By Jim Lavis
Burned into the memory of long time Bathurstians is the sight, the sound and the smell of a steam train. I wish to use that as a metaphor to describe how I see the current situation in our society concerning climate change.

Imagine a steam train – it’s a passenger train. It is on level ground and the air brake is not engaged the firebox is cold. It is actually moving slowly because there are groups of people pushing on the guards van. These people belong to Bathurst Community Climate Action Network, Environmentally Concerned Citizens of Orange, they are tree planters, vegie gardeners, bush regenerators and surprisingly there’s even a group of nuns- some of whom seem quite frail. Helping them are many other small groups, but there are sneaky, suspicious glances, and they are not pushing in unison. There are onlookers cheering them on. Further up the track are people wondering why the train is moving. At the front of the engine, on the track is a group of agitated people who clearly are not agreeing – some are even braced against the co-catcher. They are our elected representatives who can’t decide where this train is headed.

There is noone in the driver’s seat no hand on the throttle. As the train passes the cheering onlookers, they are being asked to lend a hand. The pushers are tired – some look exhausted. Some onlookers join in, some sadly do not.

The reason there is discord between those pushing the train and others are declining to help is because they belong to different tribes. They don’t vote in the same manner, never have and never will. Some hold quite conservative views over a range of topics whilst the others hold extremely progressive views over an even wider range of topics. The train is slowing down.

To get the train back up to speed, those different tribes need to call a truce – sign an ACCORD. Any new pusher is welcome as long as they leave their tribal differences to one side. More people are happy to join now and the original pushes are reinvigorated. They too have signed the accord. A couple of them have jumped aboard and are heading towards the engine. Meanwhile, our elected leaders are in panic. The train is leaving without them, without a driver.

By now the train has built up some momentum and one of the pushers shouts with authority to the elected representatives “Will one of you fire up the jolly engine? If you don’t want to do it, we’ll find someone who will.

In Australia the engine is large scale renewable energy. The destination is a decarbonised economy. Momentum is building – keep pushing, sign the accord and we’re on our way. Once the engine fires up, we can all find a comfy seat and get on with the rest of our lives.

Jim Lavis led the National Day of Climate Action held in Bathurst on November 17, 2013. See Bathurst Community Climate Action Network on Facebook for pictures.