Youth lifting their voices in Earth Week: We are the future

The Sustainable Hour no. 408: Earth Week Special | Podcast notes

Recently we have referred to a local young woman who has delivered a number of dynamic speeches in our area. Today Lauren Dillon joins us in our zoom tunnel with her two friends and classmates from Clonard College in Geelong, Mia Hunter and Montana Morgan.

They speak with great honesty and passion about their concerns on the future they face, as well as their frustration at the lack of real action on climate by our federal coalition government. We learn of the great support they have given each other.

Today both Mia and Montana take a step forward and turn their personal support for Lauren into something a lot more public as they voice their strong views for all of us to hear. They are all choosing to do this at the same time that they are facing the rigours of the final year of their high school studies.

“Realise the power that you have – never underestimate how much you can actually influence other people,” says Lauren.

This is followed by very emotional clips from a number of climate scientists who chose to risk arrest last week in order to wake people up to the real nature of the climate crisis. One of them, Emma Smart, was held in custody for four days after she was arrested. She refers to her so-called political leaders as “liars”.

The scientists campaigned under the banner of Scientist Rebellion and said they are sick and tired of having their work ignored by people who have been elected to represent their constituents. They know what’s coming and can no longer just sit back and remain silent.

“The clock is ticking, time is running out,” told British writer George Monbiot as he was interviewed in Good Morning Britain and was brought to tears by talking about what the consequences could be for his two children, and so was NASA climate scientist Peter Kalmus as he spoke while having locked himself to a bank before he was arrested last week.

We then have a very catchy rap by Youth Vs Apocalypse, ‘Where’s The Money At’, as well as a song by a very articulate young artist from Byron Bay, Billy Otto. He introduced and sang his new song ‘Oblivion’ at an online zoom party for Climate 200, who celebrated having gone from 200 donors to 10,000, crowdfunding an election war chest of over $10 million dollars which is being handed out to support 22 independent candidates around the country.

Billy’s song is followed by a short Facebook-testimonial from the New South Wales’ floodings and independent candidate Hanabeth Luke‘s tv-advertisement.

Our youth reporter Ben Pocock gives us a review of a video cartoon he has come across called ‘We Will Fix Climate Change’ by the German animation company called Kurzgesagt. Ben speaks of his great admiration for the hope this 16-minute film evokes in him. And not just him – it has already had over five million views since it was released earlier this month. ‘We WILL Fix Climate Change!’ can be viewed on Youtube.

Ben continually amazes us with the quality of his reports. It is such a pleasure to observe him finding his voice and realising how he can make a difference.

We start off today with live-stream recordings from last week’s non-violent direct actions in London by the group called Extinction Rebellion. Mik Aidt voices his anger at our mainstream political journalists who refuse to give climate the attention it demands, especially in the lead up to our federal election which is just four weeks away now.

We conclude today’s Earth Week Special with Mia taking us through the dilemma she faces in the lead up to 21 May which will be her first time she will vote. Read more about Australia’s youth voting statistics below.

Until next week, think carefully about who you will vote for. The youth and future generations are wanting us to vote the difference: vote climate.

“It starts with caring,” says Montana.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
~ Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

“It’s such a large issue and we can’t keep going on ignoring it because we are scared of facing it. That’s not who we are. We have to face that as a species. We are leading ourselves to destruction, and we have to change that! And the change, it starts with individual action, and it goes to talking to other people. You have the power to impact everyone around you.”
~ Lauren Dillon, 17-year-old student and climate activist in 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 the climate emergency are being made by those who won’t be around by the time the worst effects hit home. How disrespectful and unfair is that?

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“Our kids will look back at the lies and corruption that consume our politics and the triviality and celebrity that obsesses the media. They’ll see that we are – right now – squandering our last last chance to avert total catastrophe and they’ll be fucking furious.”
~ ClimateDad77 on Twitter

“Our government is betraying us”


In a survey of 10,000 people between ages 16 and 25 in 10 countries, three out of four replied they think “the future is frightening.”  Two out of three (more than 64 percent) said their governments were “not doing enough to prevent a climate catastrophe.” 

61 percent said they did not have trust in their governments. 58 percent said their governments were betraying them.

“Their mood was one of deep, cold, frustration and betrayal. Pessimism, even despair, perhaps, but also disdain. I had failed them, for sure, but clearly so had the other grown-ups in their lives.”
~ Julia Steinberger, Swiss-American-UK ecological economist at the University of Lausanne – about the 16-year-olds of today

Medium – 11 May 2022:
The kids are not ok
“Today I went to give a climate talk at my old high school in Geneva — and was given a masterclass in our failings. This is the story of a day that shook me up.”


By Mik Aidt

“I’m here so I can look the next generation in the eye”, said one the Extinction Rebellion activists who was blocking traffic in the streets of London on Friday – what we listened to here was an excerpt of the activist group’s live-streaming on Facebook, which went on for many hours, and was part of a week-long event with street-blockades in major cities around the world.

In The Sustainable Hour, this is our EARTH DAY SPECIAL. Because on Friday, it’s Earth Day again – the annual event which is marked and celebrated around the planet. One of the biggest annual sustainability events – which makes this week into Earth Week and the month of April into Earth Month.

There’s an escalation of desperation after the IPCC report was released two weeks ago and it’s now officially clear to everyone that we are cooking the planet and heading for a catastrophe.

“We are on track towards an unliveable world,” the UN Chief Antonio Guterres tells us. Journalists could be – and should be – telling us about this on the front pages in capital letters – Australia’s political journalists could be putting the climate emergency front and centre of the election campaign every day if they wanted to. Yet they dont.

They’d rather report about which candidate – while no one is calling out all the lying, the outright lying which is going on and which in this country is totally legal.

The Greens senator Nick McKim pointed it out on twitter recently: “The journalists are just as much of a problem as the fossil fuel corporations.

Which is the reason The Sustainable Hour is doing its best to make a difference in that landscape.

And yes, I’m also looking at you, the busy journalists of Geelong and the Surf Coast: so many of you are just as much of a problem as the fossil fuel corporations. Your reporting on the election is shameful and totally inadequate as long as you are not talking about The Elephant in the room, and you are not calling out the candidates when they are lying and deceiving voters.

At The Sustainable Hour we’re also here so we can look the next generation in the eye. And for that reason we have dedicated our Earth Day Special to the youth.

The voice of the Australian youth is green

GENERATIONAL DIVIDE: If Australian voters would listen more to its youth than to its pensioners, the Parliament in Canberra could look very different after 21 May 2022.

The figures of how the Australians voted at the last election tells a striking story of how divided the generations are when they place their votes. If the 18 to 24-year-olds in this country could have their way, the Greens party would get 37 per cent of all votes, whereas the Liberal party would only get 15 per cent.

However Australia’s old people have a very different opinion. At the last election, only 2 per cent of people over 65 years old voted for the greens, while 55 per cent voted for the Liberal party.

Environmental issue on top
Researchers at the Australian National University explain the gap between young and old with the greater
concern of younger voters for environmental issues. “Half of 18 to 24 year old voters surveyed identified an environmental issue as their top issue in the election,” they note.

The figures are from the 2019 Australian Election Study, a national survey of political opinion conducted after each federal election since 1987. Three years has passed since 2019, which means that more young voters have stepped into the arena to have their voice heard. Those who were 15, 16 and 17 years old in 2019 would be 18, 19 and 20 at this election, and if for a moment we imagined that they would all have enrolled for this election, that would mean – according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (Population by age and sex – national) that 900,000 new young voters have entered the arena – which again means that between 5 and 6 per cent of the voters at this election are young first-time voters.

If half of the new young voters follow the trend from last election, identifying climate and envitonmental issues as their top priority, then this will translate into welcoming some 450,000 new climate-voters, equal to 3 per cent of all votes, in the 21 May 2022 election.

1.4 million Australians voted for the Greens in 2019. In theory, according to a projection that 400,000 first-time voters would vote for the Greens in the upcoming federal election, this would result in a voter-growth for the Greens of almost 30 per cent. However, because of the way the voting system works in Australia, this does not automatically translate into a 30 per cent growth of their number of seats in the Parliament.

“Over the past two elections those under 35 have become much less likely to vote for the Liberal Party, and much more likely to vote for the Greens. The 2019 election exhibited the lowest Liberal party vote on record for this age group (at 23%), and the highest on record for the Greens (28%). The Labor vote within this age group has gradually declined over the past few decades, alongside the rise in the Greens vote. Overall the evidence from the Australian Election Study is consistent with a growing generational divide in the voting behavior of younger and older Australians.”
~ The 2019 Australian Federal Election: Results from the Australian Election Study, page 18

These graphs are from the 2019 Australian Election Study:

If for a moment we imagine the trends of the graphs continue to the 2022 election, this would be the outcome:

If 2019-trends continue, the Greens will be getting the same amount of votes as Labor among the 18 to 34-year-olds at the 2022 federal election.

In 17-year-old Lauren Dillon’s words: “Realise the power that you have – never underestimate how much you can actually influence other people.” And in 18-year-old Greta Thunberg’s words: “Change is coming.”

→ Share this on Facebook and Twitter

Women are on the move – especially at the polling booth
At the 2019 election, 35 per cent of women voted for the Liberal party, while 45 per cent of men did this. 15 per cent of the female voters gave the Greens their vote, compared with only 9 per cent among the male voters.

Ian McAllister, distinguished professor at the Australian National University, is co-director of the Australian Election Study, and he told Sydney Morning Herald he has detected a trend. After decades where women have voted conservatively, he says: that’s changing. The women’s vote is shifting.

McAllister predicts that in this election, anything related to women will resonate. Women are drifting to the “Voices of” candidates. “So many women. So many women candidates supported by so many women volunteers – from Allegra Spender’s campaign in Wentworth to Zoe Daniel’s campaign in Goldstein. It’s all about the women.”

A majority of Australian voters are women. In Corangamite 58,556 women and 53,216 men are enrolled. In Corio it is 58,879 women and 53,502 men. Women also outnumber men in Australian universities: The ratio is 100 females to only 72 males. But that’s another story!

By the way, the 2019 study also showed that the Australians’ trust in government reached its lowest level on record at the last election with only 25 per cent of Australians saying that people in government can be trusted.

Current ‘how to vote for the climate’ recommendation for Corangamite electorate from

“You feel in your bones that we’re hurtling towards climate and ecological catastrophe, yet nearly everyone you meet in real life and every politician and journalist on TV seem to live in an alternate reality where the habitability of our planet isn’t something to get worked up about.”

~ ClimateDad77

“The planet is literally cooking. Australia’s political journalists can put climate change front and centre of the campaign every day if they choose to. Yet they do not, and instead serve us up the gotcha crap. They are just as much of a problem as the fossil fuel corporations.”
~ Nick McKim, Greens Senator for Tasmania, 12 April 2022

We WILL fix climate change – animated video

This video has attracting amazing numbers: 4 million views in its first three days on Youtube, and hundreds of thousands of likes.

It is produced by the German animation and design studio Kurzgesagt, founded by Philipp Dettmer in Munich. The studio’s YouTube channel focuses on minimalist animated educational content, using the flat design style. It discusses scientific, technological, political, philosophical and psychological subjects. The video is narrated in English by Steve Taylor.

In German language, “Kurz gesagt” means “Told in brief” or “In a nutshell”. The company engages in information design projects of all kind, but are best known for their distinctive animation videos. They want their work to raise awareness for topics from the fields of science, space, technology, biology, history and philosophy. Their goal is to inspire people to learn – and they believe humor and a good story to tell are just as important as straight facts.

→ The New York Times – 22 March 2022:
‘OK Doomer’ and the Climate Advocates Who Say It’s Not Too Late
“A growing chorus of young people is focusing on climate solutions. They say talking solely about bad news can sow dread and paralysis, and foster inaction. ‘It’s too late’ means ‘I don’t have to do anything, and the responsibility is off me.’ “

New book by Britt Wray:
‘Generation Dread: Finding Purpose in an Age of Climate Crisis’

An impassioned generational perspective on how to stay sane amid climate disruption.

“Climate and environment-related fears and anxieties are on the rise everywhere. As with any type of stress, eco-anxiety can lead to burnout, avoidance, or a disturbance of daily functioning.

In Generation Dread, Britt Wray seamlessly merges scientific knowledge with emotional insight to show how these intense feelings are a healthy response to the troubled state of the world. The first crucial step toward becoming an engaged steward of the planet is connecting with our climate emotions, seeing them as a sign of humanity, and learning how to live with them. 

We have to face and value eco-anxiety, Wray argues, before we can conquer the deeply ingrained, widespread reactions of denial and disavowal that have led humanity to this alarming period of ecological decline.

It’s not a level playing field when it comes to our vulnerability to the climate crisis, she notes, but as the situation worsens, we are all on the field – and unlocking deep stores of compassion and care is more important than ever. Weaving in insights from climate-aware therapists, critical perspectives on race and privilege in this crisis, ideas about the future of mental health innovation, and creative coping strategies, Generation Dread brilliantly illuminates how we can learn from the past, from our own emotions, and from each other to survive – and even thrive – in a changing world.”

Product details
Price: $24.00. Publisher: Knopf Canada. Publish date: 3 May 2022. 296 pages

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Be more resilient in the face of climate anxiety

Top 6 strategies by Suzie Brown, Australian Parents for Climate Action

Rising up and showing our power in the face of the climate threat is emotionally very hard work. In the face of the climate crisis – and our national government’s appalling lack of action to solve this threat to our kids – it’s natural to feel a lot of emotions: anger, fear, anxiety. Grief at what we are losing. Hurt that our leaders don’t seem to care about our childrens’ future.

I feel all these too. And it’s taken me years of practice to work out how not to get worn out and depressed by it. Or how not to feel constantly anxious about the problem. I know that feeling of climate change hanging over me like a cloud every day.  

I wanted to share some lessons I’ve learned in my experience as a mum, a climate advocate, and a mindfulness meditation teacher. 

Make sure you nourish yourself every day

I’m not really talking about food here (though healthy food is obviously important). Find things that make you feel deeply nourished and spend some minutes doing that every single day. For me it’s walking or meditating in nature – the beach, forest, a park. Other ideas are: playing or listening to music, dancing, making art, gardening, reading a great novel, doing yoga, meditation or tai chi. Do one of these every day for at least 10 minutes and you’ll feel better!

Choose where to put your attention 

When our mind is full of worries for much of the day, we end up feeling overwhelmed and unhappy. This means we are less effective with our kids – and on our climate action work. So whenever you notice you’re worrying or having angry thoughts, make a point of redirecting your attention to something nourishing in the present. For me, I take a deep breath and feel in my body how much I love my daughter – and I just sit with that for a bit.

Don’t do too much

We have so much on our plate as mothers, that it’s important to know how to draw the line when our plate gets too full. Climate work is important, but even with an urgent issue like this, we need to know when to stop. Look for the signs that you are not looking after yourself, and take a break for a while. Common signs are: feeling anxious and constantly on edge; not sleeping well; getting sick and rundown; or feeling grumpy and angry with everyone, even your loved ones.

Connect with like-minded people

The best way to get active is with other people in your community who ‘get’ you. Even one or two other mums or dads you can get active with will help you to feel less alone and more supported and powerful. If you can’t find local friends to do this with, you can connect with our community on Facebook right now. Or meet your local action group here.

Be compassionate to yourself

We mothers do so much – for our families, at work, in our community. Yet we often beat ourselves up for not doing enough or not doing it all well enough. If you’re loving your kids: you’re doing a great job! If you’re doing something for the wider world: you’re doing a great job! Take a moment to give yourself a hug and drop those impossible expectations.

Don’t do too little

On the other hand, if you feel paralysed by the climate issue, it’s better for your mental health to do something. This counters anxiety and anger because you’re turning that energy into useful action, rather than worry. So next time you feel your climate anxiety rising, sign a petition, email your local MP or join a webinar. You can message all your candidates right now, in under 2 minutes.

We have a lot to deal with. But if we are to be a secure and positive presence for our kids and community, and if we are to be happy in our own lives, we need to work out how to be resilient in the face of the climate crisis.

More than ever, we need motherly love to help us solve the challenges. Let’s all be resilient so we can keep on loving our world.

Thank you for the love you are giving to your families and to our world.

Suzie Brown, co-founder and director of Australian Parents for Climate Action

PS: If you know a mum, or anyone, who could benefit from this advice (and knowing that you care, please pass this email on, or share this article here:

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Live-streaming of Day 7 of the April Rebellion: Big oil is the poison, action is the antidote

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The moment to change it all

“This is the moment to change it all — the business climate, the political climate, and how we take action on climate. Now is the time for the unstoppable courage to preserve and protect our health, our families, our livelihoods… together, we must Invest In Our Planet. Because a green future is a prosperous future.”
~ Earth Day

→ Climate Action – 21 April 2022:
Earth Day And ESG: The Stakeholder View Of Top Firms
“Earth Day and Earth Week in 2022 are starkly different from the annual holiday in past decades: this is no time to simply plant a tree, pick up some roadside trash, and call it a day.”

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George Monbiot is a British writer with a degree in zoology. Monbiot was moved to tears on the 18 November 2021 edition of Good Morning Britain on the difficulty on getting people to recognise the climate crisis while discussing Insulate Britain protests. Nine Insulate Britain activists had just been arrested for blocking a highway. 

While describing the film Don’t Look Up in early 2022, Monbiot explained how difficult it is to campaign for the preservation of Earth in the face of overwhelming inaction.

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Billy Otto: ‘Oblivion’

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Excerpt of newsletter from Inside the Movement:

“As we head into Earth Week 2022, the movement has sprung back into action. Activists are taking to the streets again to call boldly for the vital changes we need. 

It all kicked off earlier this month when more than a thousand scientists around the world took part in the Scientist Rebellion, demonstrations that brought the reality of the climate crisis to light. Some of those scientists were arrested for their courage, and could now use your help to pay their legal and court fees. Support their rebellion here!

If you want to be a part of the action, Extinction Rebellion is launching their biggest campaign yet — 10 days of nonviolent, direct action that are open to everyone. People are coming from all over the country to NYC, and you won’t want to miss out. Click here to see what’s happening

But, direct action isn’t the only way to participate. You can use your voice to gather support among voters that already care about climate. Join the inspiring Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson to recruit them during a virtual phone bank today, Monday April 18th. We need to mobilize for the upcoming special election in Arizona, because politicians only listen to people who actually vote!

While you are already on the phone, make sure to call Congress as well to push the climate provisions in Biden’s agenda over the finish line. We’re all used to texting and emailing, but calls really do work! Don’t be afraid to use your voice! 

And we’re continuing to push financial institutions that won’t bend to reality without pressure from us. In advance of annual shareholder meetings, the Sierra Club has a campaign aimed at major investors in big banks. The goal? To get the banks to divest from dirty energy sources that are insuring our destruction. 

There’s more inside this week’s edition of ITM. We have the scoop on ‘black carbon’ in the Arctica new structure that will protect wildlife, and what climate is now doing to the Atlantic hurricane season.

And don’t forget! Earth Day is April 22nd. We’ll be spending the day reflecting in nature, unwinding in warm weather and returning refreshed with a reminder as to why we continue fighting for our planet. We encourage you to do the same.”

— Morgan @ ITM

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Project Drawdown

Excerpt of newsletter from Project Drawdown

We have met the climate solution, and it is us

The release earlier this month of IPCC’s latest report on climate change drills home harder than ever both the urgency to put the brakes on climate change and the fact that humanity has the capacity to do so. So why aren’t we?

It’s a failure of leadership, Drawdown Labs director Jamie Alexander writes in “Solutions to the climate crisis will come from the multitudes,” her latest op-ed at GreenBiz. And, she adds, it’s also a call to the rest of us to spring into action.

“[T]he climate solutions we have at our fingertips today come from and belong to the multitudes,” Alexander writes. “They were born from farmers, builders, Indigenous knowledge holders, engineers, educators, foresters, healthcare workers and many more. And the multitudes will ultimately bring these solutions to scale.”

Alexander goes on to describe three concrete actions that together can make a difference now: engage more workers in climate solutions, encourage climate activism in the workplace, and invest in climate solutions.

“This moment cannot just be about pleading and hoping that our leaders see the urgency and drive us forward,” she concludes. “It must also be about bringing to bear our own power and unique skill sets for this awe-inspiring opportunity to shape a better future together.”

→ GreenBiz: Solutions to the climate crisis will come from the multitudes

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Excerpts from Climate Council’s latest newsletter

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has confirmed that the Reef has undergone its 6th mass bleaching event since 1998

2021 was the warmest year on record for the world’s oceans, with climate change leading to more frequent and severe marine heatwaves.

Our new report, In Hot Water: Climate Change, Marine Heatwaves, and Coral Bleaching finds that if climate change continues unabated, the Great Barrier Reef could face bleaching conditions every year from 2044.

Cutting global emissions by at least 50% this decade is key to the survival of Australia’s treasured marine ecosystems, including the Reef.

Want a kid-friendly guide to the latest news on the Great Barrier Reef? Check out this segment from Behind the News.

The Federal election has finally been called, and it’s shaping up to be a tight race fought on issues like the economy, cost of living, and healthcare. But Climate Councillor Nicki Hutley, along with a majority of Australian economists, have singled out climate change as the most important election issue that major parties should be focusing on.

Meanwhile, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group III report sent a clear message: despite affordable renewable energy solutions being available now, governments and businesses are failing to act fast enough. 

Click here for a more in-depth explanation of the IPCC WGIII Report or check out our recent webinar, with Dr Saul Griffith, Dr Madeline Taylor, and our CEO Amanda McKenzie for a breakdown of the report and the solutions we should be putting into action today.

The kids’ climate case establishing a duty of care on the Federal Environment Minister to protect young people from climate change has been overturned by the full bench of the Federal Court.

The group of 8 young people, supported by an octogenarian nun, have stated that they will not appeal these findings, but renewed calls for “all members of parliament and candidates, to listen to the voices of young people”.

Read more

UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, called out Australia by name at the Economist Sustainability Summit, as one of the G20 countries that have not announced meaningful emissions reductions by 2030. 

Australia ranks dead last out of major developed nations when it comes to cutting emissions and it’s past time that we do better.

Military leaders, business leaders, and flood-affected residents are calling for urgent action to reduce emissions this decade.

In an interview with A Current Affair, Emergency Leaders for Climate Action member Major General Peter Dunn states that “the only way to stop a pot from boiling over is to turn the stove down. And that’s the situation we’re in with climate change.” Check out the full segment here.

The Lost Years: The Climate Council’s new report The Lost Years: Counting the Costs of Climate Inaction in Australia has found that the Federal Liberal-National Government has overwhelmingly failed on climate action over its three terms of government.

Australia’s next Federal Government must adopt credible climate policies as a matter of extreme urgency.

Read the Report Now

Enjoyed this newsletter? Make a tax deductible donation today to power Climate Council to bring independent climate science, news and information to more Australians, every day. 

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Evolving Earth Day

Newsletter cover image

Earth Day is an important day for anyone who works in sustainability, but for me it is also a time of conflicted feelings. Of course, it brings me great joy to see people and companies taking time to reflect on the beauty of our planet, and recognizing the importance of taking care of it for future generations. To that end, Earth Day serves its purpose incredibly well.

However, I also know that Earth Day often represents a missed opportunity as well. For a day when our whole society is focused on environmental sustainability, we generally only effect a fraction of the change we are capable of — and, to be frank, a fraction of the change our planet needs. As we approach Earth Day on April 22nd, I wanted to write about how we often limit ourselves in our celebration, and also provide some ideas for thinking outside the broken system we live in.

If all of that sounds a bit pessimistic, it isn’t meant to be. I generally try to remain optimistic, and that’s easy to do when I work with and meet so many talented and caring people who are dedicated to a sustainable future. But if we want to achieve that sustainable future, Earth Day — the day when our society is most mobilized for our planet — cannot always be rosy. We should absolutely celebrate our earth, but must also acknowledge the precarious state in which we’ve left it.

Beyond that, awareness must lead to action. And that action should have both a short-term and long-term focus. It’s cliche to say we have to live every day like it’s Earth Day, but it is true that we cannot afford to let our planet’s well-being slip to the backs of our minds once Earth Day (or Earth Week, or Earth Month) is over.

So what does effective, long-term action look like? It’s going to take a new system for our society and economy. 

When you think of typical Earth Day initiatives, they often treat symptoms, not causes. Taking a day to make surface-level improvements — planting trees, cleaning up trash, etc. — is certainly still valuable, and I don’t want to minimize that work. But it doesn’t address the broken system that necessitates planting trees and cleaning up trash in the first place.

In that sense, the linear economy has been the sponsor of Earth Day since the holiday’s inception in 1970. For those unfamiliar, the linear economy has been our default economic model for centuries. It is a “take-make-waste” mindset, in the sense that we we harvest and extract materials from the Earth (“take”), use them to manufacture some sort of product and feed our supply chains (“make”), and then either our employees or the consumers we sell to elect to get rid of these items (“waste”). Effectively, we use up more and more resources, and we create more and more waste.

When you’re stuck in a linear economy, Earth Day will always be more about fixing problems than keeping those problems from ever occurring. We have to challenge ourselves to think outside the box and model a new type of economy. For instance, finding ways to donate business products or supplies is typically not thought of as an environmental action. But by extending the use of these items, we can avoid sending them to landfill and reduce the need to create and transport new items (and all the carbon emissions that process brings).

Here’s where I can get back to optimism: there are already events taking place around the country that engage people in reuse and circularity. For example, in my hometown of Chicago, The Plant (a circular economy organization worth looking up in its own right) is hosting “Reuse-a-Palooza” on April 24th. This event will “provide opportunities to repair clothing and household items, safely dispose tricky-to-recycle items, and donate bicycles, gently used books, and more, all the while bringing attention to strategies to reduce waste and improve environmental conditions.” Opportunities to take simple, yet meaningful, steps toward a new economy and climate-positive future abound — you just have to actively seek them out. For ideas on where to look and how to get started, check out Rheaply’s Reuse Initiative Action Plan. This Earth Day, I encourage you to not only take action for our environment, but to try to do so in a way that moves us beyond the structures of the linear economy.

~ Garry Cooper

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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.



List of running petitions where we encourage you to add your name

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The Sustainable Hour is streamed live on the Internet and broadcasted on FM airwaves in the Geelong region every Wednesday from 11am to 12pm (Melbourne time).

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

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