Cyclones, cyclists, zero carbon and a coal baron

A Sustainable Hour around cycling without helmets, road safety, zero carbon, cyclones, coal and climate change – and a butterfly whisperer who laughs in our face about the prospect of him facing a climate crimes tribunal.

Interviews with comedian Mandy Nolan about cyclones and the #StopAdani campaign, and with Danish road safety expert Jesper Sølund about cycling and helmets.

Audio clips with Alan Todd from Freestyle Cyclists in the Bicycle Show on 94.7 The Pulse, Tony Walker and Barnaby Joyce in Q&A on the ABC, Adam Bandt MP asking a cyclone & butterfly-effect question to the coal-alition in the Australian parliament, plus a longer row of speakers in New Zealand’s parliament talking about cyclones in the context of cross-party climate change action: Scott Simpson from the National Party, David Parker from Labour, Kennedy Graham, James Shaw and Julie Anne Genter from the Green Party, Peter Dunne from United Future, and Tracey Martin from New Zealand First.


Listen to The Sustainable Hour no. 167 on 94.7 The Pulse on 3 May 2017:

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“Ultimately, we are all in this extraordinary saga together.”
Dr Kennedy Graham, Greens member of the New Zealand Parliament





 LISTENER SERVICE: 

Content of this hour

Links, excerpts and more information about what we talked about in this Sustainable Hour


Barnaby, what would be your defense?

“You are on the record denying the science around climate change. The science clearly says that those blocking climate change action could end up with the deaths of many people, perhaps even millions, on their hands. I wonder if you ever worry about being wrong. And whether, after some catastrophic climate-related event, you ever worry about the prospect of facing a climate crimes tribunal. What would be your defence?”
~ Tony Walker’s question to Barnaby Joyce on Q&A – which Barnaby laughed about in response, and then didn’t answer

Ask a Deputy Prime Minister a question he doesn’t like, and he will flutter away like a butterfly.

» More about the tv-show on www.abc.net.au

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Global warming: a crime against humanity

“There can be no greater crime against humanity than the foreseeable, and methodical, destruction of conditions that make human life possible. The moral, and existential, implications of human-caused climate change should by now have triggered full-scale, World War II style effort to end fossil fuel dependence and associated greenhouse gas emissions.

The global community ought to have engaged in a renewable energy “arms race” years ago. Instead, we burn away time while fossil fuel interests fund negligent campaigns of disinformation and politicians stage fake debates over the science of climate change.”
Lawrence Torcello, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Rochester Institute of Technology in the United States


» The Guardian – 30 April 2017:
Yes, I am a climate alarmist. Global warming is a crime against humanity

» Retweet:

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“To destroy our planet with malice aforethought, with only the most immediate profits on the brain, with only your own comfort and wellbeing (and those of your shareholders) in mind: Isn’t that the ultimate crime? Isn’t that terracide?”
~ Tom Engelhardt, essayist and editor

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Minister spruiks coal while cyclone rages

Adam Bandt asks the Prime Minister if his duty to keep Australia safe includes stopping more intense cyclones

“But on the very day Queenslanders were preparing for Cyclone Debbie, your resources minister dropped a front-page story spruiking a new coal-fired power station in that very state, and you backed him. Given the destruction that cyclones wreak upon our country, why do you push policies like burning more coal, which will make cyclones more intense?”
Adam Bandt MP

» Published on youtube.com on 28 March 2017

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Barnaby: It’s our ‘moral obligation’ to destroy the climate

“Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has defended the proposed Adani coal mine in Queensland, saying Australia has a “moral obligation” to help poorer nations,” Sydney Morning Herald reported:

» Sydney Morning Herald – 2 May 2017:
Q&A: Barnaby Joyce says Australia has ‘moral obligation’ to supply coal to poorer nations

Comment

Well NO NO NO! We don’t have any “moral obligation” to supply anyone with coal. That is like saying that Columbia has a “moral obligation” to supply Australians with cocaine!

We may be obliged morally to help poorer nations get access to electricity – but most of the really poor who do not have electricity live quite remotely and do not have access to the grid anyway … so the cheapest and most efficient way to get electricity to them is to supply them with solar electricity!

So Barnaby – you can get off your high horse and start working out how we can develop and EXPORT solar panels to third world countries!
… and we can then #keepitintheground 🙂
… oh and the BEST WAY to develop solar exports is to put a #priceoncarbon
~ 100% Renewable Energy


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EDITORIAL

How to spot a butterfly whisper

Beware of the butterfly whisperers. They speak in coded language. Often what they say is the direct opposite of the truth. For instance, they will tell you “coal is good for humanity”. That exporting coal to India is our “moral obligation.” That objection to the Adani coal mine is to object “developing our nation”. They’ll even go as far as telling you that generating electricity from burning coal is “sustainable”.

Which obviously is wrong, and considering the devastating consequences the climate emergency has on our society, this misleading of an entire population should be held accountable and judged in our courts, just as many other types of cheating and lying is. As the questioner in Q&A hinted, it is likely that the courts will be looking into this in the years to come.

Professor Lawrence Torcello said last week what needs to be said about this topic that “The global community ought to have engaged in a renewable energy “arms race” years ago. Instead, we burn away time while fossil fuel interests fund negligent campaigns of disinformation and politicians stage fake debates over the science of climate change. There can be no greater crime against humanity than the foreseeable, and methodical, destruction of conditions that make human life possible.”


For now, what each of us need to understand – and make our friends and colleagues understand – is that the manipulation and lying has only one single purpose: to delay the transition from polluting fossil fuels to clean and cheap renewable energy sources. To delay the construction of that zero carbon society, which everyone knows is where we are heading.

Some examples of our government leaders’ immoral butterfly-speak. On 1 May 2017, the Prime Minister was quoted in The Guardian as saying:

“The idea that Australia, the largest coal exporting nation in the world, the idea that we would suddenly walk away from that enormous resource is extraordinary.”


What is extraordinary here is that Malcolm Turnbull can get away with telling us this, when he – the same person – told us this in 2010 that,

“Climate change is real, it is affecting us now, and it is having a particularly severe impact on Australia. And yet, right now, we have every resource available to us to meet the challenge of climate change except for one: and that is leadership. Our efforts to deal with climate change have been betrayed by a lack of leadership, a political cowardice the like of which I have never seen in my lifetime before.”


Malcolm Turnbull said this in a speech at the Deakins on the Politics of Climate Change in 2010. Back then, he also stated that we have “zero carbon budget left” – meaning: we cannot allow ourselves to burn any more fossil fuels:

“Our response to climate change must be guided by science. The science tells us that we have already exceeded the safe upper limit for atmospheric carbon dioxide. We are as humans conducting a massive science experiment with this planet. It’s the only planet we’ve got.”
Malcolm Turnbull in 2010



Well, science is telling us to stop burning coal. For instance, scientists from University of Oxford said last year that to avoid dangerous global warming, 2017 is the last year energy companies can build new coal power plants. “For policy makers who think of climate change as a long-term future issue this should be a wake-up call,” said Cameron Hepburn, co-author of the study, back then.

“Research published last year by four Oxford economists and scientists concluded that to keep climate change to below 2°C, no new coal plants can be built after 2017 unless they have zero emissions.”

“Climate models give a glimpse of the Australia we are creating. They show the nation’s wheatbelts, from Esperance to the Wimmera, dried to a crisp. They show the Queensland coast being thrashed more relentlessly by fiercer storms. They show a rash of summer bushfires that make Black Saturday look like candles on a cake. But they do not show the reef. By the end of the century, we will have boiled it to death. This is the Australia we are creating. Even more, it is the Australia we will have to accept if the Adani mine is approved.”

» The Guardian – 17 April 2017:
Adani is not just another coalmine, it is a turning point for the nation

Why we need to get involved about this is because in the meanwhile – while our government is doing all the worng things, spruiking coal and expensive investments in a dying industry – Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions continue to go up. According to the government’s own figures. In a global context, measured per capita, Australia has the shameful position of being one of the most polluting, climate-wrecking nations on the entire planet.

Malcolm Turnbull knows all this too well. Yet he choses to go out and call it an “extraordinary idea” that we have to stop digging up coal. How utterly disgusting and shameful is that? Who is talking about lack of climate action leadership and political cowardice now?

Turnbull sold his heart, his pride and dignity to the dark side: a polluting, dirty coal industry.


New coal mines ‘developing our nation’
Finance minister Mathias Cormann went on to describe the decision by Westpac to place tougher restrictions on lending to new coal projects as “strange”:

“It was a strange decision. Obviously coal is our second-biggest export as a country and there are about six mines have had Queensland government approval as I’m advised. Six mines in the Galilee Basin, about 16,000 jobs, and for any major bank to essentially issue a blanket refusal to be involved in any financing is a very, very disappointing development indeed,” Cormann said, and then he though he might as well distort the topic into being a question of whether we want to “develop our nation” or not:

“Some of our major banks seem more focused on investing in real estate than they do investing in the growth of our country.” “[We] often have to go overseas to other pension funds and banks to look for interest in developing our nation.”
~ Matt Canavan, resources minister, criticising Westpac for its decision to place tougher restrictions on lending to new coal projects

Barnaby Joyce, the butterfly baron, talks about ‘moral obligation’. We would like to remind Australia’s prime minister and his team of butterfly-whisperers about those wise words about moral and responsibility which Pope Francis recently said in a TED-talk:

“Please, allow me to say it loud and clear: the more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly. If you don’t, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other. There is a saying in Argentina: “Power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach.” You feel dizzy, you get drunk, you lose your balance, and you will end up hurting yourself and those around you, if you don’t connect your power with humility and tenderness.”


» TED.com:
His Holiness Pope Francis: Why the only future worth building includes everyone

» Transcript



The true trademark of the oil-gas-coal industry: They say one thing in public, but internally, they think something completely different. Their business model is based on the careless assumption that we can allow global warming to reach a level that the entire world’s (real) climate scientists keep warning us will create a dramatic disaster for all life this planet.


“The oil players all embrace renewable energy, but they do not regard it as something that will upset their business models. (…) Renewables have as yet only become a significant factor in the power sector, not in heating and industry, and certainly not in the transport sector, which is crucial to the future of oil.”
~ Karel Beckman, Energy Post’s editor-in-chief, reporting from Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi


“Frankly they’re not being honest”

Coal is in demise. “There’s no way to sugar coat that. When politicians tell you the opposite, frankly they’re not being honest”
~ Kobad Bhavnagri, a leading energy analyst from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, 3 May 2017



“Our Prime Minister doesn’t want to accept that reality, because three of Australia’s four biggest exports are fossil fuel exports. That is a problem for us. But it is a bigger problem if our government refuses to acknowledge the problem.”
~ Tim Buckley, industry analyst


“If the government approves this monstrous mine it will be committing environmental treason against every Australian who values our farmers, our coasts, our bush and our way of life.”
Hamish McKenzie

“The Australian government’s stubborn support of the Carmichael mine is beyond comprehension. It defies logic on so many levels: environmental, political and financial.”
The Climate Institute


» More on the topic of science here

» More on the Stop Adani campaign here







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More butterfly-effect questions from Adam Bandt



“Are you happy to use tax payer funds to threaten our way of life?”
Adam Bandt MP



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Click to read more

Zero carbon in Geelong

It has taken years and years to get there, but last week it was finally decided upon: Geelong Council is now heading firmly for becoming a council that doesn’t pollute our atmosphere and wreck the climate.

The administrators approved a new and finalised Zero Carbon Emissions Strategy for City of Greater Geelong on Wednesday 26 April 2017
.

Council is going to cut its own emissions to HALF in just three years. That’s ambitious, actually. But where an organisation like Barwon Water has set the zero carbon goal line at 2025 – in just eight years – and Ballarat City Council talks about doing it in less than ten years, Geelong Council expects it to take another 25 years before they’ll get there, in 2050.

“We do rely on partnerships with businesses and communities, but we will be making sure that we do as much as we can to try and educate the residents…” the administrators said at their meeting.

Reporters from our local newspapers attended the meeting, but decided not to mention this with a single word.

» Read more

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Zero carbon in Ballarat

Ballarat City Council aims to become carbon neutral in less than ten years under a bold plan.

At a meeting on the same night as administrators met in Geelong to approve a new Zero Carbon Emissions Strategy, Ballarat councillor Belinda Coates put forward a motion calling for carbon reduction and action on climate change in Ballarat.

“It is clear that the community does want leadership from our council when it comes to action on climate change,” said Cr Coates.

So this is what was agreed in Ballarat City Council on 26 April 2017:

Carbon reduction and action on climate change

RESOLUTION:
That Council, in recognition of the need for carbon reduction and action on climate change resolves to:

1. Develop a strategy and implementation action plan for the City of Ballarat to strive towards achieving carbon neutrality with the consideration of a 2025 target;

2. Develop a renewable energy action plan for the City of Ballarat to move towards 100% renewables as sources of energy by 2025;

3. Work with the community, business and not-for-profit sectors to reduce community emissions and move towards renewables; and

4. Commence the development of these strategies and plans as soon as possible.

Moved: Cr Daniel Moloney. Seconded: Cr Belinda Coates. Carried.

» Minutes (PDF, page 30)

» The Courier – 23 April 2017:
Carbon neutral target motion

https://www.facebook.com/ActOnClimateVic/posts/248133105654088

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Alan Todd

Alan Todd from Frestyle Cyclists talks about the mandatory helmet rule and cycling’s benefit to ourselves and to society – a three minute excerpt of a 30 minute interview in the Bicycle Show on 94.7 The Pulse
  
» Download and listen to the full interview in the Bicycle Show

» Alan Todd on Twitter: @alantodd54

Poster for protest rally in Melbourne earlier this year



Five years ago, in 2012, Alan Todd did this interview on Channel 7


“If you logically follow the path and strategies of helmet laws you would need to make compulsory the wearing of gloves for protecting hands! Full length clothing for legs and arms… etc… etc. Just wrap us in cotton wool!!
Strangely no one is considering banning SMOKING, we know that cost the health system millions of dollars!!”

Mark, 28 May 2014

Mik’s comment to Alan Todd and Freestyle Cyclists:
Thank you for the consistent work you are doing to point this out. Having lived most of my life in Denmark, where we have the freedom to decide when we think it is relevant to wear a helmet and when there really is no reason for it at all – as we have with so many other choices we make as adult human beings, responsible parents and informed citizens – it is shocking to see how only one per cent of the population in this city where I live, Geelong, use the bicycle to get to school or work. In Copenhagen, more than half of the residents use their bike every morning for that purpose.

This has got to change, and according to the graphs and facts you show on your website, it is even more clear to me that mandatory helmet laws are one of the showstoppers if we want that change to happen.

» More on this topic here

Advertisement for tourism in Denmark: ‘Freestyle’ riding associated with happy and healthy outdoor imagery

“We have figured out that if we introduce compulsory bicycle helmets, we can, in one night, halve the ridership on bicycles”
Jan Gehl, Danish city planner, consultant and author

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Road safety survey

If you are concerned about the safety of cyclists and pedestrians in Geelong, then please let the city’s planners know: Take the Geelong Road Safety Survey 2017

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The amazing health benefits of cycling we never knew about

“If cycling to work reduces cancer and heart disease then a law which reduces the number of people riding to work will increase the incidence of cancer and heart disease. This is exactly what mandatory bike helmets did – it reduced the number of people cycling to work.”
~ Freestyle Cyclists

“On yer bike – if you don’t want to die of heart disease or cancer, according to a new study.”

» The New Daily – 20 April 2017:
Cycling to work cuts risk of cancer: study

» BBC News – 20 April 2017:
Cycling to work can cut cancer and heart disease, says study

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Sustainable transport and road safety

Road user crashes: In four and a half years, from 2012 to 2016, 74 cyclists were seriously injured in Geelong and three cyclists were killed. The suburb which had the highest number of crashes and accidents – nine of them – was Belmont.

In that same period there were 24 other fatal crashes, two thirds of them died in their car or truck. One out of ten who got killed was a pedestrian. Two thirds of the fatal crashes occurred during the day.


Jesper Sølund came to Geelong and Ballarat to talk about transport safety. In Geelong, he spoke at a Barwon Region Road Safety Forum which aimed to provide an opportunity for planners and NGOs to discuss shared solutions.

Jesper Sølund was introduced to the participants as “a Road Safety expert from Denmark”. He spoke on the significant reduction in the Danish road toll, similarities between Denmark and Victoria, how road safety is a shared responsibility and the role municipalities play in an effort to prevent road accidents.

During the 12 months up to March 2017, 172 pedestrians were killed on the road in Victoria. According to the ACRS, “The risk of dying as a result of tripping and falling on a footpath is 23 times higher than being killed by a bicycle.”

Geelong Road Safety Survey 2017

When walking what concerns you most about your safety?
I feel treated like a second-class citizen. Someone who is not supposed to be here. I feel discriminated both by aggressive, stressed car drivers who sometimes deliberately try to run me down or overspeed, and by the lack of measures, sometimes even death traps, which council planners have laid out for us pedestrians. We are hunted animals.

When walking, what is the one thing that would improve your safety?
Zebra crossings. Like the one at the hospital in Bellerine Street: real zebra crossings, visible, and at busy roads with blinking orange lights. That includes zebra crossings in traffic lights which should replace all roundabouts.

When travelling by bicycle, what concerns you most about your safety?
Lack of bicycle lanes.

One thing that would improve safety:
Real bicycle lanes which are separated from cars. Like in Europe: bicycle lanes must be together with the footpaths, then the parked cars, and then the road for cars.

When travelling by car, what concerns you most about your safety?
Speed. People drive too fast, and to allow 50 km/h in small roads in the CBD is madness. Allowing 100 km/h on small roads in the countryside is madness as well.

When travelling by car, what is one thing that would improve your safety?
Speed limits (and speed cameras)

When travelling by train, what concerns you most about your safety?
Nothing at all.

What do you think are the three main factors that most often lead to serious road accidents?
• Speeding
• Speed limits are too high
• Alcohol

The Safe System approach to road safety has four key components:
Safer People – our behaviour on the road
Safer Speeds – the speeds we drive at
Safer Roads – the roads we drive on
Safer Vehicles – the vehicle we drive in
In the next 5 years, initiatives in which of these components do you think will have the greatest influence on reducing fatal and serious crashes in Geelong?
Safer Speeds – the speeds we drive at

What do you think is the biggest road safety issue in Geelong?
That there are more and more people who, for health, financial and climate reasons, would like to do more walking and cycling, but they can’t, because there is no safe infrastructure in place for them. This creates huge amounts of tension on the roads, and accidents.

What is one thing that would improve the situation?
Start building a new and improved infrastructure, which is not only designed for cars, one street at a time.

Do you have any other comments about improving road safety in Geelong?
Thank you for doing this survey! Hopefully it could be the start of something safer and better in this city.

» Have your say! On: www.surveygizmo.com

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Ballarat boosts bikes

Ballarat City Council has adopted a new bike plan aimed to get more people on bikes in the regional city between now and 2025.



“For the first time, cycling infrastructure planning is approached in a similar manner to public transport planning, which focusses on linking people between destinations,” Council said.

The Ballarat Cycling Action Plan (2017–2025) notes that bike riding “provides a convenient and low-cost transport option for residents and is an important opportunity to help address issues of congestion and parking. Each person who rides instead of drives, frees up the road and parking spaces for those who want to drive.”

The actions based plan will help transition Ballarat to a more sustainable transport future. The plan recognises that residents and visitors will increasingly be looking for cheaper, more enjoyable and convenient transport alternatives to move across the municipality. 

The plan outlines practical steps to be delivered over the short, medium and long term making Ballarat a more attractive and enjoyable place for cyclists, and embeding cycling as a core mode within Ballarat’s integrated transport system.



“Central to the plan is the development of a cohesive network of cycling routes between destinations, targeted at novice or everyday riders known as the Ballarat Bicycle Network (BBN). The network will provide continuous, safe, predominately off-route paths to encourage more people to cycle as a mainstream mode of transport,” Council said.

» The Ballarat Cycling Action Plan (2017–2025) – Volume 1 (PDF)

» Volume 2, Technical Report, part 1 (PDF)

» Volume 2, Technical Report, part 2 (PDF)

» Council meeting minutes

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A terrific look at the history of city cycling in the Netherlands, and how the cycling culture and legal changes grew together to become a global model for sustainable, safe, efficient and healthy transport.

The ‘presumed liability law’, for e.g., puts the onus on the heavier more powerful vehicles to look out for the more vulnerable. There’s a ‘sustainability principle’ that applies across the board, and is a good example of how a change in one area can employ a principle that helps change happen ‘systemically’ in other areas.

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New network of ‘Cycle Super Highways’ in Denmark

The Danish Capital Region’s cyclists now have access to Denmark’s first interconnected regional network of Cycle Super Highways. Measuring 115 kilometres in total, the five new routes connect 13 municipalities without crossing any busy freeways.

It will increase traffic safety for both cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers due to the more secure byways, cross-sectional improvements, new and better coatings, and extension of one-way lanes.

» Read more on www.stateofgreen.com


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New Zealand has moved on: Cross-party support for climate action

Paula Bennett, Minister for Climate Change Issues and Deputy Prime Minister, New Zealand

» Centre for Climate Safety:
New Zealand has moved on: Cross-party support for climate action



 ADDITIONALLY: 

In other news

From our notes of this week: news stories and events we didn’t have time to mention but which we think you should know about



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No excuse for failure

“This is not a red or a blue issue. There is no excuse for failure. This is the biggest test facing human civilization and we have to respond and win this battle.”
Bernie Sanders, American senator

» The Guardian – 28 April 2017:
Bernie Sanders takes aim at Trump on climate ahead of march in DC
“There is no area where Trump is more wrong than on climate change. Bill proposes switch to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050.”

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» New York Times – 18 April 2017:
Review: Worried About a Sustainable Tomorrow? There’s Hope


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IRENA’s roadmap

In 2016, the second edition of IRENA’s global renewable energy roadmap – REmap – showed how the world can double the share of renewable energy in the energy mix within the next decade, reducing global CO₂ emissions from energy use with 35 per cent. “A review of the best practices among different countries shows how it can be done,” IRENA wrote.

The problem with IRENA’s 2016-roadmap is that it doesn’t acknowledge that climate science today tells us we need this transition to renewable energy sources to happen much faster than that.

» International Renewable Energy Agency – 2016:
Roadmap for a renewable energy future (PDF, 172 pages, 11MB)



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Acknowledgement

We at The Sustainable Hour would like to pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land on which we are broadcasting, the Wathaurong People, and pay our respect to their elders, past, present and future.

The traditional owners lived in harmony with the environment and with the climate for hundreds of generations. It is not clear – yet – that as European settlers we have demonstrated that we can live in harmony for hundreds of generations, but it is clear that we can learn from the indigenous, traditional owners of this land.

When we talk about the future, it means extending our respect to those children not yet born, the generations of the future – remembering the old saying that…



The decisions currently being made around Australia to ignore climate change are being made by those who won’t be around by the time the worst effects hit home. How utterly disgusting, disrespectful and unfair is that?




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Hours and hours of sustainable podcasts

Listen to all of The Sustainable Hour radio shows in full length and in selected excerpts:

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“Participation – that’s what’s gonna save the human race.”
Pete Seeger, American singer