Bridging climate emergency rebellion with streets in transition

Guest in The Sustainable Hour on 31 July 2019 is Jackie Matthews. She’s also a co-host of the show, of course, but we feature her as our ‘guest’ today, because she is starting a Transition Streets group where she lives, and is an interviewee in the third episode of Mik’s ‘Show Me How’ series on YouTube, which we launch during the hour, after hearing about ‘Mik’s realisation’ in the second episode.

We open the hour with a statement by Tony Wellington, mayor of Noosa – the first town in Queensland to declare a climate emergency. A big welcome back to Colin Mockett, who gives us the Global Outlook with a focus on the situation in United Kingdom today, as he has just returned from there, and also reporting on record-breaking tree planting in Ethiopia.

Coming back to Denmark, Lene Outzen Foghsgaard was surprised how much has happened there with the bins and the sorting of litter. The Danish government has announced that by 2022, all councils have to recycle at least 50 per cent of their waste. And because food leftovers constitute a large part of this, the Danes now have to sort the organic material into a new green bin, which then eventually is turned into biogas. Biogas is considered to be carbon neutral, green energy. Lene talked with Pia and Per, two of the residents in her municipality.

Sir David Attenbough appears before a parliamentary commission and says we are not being radical enough on the climate crisis. We play a musical manifest by Greta Thunberg and The 1975s who calls for civil disobedience and rebellion to tell politicians to act on the climate crisis, and we end with a speech for nature by Harrison Ford. More below.

“It is now time for civil disobedience. It is now time to rebel.”
~ Greta Thunberg, Swedish teenager and climate action advocate

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Content of this hour

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

“I think it is excellent. I really like the structure, the personal journey which I think a lot of transition people could relate to.”
~ Mary Stringer, president of Transition Australia and co-author of the Transition Streets Workbook, about the second episode

Link between emergency declarations and individual action

When it comes to starting the journey of decarbonisation, it’s “the hen and the egg”: who’s going to make the first move? Should we wait for our governments to act and make laws that everyone will then accept and follow? Our will it have to be the general public that makes the first move?

In The Sustainable Hour, we’re launching an experiment today. Is it possible to tell a story which connects Greta’s climate strike rebellion and the now 900 climate emergency declaring councils with more personal and practically oriented grassroot phenomena such as the Permaculture and Transition movements?

They represent two very different responses to the climate crisis: One says, “Let’s think big and speak up loud, let’s call this what it is: an emergency. We demand our elected leaders step up and declare a climate emergency!”

While the other group is saying: “Let’s start with what we each can do on our own ground, and lead the way by making the transition before anyone else…”

In my second episode of the ‘Show me how’ series, I’m establishing a bridge between two groups. And the six-minute video is about how and why I think it is possible to make that connection.

Episode 2: Mik’s realisation

The video contains a clip with Mary Stringer, president of Transition Australia. She talks about how she sees the Transition
movement as being about “head, heart and hand” – thinking, learning, feeling and doing.

The third episode is about how you can start a Transition group in your own street – and about what you get out of doing that

More about the Show me how series

Blogpost about the Global Week For Future in September 2019

“To do your best is no longer good enough. We must do the seemingly impossible.”
~ Greta Thunberg, Swedish teenager and climate action advocate

→ ABC News – 22 July 2019:
If your coastal home could be threatened by flooding 80 years from now, would you want to know?

In London, there’s a doctor sitting in front of the Parliament, Greta-style, with a sign, saying he is on hunger strike – and he calls for “a carbon crackdown

The Climate Emergency will be on Surf Coaster’s minds over the next four weeks – our Surf Coast Council will be deciding whether or not to join 900 other councils around the world in declaring a Climate Emergency at the council meeting: Tuesday the 27th of August at 5:30pm.

On Facebook someone asked in a comment thread:

It seems that scientists are more confused about how to solve the human problem of selfishness, greed and apathy, than about the actual science. Does anyone have any ideas about what to do about the spiritual and cultural transformation in the Surf Coast?

Mik replied:
Gus Speth has a good point, and he is right. Our governments understood exactly what needs to get done when the topic was discussed at international level in 1988, and back then the politicians in power promised they would take care of it. Something happened, because they didn’t. What happened was that greed and selfishness got in the way. Nothing else.

If you subscribe to The Sustainable Hour podcast, I’d hope that you would become acquainted with some of the spiritual and cultural transformations that are happening both here locally and globally – because this is exactly what we have been on the lookout for over the last six years.

The program we aired today and which will be out as a podcast over the weekend in my opinion was full of suggestions as to where to look, and how to do it. But it is not said in one sentence, or one program. It is a process, something that takes time.

My bet would be that protesting obviously can be a way to start, and to “recruit” followers, but then much more concrete and radical lifestyle changes need to happen soon after, and for that to happen we need more first-movers who are showing (rather than telling) how this is done. They exist, but we need many more. We need the numbers – and to get the numbers, more people like you and me need to step up. Or “wake up”, as some people say.

Pope Francis nailed it, in my opinion, when he wrote in his Encyclical Letter in 2015: “Humanity is called to recognise the need for change of lifestyle, production and consumption.” He also wrote: “The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change.”

Greta Thunberg has said what needs to be said – we played a five-minute ‘manifest’ of hers in that podcast I mentioned – now it is up to us whether we’ll actually listen and make it happen – or whether we think it is just too hard or frightening. The opportunity is there, and the time is ripe. I’d say, let’s go for it. We can make it happen.

As Greta Thunberg has been saying since the ‘Declaration of Rebellion’ on 31 October 2018:

‘We can no longer save the world by playing by the rules. Because the rules have to be changed. Everything needs to change. And it has to start today. So, everyone out there, it is now time for civil disobedience. It is time to rebel.’

→ Join the rebellion: Rebellion.Earth


Music with rebel manifest speech by Greta

Doesn’t get much bigger-… for instance, CNN tweeted: “Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg recorded a song with The 1975 calling for a climate change rebellion.”

When Greta Thunberg has spoken at conferences in Europe, she has travelled there by train. She refuses to fly because of the environmental impact of air travel.

So what to do when you get invited to speak at two key climate conferences – in New York?

Do you say, “Sorry, I can’t be there, because I’m not flying.” Or, do you enter an airplane and thus compromise all those fine principles you had set out?

Not Greta.

Now she has announced that she will be sailing across the Atlantic Ocean from the UK to New York in mid August. She’s been offered a lift by the Malizia II, a high-speed 18-metre (60ft) yacht built to race around the globe.

Determination is a characteric of a true leader.

Blogpost about the UK doctor on hunger strike


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


“We are organising the first general strike in Britain since 1926. Unions, climate organisations and young people are demanding immediate action to tackle the climate emergency.”

“The longer we don’t act on the #ClimateEmergency the less chance we have of limiting the damage it will cause. If everyone reading this skips coffee today and donates the price to our crowdfunder, we’d reach our target in no time:

“I have never seen a girl so young and with so many mental disorders treated by so many adults as a guru”.
~ Andrew Bolt, The Herald Sun

Here’s a current anniversary that’s even more significant to that of Apollo 11, and worth recalling: 

40 years ago, scientists predicted climate change

And hey, they were right
This month the world has been celebrating the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong setting foot on the Moon. But last week saw another scientific anniversary, perhaps just as important for the future of civilisation.

Forty years ago, on 23 July 1979, a group of climate scientists sat down at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts for the first meeting of the “Ad Hoc Group on Carbon Dioxide and Climate”. It led to the preparation of what became known as the Charney Report – the first comprehensive assessment of global climate change due to carbon dioxide.

“The scariest thing about climate change is what it will make us do to each other.”
~ Dr Kate Marvel

Scientific American – 29 July 2019:
Lost Cities and Climate Change
“Some people say “the climate has changed before,” as though that should be reassuring. It’s not”

2030: Australia responsible for 13 per cent of global emisisons

Do you know that by 2030, Australia is projected to be responsible for 13 per cent of global emissions? How can a so-called ‘responsible’ government can be thinking that this is ok?

→ Financial Review – 8 July 2019:
Australia will emit 13pc of world’s carbon by 2030
“Australia could be responsible for 13 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, up from 5 per cent today, a new report by Berlin-based think tank Climate Analytics finds.”

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Podcasts and posts on this website about climate emergency


Latest news on BBC 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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“Participation – that’s what’s gonna save the human race.”
~ Pete Seeger, American singer