Parting Shot: Bit beyond ‘raising awareness’

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It’s been a while since we’ve done Parting Shot, but there’s so much going on in town and the world that we want to have a crack about, I thought we’d bring it back. Every week.

I can’t promise to be as funny as former editor Ryan Keen, or as serious as former editor David Williams, but hopefully somewhere in between, so roll on, erm, glorious mediocrity?

Righty-ho, then, who’s first up for a bit of well-intentioned savaging? Steve Hall. Captain of the good ship WHS.

In 30 years or so, when Steve is living bare-chested on a raft like Kevin Costner in Waterworld, fishing for radioactive salmon while avoiding post-apocalyptic pirates, I hope he has a flashback to the Wakatipu High School newsletter of Friday, March 8, 2019 BCC (before climate catastrophe).

In particular, one lovely phrase: ‘explained and unjustified’.

So the principal’s message – which Mountain Scene suspects might be written by Richard Jones, the school’s PR person, yes, seriously, the school has a ‘communications’ person – details the school’s position on tomorrow’s Strike for Climate Change March.

This has been happening all over the world, students basically telling us all to get our shit together and leave a world for them to grow up into.

“While we support our students to be active citizens and raise awareness about the issue of climate change we have to balance that with our responsibilities as a school,” it reads.

“We are supporting a group of students who are actively involved in work on the environment and sustainability and who are part of our school’s environmental group to attend the march, and we believe they will represent our students well.

“For other students who choose to attend the march, which is at 2.45pm, our normal attendance procedures will apply – i.e. if parents explain their absence they will be marked ‘explained and unjustified’, but students who are absent without their parents explanation will be marked as truant.”

Explained and UNjustified? Truant? Incidentally, ‘SteveRichard’, you missed a possessive apostrophe off ‘parents’ explanation’ but glass houses and all that.

So, anyway UNjustified. Jesus.

I was listening to The Joe Rogan Podcast the other day (yes, this is the level of research I am prepared to write a Parting Shot on) and he was interviewing American journalist David Wallace-Wells, who’s just released The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

It’s bleak and bloody terrifying, terr-i-fy-ing.

Some cliff notes:

–”There’s no way we avoid two degrees [Celsius] of warming, which the U.N. calls catastrophic warming, which the island nations of the world call genocide”. That’s the best-case scenario.

–By 2050, there are cities in India and the Middle East where you won’t be able to go outside in the summer without risk of dying. You would be cooked by heat and humidity.

–Calcutta, 12 million people, potentially unlivable in 30 years. Parts of Manhattan also, Bangladesh, islands, etc, through sea rise.

–We’re on track for four degrees warming this century, creating a “hellscape”– 600 trillion dollars US of damage by end of this century. Twice as much wealth as exists in the world today.

–Potentially one billion climate refugees.

–We’d need mobilisation on the scale of WW2 in the next 11 years to do what’s necessary – halve our carbon emissions.

–Half of all the carbon we’ve put in atmosphere in human history has been in the past 30 years. “We have one generation to save it.”

To be fair to SteveRichardMinistry, the massive majority of us are walking blindfolded into the waters, like some modern-day King Canute, whose official title was ‘Cnut the Great’ (thank heavens, SteveRichard isn’t subbing this piece!).

It feels like the world is finally waking up to this, waking up to the fact that Alexa Forbes is the sane one, and people like me, edging along towards work in my single-occupant combustion-engine car while bitching about the traffic, are totally f**k’in insane.

So, WHS students, walk, and take your unjustified truant black mark as a badge of triumph.

Who knows, the march might even inadvertently spark some revolutionary political spirit in one of you who does just see it as a good excuse to bunk off.

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz