We are playing with fire

The Sustainable Hour no. 467 | Podcast notes

Our guest in The Sustainable Hour no. 467 is Russell Collins from Himalayan Rocket Man Designs, “Making stuff that burns… without smoke.”

Russell first travelled to the Indian Himalayas in 1992 and fell in love with the cultures and ecosystems of this wild and diverse region as well as the Tibetan Buddhist community centred around the Dalai Lama living in India.

Through these connections, Russell found himself filming masters of various Tibetan Buddhist traditions, leading tours to spiritual gatherings conducted by Dalai Lama, and eventually to running ecological tours for both western adults and Himalayan kids.

In 2014, after noticing the impacts of climate change in the high mountains and the impact of logging on forests for fuel, Russell started exploring the possibility of cleaner and more efficient combustion methods based around Rocket Stove technology. Clean cooking was an established domain at this point, but clean space heating had not been considered.

Through a series of fortuitous events and connections, Himalayan Rocket Stove was born in 2017 and continues to develop and sell clean combustion technology to the people of the Himalayas.

For those who would like to delve more deeply into Russell’s work, you’ll find a lot more here: www.himalayanrocketstove.comwww.smokelesscookstovefoundation.orgwww.ecostoves.com.au

. . .

We start off today with a brief clip featuring UN Chief Antonio Guterres imploring all of us to accept responsibility for the solutions to the climate crisis before it gets out of control. Mik Aidt follows our Acknowledgement of Country with commenting on the way the mainstream media reported the third average world wide average temperature record broken over four days last week. He then rails against our politicians, some of whom are traveling the world talking up gas extraction as being the ideal fuel while we transition to renewable energy sources.

. . .

The song we play is Aurora‘s ‘The Seed’ which was published for NatGeo on Earth Day Eve in 2021.

. . .

Colin Mockett OAM‘s Global Outlook begins this week in New York with the response to last week recording the hottest day ever recorded. This brought a strong statement from climate scientist Friederike Otto, who criticised the media for reporting only the records. She said, “This is not a milestone we should be celebrating. It’s a death sentence for people and ecosystems everywhere. It’s up to journalists to make those stakes clear.”

“We are recording historically warm oceans, unparalleled low sea ice levels around Antarctica, and the planet experiencing its warmest June ever chartered. And then, on Monday, came Earth’s hottest day in at least 125,000 years.” She said that the sudden surge of broken heat records was scaring scientists.

“This reminds me of a Hemingway quote, ironically from ‘The Sun Also Rises’: ‘How did you go bankrupt?’ ‘Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.’ That seems to be happening with climate change, too.”

June 2023 may be remembered as the start of a big change in the climate system, with key tipping points flashing red warning lights, and signs that some systems are moving toward a state from which they may not recover.

Climate scientist Zeke Hausfather warned that Earth’s critical reflective polar ice caps are at their lowest extent on record in the satellite era, with the sea ice around Antarctica at a record-lows and the Greenland ice sheet experiencing one of the largest June melt events ever recorded. He said that June 2023 was the hottest June ever measured, “Which means that 2023 as a whole is now the odds-on favourite to be the warmest year on record,” he said.

Globally, the oceans set records for warmth on the surface and down to more than 6,000 feet deep throughout the month, with temperatures so far above the norm that the conditions alarmed scientists, policymakers and the public.

The Canadian forest fires add significant amounts of carbon to the atmosphere. There was record-breaking heat on nearly every continent during the month, according to independent climate statistician Maximilian Herrera.

Along with the deadly late June heat in Mexico and the South-Central United States, extreme readings have been widespread in remote Siberia, with hundreds of daily heat records set and signs that the heat will just get worse.

This was followed by the publication of a new book written by respected journalist Jeff Goodell, called ‘The Heat Will Kill You First’. It also makes the point that heat is very much under-reported by the world’s media. The book was promoted as essential reading for climate journalists everywhere.

“The kind of heat I’m talking about here is not an incremental bump on the thermometer,” the book says. “It is heat as an active force, one that can bend railroad tracks and kill you before you even understand that your life is at risk.”

News coverage has a track record of under-reporting heatwave deaths. Death certificates tend not to name ‘extreme heat’ as a cause of death; only later do epidemiological studies make an accurate count. In 2003, for example, a six-week heatwave hit Europe. In Paris, morgues overflowed and bodies were stacked in the streets. Initial reports put the death toll at 15,000, a figure journalists repeated for years. But statisticians later concluded that, in fact, more than 70,000 people had died. In one of the first climate attribution studies, researchers found that climate change has doubled the likelihood of such an extreme heatwave. And the book’s worldwide statistics show that heat already kills nearly twice as many people a year as guns do. And that death toll is bound to increase as global temperatures continue their relentless rise.

Now to Geelong, where Geelong Port’s new owners announced this week that they would dump the port’s carbon neutral certification plans. This comes less than two years after the port achieved this status. The new owners, who are the US infrastructure investor Stonepeak and the Australian fund Spirit Super, paid $1.1 billion for the port last year. They said that the port would not apply for certification in the 2023 financial year and would stop buying offsets to reduce emissions. A statement said the company was working on a “long-term carbon reduction plan” instead. This can be read two ways. It could mean that Geelong Port is turning its back on climate change, or, and this is my optimistic view, the new owners are dumping the port’s former greenwashing stance of buying carbon offsets to achieve their figures.

“Offsets for the financial year 2021-22 will be the last offsets we purchase as we work on delivering a realistic and achievable medium- and long-term carbon reduction plan,” the statement read. “This plan will be established by December 2024.” We’ll keep an eye on what happens.

Finally a couple of pieces of good news. New motor industry figures show that in Australia EVs accounted for a record 9.4 per cent of new car sales in June, up from 1.7 per cent a year ago. The figures also showed that the age of the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle appears to be drawing to an end, at least in Australia, with plug-in hybrids selling just a fraction of total EV sales.

This news coincided with research which shows that Australian drivers could save up to $10,000 by driving an electric vehicle if the federal government’s proposed fuel-efficiency standards are implemented.

Finally, from Japan, Toyota announced a technological breakthrough that would allow it to halve the weight, size and cost of batteries, in what could herald a major leap forward for electric vehicles. The world’s second largest carmaker was already pursuing a plan to roll out cars with advanced solid-state batteries by 2025.

. . .

Towards the end of the Hour, we see light at the end of the tunnel: renewable energy turning into being so cheap that it literally becomes free. Europeans experienced free electricity across all of the EU when wholesale electricity prices went into negative territory across much of western Europe over the weekend, and for the entire Saturday in Germany.

. . .

That’s it for episode 467 of The Sustainable Hour podcast. We hope that you have found something that resonated with you as you listened to it. We’ll be back again next week with more guests who care and are making a difference in their work. Until then let’s all continue to do what we can to #BETHEDIFFERENCE!

“The next frontier for us – and we’ve been working on this for the last few years – is to actually start converting family homes over from forestry resources to biomass, a pelletised and briquetted waste biomass. The current use of forest products is unsustainable, and hence the project. Our device reduces the impact on their forests by 50 per cent straight up, and when we add waste biomass into the mix, we reduce that impact by 100 per cent. I understand the argument that we shouldn’t be harvesting any forest, but the reality on the ground is people will cut down trees to stay warm because it’s a survival, and what we are offering is a solution to save half of their fuel costs by fuel demand initially, and which can transition to a total fuel saving. Because there are no alternatives.
~ Russell Collins, Himalayan Rocket Stove Design

“This graph stopped me in my tracks the other day”
~ Alan Kohler, The New Daily

ABC covered the news about the record-breaking global average temperatures

Wake up. Sarah Kaplan characterises the climate changed–linked events happening around the world as “the alarm bells of a planet on the brink.” Pointing to research by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, she reports that global average temperature is set to rise more than 3 degrees Celsius. “The only question, scientists say, is when the alarms will finally be loud enough to make people wake up.”

→ The Washington Post – 12 July 2023:
Floods, fires and deadly heat are the alarm bells of a planet on the brink

Berkeley Earth temperature report for June 2023 finds that it was the warmest June on record by a large margin, beating
the previous (2022) record by 0.18°C. It was also 1.47°C warmer than preindustrial (1850-1899) June temperatures.

Subscribe to The Sustainable Hour podcast via Apple Podcasts or Stitcher

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Fossil fuels are ubiquitous in everyday life – it’s commonly impossible to travel anywhere, turn on a light, clothe yourself or even squeeze a tube of toothpaste without relying in some way on the oil and gas industry, or the plastics they help spawn. Big oil is not as radioactive a bedfellow as tobacco, for example, partly because it’s easier to sideline cigarettes. Even if we don’t like it, we have to accept fossil fuels as a present reality for now.

But the industry has also been adept at entrenching its power behind the scenes, both in funding groups that deny or delay the need to act on the climate crisis, and in having unrivaled access to the politicians who will decide when we will stop actively cooking life on Earth. Oil and gas companies want to extract every last dollar before that transition is made, and they have the financial heft to stretch out the status quo for as long as possible.”

~ Oliver Milman, in The Guardian’s newsletter Down to Earth

→ Atmos – 6 July 2023:
The Limitations of Eco-Anxiety
“Ahead of the release of their debut book, It’s Not Just You, climate activist Tori Tsui breaks down the overlapping systems that are driving both the mental health crisis and the climate crisis.”

→ Anthropocene Magazine – 7 July 2023:
Is the biggest obstacle to climate action all in your head?
“The impact of climate despair may now loom larger than the impact of climate denial.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Event to showcase local clean technology

Local innovators will showcase their clean and green business ideas at a special event hosted by the City of Greater Geelong on Friday 11 August 2023.

The ‘NEXUS – cleantech and circular economy showcase’ will bring together attendees from local business, industry, academia and government to discuss the latest developments in the clean technology sector and the role the Geelong region can play in achieving a circular economy.

The event will include presentations, panel discussions, and an exhibition of cleantech and circular economy products and initiatives.

It will also feature the Climate Launchpad ‘Pitch Finals’ for the Geelong region, where local hopefuls will pitch their green start-up ideas, in the hope of progressing to the Asia-Pacific finals.

Mayor Trent Sullivan said the Council’s support for the event was part of its push to achieve net zero emissions in the Geelong region by 2035.

“Moving towards a circular economy with the help of innovative clean technologies will have huge environmental and economic benefits for our region,” Mayor Sullivan said.

“There are many large and small businesses already in Geelong that are looking for opportunities to move into this space.

“Through events such as this where the local industry can exchange and pitch new ideas, we’re aiming to help establish our region as a hub for cleantech and circular economy solutions in Australia.”

The event has been organised in partnership with representatives from the Victorian Cleantech Cluster, Regional Innovation for a Circular Economy (RICE) and Climate-KIC Australia.

It will feature speakers from large local organisations including Geelong Port, Deakin University and The Gordon.

It will also help to raise the profile of innovative Geelong projects supported by the City in the past, such as those by Cleantech Community Grants recipients Sequence Digital/Rhino Instruments, BOOM Power, Austeng, Capricorn Power, Fulton Hogan and Geelong Sustainability.  

Councillor Jim Mason, deputy chair of the Strong Local Economy portfolio, said circular economy initiatives help the environment by re-using or regenerating products, significantly reducing waste.

“Clean technologies use renewable materials and energy sources to create products or services,” Cr Mason said.

“To help achieve a circular economy, we need to support the development of cleantech from the idea stage to reality.

“There’s an opportunity for Geelong to be a leader in this space, and that’s what this event is about.

“It will be a significant networking opportunity to have the cleantech and circular economy players in the room to meet, exchange ideas and work towards future projects.”

Tickets are available to the general public via the link below.

NEXUS – cleantech and circular economy showcase
WHEN: Friday 11 August, 11:45am to 6pm
WHERE: Wurriki Nyal, 137 Mercer Street, Geelong
TICKETS:  https://events.humanitix.com/nexus-geelong

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Surf Coast Shire Council endorses further climate emergency response and action

Surf Coast Shire Council has updated its Climate Emergency Response Plan 2021-2031, with enhanced focus on adapting to the impacts of climate change, and addition of an emissions reduction roadmap.

Council resolved at its June meeting to approve changes to the plan and also endorsed a separate draft 2023-2025 Climate Emergency Action Plan for public exhibition.

“Council is pleased to be making further decisive steps forward on our climate emergency response with these actions,” Cr Kate Gazzard said. “The 2021-2031 Climate Emergency Response Plan provides strategic long-term vision, goals and actions for managing Council’s response to the climate emergency, while action plans are developed every two years setting ambitious but practical shorter-term goals.

“We are proud to have reached some important and meaningful climate response milestones since Council’s declaration of a climate emergency in 2019 but aspire to more under the guidance of these plans.

“And in striving to demonstrate climate emergency leadership we hope to inspire and empower climate action across our community.”

The updated Climate Emergency Response Plan now includes an Emissions Reduction Target and Roadmap adopted in April 2022, and a Climate Adaptation Planning Framework.

Key goals within the response plan include reducing emissions within Council’s operational control to zero by 2030, excluding Anglesea Landfill and building resilience to ensure we thrive within a changing climate. Building resilience recognises the impact of climate change and the frequency of increasingly severe weather events which can have significant impact on Council infrastructure including road and stormwater networks.

Council’s corporate operational achievements since 2019 include transition to 100 per cent renewable electricity, reduction in non-landfill greenhouse gas emissions by more than 40 per cent, installation of extensive solar systems and battery storage on Council buildings, and achieving Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard certification. 

The 2023-25 Action Plan sets out actions under six goals including that Council:

·        Is carbon neutral

·        Generates, stores and uses renewable energy

·        Is working with local Registered Aboriginal Parties and First Nations on Climate Change, and

·        Facilitates and empowers community responses to the Climate Emergency.

The Action Plan is on display for public comment until 31 July via www.surfcoast.vic.gov.au/CEAP.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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.


Secure our energy future: Australia must implement Fuel Efficiency Standards | Deborah Thornton

Petitioning the Federal Government to implement Fuel Efficiency Standards as a matter of national urgency. New research shows that buying electric vehicles will save Australians money in the long term under new fuel efficiency standards. Support the shift to more environmentally friendly transport. 

10,453 had signed the petition on 10 July 2023

Add your name


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

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Live-streaming on Wednesdays


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.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Podcast archive

Over 480 hours of sustainable podcasts.

Listen to all of The Sustainable Hour radio shows as well as special Regenerative Hours and Climate Revolution episodes in full length:

→ Archive on climatesafety.info – with additional links
Archive on podcasts.apple.com – phone friendly archive

Receive our podcast newsletter in your mailbox

We send a newsletter out approximately six times a year. Email address and surname is mandatory – all other fields are optional. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Find and follow The Sustainable Hour in social media

Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheSustainableHour
Overview of all podcast front covers

Twitter: www.twitter.com/SustainableHour

Instagram: www.instagram.com/TheSustainableHour

YouTube: www.youtube.com/c/thesustainablehour

Share the news about this podcast in social media

→ Share on Twitter, Facebook

Podcasts and posts on this website about the climate emergency and the climate revolution

The latest on BBC News about climate change

The Sustainable Hour
The Sustainable Hour

Sharing solutions that make the climate safer and our cities more liveable