After seeing Al Gores film An Inconvenient Truth, 14-year-old Samlara Canin-Henkel believes global warming is the single biggest issue facing humanity, and shes deeply concerned that her elected representatives dont share her sense of urgency.
At Tuesdays Lismore City Council meeting the Clunes teenager spoke during public access, asking Council to take action.
Inspired by Samlaras initiative, Cr Jenny Dowell put forward a motion for Council to write a letter to the federal government urging them to ratify and implement the Kyoto Protocol.
However, because Cr Dowell is a member of the Labor Party, some councillors felt it was a political stunt and questioned whether global warming was even an issue.
Cr Barry Crimmins said he couldnt accept Cr Dowells statement that the motion was non-political as it seemed to be exactly the same thing Kevin Rudd was saying two days ago.
He also said Australias contribution to global warming was so small it couldnt be measured.
National Party councillor Peter Graham expressed a similar sentiment.
Im not going to support a motion to lobby or write a pretty little letter to my government that I represent, he said. Nobody yet has come up and said this is definitely what is happening with climate change. Weve only been here for a very short time. Ice ages happen. Industry may not be (the cause) and until its pointed out that yes it is, we cant be blaming or pointing fingers at one particular part of our nation.
Cr Dowell said everybody was talking about the issue.
We need to be setting some sort of example... per head we are the worlds greatest polluter, she said. All our delegates at the (Local Government Association) conference voted unanimously that individually and collectively we lobby the federal government (to ratify Kyoto). I cannot imagine why the Council would not support something from the Local Government Association.
In the end Council voted down the motion to write a letter to the government, instead resolving to hold a workshop in 2007 to look at the pros and cons of the Kyoto Protocol.
Samlara, who had expected unanimous support and was surprised many of the councillors were not well informed about Kyoto, left the meeting feeling bewildered but determined not to give up.
This is not a question of politics its a matter of survival, Samlara said after the meeting. Their ignorance will affect my generation more than theirs. We are the ones who will have to live with it, not them, and I think their inaction is immoral. I just hope they decide to do something before its too late before the effects (of global warming) are irreversible.
Samlara said she will attend Councils next meeting in February to present a list of suggestions Council could adopt immediately to begin reducing greenhouse house emissions locally.
Some of the measures include encouraging all residents to install a water tank; ensuring all new homes have solar hot water heating; facilitating a scheme to distribute compact fluorescent light bulbs to every household; and investigating subsidies for people installing solar panels.
I hope they will seriously look at these suggestions, because theyre very valid, Samlara said. Theyre so simple but they will make a real difference.
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