Climate revolution from the ground up

The Sustainable Hour no. 429 | Podcast notes

Guest in The Sustainable Hour on 14 September 2022 is Bev Middleton, founder of Soil Week Australia, to highlight the importance of healthy soils – this year with a competition for both primary and secondary students.

Bev Middleton founded Soil Week Australia because she wanted to do something to raise awareness about the importance of soil in Australia. Soil health matters more than many of us think. This year she has set up a competition on the importance of healthy soil for primary and secondary students. In our chat with Bev, we learn about her background and what led a city girl to realise just how important it is that we don’t continue to degrade our soils.

The schools competition closes on 26 October 2022. If you know any students or teachers who you think will be interested in taking part in this competition, please help spread the word about it. More details about the school competition can be found here: Schools Competition – Soil Week Australia. The Soil Week’s Facebook page can be found here.

“For farmers, the size of their holdings is too large for compost, but I’ve seen some amazing operations where farmers are using compost teas as foliar sprays to their crops and that’s enough.”
~ Bev Middleton, founder of Soil Week Australia

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The show starts today with a brief clip from Jane Goodall reminding us that we are all in this together.

This is followed by part of a speech by King Charles III where he refers to the necessity for a Marshall-like plan which was instigated after World War II to aid recovery from the devastating impact of those six years to our rapid transition to a post-carbon world.

Mik Aidt questions what impact will being king have on the prince who was so outspoken on the necessity for truth telling and real action on climate now that he has acquired that position, a position where he is supposed to be “apolitical” whatever that means. Will King Charles really be able to remain quiet while he sees the climate catastrophe play out around him? Time will tell.

Mik follows this with a challenge to us all to become leaders as we face up to the unprecedented horrors unfolding all around our world. We look at the climate emergency from the perspective of an American climate scientist, Peter Kalmus, who has become so enraged by not being listened to that he is now advocating for non-violent direct action to disrupt business-as-usual and draw attention to the dire nature of the situation we face: “We need to do this for each other,” he says. Similar sentiments then come from Adam McKay, the script writer for the Netflix movie which caused a sensation when it came out last year, ‘Don’t Look Up’. Ex high-end banker Paul Severance then joins them – he is one of the organisers in the American climate action campaigners Declare Emergency which is mobilising for street actions in Washington DC in October.

They all speak with great conviction about the importance of putting our bodies on the line to disrupt what has become a destructive lifestyle as well as the incredible satisfaction that comes from doing that. In the process they’ll work to demand the American president declares a climate emergency as a first step. “All of us – all of us need to step up our sacrifice if we are to survive,” says Severance. More on

After a short statement by Samir Ibrahim, we then riff on the burgeoning global movement in response to the unfolding climate catastrophe. English writer and activist George Monbiot delivers a plea for revolutionary action, and Zach Bush reminds us that we are not different from nature. Then a very positive note on many suggestions as to what that ‘quiet revolution’ is already looking like – an excerpt form the film ‘Planet Local’.

The song ‘Mama’ by Sam Garrett and Mollie Mendoza reinforces this theme.

“We really are nature defending ourselves.”
~ Peter Kalmus, NASA climate scientist

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As the world’s media has been distracted by the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Colin Mockett‘s Global Outlook tells us the important news about what is happening to our world: the floods have worsened in Pakistan and the heatwave and fires have intensified in North Eastern America.

In this regard, about 5:45pm last Tuesday, millions of Californians’ mobile phones lit up with a new type of emergency alert. It said: “Conserve energy now to protect public health and safety.” In response, hundreds of thousands of Californians either turned down or turned off their air-conditioners or switched off appliances lifting the pressure on their power grid.

That one text message proved crucial in helping avoid rolling blackouts during one of the worst days of California’s heat wave that had continued with record temperatures for more than a week, straining the region’s power grid. Elliot Mainzer, who is president and chief executive of the California Independent System Operator, said: “Within moments, we saw a significant amount of load reduction showing up, to the tune of approximately 2,000 megawatts over the next 20 to 30 minutes.” So it shows that we are capable of responding together to a climate emergency when the chips are down. It just needs the right message at the right time.

Here in Australia the latest state of the environment report was released after being held for almost a year by the previous Morrison government. The report, which is compiled every five years, shows Australia in a perilous situation through climate change but one that is fixable by changing our behaviour. In the words of the report, “The issues are the cumulative consequences of the growth and distribution of our population, our lifestyle choices, the technologies we use and the demands that makes on our natural resources. Most of the environmental problems can be solved but the solutions require a comprehensive and systematic approach, integrating all aspects: the social and economic drivers as well as the ecological consequences. We still have a better opportunity than most countries to protect our environment and use our natural resources sustainably.”

But achieving that goal requires a fundamental change. The report concluded it “requires recognition that human society is part of the ecological system and integration of ecological thinking into all social and economic planning”.

Put into non-bureaucratic language: Many of our problems can be fixed if we change our current lifestyles for the better. But the report reminded us that some of the damage we are doing is irreversible. It said “We have never brought back an extinct species. There is no chance of repairing the damage to productive land within a human lifetime. Continuing decline is inevitable unless we recognise the need to live within the limits of natural systems.”

Meanwhile a couple of surveys were released last weekend. The first showed Australia’s favourite car brand, Toyota, is at the bottom of a list of car manufacturers judging by their efforts to switch to electric vehicles. They list was headed by America’s General Motors, then European carmakers Mercedes and Volkswagen with Ford in fourth spot. A Toyota executive was quoted as saying that their response reflected a lack of demand from buyers.

And a media survey has calculated that although King Charles III is an avowed environmentalist, he will will begin his reign with a considerable lift in global emissions largely due to the death of his mother and his own coronation. This is due to the number of flights of dignitaries to the UK for his mother’s funeral, and then afterwards early next year for his coronation. It’s estimated that the number of airborne dignitaries and tourists wanting to go to London to be part of those two ceremonies would lift global flight emissions by up to 5 per cent – and this could go as high as 15 per cent when tourists travelling to London to see the ceremonies is factored in.

The amount of UK emissions actually dropped after the news of Queen Elizabeth’s death was announced last Friday. This was due to the number of people staying home to watch the tv coverage – and the cancellation of sports events as a mark of respect at the weekend.

And that meant our carbon-neutral vegan football team, Forest Green Rovers, didn’t play a game at the weekend, with all matches postponed. But they did play a midweek game on the night before the Queen died. They beat Accrington Stanley 2 – 1 at home. They moved up two places on the English First division table.

. . .

Much food for thought there. “Nature is the best systems-thinker there is,” Bev tells us. We need to come together around the solutions and start regenerating the lands and the atmosphere. Join the climate revolution: find a couple of friends who will join you on the mission, so as the Three Climate Musketeers you can start changing the world around you – and be the difference.

. . .

“I quit my job at a bank where I worked for 25 years a few months ago to work on climate change full time. I don’t get paid for this, and I frankly don’t know how I will pay my bills in the future. But it doesn’t matter. It does not matter. It is that dire. We all need to sacrifice if we are to survive.”
~ Paul Severance, Declare Emergency

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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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‘Heed the evidence’: Almost 100 scientists urge Environment Minister to consider climate damage from coal and gas projects

By Climate Council

EIGHTY-TWO leading Australian climate and environmental scientists have delivered an open letter to Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek asking her to consider the climate impact of burning coal and gas when assessing proposals for new fossil fuel projects. 

The Climate Council’s open letter is written in support of the Environment Council of Central Queensland’s legal intervention, which uses a section of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act (EPBC) to urge Minister Plibersek to reconsider approvals of previous Environment Ministers. 

They argue any new approvals should be based on the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on ‘matters of national significance’ including impact on endangered species, the Great Barrier Reef and protected wetlands.

Chief Climate Councillor Professor Tim Flannery – a signatory to the letter – said: “Climate change is one of the biggest threats to the precious flora and fauna which call Australia home, and it’s high time that any assessment of new coal and gas project proposals looks at how they worsen climate change.

“Australia’s environment is deteriorating, and we need evidence-based policies to protect the animals, plants, and places we love. Opening our eyes to the climate damage caused by burning coal and gas is the only science-backed way forward.”

Excerpt from Climate Council’s newsletter on 12 September 2022:

The latest on fossil fuels in Australia
“In a clear sign that Australia still has a long way to go, Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King announced 10 new offshore sites for oil and gas exploration.

Opposed by voices from the Greens and independents, this announcement goes against the latest climate science and is out of step with the Government’s own climate goals. Reaching net zero as soon as possible means no new or expansionary fossil fuel developments. 

It is also out of line with demand from international trade. Just last week a new report was released showing Australian coal exports are in permanent decline as countries, including Japan (our largest thermal coal buyer), increase their 2030 commitments.”

Professor Hilary Bambrick, Climate Councillor and Director of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, said: “We need a healthy environment and a safe climate to protect the well-being of Australians and we cannot achieve this while greenlighting new coal and gas projects that worsen climate change.

“From the devastating floods and bushfires to increasingly dangerous heatwaves and the faster spread of infectious diseases, Australians will continue to pay for climate change with their health. Our elected representatives must spare no effort to better protect our communities. This begins with heeding the science that any new coal or gas project worsens climate change endangers lives. Transitioning away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is essential if we care at all about health.”

Signatories to the letter include high profile names such as:

  • Professor Tim Flannery 
  • Professor Brendan Wintle 
  • Adjunct Professor Bill Hare
  • Professor Anne Poelina
  • Professor Jodie Rummer 
  • Associate Professor Robyn Schofield
  • Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg 
  • Professor Kathryn Bowen 

“It’s like being hit by a train. But we’re not equipped with the skills, knowledge or tools to think about, ‘What can I actually do?’ A lot of journalists don’t see that as their responsibility; they see their job as to report on the facts in the most objective way possible. They don’t think about the impact of what they are saying.”
~ Clover Hogan, Force of Nature

“Why are ordinary people in Civil Resistance, defying the State? Because a gang of arsonists — BP, Shell, Chevron, Exxon Mobil — supported by our government and judiciary, and protected by corporate media, are feeding a fire that’s burning down your home with all your loved ones inside.”
~ Just Stop Oil

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The good news on the climate crisis

“There is no shortage of things to say about what’s going wrong. The extent of damage caused at 1.2C of global heating since pre-industrial levels is proving greater than was forecast by climate scientists not that long ago.

The disastrous toll of the historic flooding in Pakistan and heatwaves and droughts across the northern hemisphere summer appear signs of escalation. A peer-reviewed study found several disastrous climate tipping points, including the collapse of Greenland’s ice cap and Gulf Stream currents in the Atlantic Ocean, may now be unavoidable.

But there is also evidence that action to combat the climate crisis is belatedly accelerating. Acknowledging that every fraction of a degree of global heating avoided makes a difference, here are some things to be positive about.”
~ Adam Morton, The Guardian

Read more

The so-called ‘climate king’

“In the wake of Queen Elizabeth II’s death, a new British monarch has risen: King Charles III, the so-called “climate king.”

“The world has a climate king,” Politico’s E&E News declared on Friday in an article outlining Charles’s environmental bona fides. Vox called Charles the “climate change king” in a worth-reading piece analyzing how the new monarch might rule. VOA called Charles “the green king” in a similar article, as did… Women’s Wear Daily, for some reason. And in an interview with The Guardian, British environmentalist Tony Jupiter called Charles III “possibly the most significant environmental figure of all time.”

These articles of praise, however, are missing something: the opinions of climate activists from nations colonized by the British, which happen to be the nations most harmed by climate change. Of the 10 most climate-vulnerable nations, eight are former British colonies, according to the Global Climate Risk Index.”
~ Emily Atkin, Heated

Biochar podcast

“The way that biochar sequesters carbon [is] as these plants grow, […] they’re sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere. And they’re turning that atmospheric carbon into biological carbon, the biomass. Now normally on a farm […] about 99% of that carbon goes back into the atmosphere. The concept with biochar is you take that material, you convert it into char, and you actually bury it in the soil. What we find is by converting it into this mineral form of carbon, it’s very hard for microbes in the soil to decompose that material […]. And so we can actually extend the decomposition timeline of that material by hundreds or even 1,000s of years, depending on the conditions that you use to produce it.”
~ Jason Aramburu, Co-Founder & CEO, Climate Robotics, at 13:27 minutes in the My Climate Journey podcast episode ‘Soil is the Solution’

Pickings from the social media stream

Five action points:

→ The Narwhal – 10 September 2022:
After the collapse: checking for vital signs on a fading Arctic icescape
“At the extreme northern tip of the world, a team of scientists battles time and weather to ponder the aftereffects of a giant ice shelf collapse at Milne Fiord.”



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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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