Multinationals or Mother Earth


 Against all odds...

By Vijay Prashad
Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research

In late March, 120 traditional owners from 40 First People’s groups spent five days at the National First People’s Gathering on Climate Change in Cairns, Australia.

Speaking on the impact of the climate crisis on First People, Gavin Singleton from the Yirrganydji traditional owners explained that “From changing weather patterns to shifts in natural ecosystems, climate change is a clear and present threat to our people and our culture.”

Bianca McNeair of the Malgana traditional owners from Gatharagudu (Australia) said that those who attended the gathering “are talking about how the birds’ movements across the country have changed, so that’s changing songlines that they’ve been singing for thousands and thousands of years, and how that’s impacting them as a community and culture. … We are very resilient people,” McNeair said, “so it’s a challenge we were ready to take on. But now we’re facing a situation that’s not predictable, it’s not part of our natural environmental pattern.”

Arone Meeks, Australia, “The Gesture,” 2020.

The Yirrganydji traditional owners live on Australia’s coastline, which faces the Great Barrier Coral Reef. That majestic reef faces extinction from climate change: a period of consecutive years of coral bleaching from 2014 to 2017 threatened to kill off the precious coral, during which fluctuating temperatures caused coral to expel symbiotic algae that are crucial to the nutritional health of the coral.

Scientists assembled by the United Nations found that 70 percent of the earth’s coral reefs are threatened, with 20 percent already destroyed “with no hope for recovery.” Of the reefs that are threatened, a quarter are under “imminent risk of collapse” and another quarter are at risk “due to long-term threats.”

In November 2020, a UN report, “Projections on Future Coral Bleaching,” suggested that unless carbon emissions are controlled, the reefs will die and the species they support will die out too. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority notes that “climate change is the greatest threat to the Great Barrier Reef and coral reefs worldwide.” That is why the Yirrganydji traditional owners created the Indigenous Land and Sea Rangers to care for the reef against all odds.

“Most of our traditions, our customs, our language are from the sea,” says Singleton, “so losing the reef would impact our identity. We were here prior to the formation of the reef, and we still hold stories that have been passed down through generations – of how the sea rose and flooded the area, the ‘great flood,’ ”

The Yirrganydji Rangers, Singleton points out, “have their hearts and souls” in the reef. But they are struggling against all odds.

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UPDATE!

I am celebrating turning 65 - all this month. It's not as depressing as it sounds. I have a Medicare card now. I might save a few bucks on doctor bills.

For fun, but not fun at all, I have been studying parasites. Yes, gross but honestly, there is too much we do not know about our own bodies and what's inside. It's about healing who we are inside... and how... and if we heal, the earth heals too...

L/T


Last thing:


Yorta Yorta poet and educator Hyllus Noel Maris (1933-1986), whose “Spiritual Song of the Aborigine” (1978) awakens hope and lays the soundtrack for those who march to save the planet:

I am a child of the Dreamtime People
Part of this land, like the gnarled gumtree
I am the river, softly singing
Chanting our songs on my way to the sea
My spirit is the dust-devils
Mirages, that dance on the plain
I’m the snow, the wind, and the falling rain
I’m part of the rocks and the red desert earth
Red as the blood that flows in my veins
I am eagle, crow and snake that glides
Through the rainforest that clings to the mountainside
I awakened here when the earth was new
.

 

My own poem:

dear american military

your new mission

is to save the planet

stop fighting wars

be the good guys

not the bad guys

stop killing people and 

start saving people

your mission begins now


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