I doubt I'll bother attending another climate rally

I used to think rallies worked. I used to believe that the power of large volumes of people could sway the mood of the wider population and break through to politicians and other people of importance. But on Friday I have begun to doubt this, a lot.

I will be upfront with you and state that I believe man-made climate change is happening and the future of the world as we know it is in jeopardy. We will soon be unable to look our children in the eyes and tell them it will be OK unless we act fast and act big. I sign online petitions, I annoy politicians, I have changed many of my own individual practices and that of those I have influence on, namely my workplace. When I was younger I even attended a couple of rallies – I tend to be too far away to make any these days and to be honest, after Friday, I doubt I would bother.

Walking through Melbourne CBD and looking at the faces of the drivers, public transport users and pedestrians caught up in the climate protest, I have begun to think that this traditional form of mass protest may have run its course. In the age of social media and very busy lives, such disruption to passers-by may actually be detrimental to the cause and serve to tick people off more than engage them with the issue of protest.


The disruption relegates the protesters immediately into the left-wing nutter category who have less than nothing to do and whose message isn’t worth listening to. Even though, in this case, I think it absolutely is.


I witnessed a number of bystanders sigh in exasperation, many horns honking and lots of angry u-turns by motorists, who then drove off angry. So instead of feeling grateful or interested that protesters were taking time out of their own busy lives to bring this to Parliament’s doorstep, many stalked off fuming. And this is the last thing that needs to be happening with those of the population left who still need to be convinced.

We have tried to communicate with those "climate deniers" and "climate undecided" with protest and facts, but so far these are not working. The federal election vote was unequivocally the largest smack round the philosophical earhole we could have taken, so clearly the way in which we have been attempting to appeal to power has not been working. We need to change our approach.

Surely, between us and the tech-savvy young people who are battling bravely with this cause we can come up with a way of protesting that doesn’t irritate and alienate, but rather inspires thought, engagement and ultimately, change. So far I haven’t come up with anything that is either legal or financially achievable, but there has to be something.

So, fist bump to the people staging a "die-in" today, no apologies to those inconvenienced by the truth, but I think it’s imperative we try something different. Our planet is depending on it.

Nicola Philp is a regular columnist based in Apollo Bay.

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