Well, we’re nearly there. Just another day or two of sailing will get us to Newcastle in time for the Rising Tide blockade of the world’s biggest coal port this weekend, but I fear we are too late, way too late.
My real initiation to sea sailing was day 3.
Setting out from Bellambi the Sunday the ‘Sydney to the Gong’ bike ride was cancelled.
The strong southerly was a boost to our speed though the swell was bumpy. My wet suit which had seemed fine for sub zero mornings on Lake Burley Griffin was not adequate for the heavy splashing of the open sea, despite the unseasonable 23deg water.
I was getting cold then a little seasick around 2 hours out when the repair of a broken brace had me head down fiddling under the outrigger arm for too long in the choppy swell.
Some extra clothing we had on board, and some extra if unnecessary paddling and pedalling helped me warm, though the sickness lingered.
The outrigger failed twice more over the next 2 hours, dropping me into the sea, breaking away from the kayak and exhausting our spare brace pins. A kilometre or so out from Burning Palms and the cliffs of the Royal National Park we managed some emergency repairs and resumed our riding of the favourable southerly eventually on past Port Hacking and into to Botany Bay.
I admit there’s no way I could have done this without the sailing expertise and enthusiasm of co-kayaker, retired medical doctor Simon Leslie. Without him I think I would have given up on our quest that day, one way or another. But working together we managed to overcome the obstacles and finish the long journey. Sadly we don’t see that same ‘working together’ happening in mankind’s quest to solve climate change.
The following days outing, paddling in the Hacking River to Audley Weir, was far easier, though sad to learn about the coal pollution there. And since then we have had many other adventures as we worked our way north up the coast
In through the treacherous heads to Rose Bay, the Opera House, Manly to Terrigal, Narara Eco Village, etc have been wonderfully blogged by Simon on our Sail4Sanity facebook page.
We’ve even had a hitch-hiker join us for a while. A stubborn limpet we picked up with a few scrapes at the Opera House wharf, stayed firmly attached to our outrigger for several days.
We are very grateful to the many supporters we have connected with along the way who have not only taken care of us, but have done a marvellous job organising related events. We are currently being hosted at Narara Eco Village, a fantastic sustainable community just out of Gosford. We’ve attended a Net Zero Expo, Kayaked with fellow activists in Koolewong, and at Nora Head, we met with doctors exposing the health risks all down the coast from the local power station pollution.
We’ve invested in all the prescribed safety gear and make regular radio check ins using our registered “No More Fossil Fuel” call sign. We’re reassured by the devoted NSW Marine Rescue volunteers and Water Police, who have taken an interest and offered assistance.
Of course we have no Earth Climate Rescue. Who is going to rescue our children?
Are we too late? Having both studied physics we take a keen interest in the latest climate news (Sadly most of our media would rather report Tony Abbott’s latest climate change denial).
We’ve learned the world’s average temperature has jumped this year by an astonishing amount. Both sea and land temperatures have taken off since June and are riding way higher than anything in recorded history.
This is deeply concerning. The temperature increase this century is already looking to equal what took 10,000 years for mother nature alone to achieve coming out of the last ice age. Only this time around we are starting with hot, and getting hotter.
So what’s the reason for this year’s even more sudden temperature rise? Have we passed one of the irreversible tipping points that many scientists have warned us of.
Renowned ANU climate scientist Prof. Will Stefan (RIP), warned us in 2020 that there are many tipping points we are approaching, where the warming causes positive feedback to create more warming. The Arctic Ocean for example, where the dark summer sea absorbs more heat from the sun, than the reflective white ice that used to be there.
Professor Stefan used the analogy of an old style kayak filled with humanity. Shifting our weighty body around we risk unbalancing things. Once past the tipping point the global temperature could rise rapidly and totally out of our control, well beyond the current 1.5 degrees the authorities seem to think is safe.
It is no longer just scientific predictions. We are now seeing the serious impacts of climate change around the world. To rescue the future from this growing maelstrom, we need to act quickly. We need to stop the burning of fossil fuels, and we need it yesterday if we want to save tomorrow.
Give up? We must not. We have the alternatives to power our society, we just need to apply them, all of them, not just the cheaper ones. There is no excuse for approving new coal mines and gas wells. There is no excuse for continuing to make new fossil fuel vehicles. Every tonne of carbon we can leave in the ground means a slightly better future for our children. Ignoring the problem is akin to infanticide.
Australia has a great opportunity to lead the way with renewable energy to fight this future. Lets work together to achieve the best we can for our children’s sake.
Cheers, Tom Hunt, Sail4Sanity