Essay by Eric Worrall
A Sydney Morning Herald reporter has noticed that blocking roads and disrupting trains just annoys people.
‘Disruptive action’ on climate only preaches to the converted
Researcher and author March 28, 2022 — 3.30pm
Truly held passion for a cause can lead to extreme behaviour. But if the goal is to change hearts and minds, should protesters taking drastic action consider whether their conduct is attracting the interest and admiration of those who remain to be convinced, or merely preaching to the converted?
Last week a climate activist group Blockade Australia conducted protests in Sydney’s Botany Bay, climbing cranes and disrupting peak-hour traffic day after day. One was jailed for four months today. The group uses what it calls “disruptive action” to try to disrupt, if only momentarily, the transport infrastructure around the coal industry. Burning coal and gas is the major cause of climate change and the major contributor to our country’s emissions.
But my research, and other research on public attitudes to climate, shows that the people the climate movement needs to win over are the kinds of people turned off by events such as those at Botany Bay. The survey data shows Australians who are alarmed on climate – who describe it as a crisis and are voting and consuming with climate in mind – are mostly progressive in their politics. Only a small percentage are conservative.
We need to stop burning coal and gas if we are to have any hope of curbing the pollution that drives dangerous climate change. But we need that message coming from those that people who aren’t yet alarmed on climate listen to and trust – whether its healthcare professionals, firefighters, farmers, business leaders, teachers, football players, local mayors, vets or members of the armed forces. If politicians, climate scientists and “greenies” were the only people who could get this job done, well, we would already be there.
Dr Rebecca Huntley is a researcher, author of How To Talk About Climate Change in a Way That Makes a Difference and chairs the Advisory Board of Parents for Climate Action. She is a member of the ALP and sits on the NSW state executive.Read more: https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/destructive-action-on-climate-only-preaches-to-the-converted-20220327-p5a8ej.html
If you want to convince people like me, Dr. Huntley, stop trying to mess with my emotions, and come up with a plan which makes sense.
Engineering types like me are fed up with math challenged politicians and activists, who think insurmountable renewable energy engineering issues can be solved by more public engagement. But Aussie politics is dominated by humanities types, engineering dyslexics who are all to easily beguiled by the empty claims of renewable snake oil salesmen, even when some of their own are trying to urge caution.
“They don’t listen to me, I tell them it wont work, they tell me I am wrong. But this is my area of expertise.” – the words of a frustrated Aussie federal politician, one of the few people in Aussie politics with an engineering background, after I asked when they would let him get rid of all the wind turbines.
I don’t have a problem with zero carbon power. I couldn’t care less what is on the other side of my wall socket, so long as it is reliable and affordable. What I have a problem with is proposals to waste my tax money, money which could be used to fund better schools or hospitals, or better national defence capability, on energy ideas whose numbers don’t add up, ideas which cannot possibly work.