Change is in the air – and we don’t mean climate change


Today, in 2017, we see it on the news almost every day. We are victims of climate change. Climate change causes what the silly journalists of our mainstream media keep calling ‘natural’ disasters, even though more or less everyone knows that these disruptions are man-made. They are caused by our massive, collective pollution of the air.

So we witness hunger and famine, that leads to war, that leads to even more hunger and death and destruction, and I more and more often talk with people, both young and old, who think this situation is so depressing.

My response to them it is that this situation is anything but depressing.

First of all, if we let ourselves go into depression over what humans are doing to our planet and its weather systems, we get paralysed, stuck. And really, that is the last thing we need now.

What we need is active, bold action at all levels and in all corners of our community.

“Climate change is an extinction-level crisis and getting worse every day. No one is responding adequately. But together we can change the game.”
~ Doug Danoff, The Climate Mobilization, USA



What climate change is doing to our world – with worse to come – is deeply shocking, cruel and immoral, because it’s the direct result of decisions taken by people in suits in board rooms and political offices.

These people will eventually be held accountable for their actions. Just like war criminals are. As we will see it more and more clearly in the coming years: Climate change damages and kills people, animals and lives. Climate change is a crime against humanity.

The climate scientists have warned us for decades. Already in the 1960s they gave us a clear picture of the dangers we would be confronted with if we continued our path of burning fossil fuels.

Half a decade later, some governments – such as the Australian – wilfully choose to ignore the dangers, because they have been hacked by the fossil fuel industry. The business of producing energy from coal, oil and gas has long been one of the most profitable industries on the planet.

The Australian parliament has turned into a coal-clown circus of lies, denial and rising emissions. Today, Australia is the only wealthy nation still breaking energy emissions records, according to recent research from the Australia Institute.

» Adam Bandt – 17 October 2017:
Turnbull has capitulated to climate terrorists to wreck our climate: Bandt


Members of our government get away with lying

“Temperatures in Australia have only increased by 0.3 degrees over the past century, not the 1 degree usually claimed.”
Tony Abbott

» Sydney Morning Herald – 10 October 2017:
Five charts that show Tony Abbott is the one who has lost sight of the science








Free to pollute
Attempts have been made to say that it should not be free to pollute our atmosphere. But it still is. And that is where things have gone awfully wrong.

Why is it free? Because those people who benefit from polluting the sky don’t want to lose that privilege, and since the businesses they own are among the most profit-making companies in the world, they can afford to pay politicians what it costs to keep them doing nothing.

So even though we have known and been warned over half a century and more that our pollution is a growing treat to the entire civilisation, nothing seems to happen.

Only… that is actually not true! Because lots of things are happening, as the matter of fact.

Change in the air
There is another story to tell as well, which is that there is lots of very positive change in the air at the moment. This is why it is important to have a global outlook, because here and there, around the world, we see governments beginning to rise to the challenge.

For instance, some quite amazing climate action is being implemented in Holland now after parliamentarians have spent 200 days of negotiation about how they would form the next Dutch government: 

• All houses in the country, including existing houses, need to be gas free by 2050. They will fase it out as gas pipes needs to be replaced due to old age. 

• All coal fired power plants will need to be shut by 2030.

• The country’s new CO2 reduction target by 2030 is 49 per cent.

• For the next four years, four billion euros are being made available for energy and climate mitigation.

Oh, and to top it off there will be a climate law. The government will now be accountable for ensuring it meets its climate targets.

This is only some of the amazing climate related policies that have come out in the Netherlands. There will also be a carbon tax on trucks and business and a few other amazing things. Progress done properly.






Closer to home, New Zealand is another example. Our neighbouring country “have moved on,” as the country’s minister for climate put it, and acknowledges the threat of climate change and the need for urgent action. Cross-party.

I reported on this in April, read more here.


Businesses in action: from black to green
Businesses are stepping in. Along with authorities and governments at state level, such as the governments in South Australia and Victoria.

As we have seen in Geelong, Barwon Water is beginning to make a significant difference as a local climate action leader.

“Let’s create a world which runs entirely on green energy.”
~ www.orsted.dk, Denmark’s leading energy company

» Watch this inspirational video from Denmark’s largest energy company

While our politicians are making appalling and short-sighted decisions that result in record heat waves, destructive bush fires and hurricanes, flooding, extreme rains, prolonged drought and rising sea levels, citizens and businesses are quickly stepping up to do what is needed to protect our families from the growing dangers of climate change.

For instance, here is an energy company which has understood which way the wind blows and is transforming itself “from black to green”, as they say. And for that same reason they now change the company’s name: It used to be called DONG, which was an abbreviation for “Danish Oil and Natural Gas”. This no longer reflects what the company works with, so the company has now changed its name to Ørsted – inspired by the surname of the Danish scientist who discovered electromagnetism.

Brilliant! What should hold Geelong back from picking up that same mindset and creating sustainable businesses that will continue to thrive long after the industries based on fossil fuels have disappeared?

So far Ørsted has installed every fourth offshore wind turbine on the planet. By 2025 they expect to have installed enough offshore wind turbines to supply 30 million people with clean electricity.


Citizen power
But what is possibly most exciting of all, is that citizens are stepping up at an individual and grassroots local level. For instance, we just spent a top inspirational hour listening to Dan Cowdell at 94.7 The Pulse this week. He’s got some fantastic stories to share about what is happening in our local community. Together with the volunteers in Geelong Sustainability, he is showing what needs to get done, and how we can do it.

So, all I’m trying to say here is: there is no time to sit around and be in climate despair. We need your help to make this positive transformation happen, not at “full steam” – those days are over! – but at full power which is electric, green and clean.


Below is a mixed bags of clippings on the topic of climate change from recent weeks.


» Sciencebased Targets – 18 September 2017:
NIKE, Inc, Levi’s Among Retailers Joining Initiative to Tackle Climate Impacts


» Climate Home – 4 October 2017:
Australia only wealthy nation still breaking energy emissions records
“How did a country that launched one of the world’s first major carbon pricing schemes become a rogue polluter in just five years?”


“Australia has had its hottest winter on record with maximum average temperatures up by two degrees across the country as a result of climate change, according to a leading scientific study.”

» The New Daily – 19 September 2017:
Australian winter hottest, driest on record: report

» SMH – 4 October 2017:
‘Really awful’: 50-degree days possible for Sydney, Melbourne, as warming worsens
“Sydney and Melbourne can expect summer days when the mercury climbs to 50 degrees within a couple of decades if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, new research has found.”

» The Guardian – 18 September 2017:
Enough tiptoeing around. Let’s make this clear: coal kills people
“Burning more coal, knowing what we know, is a deliberate act of arson. We must urgently come to grips with this fact and reconnect with nature and our communities.”





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“Too late”

“I worry that we might not be able to recover from this because all our greatest cities are on the oceans and water’s edges, historically for commerce and transportation. And as storms kick in, as water levels rise, they are the first to go. And we don’t have a system – we don’t have a civilization with the capacity to pick up a city and move it inland 20 miles. That’s – this is happening faster than our ability to respond. That could have huge economic consequences.”
~ Neil deGrasse Tyson, American scientist and astrophysicist

» CNN – 17 September 2017:
Neil deGrasse Tyson says it might be ‘too late’ to recover from climate change


Lisa Bennett asks: How do we talk with children about climate change now that the evidence of it is too dramatic to miss?

“I was driving my son home from school last month when he grabbed my phone to Google something and announced:

“Neil de Grasse Tyson says it’s too late to solve climate change.”

“What?” I said with a mix of incredulity and anxiety. “That’s ridiculous.”

“It’s Neil de Grasse Tyson,” my 13-year-old responded matter-of-factly.

Point taken: I’m not a world-famous astrophysicist, bestselling author, and popular TV host.

But I am a mother. And as a mother, I know that messages like these, absent a larger context, are not good for our children—especially given the frighteningly fierce hurricanes we’ve witnessed over the past several months and the frighteningly fierce wildfires that are raging here in northern California where I live.

So how do we talk with children about climate change now that the evidence of it is too dramatic to miss? Here are five things I’ve found helpful to keep in mind.“

» Lisa Bennett – 11 october 2017:
The Most Helpful Thing To Tell Your Kids About Climate Change Now


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“If GDP goes down while other measures of well-being increase, what have we truly lost?”
~ David Suzuki, Canadian scientist and climate activist







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» The Guardian – 11 October 2017:
World will need ‘carbon sucking’ technology by 2030s, scientists warn
“New methods to capture and store emissions, such as planting more forests and pumping carbon underground, are currently costly and need testing.”



» Fast Company – 16 October 2017:
As Cities Adapt To Climate Change, They Can Protect The Wealthy – Or The Rest Of Us
“Our global economic system demands growth at all costs–but that imperative is causing the cities that support it to fall apart, author Ashley Dawson argues in his new book, ‘Extreme Cities’.”



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Waleed Aly nailing it as usual

“… is climate change a “notional” threat or a “probable” one? Perhaps the enduring assertiveness of climate scepticism within the Coalition makes this politically unanswerable. But, officially at least, we have a bipartisan consensus – reinforced just now by Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg – that climate change is real. And if it’s real, surely it’s extremely serious given the mass displacements and deaths it promises to deliver. Indeed, that would make it as serious as it gets; the kind of thing we should throw everything at, no matter how much it costs us. Does that mean it’s not a time “to have debates and arguments” about it?

We’re staring at a paradox here. One of democracy’s central conceits is that our best ideas are realised through debate. Presumably the idea is that government is so important that it cannot be left to the unchallenged whims of a regime. But if so, what does it mean to say a political issue is so serious it exists beyond politics? Is this meant to be a concession that political argument is often a confected game designed to stimulate an audience rather than solve a problem?”

» Sydney Morning Herald – 12 October 2017:
Focus on terror threats a convenient distraction from climate change

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‘Rising sea levels means everyone can live by the water!’
‘A message from the Australian Government’, satire via The Feed, SBS VICELAND, suggesting that what most people would consider a rather sad topic is actually a laughing matter.






It’s simple, and actually based on a totally irresponsible short-sighted and childish greed with no consideration for those who come after us. With more and more overwhelming climate science and news reports coming into our daily lives, our children are asking, “How come there aren’t any responsible adults around who can tell everyone to stop this madness?”, and I don’t blame them for using words like “shameful” and “disgusting”.

The way renewable energy technologies are now both cheaper, better and smarter than any old style of burning fossil fuels means we have absolutely NO excuse any longer for not closing down the use of these polluting methods to warm and cool our houses, cook our meals, drive our cars, etc.

» The Guardian – 12 October 2017:
Fossil fuels win billions in public money after Paris climate deal, angry campaigners claim
“Coal, oil and gas finance from major development banks totalled $5bn in year after historic climate pact, according to estimates.”





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Bishop: let’s get off of fossil fuels

In order to fight climate change, we need to unite in action that is collective, global, and shared, involving all strata of society all around the world.

» Catholic Climate Movement:
Bishop: let’s get off of fossil fuels








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“Prince Charles has waded into the controversial global climate change debate today, claiming global leaders have “catastrophically underestimated” the vulnerability of the ocean to climate change, acidification and pollution.”

» News.com.au – 5 October 2017:
Prince Charles: Decisive action must be taken to save marine life
“Prince Charles said climate change is the “huge elephant in the room” and action must be taken to save the world’s marine life.”




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Why are we not protected by the law?

The founders of the constitution of the United States of America recognised in the Fifth Amendment that it is a fundamental right of citizens to be free from government actions that harm life, liberty, and property.

The climate system, including its atmosphere and oceans, is tightly tied to this right. James Madison, who drafted the constitution, said in 1818: ‘The atmosphere is the breath of life’.

In Texas and in Florida, we saw our climate, infused by fossil fuel-created carbon pollution, infringe upon the inalienable right to life, liberty, and property.

Trump’s and the federal US government’s contribution to the climate crisis, with the cooperation of the fossil fuel industry, directly violates this right, and especially the youths’.

» Washington Examiner – 18 September 2017:
Rebuttal: Climate change is a threat to life, liberty, and property


» CBC – 13 October 2017:
Victoria asks fossil fuel companies to pay for climate change costs
“The city joins two other Vancouver Island municipalities sending an accountability letter.”






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Extreme Weather Conversation Starters

Climate Councillor and Professor Will Steffen wrote:

Australia has broken another round of records – but not the good type. We’ve just experienced Australia’s warmest winter on record, with average maximum temperatures reaching nearly 2°C above average. Climate Council’s new report shows that this exceptionally warm and dry winter was made 60 times more likely by climate change.

And concerningly, this record-breaking winter heat has set the scene for a dangerous bushfire season, which is starting earlier than normal in many parts of the nation.
Right now, we’re seeing extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change wreak havoc around the world.

Record breaking hurricanes in the Atlantic have devastated parts of the United States and Caribbean, while extreme flooding in South Asia has displaced tens of millions of people.

With climate change worsening extreme weather around the world, we need to make sure that the conversation about climate change remains front and centre.

Can you help get the message out by:



1. Sharing this report with your family and friends

2. Having a conversation about extreme weather at a BBQ or social event this spring?
 Here are some conversation starters to get the ball rolling:

Climate Council Extreme Weather Conversation Starters
• Australia just experienced its highest winter temperatures on record.

• More than 260 heat and low rainfall records were broken during the winter months in Australia.

• Australia’s average winter temperatures have increased by about 1°C since 1910, driven by climate change, as a direct result of burning fossil fuels, coal, oil and gas.

• Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma were made worse by climate change, in a super-charged climatic system that is increasing intense tropical cyclone activity.

• Climate change is causing Australia’s bushfire season to start earlier and last longer.

Every time we experience extreme weather events, we need to do as much as we can to bring the conversation back to climate change. Every time you have a conversation about climate change, share our reports, or write a letter to your local newspaper it is building momentum for climate change action.

As always, the solution to climate change remains the same. We must rapidly phase out our use of polluting fossil fuels and transition to clean, efficient and affordable renewable energy and storage technologies.

Thanks for your support
Professor Will Steffen
Climate Councillor

» www.climatecouncil.org.au



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“Against all the forces that encourage confusion, indecision, and delay, one institution bears the ultimate responsibility for educating the public and sounding the alarm: the media.”

» Los Angeles Times – 22 September 2017:
When will humans be horrified by climate change? When the media give it the coverage it deserves



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“I was proud to table in parliament a petition from thousands of people of faith calling for urgent action on climate change and a just transition to renewable energy.

The message and values of the communities of faith who supported the petition was loud and clear: we need to care for each other. We’ve seen over the last week in Bangladesh and Houston what climate change looks like. We can’t abandon our sisters, brothers, or neighbours to the crueller world that will be an inevitable result of climate change if we don’t act.”
~ Adam Bandt, 13 September 2017



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“This is a time for vision and for individuals who see the future, understand what is at stake, and are bold enough to make choices in the long term. That means more youth need to run for office to validate these problems and take accountability for fixing them.”
~ Danielle Fossett, USA

» Bustle – 15 September 2017:
Climate Change Isn’t A Political Issue, But It’s Why I Plan On Running For Office



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“What we need is another coal-fired power station”

Exchange in the Victorian parliament

Bernie Finn, Liberal Party: “When we talk about the damage of climate change, the damage is not to the planet. The damage of climate change is those who are what is known as global warmists, who promote this nonsense ad nauseam, and the threat that they pose is to other human beings — to families.”

Gregg Barber, The Greens: “You are digging your own grave right now.”

Mr Finn: “What we need in this state, in my personal view, is another coal-fired power station. That is what we need in this state. We have got more coal than we can poke a stick at. Why do we not use it?”

» Hansard – 21 February 2017:
Parliamentary debates



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“The idiot Prime Minister was on the idiot box blabbering about how Queensland’s renewable energy target would see a repeat of the “disaster” of South Australia. What disaster? Falling CO2 emissions and growing renewable energy generation? Poor management by the (national) Energy Market Operator? Purely an excercise in mudslinging.”
~ Ben Courtice



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“Climate change skepticism slows the global response to the greatest social, economic and ecological threat of our time.”
~ Matthew Hornsey, social psychologist



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» Gizmodo Australia – 26 September 2017:
Yet Another Giant Iceberg Has Broken Free From Antarctica
“Satellite images taken this past weekend show a new 267 km2 iceberg emerging from Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier.”



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“Nero never fiddled while Rome burned.It is a popular myth, but it’s simply not true — there were no fiddles back in Roman times. Nero is, however, reported to have sung a song about the sacking of Troy while watching as 70 per cent of Rome was swallowed by flames in a single blistering gulp. Some of our current crop of politicians have gone one better — they now laugh like small children whenever climate change is brought up.”

» Independent Australia – 16 September 2017:
Coalition MPs giggle, cackle, smirk and laugh in Parliament over climate change

It’s part of a trend in Australian politics for conservatives to openly mock, laugh and ridicule climate change, even as the Great Barrier Reef bleaches and dies, even as we notch up record hot year after record hot year, even as natural disasters such as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma increase in frequency and intensity worldwide.

When asked about climate change in June this year by a Liberal colleague, Australian Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg had a good laugh.

He spent 30 seconds answering the question and then two-and-a-half minutes openly laughing about an interview where Labor MP Andrew Leigh mentioned climate change could have an impact on the ski season.

“He’s just worried about one thing: losing the ski season,” guffawed Frydenberg.
Someone else who is worried about the ski season is the CSIRO, who warned climate change could shrink Australia’s ski season by 80 days a year by 2050.
But never let reality get in the way of a good joke…
~ Simon Black, 16 September 2017



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“The environmental damage done by burning fossil fuels is a significant “social cost” to the community. If you’re not prepared to use some form of carbon pricing to internalise this “externality” then subsidising the cost of emissions-free energy is the next-best policy.”
~ Ross Gittins

» SMH – 25 September 2017:
Everyone has a different excuse for the electricity stuff-up



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Call for a climate party

“Rightly or wrongly the greens are seen as a party of the left and are therefore unable to fulfil one of the most important requirements of a single issue party – that it appeal across the political spectrum. This appeal should be centrist and not left or right. The party should equally appeal to the conservative as to a green or labour voter.  The ‘climate’ party should be working to influence the political process and setting the political agenda rather than aiming to get people elected to parliament.”

» Peter Gardner – September 2017:
Why a single issue climate party is necessary



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Picture it…

“Picture it. The year is 2021, just four years from now. Cities and towns are embracing clean energy and sustainable living all over Australia, partnering with the Climate Council in a race to the top. Government attempts to starve organisations like the CSIRO of climate funding have backfired. Finally, we’re witnessing a renaissance of home-grown research, innovation and solutions making Australia proud. 

With the Trump era over, the dam of denial on climate change has finally broken. It’s no longer acceptable, even in the most reluctant corridors of power, to pretend we can just bury our heads in a coal mine. 

The world is racing ahead with solar farms, electric cars, clean public transport, powerful battery storage and distribution technologies, and carbon-friendly food production. We’ve reached a tipping point of community support for climate action and the years of fighting political gridlock are over.” 

~ Tim Flannery
Chief Climate Councilor






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