Protecting our forests, activists and community

The Sustainable Hour no. 423 | Podcast notes

Guests in The Sustainable Hour on 3 August 2022 are Amy Calton from Wombat Action Group, Gayle Osborne from Wombat Forestcare and Kate Hardy from Australian Conservation Foundation.

Initially we listen to former Anglican Bishop Peter Danaher addressing the moral imperative that is so often lacking today and is the direct cause of the climate breakdown the world is now experiencing. Danaher had joined about 50 people protesting outside GeelongPort on Friday with signs saying “GeelongPort betrays community” to let GeelongPort know what they thought of the Port’s apparent change of heart about Viva Energy’s proposed floating gas hub in Corio Bay. Just a few weeks ago, GeelongPort were strong critics of this proposal on both safety and environmental grounds, only to announce last week that they had “entered into a financial arrangement” with Viva and so were pulling out of the enquiry process into Viva’s Environmental Effects Statement (EES).

We also hear submissions to the Viva Energy Gashub Inquiry Committee by Janice Bennison, Robert Patterson and John Finlayson.

If you agree with the sentiments of the anti-gashub activists, you can sign a petition here. Video recording from GeelongPort on Facebook and below on this page.

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Gayle Osborne from Wombat Forest Care and Amy Calton from Wombat Action Group both represent yet another community who are standing up against a government authority, in this case Vic Forests, in order to protect a place that has special meaning to their lives. They leave us with the very strong feeling that they aren’t going to go away while this threat remains. All they are asking for is that their Wombat forest be given the status that has been recommended for it, i.e. a National Park.

Kate Hardy from the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has the very important position to support the health of ACF’s community groups. Her focus at the moment is looking at the results of a survey that ACF has administered to all its groups. We learn why these surveys were developed and what Kate is going to do with the results.

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With excitement we play excerpts of three inspirational maiden speeches in the Federal Parliament in Canberra – by the ‘teal independents’ Dr Monique Ryan, Member for Kooyong in Victoria, Kate Chaney, Member for Curtin in Western Australia, and Zoe Daniel, Independent Member for Goldstein in Victoria, now part of what have been labelled the Community Crossbench. You can watch their full speeches on video further below on this page.

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Colin Mockett‘s Global Outlook begins in the United States where flash floods hit Kentucky’s poorer regions with whole houses washed away by mudslides and with at least 26 people dead. But it didn’t capture the headlines in the State’ news because last Thursday night’s downpours caused rain inside the casinos of Las Vegas. The whole strip was flooded. U.S. news broadcasts showed rain entering Caesar’s Palace casino through multiple holes in the ceiling and cars stranded or floating in the underpass at the famous Strip. The heavy rain was accompanied by strong winds and lighting strikes, with Nevada energy reporting 7,000 customers were without power. To the U.S. news-cycle, this easily outranked the current heatwaves in northern Europe, the United Kingdom, China, Iran where floods have caused 80 deaths, heatwaves in North Africa, the ongoing drought in California, and even wildfires in Alaska.

To Tasmania where a trial wave-power generator off King Island has been proclaimed a success and will now be developed commercially. The trial unit has been putting electricity into the island’s grid for the past year. Run by the Australian Ocean Energy Group and manufactured by a Melbourne Company called Wave Swell Energy, the system is called UniWave 200. It provides power for 200 homes on the island. The company’s spokeswoman, Stephany Thornton, said: “This is the first project that has successfully generated energy for a customer and that goes to prove that ocean energy can work.” The system uses an artificial blow-hole that drives a turbine rather than harnessing tidal power, which can be erratic. The local mayor called it “a huge success from our point of view. It’s providing power for the island, it’s renewable, it’s a method that could be used in other places so we’re very happy to be trialling it.”

Now to some unusual research that appears to suggest that the smoke from wildfires around the world affects the speed that the Arctic sea ice is melting. By slowing it. A climate model study published at the weekend in Science Advances appears to show that tiny particles caused by the giant fires are carried by winds around the northern hemisphere by winds and swirl into the arctic, where they seed water droplets into clouds, brightening the light and increasing the amount of heat and light that is reflected away from the earth. So initial studies appear to show that wildfires can slow the ice melt in a highly complex interaction that needs much more study.

Then to the Netherlands and news from a group called ‘Boyan Slat’s Ocean Clean Up team’ which stated that its operation in the Pacific Ocean had passed its first milestone: It had officially removed more than 100,000 kilos of plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch using a super dredging system which began in August 2021 and has now collected 101,353 kilos of plastic over 45 extractions, sweeping an area of ocean of more than 3,000 square kilometres. Added to the 7,173 kilos of plastic captured by its previous prototype systems, The Ocean Cleanup now claims to have collected a total of 108,526 kilos of plastic from the Pacific. According to a 2018 study, the total amount of accumulated plastic in the Pacific is approximately 100,000,000 kilos, so it calculates that at the present rate, it can be cleaned up in 1,000 years – provided that no more extra plastic waste is added in that time. There is no word about what the group has done with the plastic it claims to have collected but Colin has committed to dig deeper and report back in the future.

Finally, for this week, the world’s only carbon-neutral sports team Forest Green Rovers played its first football match in its new division at the weekend. If you remember, its team of vegans won promotion to the English Division One last year, when it finished champions of Division Two. The team played its first game in the higher division last Saturday, away at Bristol Rovers. The score was Bristol Rovers 1, Forest Green Rovers 2, what a great start for FGR. Rest assured that as unofficial leaders of their cheer squad in Australia, we’ll be following their exploits both on and off the field this season.

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That’s all from us this week. We’ll be back next week doing our best to provide active hope in these troubled times. Active hope: that’s what arises when people turn their concerns into projects that actively address aspects of the climate crisis we face. Hope alone isn’t going to get us to where we need to be. We need the kind of active hope which fuels actions and funds projects. These actions are what we call the Climate Revolution that is growing all over the world. Week in week out we urge you, our listeners, to find your role in this non-violent regenerative revolution. Form a group of three – yourself and two friends who share your concerns and ideas. Then you can get started – and be the difference.

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“To begin with, there was no mention of the word ‘salvage’ in Vic Forests’ media releases. There was no mention of the word ‘logging’. The closest they came to discussing timber was talking about the treatment of ‘wind thrown’ timber. Vic Forests came in initially saying that all they were doing was a ‘restoration project to assist the ecosystem in recovering from the storm damage’. This is laughable from a corporation that has a track record of consistently overstepping their environmental obligations and consistently damaging and leaving places devastated.”
~ Amy Calton, Wombat Action Group

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As part of our Acknowledgement of Country this week, we feel we must pay our respect to First Nations elder Archie Roach who died at the weekend. Through his music and deeds Archie did more than most to build a bridge of understanding between indigenous and settler Australians. The world is a much better place for him being with us for that time. As Paul Kelly said in a heartfelt tribute to his longtime friend and music collaborator: “A giant tree has fallen”. Archie’s truth telling legacy will live on. We pass on our sincerest best wishes to his family and friends at this very sad time. 

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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The Teals deliver first speeches to Federal Parliament

First Speech – Dr Monique Ryan MP, Member for Kooyong, Victoria

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First Speech – Ms Kate Chaney MP, Member for Curtin, Western Australia

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First Speech – Ms Zoe Daniel MP, Independent Member for Goldstein, Victoria

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First Speech – Ms Kylea Tink MP, Member for North Sydney, New South Wales

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First Speech – Dr Sophie Scamps MP, Member for Mackellar, NSW

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First Speech – Ms Allegra Spender MP, Member for Wentworth, NSW

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First Speech – Senator David Pocock

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Photo by Jason South

Extinction Rebellion Victoria wrote in their newsletter on 2 August 2022:
“Sometimes it’s hard to keep going in this struggle. We feel overwhelmed by the shocking State of the Environment report. The new prime minister pledges his allegiance to coal. Victoria’s on the brink of punitive new anti-protest laws as we look north to brave climate activists locked up for three weeks then banished from NSW. And we mourn the death of Gunditjmara Elder Archie Roach, whose legacy of caring and creativity continues to inspire. The only answer is to act. XR rebels rally to end fossil fuels and get on with the job of preserving our natural world. In Parliament House, in cities, forests and towns. Real change is still in reach. Fill up on the love, courage and friendship this movement provides, and get involved whichever way you can.”

Photo: XR Vic

Speaking of forests:

Around 16 football pitches of trees per minute were lost to forest fires in 2021, a new report says.

Data from Global Forest Watch suggests that across the globe, the amount of tree cover being burned has nearly doubled in the past 20 years.

Climate change is a key factor in the increase as it leads to higher temperatures and drier conditions.

Of the 9 million hectares of trees consumed by fire in 2021, over five million were in Russia.

The new data allows researchers to distinguish between trees lost to fires, and those destroyed for agriculture, logging or during intentional burns.

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“This is a call to arms. So if you feel the need to glue yourself to a motorway or blockade an oil refinery, do it. Drive an electric car or, even better, use public transport, walk or cycle. Switch to a green energy tariff; eat less meat. Stop flying; lobby your elected representatives at both local and national level; and use your vote wisely to put in power a government that walks the talk on the climate emergency.”
~ Bill McGuire, UK climate scientist at University College London and author of a new book on the climate emergency, ‘Hothouse Earth’

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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).

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