Catalysts for a radical sustainability revolution

The Sustainable Hour no. 438 | Podcast notes

Our guests in The Sustainable Hour on 16 November 2022 are Olly Hornung from the new Catalyst Social Centre in Melbourne, and Abdul Farouk from Kenya, a climate activist and conservationist who is campaigning to build beehive fences to protect elephants.

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Olly Hornung, foundation committee member of the Catalyst Social Centre, proudly tells us how and why it came about. He sees it as a place for radical groups to come together and connect. A big part of this is the 15 collectives using the space. It’s a space that doesn’t run in the usual hierarchical way. Each member group has an equal say in how the centre operatives. It has a backyard where a community garden has been established. It also has a library of books by radical thinkers and spaces where community groups can come and work for no cost. More can be found about the centre here:

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Abdul Farouk is a climate activist and conservationist from a remote village in Kenya. Abdul told us of people in his village struggling with hunger as drought has a stranglehold on his region. Unfortunately, because of the isolated nature of his village, the sound quality of the interview wasn’t all that good. We play a brief section of the chat we have with Abdul, and then we cross over to a video where he presents the ingenious idea he came up with to use bees to keep elephants out of farm crops as they come out of the nature reserves looking for water.

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After Tony Gleeson‘s Acknowledgement of Country, today Mik Aidt‘s introductory rant starts off with a series of extreme weather event headlines from Australia this week: Wild weather blasts South Australia, triggering floods, blackouts and widespread damage, and a freight train derails near Geelong. This is what the climate emergency looks like in real time, and this costly mess is directly connected to our mindless continued use of fossil fuels. However no one in mainstream media sees a reason to make this connection clear to their viewers and listeners.

Mik then points us towards the new ‘Women Declare Emergency’ initiative at COP27 in Egypt, which states that “The planetary emergency is a triple crisis for climate, people and nature. It is affecting all of humanity, not just half. Women from all sectors of society across the globe are being impacted and they need to be part of the solution. We can only solve this crisis by working together, men and women together.”

We hear a short clip from UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell‘s speech at the opening of COP27, followed by Christiana Figueres, who is a former UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, who underlines that our passive hoping now needs to be replaced by courage and action.

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After the interview with Olly we get a bit of climate reality from Al Gore in an excerpt of his powerful sustainability revolution speech at COP27 in Sharm el Sheikh, and a short statement from Yvo do Boer, who is a former UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, saying “At the end of the day we can only succeed together”, followed by an optimistic reminder from the American climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe that we all must find our role and support climate action. The segment closes with a snippet from Lil Dicky‘s popular song ‘Earth’ which has been viewed 375 million times on Youtube.

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Colin Mockett‘s Global Outlook this week begins at COP27 in Egypt with another cut-through quote from United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, who said, “as a planet mankind is driving fast toward climate hell with our foot firmly planted on the accelerator.” Guterres then told what we should do to prevent this. He said, “We urgently need every business, investor, city, state and region to walk the talk on their net zero promises. We cannot afford slow movers, fake movers or any kind of greenwashing.”

With that in mind, take in the news that the organisation with the most delegates, by far – more than 600 of them – is the fossil fuel industry. That’s who Antonio had in mind when he was calling out slow movers, fake movers and every kind of greenwashing. The fossil fuel industry are world greenwash champions.

Then we come to this year’s climate conference’s major sponsor. It’s Coca Cola, a company comprehensively tied to the fossil fuel industry, and the world’s top plastic polluter for the past four years in a row. That’s the company which moved from selling fizzy sugary drinks to packaging our own water into plastic bottles, made from oil – and selling it in vast quantities to people who have clean, wholesome water on tap. They’re runner-up greenwash champions. That’s politics in the 21st century.

Can you wonder that Greta Thunberg is boycotting COP 27 which she labeled as a “greenwashing talkfest”.

Nevertheless, there were some sobering statistics released during the first week of the conference. The first came from the Global Climate Project, which pointed out that despite all the measures announced in Glasgow at COP 26, the world is now transmitting more CO2 into the atmosphere than at any other time in history. What’s more, the group’s scientists projected that if we don’t drastically reduce our emissions immediately, from today – then we would sail past the Paris Accord’s target of not passing the 1.5°C degrees of global average warming threshold within the next nine years.

There were other meaningful quotes that came out of this week at COP27. One was from Boris Johnston, of all people. Noting all the goodwill that came from Glasgow’s conference, he said that despite all that, a huge amount of damage had been done in that year to ‘negate our great common purpose of tackling man-made climate change. “This thing is real,” he said. “You can see the effects of it around the world. and we’ve got to all do much, much more.”

He named China as a nation that is carrying its weight, saying “In the first half of this year alone, China created 55 gigawatts of renewable energy. That’s more than half the daily needs of the United Kingdom. America is on course to decarbonise its electricity grid fully by 2035. That’s two of the greatest polluters on the planet, showing the can-do spirit that will get us out of this mess. And here in Egypt they are soon to be making the first electric vehicles to be manufactured in Africa. So I think this is the moment to put the electric throttle to the floor, leapfrog hydrocarbons to create what I know will be an inexhaustible stream of jobs that will be high skill, high wage and have the unbeatable satisfaction of knowing that you’re not only helping feed your family, you’re helping to save the planet at the same time.”

Bad news this week from the world’s only carbon-free sports club, Forest Green Rovers, who lost 2-0 to Wycombe in the UK’s First Division. That defeat leaves them stone cold bottom of the table and in danger of dropping back to the league they were promoted from last year. But as an optimist would read it – when you’re at the bottom, the only way is up.

So that leaves our uplifting final segment to a surprise entrant: the US midterm elections. All of the media was as one predicting what they termed ‘a red wave’ of Trump inspired Republican victories that would hand the balance of power to the conservatives and neutralise or reverse Biden’s progressive policies. But that didn’t happen. Instead, there was consistent support for President Biden and his policies, prompting Gene Carpinski, who is President of the league of Conservative Voters in the US to call it ‘A Green Wave’. It’s fair to say there was a green wave across the country, he said. ‘A Big Green Wave’. It left the US media pondering how they got their predictions so wrong – and the world hoping that the green wave will sweep as far as Egypt.

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After Colin’s Global Outlook we listen to a three-minute excerpt of the 11-minute COP27 Opening Video, followed by a short clip from Antonio Guterresopening speech at the global climate summit. Transcript here.

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We end today’s show with talk of Christmas and the gift of books being very good presents for our loved ones. Mik cites Greta Thunberg‘s recently released book, ‘The Climate Book’, as being an ideal book for this purpose. It can be seen as the “climate bible” as it’s over 400 pages written by most of the world’s leading climate thinkers, experts, researchers and writers interspaced with short texts by Greta. “It is very well structured,” says Mik: “A thorough way of approaching the subject.” It goes all the way around, from problems to solutions. We congratulate Greta on what she has produced. More from Greta here.

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That’s all that we have time for this week. You hope you have enjoyed it as much as we did in creating it. We’ll be back next week with guests that will inspire you and encourage you all to find your space in the climate revolution. Till then: be, vote, give and live the difference!

“We were inspired by attempts in the past in Melbourne for there to be community centres and radical spaces for people to connect – and at the time there wasn’t. We essentially took over the lease in 144-146 Sydney Road in Coburg in April, and since then a number of collectives have got involved in the space, and we’ve come together and formed a federation as a means of decision making and what to do in the space.”
~ Olly Hornung, organiser of the Catalyst Festival

COP27 Opening Video

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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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Vote climate in the Victorian election

→ Vote Climate – metro upper house guides along with links to a number of lower house scorecards:

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Climate emergency

“Eugowra was experiencing flash flooding not seen before.”
~ Sean Kearns, Deputy Commissioner


The footage above shows the Wyangala Dam spilling into the Lachlan River in central-west New South Wales. Residents in the nearby town have been asked to evacuate. It is just one of the 70 local government areas subject to a so-called “natural disaster declaration” in the region.

The Guardian Australia reported:

“Speaking this morning, the NSW minister for emergency services, Steph Cooke, addressed the ongoing disaster. “Everyone across New South Wales today is thinking of the communities right across the central-west, where we’ve seen inundation in many communities, including Canowindra, Eugowra and Molong. We are deploying as many resources as we possibly can to get into those communities as quickly as that flood water recedes, so that we can do those rapid damage assessments and get people back into their homes. We now have 70 local government areas that are the subject of a natural disaster declaration as a result of this event, which is now in its 63rd day.”

Not a word about the role our carbon emissions play in this? Mr Cooke, how about saying, for instance, something in the direction of: “We are deploying as many resources as we possibly can to weaning us all off fossil fuels, so that we can restore the balance in nature around us, have a safer climate and thereby a safer future…” ?

The Guardian Australia should know better than using the inappropiate label “natural disaster” without informing readers that the climate emergency is nothing like a “natural” phenomena – is is caused by our collective carbon emissions, and this is the reason we need to get off fossil fuels as quickly as possible, which requires an active participation from literally everybody. “It’s all hands on deck” now, as they keep saying in Sharm el Sheikh at the COP27 climate summit.

Each day the warmth our carbon emissions trap is the heat equivalent of 600,000 Hiroshima-sized explosions. We’ve melted half the sea ice in the summer Arctic, begun to thaw the Antarctic, profoundly altered the jet stream and now the Gulf Stream. Clearly the costs of climate change will be in the tens or hundreds of trillions of dollars, and clearly they will fall hardest on the people who have done least to cause them.

The connection between what we do, what we cause, and what the consequences of this are can’t be explained too often in the media. In particular as long as Australia has media outlets such as Sky News Australia, where viewers continuously are being told that the climate emergency is a hoax – even right now, where we have all of these devastating flooding catastrophes and extreme weather disasters playing out in front of our eyes, including Sky News viewers’ eyes.

The climate denial, which has been funded and orchestrated by the fossil fuel industry since the 1990’s as a way to delay the transition away from their billion-dollar business, is clearly putting us all in danger – with the new story being that this has now finally become evident to more and more people. Except those journalists and editors working in mainstream media, apparently.

We have recently been calling on the management of the ABC as a public broadcaster to change this stalemate:

Four months ago, this was how ABC’s investigative flagship program Four Corners covered the flood catastrophe as it looked at the time:

ABC Four Corners: The toll of Australia’s flood catastrophe

In other words: it is not like that the journalists in the ABC don’t know what is going on. For some reason they just don’t want to talk about in the general news, which has the highest viewer ratings.

The New Daily – 15 November 2022:
‘Leave now’: Water rises faster than expected in NSW town as flood crisis worsens
“Residents of Forbes, NSW, have been ordered to evacuate with the river level rising faster than expected as record volumes of water spill from one of the state’s biggest dams.”

ABC News – 14 November 2022:
More than 100 rooftop rescues, dam spills at record rate as flash floods batter NSW
“Emergency services have carried out more than 100 rooftop rescues at Eugowra in Central West NSW, as thousands more are rescued or evacuated amid serious flash flooding across the state.”

→ ABC News – 14 November 2022:
Wild weather blasts South Australia, triggering floods, blackouts and widespread damage

→ 9 News Australia – 14 November 2022:
Freight train derails west of Melbourne

VicRoads’ map of flooded roads

All good and normal?

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Greta Thunberg

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Context | Recommended articles

→ ABC News – 15 November 2022:
As world population reaches 8 billion, Australian women are having fewer kids and at an older age
Climate change considerations is increasingly becoming a factor in family planning decisions. “When it comes to pollution, and climate change issues, per person, a rich country like Australia is polluting above its weight,” Dr. Allen said. “We need to be better at ensuring that we take climate change more seriously because what’s happening now is that people are choosing not to have children, perhaps against their individual desires.”

→ The Guardian – 12 november 2022:
Coal projects in Great Barrier Reef catchments approved without environmental impact statements
“At least eight coal mining projects in Great Barrier Reef catchments and floodplains have been exempted from requiring environmental impact statements by the Queensland government, with six already gaining state environmental approval.”

→ The Guardian – 12 november 2022:
Australians facing prohibitive insurance premiums after climate-related disasters
“After a near-endless series of climate disasters, Australians are facing soaring insurance premiums with many households and businesses facing the choice of underinsuring their properties if they can afford policies at all.”

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How bees protect elephants in Kenya

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Clippings from the Twitterstream

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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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Anthony Gleeson, Colin Mockett, Mik Aidt

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