Scientists in the climate emergency: “To the streets!”

The Sustainable Hour no. 415 | Podcast notes

“Climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals. But the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels. Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness.”
~ Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations

In The Sustainable Hour on 8 June 2022, we focus on Adelaide (Kaurna) where the state parliament has declared a climate emergency.

Firstly we have Annie Bond who holds an Ecology and Economics PhD, is a working ecologist and an active volunteer with Extinction Rebellion South Australia and Scientist Rebellion. Annie tells how she slowly gained confidence by being an observer at actions as well as why she made to decision to risk arrest.

Following Annie, we have a retired botanist who is now a full time climate activist with Extinction Rebellion and Scientist Rebellion, Ian Fox. Ian explains how his background has had a strong influence on what he is currently doing.

Next we have Cathy Cox who is a retired mathematics academic and now full time climate activist. She recounts how the attitudes of her conservative friends have changed to her risking arrest.

Finally we have Annie’s sister, Gabi Bond. Gabi is a circular economy researcher and volunteer for the same two activist groups, Extinction Rebellion and Scientist Rebellion.

Four different people with different backgrounds all united in their determination and desire to be active participants in solutions to the climate crisis we face, and having fun in doing it. A strong message for us all. Included in this segment is an interesting discussion on what is violence and what could escalated non-violent direct action look like.

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We start off today’s program with the head of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, asking just who are the dangerous radicals.

Mik Aidt follows with mixed news about where our new government, which was voted in a couple of weeks ago with a strong mandate to get real on climate is taking us. It has representatives who are making public statements that appear to be flying in the face of this commitment. At the same time we have a state government publicly acknowledging just how serious a situation we face.

We have the next Sustainable Endpoint instalment from local carbon consultant Heidi Fog. She relies on mathamatics to do her job properly – to calculate baselines and set targets for her clients. In today’s episode, Heidi refers to the three types of electricity that we have to choose from and the impact that each choice has.

The song ‘Change is Coming’ is from the XR Waterloo Uprising.

Colin Mockett‘s Global Outlook starts by noting that today, 8 June 2022, is the United Nations’ World Oceans Day. In recognition of this, Deakin University’s Blue Carbon Lab director and acclaimed environmental scientist Professor Peter Macreadie issued a warning on the worldwide erosion of mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrasses. These ecosystems serve as natural “carbon sinks”, he said. “Most of the carbon stored in these ecosystems is underground and may be thousands of years old. They do much for human prosperity and the survival of the planet, but this isn’t well recognised worldwide, which is a reason why they face global decline largely due to unsustainable coastal development.” Yet again we are left with the question: What is it going to take?

Meanwhile a new SBS documentary film titled ‘Fading Sands’ premiered this week on SBS. The film graphically highlights this problem first hand. It shows how hundreds of people of the Solomon Islands have lost their livelihoods and their homes to rising tides in the South Pacific, and thousands have had to leave their island homes. It illustrates just why there is a mistrust of Australia which has essentially ignored their government’s pleas for a decade. The documentary can be viewed any time on SBS On Demand.

A new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows that there is more carbon in the atmosphere now that at any other time in human history. This is despite the best efforts of nations and the UN. Sadly, CO2 levels and global average temperatures are on a parallel course upwards and yet still, we humans, choose to ignore the science.

A quite separate report this week showed that world expenditure on military topped $US 2 trillion for the first time last financial year. This amount, if spent on combatting climate change, would have essentially solved it as a problem.

On the ground in New York, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned of global starvation due to weather events linked to climate change. He said that “in addition to Russia’s war in Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate emergency is another driver of global hunger. Over the past decade 1.7 billion people have been affected by extreme weather and climate-related disasters.”

The Secretary-General noted that although hunger is on the rise around the world, we’re not seeing it on tv screens. Climate change is already having a major impact on crop yields and livestock productivity worldwide. At the same time, many industrialised farming practices are huge emitters of carbon dioxide and are causing incredible damage to soil and the environment. Guterres said that changes in our diets are essential to curbing climate change — but, critically, there is no one solution that is a fit for all cultures and budgets. Tremendous amounts of energy and resources go into how food and water are harvested, processed, packaged, and ultimately delivered to consumers. Food grown in rich nations, for example, might be shipped across the world for processing and packaging – only to be shipped back for consumption. And then they are frequently wasted by people’s tastes or malpractice. Food waste is a constant, he said, and each nation should re-examine its food infrastructure – from harvest to transport to supermarkets and kitchen tables – all in order to help reduce emissions.

Meanwhile in India, the heatwave continues. They’re now recording what they term an ‘early onslaught of heat waves’ that has engulfed states across North, Central and East India from March-May this year, with 16 states affected. The country reported 280 heat wave days and they warned that it’s likely to set mere records when the next set of figures is released.

In California their drought continues into a third year. The media is reporting record numbers of parched reservoirs and disappearing mountain snow, but that hasn’t caused a drop in the demand for water. Gov. Gavin Newsom at the beginning of the year called on Californians to voluntarily reduce water use by 15 percent, but it declined by only 3.7 percent. He’s now considering compulsory measures and it remains to be seen how well the state can conserve its existing supplies.

Elsewhere in the U.S., NASA scientists have predicted an increase in the number and severity of hurricanes in the southern states due to the effects of climate change. And they described their computer modelling as highly accurate and the situation worrying.

And finally – Forest Green Rovers have appointed 39-year-old Ian Burchnall as head coach and are already preparing for their first season in League One. He was previous coach at Notts County and before that at Swedish club Ostersunds. And before that he was head coach with Norwegian clubs Sarpsborg and Viking. So we might expect a bit of Scandinavian flair this season. He was quoted as saying he was delighted to be part of what is an exciting chapter in the club’s history. “The challenge of football in League One was just too good to turn down,” he said. “especially at a progressive and forward-thinking club.” There’s no word whether he’s a vegan but surely we’ll find out in time. Pre-season training begins on 23 June, so we won’t get much of a break from our weekly news about the world’s only vegan carbon-neutral football team. But that is the end of our global round-up for this week.

. . .

That’s it for episode number 415 of The Sustainable Hour. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did in putting it together.

The question we ask after listening to the ‘Adelaide Four’ is just who are the criminals here? Four Aussies who are seriously concerned about the climate emergency we face – or the people who are actively promoting and financing new fossil fuel projects?
We all know the answer that history will give to this question.

Till next week: live the difference.

“I think it’s a fantastic thing for South Australia. It really just sets a mandate. In a way, it’s symbolic, but the symbolism is very powerful, which means that whenever the South Australian government now decides to open a new gas field, or subsidise a new underground coal gasification venture, we can say, “Well hang on for a minute, you agreed, as leaders of our state, that we are in a climate emergency. Why are you making this decision that runs completely contrary to what you have put on the record that you support?”
So I think as a symbol and a communication to all South Australians, this is a really important step and it’s something that many of us have worked very hard on. That particular win didn’t involve civil disobedience, it involved getting 10,000 physical signatures on pieces of paper and delivering that to Parliament House.”
~ Gabi Bond, climate activist in Adelaide – commenting on the South Australian Parliament’s recent climate emergency declaration

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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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31 May 2022: South Australian parliament declares a climate emergency

→ Cedamia – 4 June 2022:
South Australia declared a Climate Emergency
Background info on the South Australian climate emergency declaration. Please share to people wanting their own state to declare a climate emergency.

“On 31 May 2022, South Australia became the first Australian state to declare a Climate Emergency, although the Australian Capital Territory did set a precedent for a sub-national region to do so back in 2019. The SA declaration was passed by both Houses of Parliament. The Liberal opposition proposed amendments, which were rejected, with the original motion then passing unanimously in the Lower House. The Liberal opposition voted against the motion in the Upper House but it passed with Labor and cross bench support.”

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7 May 2022: Scientists glue themselves to Santos Headquarter in Adelaide in South Australia

Video on Facebook

The latest newsletter from Extinction Rebellion gives insight into how protests are rolling out around the world.


Who are the tyre extinguishers?

A new UK eco-group is using lentils, yes lentils, to deflate the tyres of carbon-guzzling, cyclist-killing 4×4 cars. Find out how, why, and more in this feature article by Vice:

→ Vice – 24 May 2022:
Tyre Extinguishers: A Night Out with the Climate Activists Sabotaging SUVs
The guerilla eco group are waging war on 4×4 cars in the UK by deflating their tyres, one lentil at a time.

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Asher Miller: Creating complex climate solutions

Confronting the unknowns of a diversified approach

Recommended podcast listening

Asher Miller, CEO of Post Carbon Institute, joins Rachel Donald to discuss climate solutions, climate action and ‘climate sabotage’ in this episode of Planet Critical. He explains the role the institute has played in pointing out the severity of the crisis, the dangers of oversimplifying or universalising responses, and how to apply systems thinking to creating complex solutions—and just how tough that can be. From the podcast notes:

“One of the greatest challenges we face when tackling the polycrisis is understanding and applying a diversity of approaches. This means recognising the solutions are as complex as the crisis itself. There is no singular, simple answer.

Accepting the ecosystem of solutions we need to implement also comes with accepting both unknown variables and the fact that different people are going to attempt different things—but each attempt is valid, and potentially plays a significant role in the bigger picture. A diversity of approaches demands a diversity of understanding. It also demands accepting we’re not always going to agree with how some choose to fight the battle.”

Listen here

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Heidi Fog: The Sustainable Endpoint no. 5 – about the three types of electricity that we have to choose from and the impact that each choice has.

Heidi Fog sees it as her mission to help organisations drive down energy and resource consumption. She delivers clear opportunities and solutions on how to reduce avoidable and unavoidable energy and resource consumption and emissions.

→ Home page:

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By Mik Aidt

Australia’ has a new resources minister replacing Keith Pitt. Her name is Madeleine King, and she now tells us it will “absolutely not” become harder for fossil fuel projects to be developed under the new Labor government.

So… what just happened there? What happened to the Labor-statement during election time that “We are listening to the scientists” and listening to the United Nations, where Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has been saying it straight out to everyone:

“Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is moral and economic madness.”

But no – why should Labor listen to anyone else than the gas companies that have sponsored their election campaign, now that they have full control of the Lower House in Parliament?

Ms King throws her full support at massive new fossil fuel project, like Woodside Energy’s 16 billion dollar gas project, Scarborough, which is labelled a “climate bomb”, And it turns out there’s an even larger project on the way as well: the 30 billion dollar Browse gas field north of Broome, again in Western Australia.

Taxpayers pay more in subsidies for gas than the gas companies pay in taxes or royalties.

“We produce three times more gas now. Production tripled!!! And we have a local gas shortage??? Gas companies are not the he solution folks. They are the profiteers. If they were a foreign nation – there would be an uprising.”
~ Richie Merzian, Australian Institute

“Gas companies don’t actually make anything. They just rip wealth out of our nation and flog it for the highest price on the global market. They’re mostly foreign owned and pay no tax. The scam of the century and the Australian public pays the price.”
~ Daniel Bleakley

→ The Conversation – 3 June 2022:
The ultra-polluting Scarborough-Pluto gas project could blow through Labor’s climate target – and it just got the green light
“We calculate that this project will add about 41 megatonnes per year to Australia’s national emissions from around 2030.”

. . .

“We knew this was coming. The oil and gas market has always been geopolitical, with inherent extreme price volatility, which rocks the world in times of crisis. Previous responses have been to explore and develop more oil and gas, setting ourselves up for the next crisis in which the oil and gas companies reap super profits while consumers reap the misery. When will we learn?”

“Consumers, manufacturers and everyone in the economy are now being squeezed by soaring fossil fuel prices. We must turn our back on traditional self-serving responses and accelerate our investments in renewable energy and storage to help protect ourselves from volatility, lower our emissions, create new industries and become more self-sufficient.” 

“The Albanese government has a strong mandate for game-changing climate action. We need to see them put that into action now, to protect households and businesses from future price shocks and to strengthen our economy into the future.”
~ Greg Bourne, former President of BP Australasia, former advisor to Margaret Thatcher; Climate Councillor

. . .


“Surely the addition of more supply must come from renewables.”
~ Geelong Advertiser editorial

An editorial in Geelong Advertiser last week signals an acknowledgement that gas is on the way out – and that the Geelong Renewables Not Gas campaign is on the right track.

Geelong Renewables Not Gas campaign organiser Sal Fisher commented: “This is a significant statement from the Geelong Advertiser – they cant make it much clearer that gas is on the way out.”

She congratulated the letter writers too for their recent letters in the paper in reference to councils stopping new gas connections. A month-long hearing about Viva’s proposed gas hub is coming up in July.

Pradeep Philip, lead partner of Deloitte Access Economics, said “We shouldn’t be surprised that we’re starting to see the effects of a disorderly transition” off fossil fuels. We’ve let this thing drift too long. Now the market’s exacting a price.”

→ The Guardian – 2 June 2022:
‘World of pain’: warnings of gas shortages amid soaring power prices add to Australia’s energy woes
“Market operator warns of possible shortfall of gas supplies on Thursday in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania amid cold snap.” By Peter Hannam

→ The Guardian – 2 June 2022:
Can Australian gas help the world navigate the climate crisis? Or is it just more hot air?
“The path to net zero is plagued by claims that LNG is less dirty than coal, but there is practically no evidence to back them up.” By Graham Readfearn

→ ABC News – 2 June 2022:
Federal government’s ‘gas trigger’ to keep supplies onshore may not be pulled just to put a lid on high prices
“The government has a “gas trigger” it can pull to force local gas exporters to reserve some of their supplies for Australia.”

Tell Minister Wynne to ban offshore gas and oil exploration

Natural gas is a fossil fuel made up mostly of methane. When it is burned, it produces the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, as well as some nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter.  Using gas at home, particularly cooking on a gas stove, can increase the risk of childhood asthma.

There are methane leaks during extraction, processing and transport of natural gas, and methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Australia must not regard it as a safe or even a transition fuel. Offshore exploration for gas in precious areas of our coastline, like the 12 Apostles, exacerbates its dangerous effects on the planet. With the UN issuing a recent warning that it is now almost impossible to limit warming to 1.5 degrees, governments must act fast to ban further exploration. NSW has said NO, but Victoria hasn’t – yet.

The Victorian government has been under pressure from environment groups to follow NSW’s lead to ban gas exploration, and greater pressure from the community is urgently needed. We urge you to write to our local member, Richard Wynne, to either introduce a bill banning offshore drilling, or support any such bill from another Party or Independent member of parliament. 

→ Contact details for Minister Wynne can be found here

. . .

“We live in a country with abundant wind and solar energy but in 2022 Australians are still shackled to expensive coal, oil and gas.”
~ Daniel Bleakley


Energy bills are breaking all sorts of records, but so are renewables. Australia set a new record for wind generation, reaching 6,639MW on Tuesday morning last week.

This beat the previous record of 6,427MW, set in July 2021, and brought a little relief to household energy bills, at least in the southern states. During the spike, Victoria and South Australia briefly enjoyed negative (minus $20/MWh) and zero prices wholesale power, before gas-fired stations resumed their pricing control.

The Australian Industry Group, the business lobby that went out of its way to oppose Labor’s carbon price a decade ago and loudly applauded when Tony Abbott killed it, is now complaining that Australia remains hooked on fossil fuels.

→ RenewEconomy – 31 May 2022:
Wind output hits record highs, offering some relief from “crazy”, “broken” market

“For years Australia was a roadblock to global climate action. It’s time we returned to the right side of history.”
~ Bill Hare, 6 June 2022

“The reason I’m leaving is because the scale, urgency, and tragedy of climate change are so immense that I can no longer justify to myself working on anything else, no matter how interesting or lucrative, until it’s fixed.”
~ Eugene Kirpichov, 34, in an email to colleagues about why he quit his job at Google

“Nothing is ever going back to normal. Ever. Sorry. We are all living in a civilisation in ecological overshoot and the bill is now coming due. We must take radical action to limit the damage and protect people and species. But normal is over.”
~ XR Cambridge

It is not difficult to imagine how these kind of ideas will escalate in the coming months and years if governments continue to pretend the climate emergency is someone else’s problem to fix.

→ The Guardian – 2 June 2022:
Rival climate groups deflate SUV tyres in Glasgow and Edinburgh
“Deflationists and Tyre Extinguishers both say they want to make SUV ownership impossible in urban areas.”

→ Byline Times – 26 May 2022:
UN Warns of ‘Total Societal Collapse’ Due to Breaching of Planetary Boundaries
“A landmark report by the United Nations concludes that ‘global collapse’ is becoming more likely. But was it watered-down before being published?”

→ United Nations Environment Programme:
Facts about the climate emergency
“What you need to know about the Climate Emergency”

→ Pearls and Irritations – 20 May 2022:
The Dominoes are falling fast. We face a climate emergency
“The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Sixth Assessment Reports provide a stark warning that humanity’s chances of outrunning the devastating impacts of climate change are uncomfortably low. The fact that these reports have been ignored by our political leaders is an abrogation of their primary responsibility to ensure the security of the Australian people.”

“Never before have we had so much scientific evidence demonstrating that we are in the midst of a global climate emergency.”
~ Professor Sir David King in his foreword to the report “Climate Dominoes”

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Australia’s gas industry in a post-election spin

Excerpt from the Fired Up newsletter from Comms Declare

After Australians overwhelmingly voted for climate last month, and scrutiny turns to big-emitting business, it’s no surprise that the gas industry is feeling the heat.

Just days after the election gas execs were out in force with broad-spectrum spin and scare tactics that ranged from misleading to downright delusional.

Some of the misleading arguments you’ll be hearing from the industry as it tries to secure its future include:

The gas industry has no place in Australia’s clean energy future. But it will fight tooth and nail trying to protect itself and its profits as climate ambition in Australia ramps up.

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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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