SIX NOTES FROM SIXTH DAY

by SH

The guy about to audition for the gay play at the Mechanics’ Institute: We chatted about Gaia theory and fate — is the world fated to fix itself and will we be uprooted in the process? (Also about sex in cubicles or saunas in the gay scene, and about same-sex marriage and Anna Bligh)

The old lady on her way to the bus: We talked about frugality. She had a keen sense of the area’s history (e.g. knew about Noel Counighan’s Free Speech protest). She was born in 1929 and raised in the Great Depression. She remembers her mother washing plastic bags and hanging them out on the washing line. She remembers people (“well-off people, mind you!”) folding their sheets in half and sewing them together lengthwise to sleep on so they would fade evenly. She is disgusted at Baillieu for rolling back the water restrictions. We chatted about the difference in attitude towards resources of her generation (frugality), the baby boomers (use everything! now! buy stuff!) and our generation (erring back towards frugality? We didn’t actually discuss this). Her theory is that from generation to generation, we swing from one position to the other. This is an opinion I have come across a couple of times already on the beach…

Young guy with two girls who thought I was part of that “what’s it called…that Occupy thing?” — “The world has far more urgent things to worry about than climate change, but good on ya!”

Girl my age with beautiful purple/green dress waiting for the tram holding a bottle of white wine: On her way to a house-warming party. Lives in Carlton, is unhappy in her I.T. job. Doubted climate change was caused by human activity but seemed to change her mind throughout our conversation. We decided we weren’t sure if global warming can be mitigated by human actions but everyone needs to try because there’s a lot at stake. She concluded that “so long as you do what YOU think is right, it’ll be OK”. I found this conclusion highly unsatisfying (what if you think it’s right to eat meat or burn your rubbish in your backyard?), but she had to run for the tram.

My thoughts on Saturday about Eli Glasman’s piece he wrote in residency at the beach on Friday (NB because he wrote until the power on the laptop ran out without autosave on and then read it all to us as fast as possible, I may be paraphrasing this incorrectly because we have no record of the piece apart from memory): BUT: Part of it ran along the lines of: we are afraid of dying and the relentless optimism this breeds has entered into the climate change debate — attempting t0 mitigate climate change may be a losing battle; suffering is likely to occur due to climate change; we will have to accept this. I am fascinated by this attitude but I have problems with it (it underwrites climate change with an almost apocalyptic narrative of death; like all generalised narratives it excludes exceptions; there’s the danger that  it might lend itself to a “well then we might as well sit on our hands and do nothing” sort of fatalism). However, our capacity to assess and preempt likely risks of climate change, adapt, and/or figure out strategies to work/live with them may make or break the future of our children.

Finally — when I was sweeping the sand up, I spoke to the ashen-faced, ill man who leans on the post at the tramstop every day around 4:00 and smokes and looks so unwell. He asked me what it’s about and I explained and he said: “Well, there are a lot of people who would say you’re wasting your time” and I asked him what HE thought and he said “I am very concerned by climate change” and then he hobbled off to get on the tram.

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