Infiltrating the Climate Jobs Guarantee Protest

I have achieved my life-long dream of infiltrating a protest I don’t particularly believe in.

It was the Climate Change Protest – With a twist. It proposes a climate job guarantee, where young people are put to work to solve our climate crisis! Here is a quote from their website.

Our bold transformative vision is the Climate Jobs Guarantee. Where the government fills in the gap of the private sector and creates good, unionised public jobs that will help build up our communities and secure our future. From health services, construction, education, to protecting nature and country. We can get to 100% renewable energy by 2030, rebuild our public services and begin to heal our communities. All while guaranteeing a good, unionised job to everyone who needs one.

Tomorrow Movement Website

I stumbled upon the protest on the way home and so I walked up to find out what was going on. There were about 35 of them and I talked to one of them for a while, but the conversation was cut short when the speeches started. In between the speeches, we also sang and chanted original songs about climate change.

I listened to a few heartfelt speeches about why the speakers were there. The major themes are the unfortunate reality of climate change and the evil-ness of big corporations, lobbyist and governments. Stories about those in power lining their pockets, uncaring about the everyday person. There was the occasional shout of: “Shame!” when the speakers made points about those horrible people in power.

It was quite an interesting experience. I should have just been a good infiltrator and sat in the audience but couldn’t help myself so I got up to share some of my thoughts. I was nervous and a little incoherent, but here is a gist of what I said:

Yes. I spoke up to a bunch of strangers because I was bored

Hi… *introductory remarks*… Evidence do show that we’re releasing a lot more carbon into the atmosphere than it can absorb and is likely man-made. I don’t know much about climate change but I’d like to share what I think and have a discussion with you guys about possible solutions.

I don’t think having the government put young people to work would be effective. Also, I’d argue that the government isn’t evil, they’re just incompetent.

Here is why:

  1. Anything the government touches and subsidizes have been going up in cost over the years. Things like healthcare, university and housing. In contrast, technology and the private sector have reduced the cost of things over the years – electronics and software as an example. Governments have not been effective at allocating resources and have even stifled innovation with regulation at times- (Self driving cars, Medical Imaging AI, construction)
  2. As a world, we haven’t done a good job with Covid. Back then, if we knew what we know now, we would’ve likely just locked-down worldwide for a month. We had the R-values of the virus and charts showing exponential growth but both government and media have failed to act appropriately and report the truth. I don’t think this is because they’re evil, it’s more likely a lack of competence.
  3. Climate change is similar to Covid in that it requires global cooperation, but it is much more complicated and difficult to solve. I think we should do something about it but asking Governments to give jobs to young people is likely unfeasible because Governments have not had a good track record in allocating resources.

After-Speech Comments

You can imagine how popular I was for challenging two of their core beliefs:

  • Governments and rich people are evil.
  • Fixing this evilness is the cause and solution to climate change.

At the end, I was on the verge of being booed off stage! I sensed that and concluded by offering to have a discussion and perhaps brainstorm potential solutions, saying I’d be around. No one approached me.. So I approached them! In general most of them were good natured and I spoke to a few others after to hear more about what they thought. Someone ignored me after spitting some pithy truths but overall I’d consider the entire experience pleasant but a little disappointing.

To be fair, I’m not an expert and sincerely hope I’m wrong. It would be wonderful if averting a climate disaster was as simple as mandating jobs for youth. But I was hoping to have a good discussion that featured potential solutions around this very complicated problem and did not get what I was looking for..

I asked the people I met if they’ve read “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster – By Bill Gates”, because I read the book notes and was hoping to discuss some of the points. But none of them read it, someone told me she didn’t trust Bill Gates because he was so rich and evil.

I don’t know much about activism but I think it’s nice when people come out and show they care about a cause. Surely it’s helpful to tell our politicians that this issue is important to their constituents right? The urgency is real and we’re probably not doing enough, I hoped for a more educated crowd about the nuances of trying to solve climate change but maybe we need all the voices we can find.

Most people I know would never join a protest, because they think it would never make a difference. Most of the people around my age do not care about politics, because they think their opinion and vote wouldn’t make a difference. But perhaps the apathy of the rational middle is the reason why we’re in this mess.

If all the statisticians, epidemiologist, virologist who saw COVID coming went on strike and coordinated a peaceful protest maybe we would have had less deaths. But maybe.. Nothing would have changed!

Closing Thoughts

Watch this YouTube video for a fantastic lay out of the complexities in preventing climate change!
Can YOU Fix Climate Change – Kurzgesagt

Some of my ideas – That I hoped to discuss..

  • Melbourne has an artsy reputation, The City of Melbourne could commission art work around climate change.
    E.g. Expressing the difficulty, importance of preventing climate change.
  • The government could be more transparent about their difficulties in committing to aggressive climate action.
    – Perhaps offer to let people vote on a voluntary 20% carbon tax on all their air travels, gasoline and everyday goods that are currently subsidized by cheap oil. I doubt people would want that but giving people the choice might help them understand the trade-offs.
  • We could offer money & status- Have a prize pool for incremental innovations in reducing the green premium in certain industries (biofuels, concrete etc). Have an awards ceremony that actually means something that celebrates local scientists and entrepreneurs in the work they do.
  • We could, as a developed country, acknowledge our role in disproportionately damaging the environment in the past to get ahead and subsidize green technology in developing nations.
  • Build a project that utilizes cutting-edge carbon capture devices. Publicize the cost and ratio of carbon captured as an open experiment. Allow citizens to donate $ to build more carbon capture devices.
  • Shine a light on the achievements of local Australians, scientists, activists, entrepreneurs, and their efforts to combat climate change. We receive too much short-term negative news and not enough long-term positive news.

Disclaimer* I don’t have a background in this space and likely have na├»ve solutions.

But I propose some of the above as an alternative to asking the government to provide jobs to youths.