THE CLOCK STRUCK FIVE. At this cue, Tiffany Harrison stepped up onto the elevated platform wearing a long white gown, theatrical white makeup and magnificent hand-made organza wings ruffling gently in the sea breeze. She was one of seven Climate Guardian Angels (one angel to represent each of the Earth’s continents) in a performance piece that officially opened a sculpture exhibition in 2014. Held at Lorne, on Victoria’s iconic Great Ocean Road, it showed the seven climate guardian angels near the words ‘Coal Requiem’ spelt out with pieces of burnt wood and seaweed. Only a handful of people in that large crowd knew that the beautiful curly-haired angel that Tiffany personified that day was also a scientist who had stood as a candidate for federal parliament.
Seven months later, the scene changes to an important briefing session outside smart office buildings in Melbourne’s Docklands. At 6 a.m. on a clear, cold morning, Tiffany and others were about to occupy the headquarters of a major bank, as a gesture of support for 30 Pacific Climate Warriors. The Warriors, drawn from 13 island nations in the Pacific, were touring Australia to warn that many of their communities are already being displaced by rising sea levels, and to protest against Australia’s plans to expand its coal exports. Chief Kawea Sausiara from Vanuatu said:
The main thing we need to tell the Australians is this: Australia, you need to do more to help small countries like Vanuatu. In our islands we now have more periods of drought. We are experiencing more intense cyclones. We are experiencing sea level rise and coastal erosion. We are losing our coral reefs as temperatures change.
Tiffany is an active member of climacts.org.au