Igniting action for climate and native grasses

The Sustainable Hour no. 466 | Podcast notes

Welcome, listeners, to the program where we proudly deliver to you the messages nobody wants to hear. Including those weather catastrophe and recordbreaking temperature headlines no one wants to hear about from around the world.

Our guests in The Sustainable Hour no. 466 are climate-schoolstriker Joey Thompson and native Australian grains expert Jacob Birch. We also bring a new – and last – segment by youth reporter Ben Pocock.

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Joey Thompson is a 16-year-old national organiser with School Strike For Climate and a local leader in the South Gippsland Youth Climate Action Group. When he’s not campaigning for climate justice, Joey loves spending time outdoors with friends and family. His activist instagram is: @joeythompsonactivist
The link to School Strike 4 Climate is: www.schoolstrike4climate.com

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Jacob Birch is a Gamilaraay First Nations man who is promoting native grain crops. The Gamilaraay people is one of the four largest Indigenous nations in Australia, and their lands extend from north-west New South Wales to south-west Queensland. A recent Churchill Trust recipient, Jacob is passionate about awakening native grains foodways which sustained First Nations peoples across Australia for thousands of generations. He is particularly passionate about the grain economies of the Gamilaraay people. You can find more about this here: www.farmersforclimateaction.org.au/blackduckfoods

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Today is Ben Pocock‘s last report for us. We want to acknowledge our appreciation for the impressive work that Ben has done in supplying first-class well-researched reports for us regularly for over three years. He has recently acquired a job and doesn’t feel that he can contribute the time necessary to do his report justice. It has been inspirational to observe him grow in confidence in this role. We wish him all the very best in his future endeavours whether that be in the media, or where ever he chooses.

On the topic of our youth reporters, we note that Jack Nyhof, our first apprentice and youth reporter, has forged a career for himself in the media: He is currently a reporter for ABC TV.

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We start off today with a very brief quote from Professor David Karoly with yet another warning about the serious nature of the climate situation we face.

Then Mik Aidt, motivated by a reference to ‘The Most Important Day Ever’ on his family calendar, questions whether the day when tickets to a popular artist’s concerts really warrants this accolade. This causes him to muse what would be the ‘Most Important Day Ever’ for the climate?

Mik asks: Wouldn’t that be the day when we all get to decide, whether or not we want our government to take real action on climate via a referendum? One poll after the other is showing a huge majority of Aussies indicate that we want to see the government take stronger, action on climate. Why not make it official via a referendum?

The fact is that no country is doing what is needed. Emissions are actually rising, not falling. People need to have a say on this, and that’s what referendums are made for. In a way, a referendum is like a mega-size-Citizens Assembly: it’s about first educating everyone on the topic – and then giving everyday people a voice on a topic that matters for all of us. The discussions in media leading up to the Climate Referendum would be revealing that in reality what we will be voting on on that day is whether we want our kids to have a future or not.

Quoting Roger Hallam, the co-founder of Extinction Rebellion: “Sometimes life gives you limited options. Be poorer now and your children live; or be richer now and your children die.” Mik then quotes Charlie Gardner from the University of Kent: “Accepting the brutal truth that the world we love has gone means accepting the truth that those we trusted to keep us safe have failed us. It means accepting that the situation is not under control and taking responsibility for trying to set it right.”

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We play the latest Honest Government Ad by Juice Media about the Labor party, and the second part of Swedish climate scientist Johan Rockström‘s youtube-university presentation, ‘A True Paradise: An existential threat’.

The song we play in-between is Baba Brinkman‘s ‘Climate Hero

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Colin Mockett OAM‘s Global Outlook begins this week in the United Kingdom where King Charles III – who is also King of Australia – along with the Mayor of London jointly activated a climate clock which will count down the time left for mankind to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to prevent the Earth heating more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. That’s the target that almost every country agreed to meet as part of the Paris Agreement in 2015. But eight years later, the world is still not on track to achieve this.

Thousands of global scientists have said that achieving this is vital to ensuring a safe and liveable planet, as even sticking to 1.5°C offered just a 50-50 chance of avoiding heating the Earth beyond human control. So the new climate clock counts down to the last possible time before it’s too late for action. And the stark warning was that there are only six years and 24 days left to cut enough emissions to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. As it was a week ago – make that six years and 17 days. There will be large digital versions of the Climate Countdown Clock on display in town centres throughout Britain.

Also in the UK, the Church Of England announced that it was changing its investment strategy to become climate and environment aligned. Not only will the church sell its investments in fossil fuel industries, it will support clean-energy and ethical projects that will benefit humankind. Announcing the move, the Church’s statement read: “We are committed to making a positive difference when responding to the climate emergency. In addition to reducing emissions within our portfolio, we also want to see the decarbonisation of the real economy.”

Now normally, this wouldn’t have been worthy of note here, until you read the bottom line. It turns out that the Church of England’s Commissioners manage a £10.1bn endowment fund, which means that $19.1 billion is today being invested in an ethical and responsible way to support the fight to halt climate change.

This contrasts sharply with Australia, where last weekend it was reported that Australian federal and state governments provided a total of $11.1 billion in funding and tax breaks to assist fossil fuel industries. That’s a billion dollars more than the federal government committed to its Housing Australia Future Fund to solve the nation’s housing crisis. Just to clarify, one million seconds is 12 days. One billion seconds is 31 years.

To add insult to injury, Australia still has 118 coal, oil and gas projects in the investment pipeline, and it signed a deal with several Asian counties for them to send their carbon-dioxide emissions to Australia where we will presumably use scientifically unproven carbon-capture methods to store them. That essentially means pumping them into mines that are unprofitable and no longer used.

Meanwhile wildfires still burn throughout Canada, with a plume of toxic smoke stretching more than 3000 kilometres across North America. In South-East Asia, Beijing is recovering from a brutal heatwave and the nations of Thailand, Vietnam and Laos are enduring heatwave conditions that are breaking records throughout the region. Thailand recorded its hottest day in history, reaching 45.4°C degrees. When factoring in humidity, the “feels like”-temperature was 54°C degrees.

Meanwhile in Antarctica, sea ice recently dropped to record lows for this time of the year and coastal areas fringing west Antarctica are ice-free for the first time – even though the southern hemisphere is deep in winter. This caused more than 60 polar scientists to issue an urgent call to action stating their deep concern that further “irreversible change is likely to occur without accelerated efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.

Ss a final note, climate scientist Joëlle Gergis put out a report warning Australia that an El Niño effect will occur on the second half of 2023 – that’s now! She said that during an El Niño, the south-easterly trade winds that usually maintain warm waters to the north of Australia weaken, resulting in localised ocean cooling and warmer-than-usual water off the coast of South America. This releases more heat into the atmosphere, causing hot and dry weather to prevail over Australia as our rainfall shifts towards the eastern Pacific. When this happens, we face an increased risk of heatwaves, bushfires and drought over much of the country. And because global temperatures are rapidly rising – the 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 2010 – the presence of an El Niño will almost certainly set new records as the planet’s relentless warming trend continues. As an extra, she said that if it occurs, it could effectively kill off what remains of the planet’s largest living organism – the Great Barrier Reef.

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That’s it for this week – a week when the highest ever worldwide average temperature was recorded. We’ll be back next week with two more guests who are making a difference on emission reduction in their own ways. Rest assured that we’ll continue asking these two overarching questions of the decision makers: How bad do things have to get before we get to where we need to be on climate? #WhatsItGonnaTake

To our valued listeners we ask: Have you decided what your role will be in this process? #FindYourRole and #BeTheDifference!

“It’s a big story to tell. We’re talking about a 60,000-year-old story here where First Nations people across Australia were harvesting and consuming native grass grain. My mob, the Gamilaraay people of north-west New South Wales and south-west Queensland, we had semi arid species that are quite unique, not closely related to any of those typical sorts of cereals that you get out on the market. These are long lived perennial grasses. ‘Perennial’ means that they don’t live and die within one season like wheat which is annual. So with modern crops you go through and put your crop in and then it lives and dies within a season and then the ground’s bare, whereas our natives are perennial, they are there year after year, adapted to the cycles.
~ Jacob Birch, Gamilaraay man, promoter of the nutritional and financial benefits of native grains

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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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This free People Power workshop series is a great opportunity for people who want to build their skills in community organising and campaigning on climate and environment issues. Over four online workshops, participants from around Victoria will:  

  • Learn new skills to organise their community for environmental and climate action; 
  • Discuss strategies for building power and the climate movement across Victoria and hear Environment Victoria’s approach; 
  • Make new connections with other changemakers.

The workshop dates are:

  • Wednesday 19th July, 6:30-8:30pm  
  • Wednesday 26th July, 6:30-8:30pm  
  • Wednesday 2nd August, 6:30-8:30pm  
  • Wednesday  9th August, 6:30-8:30pm 

Read more

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→ Medium – 2 July 2023:
Collapse Catch-Up: June 24–30, 2023
“News about record-breaking heat waves, declining crop yields, failed climate goals, rapidly melting ice sheets, the danger of forever chemicals, ecosystems collapsing faster than expected.”

→ Steady State Herald – 29 June 2023:
The Oceans are Sending an SOS
“Whether the challenge is framed as an SOS or a CQD, our response needs to be quick, comprehensive, and robust if we are to avoid a Titanic-level catastrophe for the Earth’s oceans.”

→ The Guardian – 8 April 2023:
‘Headed off the charts’: World’s ocean surface temperature hits record high
”Scientists warn of more marine heatwaves, leading to increased risk of extreme weather”

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→ Sky News – 6 April 2023:
World builds more coal power in spite of pollution, pledges and coal end-date
“The world is still developing new coal power, in spite of it being the most polluting fossil fuel, of promises to phase down coal and despite agreements that all coal stations should close by 2040.”

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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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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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