Grandparents fight against climate change

Extinction Protestors
Some Extinction Rebellion protestors recently demonstrated against the proposed gas field at Browse Basin © Miles Tweedee Photography

A group of eight grandparents spent a week on hunger strike at Florence Hummerston Reserve, opposite Chevron’s St Georges Terrace Perth headquarters, protesting the oil giant’s proposal to develop the Browse Basin gas field, last month.

Grandfather Tom Webster told Have a Go News about the demonstration.

“We are a group of grandparents who are on a seven-day hunger strike here in Perth.

“We, like many others, are very worried that the planet will not be habitable for our grandchildren and want our environment conserved and kept in the beautiful condition we received it in.

“Chevron are proposing to extract gas from the Browse field in WA’s north that will release four times the amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as Adani. This will accelerate global warming which we are trying to prevent.” 

Retired UWA professor Neville Bruce was one of the three men who did not eat for the whole week, said he joined Extinction Rebellion about a year ago because he thought it a worthwhile cause to bring the threat of climate change to public attention.

“I have been arrested twice,” he said. “Once in a demonstration at parliament house against a bill to enable gas extraction and once while drawing attention to Chevron as the private company with the largest carbon dioxide pollution footprint in WA.”

Three people lasted the whole seven days without eating any food, only water, five others joined for a short time and several people joined the group to show their support, including two doctors who checked on the health of participants.

“I did not eat for seven days, but that pales into significance compared to the 100,000s of children who are likely to starve as a result of climate change,” Mr Bruce said.

“I have been arrested twice.”

Neville Bruce

Extinction Rebellion is a global movement that aims to achieve political change by non-violent civil disobedience. 

The organisation is pressing governments to declare a climate and ecological emergency. They say government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.

Extinction Rebellion’s vision is to create a world that is fit for generations to come by creating a regenerative culture which is healthy, resilient and adaptable.

They challenge people to leave their comfort zones to take action for change.

Last year a group of about 400 men, women and children from Extinction Rebellion marched along William Street through the heart of the city during the morning peak hour. 

The protesters gathered near Elizabeth Quay about 8.30am and made their way up to St Georges Terrace, stopping traffic on the Esplanade as they went. They staged a yoga session in the middle of St Georges Terrace before continuing to Hay Street. 

They then staged a sit-in protest, with some protesters linking their arms with plastic pipes and chains, before being dispersed by police who arrested some 65 protesters who refused to desist. 

Mr Bruce said another protest is planned for later this month but details had not yet been made public.

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Frank Smith was trained as an agricultural scientist in the UK, moving to WA in 1974 and shortly afterwards began lecturing at WAIT (now Curtin University) in soils and agronomy. In 1979 he joined the Agriculture Protection Board in charge of publications and media relations, studying part time for a degree in Journalism. In 1992 he spent a year as a visiting professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Later he ran a small publication company with his wife Mary-Helen. He then began freelance writing, editing and book indexing. He has written articles for more than 40 magazines in four continents and indexed more than 20 books. In 2007 he started writing for Have a Go News and gradually reduced his writing for other publications. He later took over the subediting, ensuring Have a Go News is consistent in style and highly readable. He and Mary-Helen live in a passive solar home in the Perth Hills with a varying collection of quendas and native birds.