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Australian Green Activists Outclass American Counterparts

In Australia, climate protests are in high gear this week. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, whom many had hoped would strongly confront the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, has disappointed with a limp plan to reduce Australia’s emissions by an inadequate 5 percent over the next 12 years.

In response, protesters have rallied outside of Parliament House in Canberra. Formal political opposition has surged, with accusations that Rudd is following the same failed policies as his right wing predecessor, John Howard. Friends of the Earth – Australia has organized protests at parliamentary ministers’ offices around the country, in which the offices are surrounded by sandbags as a symbolic protection against the rising sea levels that are already taking place from global warming. In South Australia, protesters threw their shoes at an effigy of Prime Minister Rudd, in a modification of the dramatic shoe-throwing protest against George W. Bush in Iraq.

And here in the United States? I can’t find much word of any climate change protests – or other forms of climate activism – taking place here. There was a low-key, yet solid, event in Portland, Oregon, as employees and friends of a shoe store gathered to spread the word about 350.org, which focuses on the 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in our planet’s atmosphere as a goal for greenhouse gas reduction, and to raise money for a community bicycling program. That’s great, but in a nation as populous as ours, there could and should be more going on.

Consider the kind of stuff the American branch of Friends of the Earth is focusing on – problems with banks in China, and concerns about nuclear waste going into Yucca Mountain. That stuff is important, but it’s not immediately relevant to our sizable American contribution to the climate crisis. I don’t mean to single out Friends of the Earth. We could all do a lot more to step up climate activism here in the United States before we would even approach what’s going on in Australia.

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Psst... what kind of person doesn't support pacifism?

Fight the Republican beast!