Building confidence and connection to counter the crises

The Sustainable Hour no. 451 | Podcast notes

Our guests in The Sustainable Hour on 15 March 2023 are Edwina Floch, founder of The Environmental Music Prize, and Cherie Seeto, co-founder of ‘Sanglen Urban Oasis’, which organises private Open Garden events in Belmont, Geelong.

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[13:43] Edwina Floch is the founder of the Environmental Music Prize – a global first that amplifies the voices of artists who inspire action for climate and conservation. It empowers influential cultural icons to become advocates for change, incentivising them to create powerful music videos that connect us to nature and take action on reducing our emissions.

The finalists of last year’s inaugural prize included Paul Kelly, Jack River, King Stingray, What So Not, Briggs, Lime Cordiale and the Bowerbird Project.

The prize was celebrated by former UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres who dedicated her Earth Day podcast to the prize. She invited her global audience to watch the music videos, vote for their favourite and share to emotionally engage their communities. The result was phenomenal in terms of public engagement, media interest and artist advocacy. You can find more about last year’s winner in this article on the ABC website.

Entries for this year’s Environmental Music Prize were recently closed, and the finalists will be announced on Earth Day, 22 April 2023.

The Sustainable Hour is a proud community partner of the prize and will be sharing the songs and artist interviews with you in April and May. We’ll also announce the finalists when they are named.
→ A video version of this interview with Edwina Floch can be seen on

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[48:44] Cherie Seeto is one of the founders of ‘Sanglen Urban Oasis’. She studied Shamanic Permaculture in Peru, living on a mountain for a month in 2018. She ran Geelong’s first and only organic café for seven years, which was also the first café in Geelong to say no to single use takeaway cups. To find out more about about what Sanglen is up to, go to their Instagram page. The event that Cherie talks about is a private event that is only for neighbours.

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[01:00] We start today with two contrasting clips from Senator Penny Wong. The first one is from her victory speech on election night in May 2022. Here she promised that the Labor government would act strongly on climate. The second is from an interview on ABC Insiders where she – in complete contradiction – claims that coal still has to have a role to play as an energy source in Australia. What?

Mik Aidt then asks a series of questions for us to contemplate and highlights the fact that we have a choice in all this.

He presents a series of media clips from the last days highlighting the devastating impacts the record-breaking extreme weather events caused by our burning of coal, oil and gas now have on people and animals.

After this we hear the anger from a woman from Fossil Free London as she berates a fossil fuel industry conference in the UK last week. Mik also takes us to the top of a Shell oil platform in the North Sea, which has been occupied by a group of Greenpeace climate activists and where one of them explains the importance of them being there.

XR Money Rebellion tweet

Human survival is a basic demand. It must be heard everywhere men endanger it, says psycho-therapist Anderson Todd in a new documentary you can find on Youtube, it’s called: “Feeling the Apocalypse – A psychotherapist struggling with climate anxiety explores what it means to live in a dying world”.

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Between the interviews with our two guests, we play an excerpt from Lock the Gate’s 2022 wrap video, and a Australian Conservation Foundation instagram video with Lismore floods victim Binnie O’Dwyer.

This is followed by the trailer for a new documentary film called ‘Dear President Biden’ spotlights the urgency of the climate crisis and President Biden’s responsibility to stand up to the fossil fuel industry.

Towards the end of the Hour we play an Australian Conservation Foundation video from Twitter about Santos.

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The songs we play are L-Fresh the Lion featuring Moza & Mirrah: ‘Mother’, Billy Otto: ‘Can’t take the ocean out of me’, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: ‘If Not Now, Then When?’, Paul Kelly: ‘Sleep Australia Sleep’ and Rory Phillips: ‘The Truth’, ending with an excerpt from Missy Higgins‘ ‘The Difference’ and a quote from Greta Thunberg, who stated at one of her first speeches on the global stage that “you are never too small to make a difference”.

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[05:40] Colin Mockett OAM‘s Global Outlook this week begins at the Argonne National Laboratory in the United States where scientists say they have solved the battery technology limitations for electric vehicles.

This is not the Australian “natural battery” that was also announced last week in the science journal Nature. This had Monash University scientists who discovered an enzyme that can convert air into electrical energy. Taken together, both announcements could have significant implications for the future of clean energy.

The American announcement claims to alter battery technology for electric vehicles, discovering a way to raise the future driving range of standard EVs to a thousand miles or more. It promises to do so cheaply without exhausting the global supply of critical minerals. It achieves this with a radical jump in the energy density of battery cells. The typical lithium-ion battery used in the car industry today stores about 200 watt-hours per kilo (Wh/kg). The Illinois lab experiment has already reached 675 Wh/kg using a lithiumair variant. This is claimed to be high enough density to power trucks, trains, and arguably mid-haul aircraft. The team believes it can reach 1200 Wh/kg. If so, almost all global transport can be decarbonised much more easily than we thought, and probably at a negative net cost.

Meanwhile the Australian experiment at Monash discovered that many bacteria use hydrogen from the atmosphere as an energy source. “We’ve known for some time that bacteria can use the trace hydrogen in the air as a source of energy to help them grow and survive, including in Antarctic soils, volcanic craters and the deep ocean,” said professor Chris Greening from Monash’s Biomedicine Discovery Institute. “But we didn’t know how they did this, until now.”

The researchers found that an enzyme called Huc turns hydrogen gas into an electrical current. Enzymes are special proteins that help to speed up chemical reactions in living organisms. The enzyme is extracted from common soil so can be grown in large quantities, meaning there could be access to a sustainable source of the enzyme.

“Once we produce Huc in sufficient quantities, the sky is quite literally the limit for using it to produce clean energy,” lead researcher Dr Rhys Grinter said. “Huc is extraordinarily efficient. It possible to store purified Huc for long periods, making it a sustainable source of energy.” And because it comes from soil, it promises to be dirt cheap.

In Europe, Germany and Italy last week combined to temporarily block EU plans for a ban on petrol and diesel sales by 2035. Pundits say they are doomed to fail because the wave of new technology has already sealed the fate of all combustion engines. The EU’s official response was that the only hope of saving the European car industry is to go for electrification before their global rivals grab the market first. All European car manufacturers are now geared to fully switch to EVs.

Now to Doha, Qatar, where United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres delivered a withering speech when opening the Summit of the Leaders of the Least Developed Countries. The target of his anger was the world’s richest nations and fossil fuel companies, both of which he said could solve not only the climate crisis but world poverty, too, if they had the will. He stressed that the cost of living was becoming increasingly difficult due to the war in Ukraine, resulting in higher energy and food prices. This, combined with the effects of conflict, drought, hunger and extreme poverty, has created an environment that fuels poverty and injustice. Remember, he was speaking in oil-rich Qatar. He said:

“For your countries, progress on the Sustainable Development Goals — starting with the eradication of extreme poverty and ending hunger — is about more than lines on a chart leading to 2030. It’s a matter of life and death and it is unacceptable if you are held back by processes and decisions that are made far beyond your borders. Indeed, fossil fuel giants are raking in huge profits, while millions of people living in Least Developed Countries cannot put food on the table. You risk being left behind in the digital revolution without the support or technology you need for social and economic development or job-creation,” Guterres said, calling for an end to the conditions that have left vulnerable countries facing a “perfect storm.”

“Ending this (perfect) storm for perpetuating poverty and injustice (…) requires massive, sustained investment,” he explained, and stressed that the global financial system had been designed by wealthy countries, “largely to their benefit”.

Finally, news from the world’s greenest football club, Forest Green Rovers, which sits at the bottom of the English First Division. The men’s side played Bristol Rovers at the weekend – and lost 3-1. But the match was sold out, showing that the fans have not deserted the Rovers.

Meanwhile the club’s women’s team, Forest Green Rovers Women First, celebrated International Women’s Day by winning their weekend match against Royal Wootten Bassett Ladies First by 9 goals to nil. They’re still in third place on the ladder, though, one point behind the joint leaders Bristol Rovers and Torquay Ladies teams. And that’s our round-up for the week.

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Music unites us in this week’s show. Fancy knowing that our musicians have more reach on social media than elite sports people and politicians. Edwina has found a way to harness this in her enviro music competition and Cherie is using music to attract people to her Urban Oasis.

We are proud supporters of both their ventures to ultimately promote solutions – to encourage our listeners to BE THE DIFFERENCE in your daily lives. We’ll be back next week with two more solution seekers and look forward to learning more about how we best move forward and each find our roles in the climate revolution.

“As we know the climate solutions already exist. The science is already here and very clear. All we need is the emotional impetus to actually act which is often the bit that is lacking. We have the facts, we have the figures. Obviously the most important people here are the scientists, the engineers, the teachers, the people creating the solutions, but how do we move people from one point to another?”
~ Edwina Floch, founder of The Environmental Music Prize, explaining why the music competition came about

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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 millennia before they were invaded. Their land was then stolen from them – it wasn’t ceded. 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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→ See a 15-minute excerpt of the interview and music prize illustrations on Youtube or Facebook

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: ‘If Not Now, Then When?’

Reverend Bones: ‘Sky Was Blue’ (The Bushfire Song)

L-FRESH The LION feat. MOZA & Mirrah: ‘Mother’

Rory Phillips: ‘The Truth’

Billy Otto: ‘Can’t take the ocean out of me’

TSH’s playlist of over 200 climate songs

→ The Sustainable Hour’s Youtube-playlist currently contains 214 climate and sustainability-related songs

→ The Guardian – 2 March 2023:

And on drums… Earth! Musicians to credit planet as collaborator to raise funds for activism

Brian Eno, Jacob Collier, Anna Calvi and more will add ‘Earth’ to songwriting credits so that royalties are diverted to environmental causes.”

23 musicians and songwriters including Brian Eno are to name the Earth as a co-writer of their music, in order to divert a portion of their royalties towards environmental activism.

Described as “a poetic construct … a beautiful idea” by Eno, the likes of Dave and Stormzy producer Fraser T Smith and multiple Grammy winner Jacob Collier will add the Earth to the credits of a forthcoming song or composition. 

Read article

“No music on a dead planet”: During a demonstration by Extinction Rebellion on the A12 in The Hague a symphony orchestra played the second movement of Beethoven’s Symphony no. 7. By doing so, the orchestra supported the demand of Extinction Rebellion to stop the yearly 17.5 billion in fossil fuel subsidies by the Dutch government. The musicians are convinced that the beauty of music and of people connecting through music will also disappear if the climate crisis exacerbates.

At the moment the orchestra entered the road, police began to demand the protesters to leave or face arrest. Threatened by the deployment of water cannons, the orchestra decided to play anyway, which seemed to have a de-escalating effect. With this action the orchestra showed in a democratic way that beauty is tarnished.

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Feeling The Apocalypse: A psychotherapist struggling with climate anxiety explores what it means to live in a dying world.

How do we respond to collapse without collapsing? That’s the anchoring question of “Feeling the Apocalypse,” a short animated documentary featuring psychotherapist Anderson Todd’s candid confession of his struggles with climate anxiety — and what he does to stay grounded in an increasingly uncertain world. The upshot: If you’re experiencing climate grief or anxiety, you’re decidedly not alone. And there are strategies you can use to cope with those hard, human feelings.

→ Yale Climate Connections – 4 February 2020:
How climate change affects mental health
“Experiencing disaster – or even reading about it in the news – can be stressful and scary. These steps can help.”

A desperate race to avoid locking in the pathway to human extinction

Ian Dunlop, Director at Chôra Foundation, wrote on 11 March 2023:

We are in a desperate race to avoid locking in a pathway to human extinction. This requires brutal honesty on the threats we face. Climate change, not China, Russia or the US, is the greatest threat the world faces; it will only be overcome with unprecedented global co-operation.

Negotiating with the laws of physics is not “good” climate policy.

Current major debates in Australia, on climate policy on the one hand, and on the other defence, in the context of supposed war with China within three years as the Sydney Morning Herald “experts” panel breathlessly proclaimed this week, have highlighted the inability of our two-party political system to address the really important issues confronting the nation.

Last year the electorate rejected a decade of conservative federal government and opted for a more progressive Australian Labour Party government, with high expectations of real change particularly on climate change. Unfortunately it is now clear that the new government is hidebound by the small targets it adopted to win the election.

So we are ending up with totally inadequate climate policy and continuation of a conservative initiative to purchase, at enormous open-ended cost, nuclear submarines and other military paraphernalia largely irrelevant to the defence of the country.

Two outcomes that are incompatible:
The climate threat is real, here and now; the China threat is not; resources are scarce.

The new government needs to throw off the election shackles and demonstrate statesmanship capable of facing the real threats we face. Same applies to Chinese, US and other global leaders.

Read more

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Australians cop it while the climate-wreckers profit

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→ RenewEconomy – 15 March 2023:
Fossil grid smashed by year of weather extremes, as renewables look smarter than ever
“Heatwaves are a key threat to energy infrastructure with the main disruptions being involuntary load shedding due to more demand than power is available, and transmission lines tripping because excessive heat means they need to be shut down. Rooftop solar is useful in this regard, because it removes demand from the broader grid.”

“You should feel guilty for nothing. Your aims are admirable.”

This was what District Judge Wilkinson at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court in the United Kingdom told nine climate activists who had blocked the distribution of oil from the Esso Fuel Terminal in Birmingham in April 2022:

“It’s abundantly clear that you are all good people. You are intelligent, articulate and a pleasure to deal with. It’s unarguable that man-made global warming is real and we are facing a climate emergency. Your aims are admirable and it is accepted by me and the Crown Prosecution Service that your views are reasonable and genuinely held. Your fears are ably and genuinely articulated and are supported by the science.

When the United Nations Secretary General gives a speech saying that the activity of fossil fuel companies is incompatible with human survival, we should all be very aware of the need for change. Millions of people, and I do not dispute that it may be as many as 1 billion people, will be displaced as a result of climate change.

No-one can criticise your motivations. You all gave evidence that was deeply moving. I certainly was moved. The tragedy is that good people have felt so much, without hope, that you feel you have to come into conflict with the criminal justice system.

Thank you for opening my eyes to certain things. Most, I was acutely and depressingly aware of, but there were certain things.

I say this and I mean this sadly, I have to convict you. You are good people and I will not issue a punitive sentence. Your arrests and loss of good character are sufficient. Good people doing the wrong thing cannot make the wrong thing right. I don’t say this, ever, but it has been a pleasure dealing with you.”

Whilst addressing one of the defendants who had said (through tears) that he felt guilty for not doing enough to save the planet for his daughter, Judge Wilkinson said:

“You should feel guilty for nothing. You should feel proud that you care, have concern for the future. I urge you not to break the law again. Good luck to all of you.”

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Major scientific breakthrough: Huc 

Huc is called “a ground-breaking discovery”. It could change the way electricity is generated.

→ Sydney Morning Herald – 9 March 2023:
Electricity is in the air as scientists discover new power source
“Australian researchers have discovered a substance that converts air into electricity, opening the way for future devices to be powered by the air around them.”

→ The New Daily – 9 March 2023:
Australian scientists discover a ‘natural battery’ that generates electricity from ‘thin air’
“A ground-breaking discovery could change the way electricity is generated.”

→ Nature – 8 March 2023:
Structural basis for bacterial energy extraction from atmospheric hydrogen
“Huc is a highly efficient oxygen-insensitive enzyme that couples oxidation of atmospheric H2 to the hydrogenation of the respiratory electron carrier menaquinone.”

Tim Beshara, Manager of Policy and Strategy at The Wilderness Society Australia, wrote on Linkedin:

“Good news! Australia’s oil and gas sector has reached its lowest levels of exploration spending in over two decades. Despite record profits, the companies and their investor/owners are spending less and less on exploration right now. Seems even they don’t think it’s a good bet.

It’s still too much because every dollar spent on perpetuating fossil fuels is a dollar not spent on transforming our economy and continues to waste Australia’s workforce talent on a dead end industry.

And that if we want a safe climate (and a stable democracy) it’s just got to stop.

What’s incredible (and awful) is that despite the huge drop in exploration expenditure the area of ocean and land subject to petroleum licensing has never been higher and still more communities get dragged into the mire of dealing with the threat of industry they don’t want in their backyard.”

Simon Holmes à Court: Innovate 2023

Solar will become the leading source of electricity worldwide within just four years according to new projections by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

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Love all the things climate can’t change

(How to Let Go of The World and Love) All the Things Climate Can’t Change by Josh Fox

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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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