The right thing to do

Our guest in The Tunnel Hour – sorry… The Sustainable Hour on 8 April 2020 is Dawn Barrington, a folk singer and song writer based in Denmark in Western Australia, who writes songs about climate change and refugee justice. We talk about both topics from a big picture point of view – and listen to ‘Coffee My Dear’.

We play an excerpt from the debate at a council meeting in Shepparton last week, where councillors were voting on whether or not to declare a climate emergency. Four wanted to do it, while four others didn’t think it was a good idea. More about the outcome below.

Colin talks about a new report from ClimateWorks, ‘Decarbonising Futures’, that shows how Australia can achieve those carbon emissions reductions which are required across all industry sectors to limit global warming to below the 1.5°C degree target under the Paris Agreement, which Australia has committed itself to.

And Mik talks about the ‘World Happiness Report’ from the United Nations, which highlights the importance of social trust: Nations “with higher levels of social trust and connections are more resilient in the face of natural disasters and economic crises, because fixing rather than fighting becomes the order of the day.”

Covid-19 has added a new dimension to this. The co-ordinated international response to this pandemic has brought us all closer together. We wish you a happy Easter staycation – be the difference.


“From a big picture point of view it is no longer about particular things we can do as individuals any more, it is no longer separate issues – it is all coming in to one. It is about a philosophy that we need to all take on, and for all humanity to ask: what is the right thing to do for Mother Earth, for all us? We know in our hearts that are breaking the rules of Mother Earth. We know that.”
~ Dawn Barrington, in The Sustainable Hour


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“We are at what we used to term a watershed. This is a time when we have been forced by circumstances to stop and think, and then choose a new direction. We have got to make it obvious to all of our leaders thatthe new direction has got to include the health of the planet.”
~ Colin Mockett, in The Sustainable Hour

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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 land. They nurtured it and thrived in often harsh conditions for millenia before they were invaded. Their land was then stolen from them – it wasn’t ceeded. It is becoming more and more obvious that, if we are to survive the climate emergency we are facing, we have much to learn from their land management practices.

Our battle for climate justice won’t be won until our First Nations brothers and sisters have their true justice. 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…

“We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.”

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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Social trust

“The countries dealing best with the coronavirus are precisely those with high levels of social trust. A United Nations report released on 20 March 2020 said the Scandinavian nations are in the best position to deal with such crises. Nations “with higher levels of social trust and connections are more resilient in the face of natural disasters and economic crises,” it concluded, because “fixing rather than fighting becomes the order of the day.”

It’s probably no accident that, in many ways, the Nordic nations also lead the climate fight, or that South Korea’s ruling party proposed a sweeping Green New Deal to confront the economic slump that the virus left behind. Working together is what humans are actually built to do.”
~ Bill McKibben

Focus on the common good and equality

“High levels of social trust seem to make people’s well-being more resilient to various national crises. Furthermore, it has been argued that social cohesion, which is a broader notion than generalized trust, predicts well-being.

In a recent study, Delhey and Dragolov defined social cohesion as having three dimensions including connectedness to other people, having good social relations, and having a focus on the common good. They found that both the aggregate level of social cohesion as well as each of the three dimensions individually were associated with higher well-being in a sample of 27 European Union countries.48 The three Nordic countries included in the analysis – Denmark, Finland, and Sweden – occupy the top three positions in their index of social cohesion, making trust and social cohesion one additional explanation for the Nordic happiness.

The explanations of Nordic happiness mentioned in the review above are by no means an exhaustive list. Many other factors can be used to try to explain Nordic happiness. For example, economic insecurity and vulnerability to economic losses are detrimental for well-being. The Nordic countries, due to the extensive welfare benefits, are better able to make their citizens less vulnerable to economic insecurity than other countries.

Research has also consistently shown that social comparisons matter for well-being. In assessing how good their lives are, humans often compare their own lives to the lives of those around them. This makes people’s subjective perception of their position in society more predictive of well-being than objective measures such as income.

However, this effect is moderated by the welfare state, because in Nordic countries with strong welfare states, people’s perceptions of their position in society have less influence on their own happiness than in other countries. This is corroborated by findings according to which status anxiety, defined as the fear of failing to conform to the ideals of success laid down by society, tends to be lower in Nordic countries
compared to most other countries measured.

The ethos of equality, manifested in universal public services that reduce social and economic risks, thus seems to be visible in and reinforced through a more egalitarian culture, as well.” (…)

“Research tends to show that inequality has a strong effect on generalized trust. In more equal societies, people trust each other more. This increased trust contributes in the long term to a preference for a stronger and more universal welfare state. Although statistics about social trust do not exist from a hundred years ago, we know that levels of social trust tend to be remarkably stable over relatively long historical periods, supporting the role of social trust as contributing to the building of better institutions.”

Excerpt from World Happiness Report 2020, page 134 and 138

→ CNBC – 24 March 2020:
Are the world’s happiest countries better equipped to deal with the coronavirus?
“The World Happiness Report by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network stated that “communities and nations with higher levels of social trust and connections are more resilient in the face of natural disasters and economic crises”.”

Flatteting the curves

“Both scientific reality and journalistic responsibility call upon newsrooms to treat the climate crisis as an emergency no less pressing than the coronavirus. As with the virus, they can start with the necessity of “flattening the curve”—which, thanks to all the media coverage, has become a household phrase. There is now widespread understanding that early and wide ranging intervention is crucial to limiting the virus’s spread.

Now journalists should help their audiences understand that flattening the curve of greenhouse gas emissions is just as imperative, and the longer we wait to reduce those emissions, the greater the eventual damages will be. There are dozens of ways to tell that story, which at heart is a story about solutions: which nations or companies or individuals have been most successful at flattening the curves? What are their secrets? What can the rest of us do to help?”
~ Covering Climate Now editorial, 25 March 2020

→ Financial Times – 4 April 2020:
Arundhati Roy: ‘The pandemic is a portal’
“The novelist on how coronavirus threatens India — and what the country, and the world, should do next”

Politicans willing to take decisions that have consequences

“Our politicians have just proven that change can happen extremely fast. And they have shown that they are willing to take decisions that have consequences. Decisions that they know will hurt people, make them lose their jobs, and so on.

Governments have been saying: Yes, we have to make a transition, but we are not going to hurt any industries. We are not going to kill any jobs. That argument… they have punctured that argument now.

The climate activists can now look them in the eyes and say: but that is what you just did. You have just been doing exactly that! You have proven to us that when an emergency sets in, and things get real, then the price is never too high. The exact same argument is valid in the climate action debate.

The politicians have been caught unaware on this one – because which argument are they going to come up with now? We have to hold them accountable. Otherwise we’ll be back to business as usual very fast.”
~ Lea Korsgaard, Zetland



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Shepparton declares a climate emergency

The councillors’ discussion about the Climate Emergency motion begins at 1:22:00

Close vote in Shepparton
Eight of the nine councilors were at the March meeting of the City of Greater Shepparton council resulting in the vote to declare a climate emergency being evenly split – four saying “yes” to the emergency and four giving the idea the thumbs down, reported Robert McLean. That required the Mayor, Cr Seema Abdullah, to use her casting vote, which to the delight of those watching who had worked hard to see the emergency idea adopted, she said “yes” to the climate emergency motion. Because of the COVIG-19 dilemma, the meeting and ruling by the Federal Government, many who had agitated vigorously for the adoption of a climate emergency, had stayed away and so watched a Facebook live stream.

→ Climate Conversations | Robert McLean’s Podcast – 31 March 2020:
City of Greater Shepparton declares a climate emergency



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Geelong’s Mik Aidt talks about the climate crisis and The Sustainable Hour

31 March 2020  Season 3  Episode 228
Climate Conversations | Robert McLean's Podcast

→ Climate Conversations | Robert McLean’s Podcast – 31 March 2020:
Geelong’s Mik Aidt talks about the climate crisis and The Sustainable Hour


From Denmark to Manus Island via Music

Dawn in Denmark

Dawn Barrington lives in Denmark, the small coastal community in south-west Western Australia that boasts one of our country’s foremost authors in Tim Winton as a resident.

In The Sustainable Hour, the climate/social justice/singer/song writer tells of her fascinating journey from England to Perth, where she worked in Carmen Lawrence’s Premier’s department. Frustration with the city existence led her to seek solace in the country. She found this in Denmark where she discovered her tribe. While there, she then developed her vehicle for helping to make a better world via singing and song-writing. A trip to Manus Island set her on a path as a refugee rights activist. 

www.dawnbarrington.com.au

→ Dawn Barrington’s Facebook page

→ Dawn Barrington’s page on Soundcloud


Renewables produced more power than coal in the U.S.

8 April 2020: Renewable energy represented three-quarters of new electricity generation capacity built worldwide last year, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.

For the first time, renewables produced more power than coal in the U.S. on a quarterly basis, a milestone well underway before the coronavirus crisis hit.

Investors and analysts say renewable energy businesses are poised for long-term growth despite current challenges, while fossil fuel companies face a more uncertain future.

Tesla delivered impressive first quarter sales up 40 percent from the same time last year, while General Motors and Honda announced a project to produce two new all-electric vehicles.  
~ Climate Nexus Energy Desk

Renewable energy represented nearly three-quarters of new electricity generation capacity built worldwide in 2019, an all-time record, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.

In another record, clean energy technologies now provide more than one-third of power globally, and solar and wind are the cheapest form of electricity in two-thirds of the world. Over the past decade, around $3 trillion has been invested globally in renewables. However the agency says annual investments must double by 2030 in order to tackle the climate crisis and recommends that government spending in response to the coronavirus support green initiatives instead of fossil fuels. ~ The Guardian

→ Rolling Stone – 6 April 2020:
The Green New Deal Is Cheap, Actually
“Decarbonizing will cost trillions of dollars, but it’s an investment that will have big return — for the economy and the environment.”

. . .

“Climate change is going to dramatically alter life on the planet in the coming decades. Just how dramatically will depend on how aggressively governments and businesses move to correct the practices that over the past century have filled the atmosphere with greenhouse gases. Unfortunately, some bad actors are not only failing to address the crisis, they’re actively exacerbating it. Here’s a list of America’s worst offenders, from fossil-fuel industry magnates, to investment gurus, to the president himself.”

→ Rolling Stone – April 2020:
Climate Enemies: The Men Who Sold the World
“The CEOs, oilmen, financiers, politicians, and ideologues who are robbing us of a stable climate.”



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Hurtling towards a catastrophe

“Earth is heading for another mass extinction – and human activity is to blame. I am an Earth and Paleo-climate scientist and have researched the relationships between asteroid impacts, volcanism, climate changes and mass extinctions of species. My research suggests the current growth rate of carbon dioxide emissions is faster than those which triggered two previous mass extinctions, including the event that wiped out the dinosaurs. The world’s gaze may be focused on COVID-19 right now. But the risks to nature from human-made global warming – and the imperative to act – remain clear.”
~ Andrew Glikson, Earth and Paleo-climate scientist, ANU

→ The Conversation – 3 April 2020:
While we fixate on coronavirus, Earth is hurtling towards a catastrophe worse than the dinosaur extinction
“On the current trajectory, human activity threatens to make large parts of the Earth uninhabitable.”



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https://twitter.com/vjmahon/status/1246402372273704960
https://twitter.com/EnviroVic/status/1247396500264456192



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“It is not about what is practical. It is about what is right. It is what’s right or wrong – no matter what the consequences are. And not only that, it’s what’s right or wrong no matter what the outcome is. Even if the outcome, at least in the short term, appears to be decremental to what you say and want. You know, life is short. You learn that in war. And in the end, you’d want to look back and, you know, not regret that you didn’t stand up. Not regret that you were crippled by fear, or selfinterest. That your life meant something.

I mean, that comes down to the fundamental question of what constitutes a life of meaning. As George Orwell said, “every life viewed from the inside is a series of defeats.” We are all, in that sense, failures.

I am propelled forward by these figures, like my father, who stood up at personal cost in the past. I can’t betray them. And I won’t betray them. They allow me to define what is a life of meaning for me. Even if the rest of society not only doesn’t recognise it, but attempts to negate it.”
~ Chris Hedges, 27 March 2020



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