Art to open a gentle dialogue about climate

The Sustainable Hour no. 440 | Podcast notes

Guest in The Sustainable Hour on 30 November 2022 is Peter Biram, a professional landscape artist who is very concerned about the climate crisis and uses his art to show this. He tells us about an upcoming Environmental Expressionism exhibition he is having at the Frankston Arts Centre which will be launched on Thursday 8 December 2022. The interesting thing about this is that Peter will be accompanied on the night by renowned climate scientist David Karoly who will introduce Peter’s work.

The exhibition explores the theme of land ownership and usage within an environmental framework. Here, Peter is particularly interested in climate change and indigenous and non-indigenous fire management.

Peter believes that art can be used as a conduit to more fruitful discussion and growing awareness of environmental concerns without leading to the confrontation that so often results from such discussions. He is a firm believer that nothing good comes from such confrontations as people try to shout each other down, refusing to budge from their firmly held beliefs. He also gives his views on the spate of recent actions around the world where masterpieces have been glued onto, had objects thrown at or poured over their perspex protective coverings by climate activists in an attempt to use art to highlight their concerns about the climate crisis we face.

To find out more about Peter’s upcoming exhibition and his work in general, go to

Art work by Peter Biram

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We start today with a clip from Daniel Andrew‘s victory speech after his Victorian Labor party were returned to government on Saturday night 26 November.

Mik Aidt then follows up with his thoughts on the victory and the optimism that the re-establishment of the State Electricity Commission (SEC) brings. He tempers this with comments about the disappointment that came out of the global climate summit COP27 in Egypt. He also gives the ABC, in particular The Drum program, some kudos for the attention they have been giving to climate matters recently as he plays a clip from a recent segment about the health impacts of using gas for heating and cooking.

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We listen to a clip from one of the earliest interviews with Greta Thunberg as she started her schoolstrike outside the Swedish parliament house as a 15-year-old. The full interview done in 2018 can be found here.

The interview was conducted by friend of our show, Janine Okeefe, who at the moment is in Melbourne visiting family. She visited Geelong last week. While here, she spoke to Mik who recorded their chat. In this Janine speaks very candidly about what she strongly feels are her maternal responsibilities to engage in civil disobedience, such is her concern about the lack of real action on climate. We learn that at the moment she has the prospect of four years jail hanging over head as a result of charges arising from her acts of civil disobedience.

After Janine, we hear from Midnight Oil’s front man and former federal minister for the environment Peter Garrett, who recently stopped during a concert in Perth and blasted local gas company Woodside for their greed which is endangering all living things. A clip of this can be found here.

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Colin Mockett‘s Global Outlook this week begins with the aftermath of COP27 in Egypt, where the agreement that established a funding mechanism to compensate developing countries for loss and damage caused by global warming is being hailed as the biggest breakthrough in global climate policy since the 2015 Paris Agreement. And that’s really interesting because it wasn’t even on the agenda when the talks started. But it took up the entire conference as it addressed the fundamental inequality of climate change. That is that developed countries are responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions while less developed countries are taking the biggest hits from climate change and don’t have the resources to recover from them. And it was only when the world’s biggest emitter, the US, buckled under pressure to support the fund, that cleared the way for the world to finally work together to end the COP-blockage. The inside thinking is that now there’s big money involved, future COP talks will begin in earnest.

An immediate silver lining was that Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Indonesia all agreed to a new conservation pact encompassing about 80 percent of the world’s rainforests. Another group of 150 countries made promises to cut their emissions of methane, which traps much more heat than CO2. And now the pre-talking has already begun for the next COP meeting in the United Arab Emirates this time next year.

At that COP for the first time all the money and power won’t be in the hands of fossil fuel industries and those countries suffering climate-related disasters finally have reason to hope. At least that’s the COP-observers’ reasoning. We shall see.

Meanwhile in America, it was announced at the weekend that coal’s share of the United States’ electricity mix has fallen from around half in 2005 to 22 percent. This is because the nation has turned to cheaper natural gas and, increasingly, renewable energy.

The exception is West Virginia, which is coal-rich and still generates 91 percent of its power from coal. That state is experiencing skyrocketing power bills, the critics say. Some households have seen their electricity rates rise 180 percent, five times the US average. But West Virginia regulators and coal supporters maintain, despite evidence to the contrary, that coal power is the most affordable source of energy. They argue the true villain in the rising prices story isn’t coal, but the climate change agenda. That’s the effect of fossil fuel’s greenwashing.

Staying in the United States, this week a new report lists the country’s worst climate polluters, which were led by West Virginia’s coal-fired electricity generators.

Colin goes on to list a number of their worst emitting fossil fuel plants as well as their metrics in terms of emissions from millions of cars.

An interesting one was the Petal Gas Storage Compressor Station in Mississippi which vented 2,517 tons of methane from leaky compressors at its underground natural gas storage facility in 2021. That’s a relatively small amount, but bear in mind that it’s not producing anything, just storing gas. Like the project that Viva wants to build in Geelong.

After all that depressing information, comes what at first seems like good news from Australia. From April 2023, all products made by Mars Wrigley in Australia will be wrapped in paper and not plastic as previously. They’re selling this as environmental, saying that the wrappers can now be put into yellow recycling bins. But the truth is that the company only took the move after the collapse of REDcycle, the company that took soft plastics collected by supermarkets. That company recycled soft plastics into the sheeting that Mars used as wrappers, and Mars could have saved REDcycle by just paying more for the recycled product. Switching to paper was a financial decision, and it will cost trees while all that soft plastic will continue to go into landfill.

Finally, news of our carbon-neutral sporting club, Forest Green Rovers in the United Kingdom, which beat Alvenchurch 2-1 in the FA Cup at the weekend while the women’s team beat Bristol Rovers Women 2-0.

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That’s it for The Sustainable Hour #440. We hope we have given you not just something to think about, but something to inspire you to join us in the climate revolution if you aren’t already there.

Keep those suggestions coming in for guests who you’d like to see on the show. Like the climate movement, we’ll be better together. Any suggestions/comments/questions to us at

“As a society, we’ve lost the art of discussion. We’ve got tribes. If you are in my tribe, I will listen to you. If you are in my tribe, I will take in all the information that supports my argument, and reject anything that negates my argument. In the world of academia, when you do research, you take in everyone’s view, and you take in all forms of arguments in order to – for want of a better term – to seek the truth. And in art, what we want to do as artists is seek the truth. But more importantly we want to keep the narrative open.”
~ Peter Biram, artist who is collaborating with a renowned Australian climate scientist for his latest exhibition

“My current body of work is exploring the theme of ‘land ownership’ and ‘usage’ within an environmental framework. Furthermore, exploring the notion of human impact, on the natural environment, juxtaposing indigenous and non-indigenous influences regarding the effects of environmental issues, relating to the Australian landscape and landscape painting.

I am using visual art to convey or express the conceptual content of the environment, or in particular, relevant issues concerning the environment regarding the natural world. This being the conceptual basis for the work, some of the issues include concerns such as the balance in the natural world, de-forestation, sustainability, and conservation. The basis for the work is to provide, create and enhance a greater understanding and awareness through the arts.”

~ Peter Biram, artist

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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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Activists consider slashing paintings as the Suffragettes did

“What is a proportionate response to the knowledge that the government is knowingly planning to cut short your life by decades? That by encouraging new oil and gas they have condemned you to a future of fighting for a few miserable scraps of food to feed your starving children – assuming you feel brave enough to have children? How do young people even begin to process that gut-wrenching conclusion?”

“Drilling for new oil and gas is legal and actively encouraged by the government, despite the widespread knowledge that it will cause harm to billions – where is the morality in that?”

“The word betrayal does not cover the reality of what is going on. All our traditions, all our values, all that we claim to stand for is being destroyed.”

“So yes, if no action is taken to end new oil and gas, ordinary people might actively consider slashing paintings as the Suffragettes did and yes, if the government does not address our demand for no new oil, we will consider escalating our actions. It’s what the Suffragettes did, it’s what the Civil Rights movements did, it’s what everyone does when the inalienable right to life and a livelihood are violated.”
~ Excerpts from a Just Stop Oil blog post on 30 November 2022: ‘Are Just Stop Oil supporters actively considering slashing paintings or escalating their actions?’

Will Regan describes to the police officer who is about to arrest him why he’s sitting in the middle of a busy highway and refuses to get up. On 28 November 2022, Will was sentenced by a Montgomery County MD judge to 60 days in jail for stopping traffic on the DC Beltway.

“Acting in nonviolent civil resistance to save the planet is the only way I can truly be able to look myself in the mirror at the end of the day. Every day we are confronted with distractions that allow us to forget the devastating impact we are having on the future of life on this planet. The only appropriate action at this time is to bring the truth front and center. The time to do this was 20-30 years ago … but we are here now. That’s what’s important.”        

Will Regan, Declare Emergency supporter

→ ABC News – 3 December 2022:
Climate change protester who blocked Sydney Harbour Bridge sentenced to months in jail
“31-year-old climate change protester Deanna Maree Coco, also known as Violet Coco, who blocked part of the Sydney Harbour Bridge earlier this year, has been sentenced to a minimum of eight months in prison.”

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→ Irish Examiner – 2 December 2022:
UCD student ends climate hunger strike after eight days as demands met 
“A Dublin university student has ended his hunger strike over climate inaction after eight days, following an agreement on his demands. Ronan Browne, who is part of a climate activist group Mobilise Peace, called for all students and staff at his university to participate in increasingly frequent protests until their demands were met.”

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“People say: “There’s a fight on our hands — a fight for our children’s future! How can you be so irresponsible?” As a martial artist, ex-doorman and someone who’s been in a few violent confrontations I can tell you with certainty that if there is a fight, it’s not the angry, anxious person who wins. It’s the person who is very, very calm. (…) We can’t all join a five-day protest and we’re not all ready to sit in a circle and talk about our feelings but that’s not what’s being asked of us. The invitation is to start building the new society from inside each of us.”
~ Max St John, ex-business leader, international leadership consultant, trainer and facilitator

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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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One comment

  1. I can’t tell you how disgusted I am with the magistrate’s comments about Violet Coco and the fact that she has been refused bail pending appeal in March!,parole%20period%20of%20eight%20months.

    Mali Cooper was the one who blocked the tunnel which you may have heard about, and she was sentenced in the Lismore Magistrate’s court where she got a suspended sentence (from memory). Obviously there is a big difference in magistrates.

    Violet burned the pram opposite parliament house.

    Violet shut one lane of the harbour bridge and has been attacked for inconveniencing people. One day, not too far off, maybe 10 or 15 years, Western Sydney will experience multiple days in a row with temperatures in the high 40s. The houses have dark roofs. Around them is mainly asphalt and concrete. The power will go out. Inside the houses will be 60 degrees. Many will die. How’s that for an inconvenience? And they throw the book at someone trying to prevent this, and use our tax payers’ money to lock her up.

    Very Pissed Off Steve

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