Loving connections with the natural world

The Sustainable Hour no 323

Four guests in The Tunnel on 15 July 2020. What a packed program today!

From time to time over the last 10 weeks, Jackie Matthews has been excitedly telling us how good the ‘Nature Stewards’ course that she has been doing was. How much she has been learning and how rewarding it has been for her to do it. Today, Rustem Upton – Rusty – who facilitated that course, joins us and ends up presenting Jackie with her certificate of completion. Their subsequent chat reveals a good outline and structure of what they covered.

The course was sponsored by the City of Greater Geelong and it is hoped that this sponsorship will continue. It had to be run via zoom because of the covid-19 virus this year, but this made it no less effective according to both Jackie and Rusty. Watch this space for news of Rusty’s next Nature Stewards course in the Geelong area.

Next we zoom down to Tasmania where we meet Tasmania’s first accredited carbon farmers, Stephanie and Sam Trethaway from Tas Ag Co. This young couple are ideal ambassadors for nurturing the land as well as breaking away from the demands of “industrial farming” which to them ends up destroying the land and is in no way sustainable.

We’ve had many regenerative farmers on the show over the last 18 months. All have been explaining why they feel they are doing the right thing and wonder why more farmers aren’t going down this pathway. For Stephanie and Sam, it costs less to produce more nutritious beef for the market which pays them a premium for that. Then there’s the money they make for being paid for the invaluable role they play in storing carbon in their soil. 

We return to the YouYangs where we have Koala Clancy Foundation founder Janine Duffy telling us about the exciting plans they have to ensure our natural and national icon doesn’t become extinct. The have big plans for planting trees in the area and are looking for landowners who would like a hundred or even a thousand trees in an area of the land near a creek.

We often talk about the spark that all our guests have in their eyes – none more so than Janine. The koala numbers in our region will definitely increase on her watch.

Colin Mockett‘s Global Outlook today, as usual, is very busy. He starts out by updating the situation in Norislk in Siberia. He has been keeping a close eye on this since it first happened a month ago. Last week he told us about the army going in first to try to mop up the spilt diesel from the ocean. This week they were joined by a number of people who specialise in such clean ups. They brought fixed wing planes and helicopters to help with the operation. The fuel for these aircraft soon added to the problem. Difficult work in difficult conditions. 

Colin then takes us to the United States and gives us three examples of how their legal system is moving to overturn the Trump administration’s attempts to wind back environmental safeguards.

After this he brings us back home and talks about the increasing number of Australian companies who are announcing bold carbon reduction goals. He leaves us with a warning about looking closely at these and beware of any greenwashing in their claims.

We end up bitter-sweet today. Jackie, who has been with us and kicking off the show for a couple of years, has gone and got herself a full time HR position. They made a very wise investment in choosing her for the position. Our loss is their gain. We will miss her enthusiasm, her desire to learn and challenge herself, but we have a feeling that because she has now mastered the art of podcasting, we’ll be getting snippets from time to time. We wish Jackie all the best. The Sustainable Hour has been very much the better for her presence.

We’ll be back same time, same place next week. Until then, Jackie joins us for the last time in saying Be the Difference.

“When you share the love of nature — I don’t want to say ideology, but I’ll say ideology — we create a group that are all working towards the same thing.”
~ Rustem Uptem, Nature Stewards Geelong

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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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Our planet has fever

On Monday this week, the temperature measured in the small Siberian village of Verkhoyansk, far north of the Arctic Circle, was 31°C degrees. The village has been referred to as ‘the coldest village on Earth’ with a record winter temperature of minus 67.7°C degrees.

What the general news media fails to inform us is that the climate change is currently running rampant in Arctic Siberia. The region is experiencing a historic heat wave and large forest fires. The permafrost and sea ice are melting at an accelerated pace.

The feedback processes are underway and the world is rapidly approaching the 1.5°C degree global average warming which the international community of 190 countries agreed in 2015 in Paris that we ought to do everything we can to avoid. But then they didn’t turn those words into action.

Over the weekend, firefighters were battling 136 fires in Siberia over an area of 430 square kilometers. Such wildfires are usually of limited magnitude in the Arctic because it is too cool and wet, but the heat and drought this spring and this summer have provided optimal conditions for fire.

Some weeks ago, on 20 June 2020, the temperature in Verkhoyansk was 38°C degrees. That is an extreme heat record for the Arctic, recorded in a period where during 11 days in a row the average temperature measured at least 30°C degrees, which is 10 degrees above the normal for Verkhoyansk at that time of year.


Australia’s climate inaction is a human rights violation

A coalition of Australian and international lawyers is asking the United Nations to address Australia’s contributions to human rights violations through its actions that fuel the release of greenhouse gas emissions.

The coalition has made a joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council for Australia’s Universal Periodic Review, a process whereby the compliance of each country with their human rights obligations is reviewed and scrutinised roughly every five years by the international community.

→ Read more: Australia’s climate inaction is a human rights violation

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→ The Climate Center – 15 July 2020:
Oil companies are collapsing, but wind and solar energy keep growing

→ The Climate Center – 15 July 2020:
Grim day for pipelines shows they’re almost impossible to build

→ The Climate Center – 15 July 2020:
ACT electric vehicles to help stabilize power grid in Australian research trial

Carbon farming

The business case for reducing on-farm carbon emissions stronger than ever


The business case for reducing on-farm carbon emissions stronger than ever  
Victorian primary producers must consider the opportunity cost of not installing on-farm renewables, a pioneer in the field says.   Karin Stark is a NSW cotton and wheat farmer who two years ago installed a 500kW solar diesel hybrid irrigation pump on her property, which she estimates is saving the family business about $180,000 annually and will pay itself off within five years. 

Ms Stark will speak on Friday at a free, online summit held by the Farmers for Climate Action.   

The summit is the second of three events that will examine the risks and opportunities that underpin Farmers for Climate Action’s Regional Horizons economic stimulus program. The first considered climate change risk, Friday’s event will explore on-farm opportunities and a third event will consider strategies for community and farm resilience.  

All primary producers and others working in the agriculture industry are invited to attend.  

Ms Stark said the high capital cost of installing on-farm renewables and a reluctance to take on debt could be barriers to farmers investing in solar for their properties.  

“There is a lack of understanding in both the agricultural and financial sectors of just how strong the business case for on-farm renewables really is,” she said.  

“Farmers have very specific energy needs and we need to ensure that renewables suppliers understand that they operate very differently to other businesses. But solar panels are so much cheaper than they once were, so I want to encourage farmers to consider the opportunity cost of not investing now and securing much cheaper energy for themselves in the long term.”  

Meat and Livestock Australia’s manager of sustainability innovation Doug McNicholl will also address the summit. He said the CSIRO had shown that the red meat industry could achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 without reducing herd numbers.  

At the Regional Horizons summit he will discuss the technologies and practices primary producers are adopting now, as well as what is on the horizon for producers to reduce emissions and remain profitable.    He will also offer practical tips on how to get started.  

“Reducing net emissions in the Australian red meat industry must go hand-in-hand with improving on-farm productivity and reaching new markets. It also helps cement the Australian red meat industry’s long-standing reputation as a provider of clean, safe and responsibly-produced protein. For those reasons, achieving carbon neutrality offers real opportunities for the 80,000 businesses in Australia’s world-leading red meat industry. It all starts with the producers, the people making the decisions on the ground. I’m looking forward to talking with producers about the steps they can take towards a profitable, carbon neutral future, as well as the support industry needs for the Carbon Neutral 2030 Initiative to be a success.”  

Find out more about the Regional Horizons summits here.

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Events we have talked about in The Sustainable Hour

Events in Victoria

The following is a collation of Victorian climate change events, activities, seminars, exhibitions, meetings and protests. Most are free, many ask for RSVP (which lets the organising group know how many to expect), some ask for donations to cover expenses, and a few require registration and fees. This calendar is provided as a free service by volunteers of the Victorian Climate Action Network. Information is as accurate as possible, but changes may occur.


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Podcasts and posts on this website about climate emergency
Latest news on BBC about climate change

Live-streaming on pause


The Sustainable Hour is normally streamed live on the Internet every Wednesday from 11am to 12pm (Melbourne time), but due to the corona lockdown, the radio station has been closed.

» To listen to the program on your computer or phone, click here – or go to www.947thepulse.com where you then click on ‘Listen Live’ on the right.

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