US Capitol Building

Good to see that the G20 have come up with a plan at their meeting in Washington. Part of me is not surprised that they have come up with a plan so quickly when it is really about shoring up the rich economies. Nothing wrong with that, except when they can’t come to such quick agreements on other, dare I say it, more important issues.

The world is gong to hell in a hand basket with the rapid changing of our climate, yet we still fiddle while Rome burns. The Rudd Government in Australia has taken some worthy initiatives, however it is still not enough. And personally, I am sick of people talking about being pragmatic. I am with those like George Monbiot and others who say we need to be on a war footing with this. The Garnaut Review, Australia’s equivalent of the Stern review a couple of years ago in the UK, made some excellent suggestions. But then Garnaut himself came out and said that we should only be pushing for a 10% cut in emissions by 2020. Such minimal cuts will guarantee the death of the Great Barrier Reef and other natural treasures. In the 1983 Federal Election, the Labor Party won partly on a platform of saving the Gordon and Franklin river system in Tasmania with the slogan ‘Could you vote for a party that would destroy this?’ alongside a photo of the beautiful pristine beauty of that part of the island state. The newly elected Hawke Government stood by its word and the dam was never built. The Rudd Government needs to take heed.

Groups such as Make Poverty History are right to take a moral stand on this issue by raising the bar on what is needed. The political game says that they should aim lower and be ‘pragmatic’ so they are taken as a serious player and listened to. But of course they’re going to be listened to if they say what people want to hear. Prophetic voices of warning are needed to say how the situation really is, not what people necessarily want to hear.

Such an attitude shows all the more why people at the grassroots need to put more pressure than ever on our leaders to do more before it’s too late for our planet. The world needs dreamers, those who, as Martin Luther King said, have the audacity to believe that things can really change.

Where would the world be today if William Wilberforce had not pressed on for 50 years to end the injustice of slavery 200 years ago? It was the very backbone of the British Empire and to get rid of it was the equivalent of banning the charging of interest on any loan in our society today. It was seen as hopelessly utopian and would destroy the economy and our very way of life.

Where would African Americans be today if it wasn’t for people like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King who stood up tirelessly for the rights of their people – the very rights that white people took for granted. I wonder if the United States would have had the courage to elect a black president if it wasn’t for the groundwork of people like them 40 and 50 years ago.

Where would South Africa be today – despite it still having enormous problems – if it wasn’t for the courage of people like Nelson Mandela and that smiling lovely man, Desmond Tutu, people who have risked their lives for their country and who for the last 14 years have seen apartheid confined to the dustbin of history.

Where would eastern Europe be now if it wasn’t for the almost completely non-violent revolutions that took place in 1989 which brought the Berlin Wall crumbling down and reunited loved ones who had been separated for 30 years?

Congratulations to the G20 for coming up with a plan. Let’s push and pray for them to be just as urgent with a plan for the planet.

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