Most people are not fish

The Sustainable Hour no. 461 | Podcast notes

Our guest in The Sustainable Hour on 31 May 2023 is David Karoly who is a Professor Emeritus in the School of Geography, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Melbourne and an honorary Senior Research Fellow in Melbourne Climate Futures, having retired from CSIRO at the end of January 2022. Emeritus professor is a title bestowed upon a retired person who has rendered distinguished service to the university.

We learn about David’s background as well as what he is doing currently. He confidently uses his decades of climate research to warn us about what we can expect if we don’t stop extracting, transporting and combusting fossil fuels, if we don’t stop deforestation and don’t start planting billions of trees as soon as possible.

The interview starts at 13:00 minutes. Regular listeners won’t find anything new in what David tells us, but he tells it in a different way. David has a unique ability to deliver such horrible climate news with humour and fuelled by the hope that people will rally in time to avoid the worst that our climate can throw at us. Banning fossil fuel ads and sponsorships should be one of our highest priorities, he explains. Turning yourself into an ‘influencer’ is another one of the tasks he sets out for us all.

To go into more detail about the information David presents, see the plain language summary of the IPCC 6th Assessment report Climate Change 2021 – Summary for All, the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO’s State of the Climate 2022, and the WMO Global Annual to Decadal Update on 17 May 2023: Global temperatures set to reach new records in next five years.

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We start off today with an excerpt from the global launch of former corporate laywer Robert Hinkley‘s presentation and global launch of “The Code” at Geelong’s Library last Thursday night.

Mik Aidt‘s introduction outlines the importance of the addition of 11 words to corporate law. These additional words in the section of corporate law would make directors responsible not only to their shareholders, but also to us, to the public. This call to change the Corporate Law with 11 new words, in the section that talks about that “directors have an obligation to work in the best interest of their company” – then to add an extra sentence saying “but not at the expense of severe harm to the environment”.

Robert’s idea was scrutinised during Q&A by a number of Geelong-based law school professors and lawyers. We sensed a great deal of excitement in the room. A video recording of the event is being produced. In the meanwhile, you can add your name to the open letter calling on the Australian government to implement The Code on

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Colin Mockett OAM‘s Global Outlook this week begins [at 5:05 minutes] with a story that we’ve been following which came to a head this week. You’ll remember a dispute between two Australian billionaires, Mike Cannon-Brookes and Twiggy Forest, which stalled the $35 billion Sun Cable project that was proposed to collect solar energy in the Northern Territory then send it via an underwater cable to Singapore. The company collapsed and was in the hands of administrators, following the row when Twiggy Forrest said he wanted to change the purpose of the plant and use it to create green hydrogen.

This week it emerged that Mike Cannon-Brookes’ private company Grok Ventures has made a bid and is favoured by the administrators to run the project alone – keeping to the original plan to create electrical power for the NT and export. Following a couple of signing ceremonies, the project is set to fire up again.

Then to another long-running topic, the silent calamity in the horn of Africa. That’s the decade-long drought in Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and Kenya that has become one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent history. It has already killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions more, but it’s ignored by the western media and as such, isn’t receiving a fraction of the aid it should. Just like the floods in Pakistan a year ago, it’s happening to communities that have hardly contributed at all to man-made climate change.

The UN’s response announced this week is to shift its humanitarian aid towards much earlier action and funding that would address and mitigate future climate impacts. In other words, they’re looking to predict where the next disasters are going to hit and look for solutions much earlier.

Then a couple of items from the United States. First Pittsburgh, where two environmental groups have taken a spanking new Shell petrochemical plant to court, claiming that its air emissions are way higher than it promised. The plant, Shell Chemical Appalachia, is 30 miles north of Pittsburgh. It officially opened in November 2022 after months of testing, and it was promised to be state-of-the-art and ultra-clean. But the Environmental Integrity Group and the Clean Air Council claim that in its 5 months of operation, it has repeatedly violated federal and state air-quality laws and far exceeded limits set in its operating permit. The groups said the plant released volatile organic compounds including benzene, and nitrous oxide at levels that considerably exceeded required limits. It also broke state rules on the length of time that it flared, or burned off, waste gases.

Matthew Mehalik, an environmentalist and close observer, said “Just like elsewhere where this industry operates, this lawsuit documents physical pollution failures stemming from bad economic strategies that neglect the health of communities.”

If you needed further proof that the oil industry can’t be trusted, the Guardian reported that nearly all of US Chevron’s purchased carbon offsets, 93 per cent, were considered “worthless and environmentally problematic,” according to a new report by the U.S. watchdog, Corporate Accountability. The oil giant’s “junk climate action agenda is destructive and reckless,” said Corporate Accountability’s Rachel Rose Jackson.

Finally in this mini-U.S. segment, farmers in Kansas, the largest US producer of wheat, are abandoning their crops after severe drought and damaging cold struck their fields. Winter-wheat farmers say they are likely to abandon 33 per cent of the acres they planted, the highest since the First World War, and it could lead to price increases.

To the sub-continent, where rooftop solar is helping India and other regional countries with unreliable power grids to deliver more sustainable, reliable, and affordable healthcare at hospitals in semi-urban and rural areas. It’s a faster and more reliable source of power and it came to light when a report said what a huge advantage it was for rural dwellers who are now no longer forced to travel to hospitals in larger cities.

Finally, a truly global action and reaction. The action was last month’s Saudi-led decision by OPEC and Russia to cut global oil supply by 1.1 million barrels a day. Analysts were not sure of the reason, they think that it might be aimed at Ukraine’s fuel supply, President Joe Biden’s environmental plans, or simply maximising profits. But what it did do was to motivate Xi Jinping and China.

China’s energy intensity per unit of GDP is two and a half times higher than in the US. Hence the massive expansion of renewable power currently under way. Great tracts of desert in Inner Mongolia, Gansu, and Xinjiang are being covered with solar panels and onshore turbines are bundled with extra coal capacity as a backup to avoid winter blackouts.

China’s original target was to reach 1,200 gigawatts of wind and solar power by 2030. Analysts from Goldman Sachs predict that they will smash the target three times over, reaching a 3,300 GW by the end of the current decade, all backed up by a vast expansion of energy storage. Their figures show that at the current rate, China could halve its total energy imports by the early 2040s, sparking an international rivalry so much better than former arms races. And that positive note ends our global roundup for the week.

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That’s it for another week. Till next week, we urge you all to check out Robert Hinkley’s “The Code” and sign the open letter calling on the Australian Government to add 11 words to Section 181 of Corporate Law. Please remember that quiet concern doesn’t exist for politicians – make your climate concerns public.

We’ll report on this again next week. Till then the #ClimateRevolution continues. How you discovered what your role is in it?

#FindYourRole and #BeTheDifference: #BeAnInfluencer

“Climate change itself will not destroy the planet. There are things that humans are doing, or trying to do, including using nuclear weapons that might destroy the planet – by destroy I mean make it unliveable in a really short time – but climate change will certainly have major impacts on the current society that we live in, likely to have major impacts on human population and also have major impacts on mass extinctions of species across the planet. We are currently living in a period which is another mass extinction due to human caused global warming. There are some scientists who estimate that the impacts of climate change will lead to a 90 per cent reduction in global population by 2100. I haven’t looked at that, and I have enough friends, and I don’t want 9 out of 10 of my friends to die due to human caused climate change, but there are certainly some climate scientists who say that yes, modern society and modern civilisation will be stretched enormously, unless we can limit global warming to below 2 degrees.”
~ David Karoly, Professor Emeritus, Melbourne University, in The Sustainable Hour no. 461

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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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→ The Guardian – 18 May 2023:
Italy’s disasters suggest the climate crisis is at the gates of Europe
“This week’s floods are latest weather disaster to hit country, as policymakers finally begin to respond to crescendo.”

→ RenewEconomy – 31 May 2023:
New code of conduct calls for end to “absurd” fossil fuel sponsorships
“The end may be nigh for fossil fuel companies using sports and the arts as advertising vehicles, after the Climate Council launched a voluntary code to remove it. The proposed code is a pledge from sporting organisations to not enter into new sponsorship arrangements, or take funding or any in-kind contributions from coal, oil and gas companies nor use their logos on promotional materials.”


“Scientific experts from across the board are sending such a clear message: Stop it. And it worries me a lot that we are not understanding that message.”
~ Celeste Saulo, incoming head of the United Nations’ weather and climate agency

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Geelong Library on 25 May 2023: 44 residents helped former corporate lawyer Robert Hinkley write history with the global launch of ‘The Code’. Here’s an excerpt of Hinkley’s speech:

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Financial Times: What happens to the trees

The IPCC recommends nature-based solutions for removing existing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but alongside massive cuts to global emissions, which have been relatively flat since 2015. If this trend continues, global warming is likely to hit 1.5C in nine years, while trees take several decades to start removing significant carbon from the atmosphere. They may also be cut down or killed off by climate change-induced fires and droughts.

Those running the trillion-tree campaigns agree tree planting is not an alternative to slashing emissions. “We cannot plant our way out of this problem,” says Hurd of WEF. “Reforestation is not a magic solution nor is it a substitute for reducing fossil fuel use.”

→ Read the in-depth article: The illusion of a trillion trees

Support for a Fossil Ad Ban in federal parliament

Independent MP, Zali Steggall, has told parliament there should be a tobacco-style ban on fossil fuel advertising. 

The former Olympic skier, who sensationally ousted former Prime Minister and climate-denier, Tony Abbott in 2019, told the House that air pollution from burning fossil fuels kills more people globally than smoking and added that coal, oil and gas companies are using deceptive practices to pretend they are environmentally friendly.

“We know that greenwashing, with all other kinds of advertising of harmful products, should be appropriately regulated by the government. I strongly urge the government to pursue action on these issues and reduce the influence and disinformation that we are seeing at the moment,” she said.

Thank Zali Steggall: Share this post on Instagram or Twitter.

Read the full speech  

Tell the government to ban fossil ads    

Fired Up  
The decision to not recognise climate and environment as an award category has exposed the Walkley Foundation’s awkward legacy, writes Belinda Noble.  

Out of the ruins of the World Wars, two fledgling industries sprouted, grew and took over the world: petroleum and public relations. 

In Australia, there are few better examples of this than Ampol’s founder, Sir William Gaston Walkley, and his head of PR, Terry Southwell-Keely. Together they established the public affairs playbook that big oil still uses today and that has put Australia’s most prestigious journalism awards in a bit of a pickle… because the Walkley Awards is sponsored by Ampol and just decided against recognising the climate reporting that embarrasses companies… like Ampol.  
Read the full story    
Spread the word about the Fossil Ad Ban by buying some merch

Thank you for your support so far, momentum is building. The time to act is now. Let’s aim high and go fast!

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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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