Guests in The Sustainable Hour on 13 February 2019 are two first-time councillors of the Greater Geelong City Council: Cr Sarah Mansfield, Chair of the Environment and Sustainability Portfolio, and Cr Stephanie Asher, Chair of the Planning Portfolio. They talk about their achievements in the 15 months since election, and about what happened to the ‘Clever and Creative’ 30-year future vision’ for Geelong. Though they admit climate change is not a top agenda priority at Council meetings, they also give clear direction as to how the community holds the key to change that — if we want to.
“The way to make an impact is to be polite, be persistent and be organised.”
~ Stephanie Asher, Councillor, City of Greater Geelong
Colin Mockett‘s World View takes a look at the statistics on natural disasters in Australia: What is the cost?
We play a clip from the Sustainable Living Festival in Melbourne where Greta Thunberg was opening speaker at the Great Debate event. The songs are Prince Ea‘s ‘Man vs Earth’, and Missy Higgins‘ ‘The Difference’. More info below.
Listen to The Sustainable Hour no. 254 on 94.7 The Pulse:
» To open or download this programme in mp3-format, right-click here (Mac: CTRL + click)
Content of this hour
Links, excerpts and more information about what we talked about in this Sustainable Hour
#CLIMATEEMERGENCY #FRIDAYSFORFUTURE #CLIMATESTRIKE:
Greta’s presentation at the National Sustainable Living Festival
Via a live video link from Stockholm to Melbourne, Greta Thunberg was the opening speaker at a sold-out Great Debate event at the National Sustainable Living Festival in Australia on 8 February 2019.
While standing in front of the Parliament in Stockholm, and with a tv-crew from BBC waiting for their turn, she appeared relaxed and smiling on the screens in a hall of a 400-person audience near Federation Square.
Bernie Hobbs was the MC of the evening, talking with Greta from the stage.
The title for the evening’s two-hour panel debate was: ‘What’s the best game plan for large scale rapid change?’, and the program text furthermore asked: “We are in a state of climate emergency and disruptive solutions are now our only chance. The climate movement is as broad in its approaches as it is diverse, and the debate for the most effective catalyst for change rages across its spectrum. Where will the most effective trigger for change come from? From our parliament, from the corporate boardrooms, or from the streets? Join us for this pivotal Festival Great Debate as our presenters battle it out to convince you of the most effective form of disruptive change.”
» Read more about the event on www.slf.org.au.
The Global School Strike for climate action is on 15 March 2018.
» The Guardian – 15 February 2019:
‘The beginning of great change’ / Greta Thunberg hails school climate strikes
The 16-year-old’s lone protest last summer has morphed into a powerful global movement challenging politicians to act
Climate leaders in conversation with The Sustainable Hour
“The enthusiasm of youth meets the wisdom of two long-time veterans,” wrote Mark about this this podcast episode of Climactic:
“Mik and Anthony are names and faces familiar to many in the Australian sustainability community. Their show, The Sustainable Hour, has been running for over half a decade, with over 250 hours of great climate change discussion and interviews and growing. They joined Mark on the side of the Sustainable Living Festival to talk to two younger, fresher faces, Anthony and Fatima, who joined with other leaders of the nationwide School Strike for Climate movement for the next stage of the campaign for a safe future, Climate Leaders. Enjoy this spirited discussion, where the enthusiasm of youth meets the wisdom of two long-time veterans.”
» Climactic podcast – 12 February 2019:
Sustainable Living Festival Bonus — Climate Leaders x Sustainable Hour
Wider discussion is the first step
The younger generations will need help in finding the energy and a sense of control that often eludes them as they begin to realise the enormity of inheriting a rapidly destabilising world. Wider discussion is the first step, said Laurie Laybourn-Langton, the lead author of a new report titled ‘This is a Crisis – Facing up to the age of environmental breakdown’.
He said he was shocked by the paucity of public debate relative to the scale of the problems:
“People are not frank enough about this. If it is discussed at all, it is the sort of thing mentioned at the end of a conversation, that makes everyone look at the floor, but we don’t have time for that now. It’s appearing more in media, but we are not doing enough.”
Science of a runaway collapse
“In the extreme, environmental breakdown could trigger catastrophic breakdown of human systems, driving a rapid process of ‘runaway collapse’ in which economic, social and political shocks cascade through the globally linked system – in much the same way as occurred in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2007-08,” a new paper by IPPR has warned:
“The paper warns of the vulnerability of food systems that rely on just five animal and 12 plant species to provide 75% of the world’s nutrition. The lack of diversity weakens resilience to the growing risks of climate disruption, soil deterioration, pollution and pollinator loss. Previous research – cited by the IPPR – estimates a one-in-20 chance per decade of a simultaneous failure of maize production in the US and China, which provide 60% of the global supply.
Migration is also likely to increase as a result of longer droughts and more extreme heat, particularly in the Middle East and central and northern Africa.”
The climate crisis is likely to create 10 times more refugees from that region than the 12 million who left during the Arab spring.
“There would be repercussions in Europe. Rightwing groups use the fear of migration, as we saw during the EU referendum in Britain,” he said. “What is that going to look like when far more people are forced from homes due to environmental shocks? What does that mean for political cohesion,” said Laurie Laybourn-Langton, the lead author of the report.
Studies highlighting the dangers
Several other recent interdisciplinary studies have highlighted the dangers of mutually reinforcing impacts.
In December 2018, the authors of a paper published in Science warned the risks were far greater than assumed because 45% of tipping points were interrelated and could amplify one another.
In August 2018, scientists warns these domino effects could push the Earth into an almost uninhabitable “hothouse state”.
Studies of financial and social tipping points are scarcer, but concern is growing. Last month, the top three global risks identified by the World Economic Forum were extreme weather, climate policy failure and natural disasters. Water shortages, accelerating biodiversity loss and large-scale involuntary migration also ranked in the top 10.
“Of all risks, it is in relation to the environment that the world is most clearly sleepwalking into catastrophe,” its annual risk report warns. “The results of climate inaction are becoming increasingly clear. The accelerating pace of biodiversity loss is a particular concern.”
The IPPR report launches a wider 18-month project on this topic, urges policymakers to grapple with these risks as a priority, to accelerate the restoration of natural systems, and to push harder on the “green new deal” transition towards renewable energy.
“A climate emergency declaration totally transforms how council does business. It means starting again almost with everything, and look at it through climate change lenses.”
~ Sarah Mansfield, Councillor, City of Greater Geelong
Cr Sarah Mansfield
Sarah Mansfield is the Chair of the Environment and Sustainability Portfolio. With a background in public health is able to present a wider and maybe a more people focused view on issues before Council.
Two achievements in the 15 months since election;
– introducing a plastics wise initiative throughout the municipality. This includes councils own procurement and major events held in Geelong,
– addressing the issues around applications for increased gaming outlets. Particularly from a point of view of public health.
Cr Stephanie Asher
Stephanie Asher is Chair of the Planning Portfolio. With a background as a corporate executive is able to bring ideas into local government that will improve policy and procedures and lead to efficiencies. Will particularly help in streamlining the very confusing and overly complicated operations of local government.
Two achievements in the 15 months since election;
– working with local residents in Barwon Heads to come up with a clever, creative and simple solution to the summer holiday bank up of traffic,
– educating people about the planning process. Particularly for the applicants and objectors coming before the planning committee. It is about building your case and the changes instigated have meant people are better placed to present their case.
“It is up to you – yes, you watching this behind this screen – to make the effort. Because time is of the essence. And only together can we make it…”
“Fun fact: planet Earth is 4.5 billion years old.
Mankind? About 140,000 years old.
Let me put that in perspective:
If you condense the Earth’s lifespan into 24 hours,
that’s one full day,
then we have been here on this planet for…
Three seconds, and look what we’ve done.
We have modestly named ourselves “homo sapiens”
meaning “wise man”, but is man really so wise?
Smart, yes, and it’s good to be smart,
but not too smart for your own good.
Yes, we have split the atom.
Yes, we build clever machines that
navigate the universe in search of new homes.
But at the same time,
those atoms we split created nuclear warfare.
In our quest to explore the galaxy,
rejects and neglects the home that we have here now.
So no, that can not be wisdom.
Wisdom is different.
While intelligence speaks, wisdom listens.
And we willingly covered our ears
to mother natures screams…
and closed our eyes to all her “Help Wanted” signs.
Wisdom knows that every action
has an equal and opposite reaction.
So if we were wise, we would not be shocked
when we see storms stronger than ever before.
Or more drought, hurricanes, wildfire than ever before.
Because there’s more pollution than ever before.
More carbon, more trees cut down than ever before
at a record pace.
We have increased the extinction of animals
by 1000 times the normal rate.
What a feat.
In the next 10 to 100 years,
every beloved animal character
in every children’s book
is predicted to go extinct.
Tiger? Gorilla? Elephant? Polar bear?
Gone. In three seconds.
Species that have been here longer than us
will be gone because of us in this three seconds.
In an existence shorter than a Vine video,
we turned the circle of life
into our own personal conveyor belt.
Somebody, anybody, help!
We were given so much.
The only planet in the solar system with life.
I mean, we are one in a million.
No, actually, scientifically,
we are one in a billion trillion trillion.
That’s a one followed by 33 zeros.
And I don’t wanna get too spiritual,
but how are we not a miracle?
We are perfectly positioned to the sun so we don’t burn,
but not too distant so we don’t turn to ice.
Goldilocks said it best: we are just right.
Where we are given medicine from trees,
But because like the song says:
We are family. Literally.
Everything. Every species is connected genetically,
from the sunflower to the sunfish.
This is what we must recognize before it’s too late.
Because the real crisis is not global warming,
environmental destruction, or animal agriculture.
It is us.
These problems are symptoms of us.
Byproducts of us.
Our inner reflection,
loss of connection has created this misdirection.
We have forgot that everything contributes
to the perfection of Mother Nature.
Corporations keep us unaware and disconnected,
but they have underestimated our strength.
Contrary to popular belief,
millions are waking up out of their sleep.
Seeing our home being taken
right up from under our feet.
We can not allow our history to be
written by the wicked, greedy, and loony.
It is our duty to protect Mother Nature
from those who refuse to see her beauty.
Call me crazy,
but I believe we should have the right
to eat food that’s safe.
With ingredients we can pronounce.
Drink water that is clean.
Marvel at trees. Breathe air free of toxins.
These are natural rights.
Not things that can be bargained for in Congress.
See they want you to feel powerless.
But it has been said that something
as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing
can cause a typhoon halfway around the world.
Well, when enough people come together,
we too will make waves.
And wash the world into a new era
filled with love and connection.
Freedom for all without oppression.
But it is up to you.
Yes, you watching this behind this screen
to make the effort.
Because time is of the essence.
And only together can we make it
to the fourth second.”
~ Prince EA
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
BREAKING (to reiterate): The CRD (Saanich, Victoria, Langford, Oak Bay, Esquimalt, Colwood, Central Saanich, Sooke, Sidney, North Saanich, View Royal, Metchosin, Highlands, Salt Spring Island, Juan de Fuca, and the Southern Gulf Islands) have voted to declare a Climate Emergency. www.twitter.com/TheMartlet/status/1095837317615345665 by @TheMartlet
Australia’s landmark court case sets a key precedent for the inclusion of the cost of carbon emissions in evaluating the net merits of new coal mines. Australia makes a step forward in addressing climate change. 🇦🇺✔️ https://t.co/s1tjxTdihD by @JoshSHill
— Tim Buckley (@TimBuckleyIEEFA) February 16, 2019
Court chooses climate over coal
A New South Wales court has rejected a coal mine in the beautiful Gloucester Valley in NSW because it would have “dire” consequences for the community and climate.
“Today’s people-powered court win sends a powerful message to our leaders and big coal: people and the law are rising to stop coal polluting our planet and hurting our communities. It’s time to get rid of dirty coal and gas and transition NSW to clean energy that benefits communities, the climate and our environment.
In his judgement, Justice Brian Preston said: “The global problem of climate change needs to be addressed by multiple local actions to mitigate emissions”.
Even the courts say the era of coal is over, but none of the major parties in NSW have got a credible plan to bolster clean energy and act on climate change. It’s time for all parties to stop messing with our future and lock in a credible plan to tackle dangerous climate change.”
~ Brad Smith, Senior Energy and Climate Campaigner at Nature Conservation Council, the voice for nature in NSW.
» ABC – 12 February 2019:
Landmark Rocky Hill ruling could pave the way for more courts to choose climate over coal
Rapid death of coal
There’s been a cascade of banks backing out of big coal projects recently.
In Japan, a massive coal-fired power plant planned for Chiba prefecture, across the bay from Tokyo, has been abandoned. Campaigners estimate the decision will avoid 12 million annual tons of CO2 emissions. Now they’re working to ensure a liquified natural gas (LNG) plant doesn’t get put on the same site.
Meanwhile in British Columbia, Canada, a planned coal port that would have shipped coal over to Asia to be burned was rejected, after years of protest.
And two more coal plants that were the sites of local resistance were defeated last week in Turkey and Australia, where a stinging court judgement cited the carbon budget and climate change.
♻️ GREEN NEW DEAL THREAD ♻️— Zero Hour (@ThisIsZeroHour) February 13, 2019
Last week, Representative @AOC and @EdMarkey introduced a plan for the #GreenNewDeal, a plan that will combat climate change and make the US economy dependent on 100% renewable energy by 2030. The #GND is modeled afer FDR's New Deal … pic.twitter.com/abWpkOg3LS
The American ‘Green New Deal’ gives people hope
A poll conducted recently for the magazine The Nation found that in the United States, about 60 per cent of the generation between 18 and 37 years backs the far-reaching proposal for a ‘Green New Deal’, which Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Edward Markey presented in the Congress.
With the Green New Deal, the transition to 100 per cent renewables powering the electricity sector will be completed in just ten years, securing millions of new jobs related to the transition, and the law – among many other things – could make it illegal for US politicians to be receiving support from the fossil energy companies.
About 30 per cent – that is, only half as many – in the younger generation are against a Green New Deal.
Pushed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in the space of only a few months, the concept of a Green New Deal has gained support across the field of Democratic contenders for President including Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris.
The drastic change Australia need calls for our own Green New Deal but we should draw on our own historical experience rather than simply copying rhetoric from America. Australia has experienced a transformation on the scale that is needed, that of post-war reconstruction during the 1940s, wrote Osmond Chiu on 11 February 2019:
» Eureka Street – 11 February 2019:
Australia needs its own Green New Deal
» Houston Chronicle – 16 February 2019:
Andrew Dessler: Why the Green New Deal makes me hopeful about climate change
“The Green New Deal moves the debate past whether climate change is real and focuses, for the first time, on what we should do about it.”
“The Green New Deal resolution introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) states that fighting climate change requires “a new national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II.”
The world’s leading climate scientists agree. In 2015, for instance, they called for a sweeping mobilization — “a radical transition (deep decarbonization now and going forward),” as they described it — to avoid catastrophic impacts of climate change. And last October, the world’s nations unanimously agreed with our top scientists that preserving a livable climate requires “system changes” across the economy that “are unprecedented in terms of scale.”
Judging by their initial reactions to the Green New Deal resolution, President Donald Trump, Republican leaders, and other longtime opponents of climate action seem to have decided that the best way to block such an economy-wide mobilization is to try to paint it as “socialism.”
However, winning WWII wasn’t socialism. Neither is the Green New Deal.
» ThinkProgress – 12 February 2018
Ocasio-Cortez says we need World War II-scale action on climate. Here’s what that looks like
Winning WWII wasn’t socialism. Neither is the Green New Deal.
Our next President should declare a #NationalEmergency on day 1 to address the existential threat to all life on the planet posed by Climate Change.— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 15, 2019
Shortly after US President Trump declared a national emergency in order to secure funding for his barrier between Mexico and the United States, Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar took to Twitter to call on the next president to declare climate change a national emergency upon taking office.
The United States actually is facing a pretty terrifying threat, not from immigrants, but from climate change. Now that Trump has set a precedent, some are raising the point that a different president could use the same maneuver to declare a national emergency over rising temperatures. After all, rising sea levels, worsening hurricanes, wildfires, invasive species, and droughts threaten millions of Americans. Talk about a national security crisis…
» Grist – 15 February 2019:
What would a national emergency over climate change look like?
Carbon-sucking trees in return for Internet searches
“Back in 2014, we planted one tree per minute in Burkina Faso. Today, we’re planting a new tree every second across 21 reforestation projects worldwide. And thanks to people like you, our tree counter has reached 50 million!
50 million trees means 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 removed from the atmosphere. It means 60,000 hectares restored, and over 500 native tree species planted. But it means so much more:
See how 50 million trees have changed the world!
Thank you for joining us on this journey. We’re just getting started!”
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Podcasts and posts about climate change
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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