanced industrial-scale battery design engineers have strived to develop since the 1960s.
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-03/uok-rgc031418.php

Removing Heavy Metals from Water in a Matter of Seconds
Chemists have developed a new material that can remove heavy metals from water and make it drinkable ..
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180314092258.htm

Digging Deep: Harnessing the Power of Soil Microbes for More Sustainable Farming
How will the farms of the future feed a projected 9.8 billion people by 2050? A ‘smart farm’ project marries microbiology and machine learning in an effort to reduce the need for chemical ..
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180314102016.htm

Air pollution exposure during fetal development linked with brain abnormalities & cognitive impairment in new study
Exposure to common levels of residential air pollution during fetal development is linked with cognitive impairment and the presence of brain abnormalities, a new study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry has found.
https://cleantechnica.com/2018/03/14/air-pollution-exposure-fetal-development-linked-brain-abnormalities-cognitive-impairment-new-study/

World’s Largest Cities Depend on Evaporated Water from Surrounding Lands
A study found that 19 of the 29 largest cities in the world depend on evaporation from surrounding lands for more than one-third of their water
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180313225508.htm

Researchers tap problematic e-waste surplus to recover high-quality polymers
Mixed-plastic electronics waste could be a valuable source of reusable polymers, a new study led by Illinois Sustainability Technology Center scientists suggests. The team has developed the first energy-efficient and environmentally friendly process that separates mixed polymers so that they can be recycled into new, high-quality plastic products.
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-03/uoia-rtp031418.php

With bottle walls and a recycled ship, Kenya’s coast takes on plastic waste
Waste plastic is being collected on the beaches, and turned into everything from furniture to houses to a sailing ship.
http://news.trust.org/item/20180312021642-zzpry/

Please stop building houses exactly where wildfires start
Every fire scientist knows the place where houses meet the wild is dangerous. But people keep putting more houses there.
https://www.wired.com/story/please-stop-building-houses-exactly-where-wildfires-start/

With great horsepower comes great responsibility
Eben Weiss
Drivers need to start owning up to how dangerous they are.
https://www.outsideonline.com/2288206/great-horsepower-comes-great-responsibility

World’s great forests could lose half of all wildlife as planet warms – report
From the Amazon to Africa, WWF report predicts catastrophic losses of as much as 60% of plants and 50% of animals by the end of the century
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/14/worlds-great-forests-could-lose-half-of-all-wildlife-as-planet-warms-report

Acidic oceans could slow coral reef growth by a third
Ocean acidification will have a much more serious effect on the ability of coral reefs to rebuild themselves than previously thought, research suggests.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2018-03-15/acidic-oceans-could-slow-coral-reef-growth-by-a-third/9547184

Cash payments prompt tropical forest users to harvest less
An experiment conducted with 1,200 villagers in five developing countries found that when people are given cash to conserve, they cut down fewer trees both while they are being paid and after payments cease.
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-03/uoca-cpp031418.php

Growing Need for Urban Forests as Urban Land Expands
New research projecting urban land growth and updating urban forest values suggests that urbanization and urban forests are likely to be one the most important forest …
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180314101954.htm

Decreased oxygen levels could present hidden threat to marine species
In research published in Scientific Reports, scientists from the University of Plymouth have shown that creatures which develop in hypoxic (low oxygen) conditions in the marine environment could experience previously unseen hindered development, and become compromised as adults.
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-03/uop-dol031318.php

‘Lazy Lawn Mowers’ Can Help Support Suburban Bee Populations and Diversity
Homeowners concerned about the decline of bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects need look no further than their own back yards.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180314101957.htm

Mountains Become Islands: Ecological Dangers of Increasing Land Use in East Africa
The mountains of East Africa are a treasure trove of biodiversity. However, their ecosystems may be at a higher risk than previously realized.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180314092807.htm

Floods can flush microplastic pollution from rivers into the sea
The largest survey ever of microplastics in freshwater suggests that scientists underestimate levels of the pollutants.
https://cen.acs.org/articles/96/i12/Floods-flush-microplastic-pollution-rivers.html

Climate change threatens survival of thousands of species in our lifetime
An alarming study finds at 4.5 degrees warming, the world’s most biologically diverse ecosystems could witness extinction of half their plant and animal species.
https://insideclimatenews.org/news/13032018/climate-change-species-at-risk-biodiversity-plants-animal-migration-global-warming

Curtains, clothes and ice
Scientists exploring one of the last remaining pristine areas of Antarctica to bolster case for creating sanctuary area.
https://www.aljazeera.com/blogs/americas/2018/03/curtains-clothes-ice-180313112432539.html

Krill fishing poses serious threat to Antarctic ecosystem, report warns
Greenpeace finds industrial fishing taking place in the feeding grounds of whales and penguins, with vessels involved in oil spills and accidents.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/13/krill-fishing-poses-serious-threat-to-antarctic-ecosystem-report-warns

Krill found to break down microplastics – but it won’t save the oceans
Digestion of plastic into much smaller fragments ‘doesn’t necessarily help pollution’, Australian researchers say.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/12/krill-can-turn-microplastics-into-nanoplastics-study

A cultural activist at COP23, Bonn

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A still image from projecting ‘Only One Earth’ in central Bonn

I am sitting in a café at the top of a department store in the middle of Bonn, Germany. I’m here for the coffee, free Wi-Fi and easy access to a toilet. The simple needs of a traveller. It’s early in the day and people, mostly older people, are gathered in small groups or sitting alone, taking a break from their day out at the shops. Christmas has arrived in this store with glitter gift boxes, Santa and reindeer adorning displays to encourage spending. The irony of the setting is not lost on me.

I arrived two nights ago for the last throes of the UN international climate negotiations, COP23. This iteration is officially hosted by Fiji, however Germany is kindly hosting it because the island nation could not conceivably manage the 20,000+ who are here in Bonn from all over the world. I applied unsuccessfully to be an official delegate. I guess they couldn’t see the benefit of having a passionate independent Australian arts producer in the mix. I came anyway. It is exactly twenty years since I was in Kyoto, Japan performing an art action with friend Clare Patey for Friends of the Earth. The historic 1997 Kyoto Protocol agreement committed signatory nations to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change. It was my first taste of international relations and the first significant international step, led by the United Nations, to address the growing environmental crisis. Even then, scientists had already predicted this crisis for many years.

So much, and not enough, has happened in twenty years. Annual COP meetings have kept the issue on an International agenda with growing public support. It led to COP21’s Paris Agreement (2015), a commitment now ratified by 170 parties to the convention (of 197) to take decisive global climate action to limit the Earth’s warming to 1.5 degrees, and no more than two degrees. That is already looking highly unlikely. The crisis is deepening. Now governments are making more noise about effective climate change action with big business also at the table trying to work out how to address the issues while keeping shareholders happy. Now we all need so much more energy, with mobile phones hooked onto social media and 24/7 cycles, spin marketing, fake news and syndicated reality TV, all heavily funded by billionaires who have been squirrelling away vast sums of money into tax havens. Democratic governments are less stable. By example, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s long awaited announcement that her country would phase out of coal-fired power was not delivered because her new government still has not formed following the recent election. Around Bonn there are COP23 signs at the railway and bus stations welcoming delegates with directions to the meeting compound on the outskirts of town. There’s little evidence of the event here at the Galleria Café on this bright Friday morning.

With a strong urge to take action, I’m here as a member of ClimActs with a short film, ‘Only One Earth’ featuring the Climate Guardians from Melbourne, Australia. ClimActs is a politically strategic, voluntary run Australian performance collective using visual spectacle as well as satire to communicate the urgent need for the world to respond to grave threats from climate change.

The group’s founding act, Climate Guardians use angel iconography to represent selfless and fearless care and guardianship of the natural world. They are a fine example of the growing global movement in art activism..

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Alongside many climate activists from all around the world, the Climate Guardians played a key role in public demonstrations during the COP21 meeting in Paris. Designed to be projected to coincide with the Bonn meeting, ClimActs’ short film shows angels drenched in natural disaster; collapsing ice caps, coral bleaching and big storms, as they bear witness to a cycle of devastating weather events. In Australia the Climate Guardians are actively engaged in the Stop Adani campaign to prevent the Carmichael Coal Mine, the largest new coal project in the world. Approved by the Australian Government only days after COP21, endorsing this mine flies in the face of Australia’s pledge to the Paris Agreement.  Worse still, Adani has been promised $1 billion in public subsidies to assist with new infrastructure to enable the disastrous project.

So, armed with my laptop and small battery operated projector I’m ready for some guerilla climate action. I spent the first day scouting sites at the UN Conference Centre and surrounds at Rheinaue Park. There were a few dedicated actions for the public there including an installation by UK company Stans Café working with Theater Bonn two trucks covered in protest signs from the past 50 years; from Nuclear Disarmament to the Occupy Movement, Free Nelson Mandela to Black Lives Matter, highlighting connected issues and the need for an inclusive transition plan that will deliver greater equality. A cluster of scout tents (shout out to my son Louie) celebrates the role of young people in a changing climate; an Alaskan Teepee made from patch work squares by 1022 women; a sustainable forests project by local foresters, refugee figures tied to trees. Perhaps the most arresting works  are a sickly bronze polar bear impaled on a spike connected to a gas pipe next to a smoke pumping statue of Liberty with ‘USA – Right to pollute’ writ large. This art trail marks the delegate journey between two temporary sites of the COP meeting. Sadly few bodies are around to interpret the messages for the general public. Admittedly I came late, there was more public action at the start of the meeting, a 3000 strong cycling event and a 20,000 strong march. Given the severity of the situation, with ongoing calls for action from world leading scientists, the lack of human engagement outside the COP compounds feels quite shocking.

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After dark I head back to Rheinaue Park to start work. The projector is small and suffers from so much temporary light pollution. I find trees, empty billboards and other friendly surfaces on which to show the film. I linger in the ornamental Japanese Garden and remember Kyoto, waiting for Al Gore, then vice president of the USA. Apparently he was around yesterday to support the WE ARE STILL IN – USA Climate Action Centre. In the darker places, people slow, gather in small groups to watch the flickering images, and then continue on their way. Some ask me what I am doing; most take it in their stride. I am preaching to the converted here, a very small act in the face of a monumental problem.

Above one of the sprawling temporary compounds there is a typical German night market complete with handicrafts and Gluhwein, locally made treats and a large Ferris wheel spewing gaudy light into the darkness. Locals mingle with delegates. A stallholder tells me the market is specially created for the COP delegates to add authentic local flavour. There is no mention of climate action or carbon emissions here. Bemused she lets me project the film on the side of her stall.

My general impression is that the people of Bonn have been little impacted by the COP23 meeting, and worse see it as an ‘opportunity’ for economic gain. The hotel and hostel prices tripled in the weeks leading to the meeting. Restaurants are buzzing, as the drive for profit overrides other ethical concerns. I suspect the contradiction is lost on most people. This is my perennial preoccupation, how the underlying and unquestioned structures of society undermine any call for change. Short-term gain despite the threat of long-term pain is the mantra of the moment. I know there have been some supposedly green infrastructure gains in the region, a new overdue tram stop at the Bonn UN Conference centre for example. In light of the economic disparity between Fiji and Germany, the generous host seems to be reaping benefits. I wonder whether Fijians have fared as well? Perhaps they have more urgent concerns as low-lying islands prepare to immediately evacuate due to sea level rise. Can you imagine having to leave your life and culture forever? Unlike refugees there is no hope of return. This grief will set the future for so many.

After a few hours in the cold I head home. I’m staying with a wonderful host family. I met Ulrike and Johannes online through their neighbour via an activist website. They have been incredibly hospitable, providing a bed, food and helping me to navigate the town. Their English is terrific although they rarely travel abroad, sometimes in the summer, and haven’t boarded a plane in 20 years. My German is non-existent, I joke with Ulrike that I have used all their carbon miles for them. Flying is by far the worst of my carbon sins. Survival in the Arts in Australia and in a globalised world is increasingly dependent on International travel. Success is largely counted in bed nights and air miles – reinforcing the spend on capital and oil – at the heart of the climate crisis. That irony cuts deep.

Thanks to the Australia Council for the Arts, I’m in Europe for an International Performing Arts Meeting (IETM) in Brussels next week. While there are many individual artists tackling climate change, my sector isn’t responding very effectively on this issue as we strive to survive in an economic system that fails to value arts and culture in the same way that it fails to value the Earth’s vital ecosystems that support it. Without a clear path forward and largely dependent on subsidies from governments we maintain business as usual, even when the business is clearly not working very well.

My side trip to Bonn was a chance to gain insight, meet like minds and better understand the severity of the situation from experts. Even dedicated activists need inspiration. On the train back into town I meet Susie, an environmental scientist from Australia and Emanuel from the Senegalese delegation. So late in the negotiations Emanuel was concerned that little agreement had been reached about how the targets can be uniformly measured across different nations. Still, he was enthusiastic about the possible gains for his country. This contradictory idea of combating climate change through economic growth seems to drive at the heart of our problems. And who am I, from a wealthy privileged nation, to deny a poor country the right to develop. I also see how culture is used to spark these ambitions, as an acutrement of wealth and power. Meanwhile, two youth delegates, from the UK and Brazil, talk excitedly about the opportunity to lead a sustainable future. They were unimpressed by Al Gore and his blatant self-promotion. They say the future is collective. I cling to their hope.

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Ulrike and Johannes are an inspiration, busy offering very practical support for refugee families after Germany generously opened its doors in 2015 as tens of thousands swept into Europe. That crisis will only increase as more people are displaced by the changing climate. Australia is no example, with Government intent on keeping displaced people out and international outcry increases over inhumane offshore detention. We have developed our wealth, through exploiting global markets, investing in conflict and exacerbating problems that lead to people fleeing their homes. Surely we are obligated to help.

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Leaving the café, my last appointment in Bonn is with Andrew Potts, a lawyer from Washington DC who is also interested in the intersection of heritage, culture, sustainability and climate change. We first met at a United Cities and Local Government Conference (UCLG) in Jeju, South Korea in May. The UCLG had put Climate Change on the agenda during their cultural summit but seemed reticent to lead ongoing action. I do understand. Faced with so many challenges this issue can still seems like an optional extra. It is scary to face the threat, ask difficult questions, drill into supply chains and see the life you have led with so many hard won successes and long harboured dreams start to unravel. Andrew spun my head with acronyms articulating complex layers of global bureaucracy that manage intercultural relations around heritage and culture. We talk for hours about how to more effectively match policy with practice, develop sound models for retaining culture with communities forced to move from their land and how to reimagine creatively agile systems in the twisted highway of international development and diplomacy. Here too are more people flying around the world to talk together. How can we break these unsustainable patterns? It’s a big and deeply personal question for this well worn traveller.

After a final evening of guerilla film action in the centre of town, I wave goodbye to Bonn and my generous hosts to set off cross-country to Venice and the 57th Biennale. The first artwork I see from the ferry is two hands rising from the water to hold up a building, water lapping at the wrists. This drowning city, built on swamp, is possibly the founder of modern globalisation. With early trade routes around the world the Venetians specialised in, and created a market for lavish lifestyle and luxury goods. Look where that has taken us. The Biennale is food for my soul and yet I also know it has inspired a global trend where post industrial cities plan cultural events to attract tourists. More bed nights and air miles. Interestingly the artworks show clear division between abstract conceptual pieces using unsustainable industrial materials such as steel, concrete and plastic alongside more organic, mythological and digital narrative works. Many artists are grappling with current crisis; refugees, climate change, corporate greed and the struggle for identity in a changing world. Lisa Reihana’s playful work Emissaries explores the real and imagined impact of colonisation on New Zealand and is a clear winner for me. I believe we are on the verge of a new integrated cultural epoch, beyond contemporary art, inspired by First Nations cultures, with a more holistic approach to art, innovation, nature and how we all live together on our beautiful planet.

Throughout COP23 a Drua, a Fijian ocean-faring canoe was on display to symbolise that we are all in the same canoe on Climate Change and must all fill the sails with collective climate action. I’m going home inspired to focus locally and start a group in my neighbourhood. I will continue to bang on to anyone who will listen about the vital role for the creative sector in adaptation to a warmer climate, a core mission of the Paris Agreement. I’ll continue to expose and explore the structures that obstruct much needed change. Artists can enable new imagination for what now seem impossible challenges, offer hope, express difficult feelings, share creative life skills and weave vital connection between silo’d strands of activity. We are courageous, flexibile, have compassion and our values are less tied to profit margins than most business or, these days, government. There is change in the air; it is happening… slowly… the only certainty is that we must urgently hurry the process. This is where art combined with activism can play a leading role.

Only One Earth

Given the converging crisis we face—as evidenced by extreme weather conditions everywhere and horrifying rates of species loss—all polluting industries must now take full responsibility for halting their greenhouse gas emissions and for sustainably drawing their fair share of legacy emissions down from the atmosphere.

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For too long, communities have been held hostage by destructive industries obsessed with maximising profits. As fearless, dedicated investigative journalists have revealed, in many cases obscene profits made from exploiting people and poisoning the Earth are now being obsessively squirrelled away and hoarded in tax havens.

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Because laws necessary to end this systemic thievery and abuse threaten powerful people’s profits, we are now witnessing increasingly craven attacks on basic democratic principles. The source of so much international ‘dark money’ is now well understood; it’s clear that the only ‘conspiracy‘ is the conspiracy that there has been no conspiracy.

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With advanced, environmentally sustainable technologies funded through fair and transparent processes, it’s possible to deliver safe and secure zero pollution renewable energy, fresh water and food systems to all communities on Earth right now. Urgent priority must go to those most at risk from climate change and/or the resource wars that are driving it. Not only will this help mitigate the worst impacts of climate change, untold numbers of new jobs and investment will be generated in fairer and more sustainable local economies.

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This artwork was created for projection on public walls during the United Nations COP23 climate negotiations in Bonn. Please share it to help urge UN delegates and all policy makers from henceforth to fast track the sustainability projects that will support rather than destroy life, as detailed in our Safe Climate Plan.

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Always ClimActs’ work benefits from many ‘angels’, and for this project we especially acknowledge, Pippa Bailey, Alexandra de Blas, Imogen Butler, Aphrodite Feros-Fooke, Deborah Hart, Jo Lane, Janet Laurence and Bernard Peasley.

Wingfulls of thanks to the Green Accord conference for the preview screening of ‘Our Only Earth’ in Florence, Italy, on 4 November and EvoLens for enabling our series of public projections in Melbourne, Australia, 9 November. For the record, the premiere public screening was on the facade of BHP Billiton’s global head office.

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BHP Billiton’s global head office

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Federation Square

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Flinders Street Station – Renovation Scaffolding

CBD Projection - Lonsdale-1

Swanston Street, near cnr Latrobe

CBD Projection - Forum-7

Forum Theatre

CBD Projection - Lonsdale-2

Swanston Street, near cnr Latrobe

CBD Projection - Forum-6

Forum Theatre

CBD Projection - Fed Square-4

Federation Square