Stepping up together

The Sustainable Hour no. 463 | Podcast notes

“The science is clear. The world is in a state of climate emergency, and we need to shift into emergency gear.”
~ United Nations

Our guests in The Sustainable Hour on 14 June 2023 are Robert Patterson from A Different Approach Community who takes us through how a ‘letition’ works, and British-Maltese comedian Steve Hili who thinks the climate movement needs to start embracing sexiness as a way of attracting people to it. We also play a clip from the latest episode of the Danish podcast Planet A where Danish climate minister Dan Jørgensen talks with American actor and comedian Rainn Wilson.


Robert Patterson from A Different Approach Community, ADAC, explains about the goal of a new system, which is a cross between signing a petition and sending a personal letter to one’s local member of parliament. It is called Letition.

“The idea is for each of us to reach out to our Local Federal Member, asking them to meet with us, to help stop new fossil fuel developments in Australia. We urgently want Federal Parliamentarians to know our real concerns about catastrophic climate change, the danger we are in. It has to be addressed, we need to put democracy at work,” Robert explains.

“Individual letters are not counted, and seldom lead to a meeting with the Local Member. Petitions most often end up being handed over to the Parliament at a time when just a few politicians are present in the hall. With the Letition.org system, hundreds of letitions can be generated every month, and no politician can ignore such numbers. They will agree to meet with a delegation of climate concerned constituents. Meetings are achievable. It has worked in Ballarat. They now have a meeting in early July. This happened after many constituents sent Letitions. It can work for you too.”

→ You can generate your Letition on www.letition.org

“At the end of the meeting everybody says, ‘but what can I do?’ This is where the letition comes in. It gives the opportunity for people to participate in the democratic system with 8 minutes a month. In actual fact, to show the success of the letition system, we’ve sent the Local Member in Ballarat, we think, about 80 letition-letters, and we’ve now got a meeting with her in early July. We’d like to do the same in Geelong, and we’d like to duplicate it right across Australia.”
~ Robert Patterson, co-founder of the Letition system

. . .

Steve Hili is an English comedian with a Maltese background – also known as “The Sexy Environmentalist”. Steve was in Melbourne for the International Comedy Festival earlier this year. He gives us his background as he grew up on the small island Malta and became an environmental activist, and how he has since used comedy and humour to get the truth out about the climate crisis. Steve has a strong presence on social media, especially Facebook where he can be found at www.fb.com/SteveHiliComedian.

“I think that the green movement needs to start embracing sexiness as a way of attracting people to it – we all know sex sells right?”
~ Steve Hili, comedian

. . .

Mik Aidt starts us off this week by quoting the United Nations statement on their home page: “We need to shift into emergency gear.” Mik asks us to reflect on what getting into this climate emergency gear could look like.

We listen to an excerpt from the Danish Minister for Global Climate Policy Dan Jørgensen‘s podcast Planet A – here he interviews the American actor and comedian Rainn Wilson about whether humour and jokes can help people find motivation to tackle climate change. Is there Anything Funny to Say about Climate Change?

We end up as usual with Missy Higgins encouraging us to “be the difference” along with climate hero Greta Thunberg giving us sage advice.

. . .

Colin Mockett OAM‘s Global Outlook begins this week in New Zealand, specifically in Queenstown, a resort town in the south west of the South Island. It’s a holiday destination for some three million overseas visitors a year. It announced plans this week to become the first carbon-free destination in the world. It aims to be carbon free by 2030, with electric jet boat transport, gondola access to its mountains and hydrogen or battery-powered Air New Zealand flights in and out of its airport.

The bloke charged with the task is “Destination Queenstown” chief executive Mat Woods. At the announcement, he said the aim wasn’t simply to attract eco-tourists, but to protect the future. “With a growing number of tourists every year, they put much pressure on our infrastructure and our environment,” he said. “But this regenerative strategy will protect the future for generations to come.” He added: “Its a very ambitious move, but one that we have taken only after a huge amount of research, community, council and business engagement and planning.”

Queenstown does have a rival to be the world’s first carbon-zero tourist destination, in that the southern Chinese resort town of Hainan announced plans to end the sale of fossil fuels in its boundaries by 2030. Meanwhile, our Geelong council seems to spend the majority of its time discussing how it can avoid meeting ratepayers while it’s working out how to find enough money to keep the city’s libraries open.

Now to Canada where wildfires are still burning from coast to coast. The figures are staggering in the extreme. The nation has already exceeded the average amount that burns annually, and the fire season hasn’t even officially started there. Such is the intensity of fires along Canada’s eastern seaboard that it turned the skies orange as far away as New York, Philadelphia and Washington, with people advised to stay indoors to avoid being impacted by the airborne pollution. But this has had something of a positive impact for the environment, in that the US media has reported the event as man-made climate change and it has triggered calls for more climate action in the US.

New York City’s mayor Eric Adams warned that there was more of the same to come and that strong climate action is imperative. “This may be the first time we experienced something of this magnitude,” he said at a press conference when New York’s air quality was the second worst on earth. “Let’s be clear,” he added, “it’s not the last. Climate change is accelerating these conditions and we must continue to draw down emissions, improve air quality, and build resilience.”

Now to the United Kingdom where the Guardian newspaper began a new series last week that clearly points the finger at the big oil companies not just for causing climate change, but also for hindering the world’s efforts to slow and halt it. Called “Big Oil Uncovered” the articles delve into the fossil fuel industry in a way that it never has before. The inaugural story examines the first-ever constitutional climate lawsuit in the US, which goes to trial this week, part of what experts say could be a pivotal shift in climate litigation. We can expect more on this in next week’s roundup.

Now to Brazil where another current series of articles in Reuters reports that efforts to replant trees in areas devastated by illegal logging and ranching in the Amazon, although they would lead to major climate benefits in storing carbon dioxide, are facing major challenges. These include threats from land-grabbers and arson attacks. It’s beginning to look like the immediate future is heading to struggles between environmentalists and big money industrialists.

Now a couple of short news snips. Last week temperatures in Siberia reached 100 degrees in what was described as ‘The Worst Heat wave in history’ there. That’s 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or 37 degrees Celsius.

Australians were warned that the el nino effect that’s forecast for this summer is likely to put added stress on our electricity infrastructure and could cause blackouts. So now would be a good time to arrange solar power and battery storage if you can manage it. But a final flurry of good news to finish with, Al Gore reported last week that India has paused its building of new coal plants for at least the next five years.

This week the European Union reported that wind and solar generation for the first time produced more EU electricity than fossil fuels during the month of May. That’s 31 per cent to fossil fuel’s 27 per cent. The rest is hydro and nuclear. That was the first time in history that environmental generation has outdone fossil fuels in Europe – and it’s likely to be the first of many such reports. And that’s our global roundup for this week.

. . .

That’s it for another week of The Sustainable Hour. We hope you feel the need for real action on climate and understand that there are people all over our planet who are working tirelessly to reduce the catastrophes that face us in the climate crisis. We presented two such people today, and we’ll do the same for as long as we are able to.

More and more people are realising that our atmosphere isn’t restricted by national borders and are uniting across these borders to protect the atmosphere we all share. Long may this continue!

We’ll be back with some truth telling next week – Until then, #bethedifference and #findyourrole in the #climaterevolution.
~ Mik Aidt, Colin Mockett & Tony Gleeson


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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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Scary warning about planet-warming El Nino
El Nino — the sibling of the dreaded La Nina climate driver — has arrived and experts warn it will likely make 2024 the “hottest year in history”. US scientists declared this week that the natural weather event had begun in the Pacific Ocean, warning that it would likely add to an already warming planet. In Australia, it’s likely to mean three things: heat, drought and fire.

New York wildfire smoke triggers memories of Canberra during the Black Summer bushfires
For much of last week, the thick yellow-orange haze that shrouded New York City inspired apocalyptic, dystopian and even extraterrestrial comparisons. “No. This is not Mars,” tweeted the US National Weather Service on June 8, with a photo of its forecast office in Binghamton, New York. For Australian expat and New York resident Eliza Watson, the sight and smell of the smoke, which is coming from Canadian wildfires, evoked something closer to home.

Smoke in the air as Australia’s fire crews prepare for the return of El Niño
Climate change has already lengthened Australia’s fire seasons, with higher temperatures driving an increase in riskier fire weather. And with the landscape full of fuel after three wet La Niña summers, the risk of severe bushfires may rise if the predicted El Niño is realised, bringing hot and dry conditions.

As the world burns, should we continue a slow and measured response to the climate era?
Australian governments preach the transition from fossil fuels should be slow and measured. But immediate change is what many victims of natural disasters like fire and flood want. It’s these survivors and their friends who often take to the streets, risking fines of tens of thousands of dollars or jail to spread the word about the impact of global warming. Having lost their homes they feel they have nothing to lose.

The above news items are from The Canopy – a daily newsletter prepared by a communications team at Greenpeace Australia Pacific. For more news and blogs, head to their website.



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Alarm bells have been ringing loudly since 2006

“It’s almost unthinkable. The Arctic Ocean blue all over in summer, with none of the eight million square kilometres of sea-ice — a thin frozen white crust floating on the ocean surface — that covered it in summer just 40 years ago.

No wonder it made headlines this month when researchers found, as reported by The Washington Post, that “a summer in which the Arctic Ocean features almost entirely open water could be coming even sooner than expected and may become a regular event within most of our lifetimes”.

But this event has been coming for a long time, and the alarm bells have been ringing loudly since at least 2006-2007. We ignore history at our peril.”

~ David Spratt, 12 June 2023: Dramatic Arctic sea-ice news should not be a shock: We were warned.

Read the article on www.climatecodered.org



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→ Impulse Gamer – 30 March 2023:
Steve Hili: the Sexy Environmentalist 
at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2023

→ Planet A podcast:
Is there Anything Funny to Say about Climate Change?
In this episode Dan Jørgensen talks to American actor and comedian Rainn Wilson . 

→ The Nation – 9 June 2023:
Temperatures reach 100 degrees in Siberia amid its ‘worst heat wave in history’

→ The Conversation – 9 June 2023:
An El Niño looms over Australia’s stressed electricity system — and we must plan for the worst
“The likely El Niño is bad timing for the electricity sector, and means Australians may face supply disruptions and volatile prices.”

→ Ember – 8 June 2023:
Wind and solar overtake fossil generation in the EU
“New data from energy think tank Ember shows that wind and solar produced more EU electricity than fossil fuels in May, for the first full month on record. Almost a third of the EU’s electricity in May was generated from wind and solar (31%, 59 TWh), while fossil fuels generated a record low of 27% (53 TWh).”



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Read and learn at the Commons

The Commons Library keeps you up to date with social change resources – more than 1,000 so far. 

Check out what’s new on the Commons including:
* Environmental Movements and Activism around the World: Book and Videos
* Radicals: Outsiders Changing the World – Book Review
* Organising Stories and Lessons from the 350 Organising Story Telling Lab
* Why a Coaching Approach is Better than Command and Control

Making Advocacy Accessible Resources:
Making Protest Accessible: Tips and Checklists for Actions
Citizens’ Jury Case Study: NDIS Citizens’ Jury Scorecard Project
Guidelines: Images Portraying People with Disability
Towards Inclusive Practice: Guides, Tips and Videos
Disability Advocates and Campaigners in Australia: Frank Hall-Bentick



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SEISMIC BLASTING forums

Seismic blasting off Cape Otway is a hot issue on the Surf Coast at the moment. This Wednesday 14th June there will be two information nights held where community members have the opportunity to find out about seismic blasting off Cape Otway and King Island.

In Torquay a bunch of surfers from Surfrider Foundtion have taken it upon themselves to organise a community information night about seismic blasting off Cape Otway.

Meanwhile on the same night, 15 kilometres down the Great Ocean Road on the same night, REGIA will be holding a community information night in Apollo Bay for blasting planned from Cape Otway to Portland.

Two separate seismic blasting programs that will have huge impacts on marine life and migratory whales in Bass Strait.

Book your free ticket

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.

Petitions

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List of running petitions where we encourage you to add your name

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The Sustainable Hour is streamed live on the Internet and broadcasted on FM airwaves in the Geelong region every Wednesday from 11am to 12pm (Melbourne time).

» To listen to the program on your computer or phone, click here – or go to www.947thepulse.com where you then click on ‘Listen Live’ on the right.



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