THIS weekend, I plan to join a four-day protest that includes a kayak blockade of the Port of Newcastle, stopping the export of coal for 30 hours.
All sorts of goods are shipped through Newcastle, but that can't mask the fact that last year 136 million tonnes of coal went out through the narrow channel where the Hunter River enters the Pacific.
Rising Tide, the group organising the protest, has been liaising with police and say they've been assured the blockade will be allowed to proceed. But what if it isn't? I've been asking myself if I'm prepared to risk breaking the law because, honestly, I don't know what else to do any more.
I've signed countless petitions, written letters, been on peaceful marches, recycled religiously. I ride my bike and donate to environmental groups, and I thought I'd voted for a new government that would take action to reverse Australia's climate impact. It seems nothing I've done to date has made any real difference. There are 116 new fossil fuel projects in the pipeline. The Australia Institute says our government's proposed safeguard mechanism will reduce emissions from these by just 2 per cent.
Newcastle is the largest coal port in the world, like a funnel that - if squeezed shut - could make a measurable, meaningful reduction to our greenhouse gas emissions.
This weekend I plan to paddle out out to try to stop the boats, even for a few hours. What else can I do?
Mina Bui Jones, Catherine Hill Bay
Protesters can't have it both ways
I WISH all the luck to the climate change activists who plan to protest this weekend and want to camp at Camp Shortland. I wouldn't think that any of the expected 3000 would bring a smartphone, charger or similar. Also, there should be no occupied parking spaces around the Nobbys or Horseshoe Beach car parks. If they do drive, I'd expect to see only electric vehicles.
Nathan McGeorge, Shortland
Blessing might have been cursed
DON Fraser ("School protest nothing but a futile gesture", Letters, 21/11) let us know his thoughts about school children taking the day off to protest about climate change. I hope he wasn't having his breakfast when he read about climate activists receiving a divine blessing from the Dean of Newcastle, the Very Reverend Catherine Bowyer on Monday ("Climate activists receive blessing", Herald 21/11). There might have been more than a Rising Tide in the Fraser household.
David Stuart, New Lambton
Journey, destination both matter
SO, the great unwashed are coming to Newcastle harbour to stop the fossil fuel ships leaving the port. The question is, how did they get here? Ah that's right - in their fossil-fuel powered cars, and then paddle out in their fossil-fuel manufactured water craft. A touch of double standards, methinks.
Ken Stead, Lambton
All have a role in climate fight
JOHN Tierney's opinion piece ("Port blockade demonstration seriously misses the mark," NH 21/11) fails to recognise the importance of collective global action in combating climate change. Australia has one of the highest per capita carbon footprints in the world, despite its smaller population. If the emissions created from our exported coal are added, we are the sixth-largest polluter.
Taking responsibility for the emissions associated with exported coal is essential for addressing climate change globally. Australia's commitment to action can serve as a powerful and influential example to other nations because what we do is closely watched.
Mr Tierney asks why Australia should do anything about reducing emissions when countries such as India, Brazil and China continue to lead in output. However, at various international climate talks, these countries have asked the same question - why isn't a rich country like Australia doing more to lead in emissions reduction?
We have a moral obligation to contribute to the solution. Mr Tierney would appear to have us be a mere follower in climate action, where we are in a position to be a world leader. Science has warned us for decades that the social and financial consequences will be more severe the longer we leave action on climate change - for us and the planet.
John Arnold, Anna Bay
Happy holiday to all who celebrate
I WOULD like to wish the population of Newcastle and its surrounds a very happy Thanksgiving. Especially Geoff Black.
Andy Ward, Newcastle
Holy land in eye of beholder
RICHARD Ryan ("Words can quickly become ideas", Letters, 18/11): the Holy Land? Terra firma is only "holey" after humans mine or go to war with each other.
Harold Kronholm, Cessnock
It's not always better to be there
EIGHTEEN trips in 18 months, Anthony Albanese? Come on, you're taking the mickey out of us taxpayers. Haven't you heard about Skype or Teamviewer?
Michael McQuarrie, Merewether
Don't rubbish climate concerns
DON Fraser ("School protest nothing but a futile gesture", Letters, 21/11) again talking about "this climate rubbish"? What rubbish. Who puts these ideas in his head?
Michael Hinchey, New Lambton
Don't let history repeat on housing
I THINK Thomas Levick ("Hating Honeysuckle HQ no answer", Letters, 16/11) needs to do some research on public housing in Newcastle, especially on the harbour foreshore. Off the top of my head, public housing developments in Newcastle exist in Hamilton South, Merewether, Cooks Hill and Newcastle East. Those locations are all close to the city centre, some within walking distance; not exactly banished to the edge of civilisation as some seem to be suggesting.
The only one similar to the proposal being suggested for the Honeysuckle precinct is the Colliers Close development, which was a public/private venture on the old Zaara Street power station site. It overlooks the harbour foreshore, and like Honeysuckle was prime waterfront property. It was rammed through the approval process in the 1980s and I believe led to Labor losing the seat of Newcastle in 1988.
That development has proved to be less than ideal, with some of the privately-owned properties now also leased for public housing, I can only imagine because it is not attractive to the private rental market.
The similarities with Honeysuckle are obvious and onerous, and the outcomes may be the same. The sitting government has ignored Newcastle in the past and paid the price at the ballot box. The state's northern border is the Tweed River, not the Hawkesbury.