Looking back from the future

In The Sustainable Hour on 17 May 2017 we talk with a group of international students from Dueli, the English Language Institute at Deakin University, and their teacher Kate Simpson about the excuses for our inaction on climate – and how we are to explain them to future generations.

We talk with energy expert Dr Roger Dargaville about the 100% renewables future of our energy system.

We play the new song ‘Adani’ by Ruth Mundy, and audio snippets with Dr Trisha Shrum who is co-founder of DearTomorrow and was interviewed by Living on Earth, Senator Larissa Waters who talks brilliantly against the Adani coal mine, and UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed who says: “We have no excuse for failure”.


Listen to The Sustainable Hour no. 169 on 94.7 The Pulse:

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“We are the last people who can prevent catastrophe on the planet. We have no excuse for failure.”
Amina J. Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General, May 2017



How do we get to zero carbon?

In The Sustainable Hour on 17 May 2017 we talk with an energy and climate expert about what is required in order to reach the ‘Zero Carbon’ goal – to become a society where no one is polluting the air any longer. What will that clean energy system of the future look like?

Seeing that our governments are wilfully continuing to open new coal mines that wrecks our climate and continues to subsidise the fossil fuel industry, will our individual actions be able to get us there?

In The Sustainable Hour today, we are privileged to be able to talk with someone who has spent a lot of his time looking into that question:

Interview with Dr Roger Dargaville

Dr Roger Dargaville is Deputy Director and Senior Energy Analyst at the University of Melbourne Energy Institute. He is an expert in renewable energy systems, global carbon cycles and climate change adaptation.

In this interview, Dargaville talks about a large-scale solar technology called ‘concentrated thermal solar and storage’, which he expects will be a key element of a reliable zero carbon energy grid.

Beyond Zero Emissions presentation

On 3 April 2017, Dr Roger Dargaville gave this Beyond Zero Emissions discussion group presentation at University of Melbourne Energy Institute. The institute has been a Zero Carbon Australia project partner.

The kind of solutions that we and the climate need require bold government decisions – the kind of decisions we only a united government can deliver. Or, a ‘favourite benevalent dictator’ who is able to implement a price on carbon and invest billions in the clean energy sector. That won’t happen until we, Australia’s citizens and communities, begin to work – and vote – together in a very different manner than what we are seeing today.

» Contact details and more info about Dr Roger Dargaville


See also:

» The Guardian – 16 May 2017:
Large-scale solar industry takes off as 12 new plants secure finance
“Australia’s large-scale solar industry now appears to be on solid ground, with all 12 plants recently awarded grant funding by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency reaching “financial close” this month. That means they are fully financed and have locked in engineering, construction and grid connection agreements, as well as council and environmental approvals.”




 LISTENER SERVICE: 

Content of this hour

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


Most of us are well aware that what we are doing is not enough. But we all have our various personal excuses for why we continue to pollute the air even so, disregarding the knowledge that it will cause deadly disruptions on the planet in the decades to come. Will those excuses fall flat if we are asked to explain them in a letter for our children to read in the future? We test that on a group of Deakin students in The Sustainable Hour today.

Before that, we play a song which is written over the same theme:

Ruth Mundy: ‘Adani’

» Buy the song for $3 or more – all proceeds will go to GetUp’s campaign to stop the Adani megamine.

‘Adani’ – Lyrics

When you grow up and say to me,
“What did you do, to protect the world for me?”
When you say:
“Why, why are the coral reefs bleached,
the groundwater poisoned,
why are the oceans dead?”

I’ll say, “Well, we wanted to build a mine there,
By the Great Barrier Reef, yeah,
the biggest mine we could build, right there.”

So we paid a billionaire to screw your future up,
When you were too young to know.

And you’ll say, “Tell me at least that you tried to make it safe?
Tried to minimise the risks, or to make it worth your while?

And I’ll say, “Oh… this is a little awkward,
I guess looking back, in actual fact,
we gave public funds to someone known to be corrupt,
known for spilling coal and not cleaning up,
known for bribery and fraud,
known for tax evasion known for total devastation of villages and beaches, rivers and lives,
known for workers overworked and underpaid, known for workers half your age.”

When you grow up and say to me,
“What did you do, to protect the world for me?”
I’d like to hold my head high and say to you:
“I swear I did my best, my love, the rest is up to you.”

© Lyrics by Ruth Mundy. Released on 11 May 2017




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‘DearTomorrow’ – Send a message to the future

Your assignment: Write a letter to the future about the steps you are taking now to lessen climate disruption.

Grist wrote about the project:
“Back in 2014, Trisha Shrum and Jill Kubit had climate change on their minds. Both women were graduate students at Harvard — and also new moms.

“I started thinking about what I would say to my daughter,” Shrum says. How would she explain society’s lack of urgent climate action? Could she say she had done enough to stop climate change?

Shrum captured her thoughts in a moving letter to her daughter, postmarked for 2050. When Kubit heard about the letter in a student group, something clicked, and the pair decided to publish a collection of public letters, from this generation to the next, which would recast climate change from vague to personal.

That’s how DearTomorrow was born.

“We want to give people a lens to look at the issue differently,” Kubit says, “to get people to think about climate change through the eyes of their own children and grandchildren.”

The online community is now a forum for more than 500 letters, photos, and video messages. Last fall, the pair landed more than $170,000 in funding. They’ll need it: Shrum and Kubit’s goal is to post 10,000 messages and reach 20 million people over the next three years.”

» Home page: www.deartomorrow.org


Send your message to the future

“We are in the midst of the most important challenge in history: the transition to clean energy. Our children, grandchildren and future generations will look back on this moment and wonder what actions we took.

We are collecting and sharing letters, photos and videos about climate change action to inspire ourselves and others and to preserve this moment in history. All messages will be archived and made available in the years 2030 and 2050.

Be a part of this history. Add your voice to DearTomorrow


“Those excuses just fall flat”

Transcript of interview with ‘DearTomorrow’ co-founder Trisha Shrum

Trisha Shrum explained to Living on Earth’s Jenni Doering that the idea for ‘DearTomorrow’ flew into her head in 2014, somewhere far above the Atlantic, when she was flying home from a climate change conference in Iceland:

“At the same conference, there was also Christiana Figueres, the head of the UN climate negotiations. And she gave a talk and ended with this really haunting story, that she has this dream where the eyes of these children who are living in the future are looking at her and saying, ‘You knew about climate change. What did you do about it?’ And thinking about how that drives her and how that’s really what keeps her going and doing so many incredible things leading the climate negotiations, something kind of clicked for me.

And on the way back from that trip, I was thinking about my daughter, who was ten months old – it was the first time I’d been away from her – like, what would I say to her? What would I say to her now, and how could I capture this moment of how I feel today about climate change – in 2016 – in a way that she can relate to when she is my age? So I opened up my laptop and I wrote a letter to her.”

TRISHA SHRUM [READING LETTER FADES IN WITH TYPING SOUNDS UNDER]
Dear Eleanor,
You are not yet a year old, and I love you dearly…

“And the idea was that she was going to read it, I was going to send it to her, in the year 2050.”

SHRUM [READING LETTER]: …I’m on a plane right now, watching the sun set for four hours as we chase it through the sky…

“And I was just writing in a very honest, open way, of everything that I’ve been doing on climate change.”

[LETTER]: …I have been driven by the climate change problem for quite a few years now…

“The times I’ve struggled to feel like I was powerful enough, or that what I did really mattered enough to keep going.”

[LETTER]: …In 2009, we all hoped that we would reach an international agreement in Copenhagen. And the negotiations failed. I became so discouraged I stopped believing it was possible to come to a global agreement on climate change…

“And just realizing that all of that work and all the things that we do on climate change – suddenly, with my own daughter, it was very clear who I was working for.”

[LETTER]: …I don’t know what the climate will look like in the year 2050. I think you’ll have a very different coastline. Many animals will be gone. The coral reefs are probably gone. The coral reefs were beautiful. Your father especially loved snorkeling. We went snorkeling on our honeymoon in Thailand and saw beautiful creatures of all colors and unlikely shapes. When you are old enough to hold on to the memory, I’ll take you snorkeling so you can see them for yourself and tell your kids about them…

“And the moment that was probably the most powerful was when I was kind of almost giving my excuses as to why I hadn’t maybe gone as far or as full-in on climate change as I could have.”

[LETTER]: …I’ve tried, but, to be honest, I haven’t tried all that hard. Instead I’ve focused on my own life. I fell in love with your father and got married and had you. Normal beautiful things. But I stopped trying so hard…

“And, you know, saying like it’s so big, I’m so small, it’s so hard. And when you try to give excuses to your child about why you didn’t protect their future and why you didn’t enable the best possible world for them that you could. Those excuses just fall flat. You know, you can’t excuse yourself from your responsibility as a parent.”

[LETTER]: …And now I am beginning to see that for you, I need to try harder than ever before…

“And I started to think, you know, maybe if this is so powerful of a moment for me, if we could get other people to come in and write a letter or think about climate change from the perspective of, this is part of the legacy that I’m leaving for my kid, then that would be a way to really connect to people.”

[LETTER]: …I love nature so much. It has been my sanctuary and my church and my playground ever since I was a little girl. And I want you to have that. I want you to have the opportunity to enjoy the beauties and the fruits of the world I knew. It is such a beautiful world. I love you dearly, my sweet daughter. You are so small. So innocent. So beautiful. For you and for everyone else, I will try harder.
All my love,
Mama



Trisha Shrum brought her idea to write letters to the future back to Harvard, where she was a grad student. Fellow student Jill Kubit heard about a meeting to discuss a potential project on climate change, and she wanted to help. Since then Jill and Trisha have posted many of the letters they’ve gathered on the DearTomorrow.org website – where, they hope, they may help spur some action.

Trisha Shrum: “We want an institution that can archive these letters so they’re gonna be available when our kids are grown, but also when we are long-gone dust in the wind and that this is a historical archive for generations to come. And then in 2030 and 2050, and potentially beyond, we want to set up a public exhibition of these letters.”

» Listen to the 10 minute Public Radio International interview about DearTomorrow

» Link up with DearTomorrow on Facebook:
www.facebook.com/DearTomorrow




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“Dear Tomorrow…”

Letters from a group of international students from Dueli, the English Language Institute at Deakin University, and their teacher, Kate Simpson

Kate Simpson

Kate Simpson’s letter



Amanda’s letter



Marvin

Marvin’s letter



Crystal

Crystal’s letter


Allana

Allana’s letter



Ivan

Ivan’s letter

» Read more about DearTomorrow project on www.deartomorrow.org




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Senator Larissa Waters



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If we work together…

“We’re going to win if we work together as one, because the power of the people is so much stronger than the people in power.”
Bono, lead singer in the rock band U2


 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


Fake news: a new form of political weapon

In his 167th ‘Time to Wake Up’ speech, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse discusses a new political weapon: systematic fake news. It has its roots in the ‘original fake news’, climate denial. Published on youtube.com on 17 May 2017.


#StopAdani

“If we wait for catastrophe to happen, as we are doing, it will be too late to act. Time is the most important commodity; to avoid catastrophic outcomes requires emergency action to force the pace of change. Australia, along with the Asian regions to our north, is now considered to be “disaster alley”; we are already experiencing the most extreme impacts globally. In these circumstances, opening up a major new coal province is nothing less than a crime against humanity.”
~ Ian Dunlop, former international oil, gas and coal industry executive, chairman of the Australian Coal Association and chief executive of the Australian Institute of Company Directors

A timely and brilliant article by Ian Dunlop in Canberra Times.





Together we stopped fracking in our area. Now we will join thousands of Australians to stop Adani’s insane, climate-destroying coal mine.

» Come to the community meeting on 24 May 2017 at Beav’s Bar in Geelong


https://www.facebook.com/TheSustainableHour/posts/1558712147535288









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Climate change


 Danish climate scientists: 

We must reach Zero Carbon in less than two decades

“It’s no use only in 2030 to be reaching 50 percent renewable energy, and then planning to be completely free of fossil fuels after 2050. Our task is to get the emissions down sharply, and preferably down to zero over the next two decades.”
~ Sebastian H. Mernild, Professor of Climate Change (Dr. Scient) and Managing Director of Nansen Center, Norway, and Jens Hesselbjerg Christensen, Professor of Climate Physics, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen – in a chronicle in the Danish newspaper Berlingske [in Danish language]



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 Australian government budget: 

Astonishing near eradication of climate change policy

“This week’s budget saw an astonishing near eradication of climate change policy from the federal government’s agenda. The Emissions Reduction Fund is virtually empty and the Climate Change Authority is on its way to being shut. While Snowy 2.0 offers the (distant) promise of large scale storage, there was a $90m windfall for gas and nothing for renewables beyond the retention of ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.”
~ Andrew Bray, National Coordinator, Australian Wind Alliance



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“This is a battle between communities and fossil fuel companies”

Peter Owen, director of The Wilderness Society Team in South Australia, wrote:

Those elected to represent us are choosing to support Big Oil over you and me. That’s the clear message coming out of the deadlocked Senate Committee after it finally released its report on the future of oil and gas drilling in the Great Australian Bight last week.

The Labor and Liberal parties backed Big Oil, while The Australian Greens and the Nick Xenophon Team both recommended that no oil and gas development should be allowed in the Bight.

With our major political parties abandoning us, the Senate Inquiry report only confirms what we already knew — this is a battle between communities and fossil fuel companies.

» See the Senate Report – 11 May 2017:
‘Oil or gas production in the Great Australian Bight’

» Read more and sign up for a petition kit on www.fightforthebight.org.au


“What we are witnessing is a total system change. It has happened before, in not much more than a decade, when the horseless carriage replaced the horse-drawn carriage. And this system change is capable in principle of changing the face of civilisation: much for the better. Renewables have so many social advantages over fossil fuels, from the bottom of the energy ladder to the top.”
~ Jeremy Leggett



Solutions and positive news


Cities100 – PDF, 168 pages

To find out how cities all around the world are stepping up to become leaders in clean energy and sustainable development, download the Cities100 illustrated guide.





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Local governments a leader on climate action

Research conducted as part of BZE’s Zero Carbon Communities project shows that nearly one in five Australian communities and councils have set zero emissions or 100% renewable energy targets.

The survey shows that local governments and communities are leading the way in setting zero emissions targets. Communities want strong climate action, and in many cases have the capability to deliver on zero emissions targets.

» RenewEconomy – 21 June 2016:
One in five local councils aiming for zero emissions or 100% renewables
“Communities and local governments want zero emissions and 100% renewable energy targets and are leading the nation on climate action, new research released today by climate think tank Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) shows.”





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“The cost of wind and solar energy has fallen so much they are now out-competing gas and coal, and experts are saying that will price gas out as a transition fuel. The latest news comes from Stockyard Hill Wind Farm in Victoria, where Origin Energy has just signed a deal to buy power for a record $55/MWh, and India, where solar has just seen a 40% price drop.”

» Australian Wind Alliance – 15 May 2017:
Wind, solar + storage cheaper than gas and coal


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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.”
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