Beyond bonkers

The Sustainable Hour no. 475 | Podcast notes

The Bonkers Hour: “It’s crazy” – “It’s absolute madness” – “It’s beyond bonkers” our guests repeatedly tell us in the lead-up to two #EndFossilFuels-related rallies this weekend, one in Geelong and another in Melbourne. The government no longer has social licence to allow new fossil fuel projects to go ahead.

Our guests in The Sustainable Hour no. 475 on 13 September 2023 are Councillor Sarah Hathway from Geelong Council, Lisa Depeller from OCEAN, Otway Climate Emergency Action Network, and Belinda Haydon and Helen Lester from Beyond Gas Network.

We also hear Dr Louise Woodward from Darwin call everyone in Australia to come together and tell the Federal Government that it is not okay to sacrifise the people of the Northern Territory who will be impacted by the new proposed fossil fuel projects, as well as by the heating that they cause.

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Councillor Sarah Hathway from City of Greater Geelong Council is on today to express her concerns about the proposed so-called ‘waste-to-energy’ incinerator at Lara. She encourages anyone who shares her concern about this project to search the toxic truth about it and attend a protest rally organised in Lara this Saturday 16 September 2023 – at Austin Park at 11am. On Facebook you can connect with Say NO to Lara Big Incinerator.

→ You can also send a pre-written letter about the incinerator problems – as part of a ‘letition’ – to your local councillor via

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Lisa Depeller is a facilitator from OCEAN, Otway Climate Emergency Action Network, joins the Hour to tell us about another mad fossil fuel project proposal that have no social licence: Seismic blasting. Why should we be harming whales and ocean wild-life for gas that we don’t need?

Lisa tells us that 30,000 people and organisations have been written submissions objecting to the seismic blasting operations, but apparently all those submissions that mentioned the climate aspect of exploring for more gas were deemed irrellevant.

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Belinda Haydon and Helen Lester are from Beyond Gas Network, a national campaign to stop the so-called “gas-led recovery” after the Covid-19 lockdowns.

This recent Al Gore TED talk touches on the ‘gaslighting’ which is mentioned during our chat: What the Fossil Fuel Industry Doesn’t Want You To Know

For those who want to know more about the Geoscience Australia reference, which also is mentioned, go to:

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We open the hour with an excerpt of a speech which Dr Andrew Forrest AO, also known as Twiggy, gave at the Boao Forum Asia, ‘Asia’s Davos’. Twiggy is an Australian businessman and chairman of Fortescue Metals Group. More here.

Mik Aidt is concerned that 2023 is on track to be world’s hottest year on record, with temperatures exceeding 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels for first time, and he is outraged that the reason this is allowed to be happening is because of a small group of people profiteering from it.

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Colin Mockett OAM‘s Global Outlook this week begins in New Delhi, where the leaders of the world’s richest nations met last weekend for the annual conference they call the G20 meetings. Only this time there were fewer leaders there – with no Putin from Russia or Xi from China. At the finish of the conference the group put out a joint statement diplomatically condemning the war between Russia and Ukraine without blaming anyone and saying nothing about climate change.

But then came an announcement from European President Ursula von der Leyen detailing an agreement that she had brokered to open up a new trade route between India and Europe that she said, would rival China’s “Belt and Road” initiative in its range and vision. At its heart is a green initiative that would develop the manufacture and transport of green hydrogen and the laying of undersea data cables across the region.

She described the agreement at “nothing less than historic,” saying that “it will be the most direct connection to date between India, the Arabian Gulf and Europe.” She added that “This corridor is much more than a railway or cable” she said. “It is a green and digital bridge between continents and civilisations. The initiative is estimated to make trade 40 per cent faster along the route. It’s mainly funded by the US and oil-rich Gulf states. And its big, hidden advantage is that it would make European States far less reliant on Russian oil, gas and coal. It would be replaced with clean, green hydrogen as an option.

Now to Hong Kong, where the torrential rain that hit their region last weekend caused extensive flooding, turning streets into fast-flowing rivers, causing landslides in the surrounding hills and inundating the city’s underground railway system. Rainfall was measured at 15.8 centimetres in an hour, the highest hourly rainfall since records began 140 years ago. The main island of Kowloon recorded more than 20 centimetres of rain in a day.

The region was hit by the tail of typhoon Haikui which we warned of last week. It also brought torrential rain to the coast of China’s Guangdong province. Hong Kong’s damage is estimated to be in the billions of dollars ,with the clean-up likely to take weeks. And, yes, all the bureau statements and scientific evidence squarely named climate change as the base cause of the destruction.

To the United States where festival goers were finally able to get away from the Burning Man Festival in the middle of the Nevada desert after being trapped there for two weeks by flooding rain. This too, was attributed by scientists to climate change. The floods turned the desert’s barren clay soil to thick, clinging mud which trapped many of the festival goers in their Winnebagos and luxury camper vans.

The festival draws an estimated 100,000 rich and wacky Americans to each annual new-age event based around psychedelia with the climax being the burning of a giant wooden effigy. One of the major attractions at the festival is that it’s out of phone or social media contact. Apparently the biggest hardships suffered by a week of wading through knee-deep clinging mud was that the tankers couldn’t get through to empty the lines of portable toilets and several essentials including drugs ran out. I’ll leave that one there.

Still in the US a new study published in Science Magazine has found that a majority of the world’s largest companies’ claims to be hitting environmental targets are either false or greenwashing. The study analysed environmental records from 100 of the world’s biggest companies and found 90 per cent of their environmental projects failed to report a single outcome, 80 per cent did not disclose how much money had been invested in restoration projects and a third claimed to be restoring habitats but didn’t specify where they were. “If corporations want to live up to their environmental promises and avoid greenwashing allegations,” the study’s final statement reads, “they should report their efforts centred around scientific principle that determine ecosystem restoration success.”

To the Arctic region and a new paper has revealed a direct link between climate change and the decline in numbers of polar bears. The paper was published by professor Steven Amstrup, from the University of Wyoming, lead author of a peer-reviewed paper published in Science magazine. The paper revealed a direct link between greenhouse gas emissions and polar bear cub survival rates. Its computer-driven methodology measured the CO2 emissions from hundreds of power plants in the US and related this to the thinning and disappearance of polar sea-ice, and then calculated how that data affected the survival rate of healthy polar bear-cubs. Professor Amstrup said that the same type of analysis could be adapted to measure the impact of climate change on other species listed as endangered.

And finally, you know that I like to end each report on a positive note. Well, I couldn’t find one this week, even Forest Green Rovers lost both its mens and women’s matches – so instead I’ll finish with the statement from United Nations secretary-general António Guterres when opening the G20 summit last weekend.

“The climate crisis is spinning out of control,” he told world leaders. “It is worsening dramatically but the collective response (from you) is lacking in ambition, credibility and urgency.” He urged the world’s wealthiest nations to close down coal projects immediately and develop strategies to reach net zero emissions by 2040. “Together, G20 countries are responsible for 80 per cent of global emissions,” he said. “Half measures will not prevent a full climate breakdown.”

And that stark warning from the UN leader to the world’s richest countries – including Australia – ends this roundup for the week.

. . .

That’s it for The Sustainable Hour for this week. Climate breakdown is happening right now, it’s not something in the future. The northern hemisphere has seen an unprecedented number of extreme weather events with so many of them happening at the same time. The scientists who have been studying climate for decades are completely baffled by what they see unfolding before them – with words like “an out of control climate experiment driven by ever increasing carbon emissions”.

There’s no reason to suggest that we in the southern hemisphere won’t experience similar extreme weather events in our rapidly approaching summer.

The statistics we continually see are real people, with real loved ones. There are many healthy Aussies who are alive now, who won’t be in March next year because they are collateral damage from the greed of fossil fuel companies who are the major contributors to our carbon super saturated atmosphere. Meanwhile we have a government that continues to approve fossil fuel projects. What duty of care? #WhatsItGonnaTake?

At the same time we have seen unprecedented efforts to unite the climate movement to show for the first time, the extent of the combined opposition to where our elected representatives in Canberra are trying to take us.

We have choices – we actually don’t have to accept this.

The Sustainable Hour will be back next week with a report from the #SteppingUpTogether meeting at Melbourne Town Hall on 9 September, with North West Alliance campaigner’s Cameron Steele and Lachie Chumley in our podcast studio – and with more solutions and ways of limiting the death and destruction we face.

Until then, #BeTheDifference.

“There are a number of issues about this project starting from its proximity to residential housing, it’s within 350 metres. However the broader issue is the idea of waste-to-energy incinerator projects generally and what this means for sustainability going forward, where certainly all the noises from local council and from state government are moves to reduce waste, to be more sustainable, to move to a circular economy. Across the state, there are five or six of these projects proposed, which will only encourage the ongoing generation of waste and taking us backwards.
~ Sarah Hathway, City of Greater Geelong Councillor

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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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Dr Louise Woodward

→ Michael West Media – 8 September 2023:
Ten and rising: Albanese government new fossil fuel approvals unveiled
“The Albanese government has approved or extended eight fossil fuel projects and two carbon capture projects since taking office in May last year. Callum Foote with the (hard to figure out) list.”

→ The Monthly – 11 September 2023:
The heat is on
“When it comes to the climate, leaders will only grasp that the writing is on the wall when the wall is burning.”

→ Al Jazeera – 11 September 2023:
Climate change ‘dystopian future already here’
“UN rights chief highlights ‘environmental horror’ for many countries as fossil fuel projects continue unabated globally.”

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Help stop the Lara waste incinerator

Sarah Mansfield wrote:

Setting fire to our waste problems should never be the answer.
A massive waste incinerator will be built metres from Lara homes and schools unless we do everything we can to stop it. 

This huge incinerator is capable of burning 400,000 tonnes of waste each year for the next 25 years which is more waste than the whole of Western Victoria even produces! This is not what our climate or communities need right now – what we need to focus on is waste reduction, not toxic incinerators.

The smoke all this waste produces will be blown from an 80-metre-high chimney across our region and communities, producing toxic ash and putting our health and environment at unnecessary risk of harm.

I have spoken to the Lara community and heard them loud and clear – they don’t want this incinerator to go ahead.

But they need your help to make sure we get this project stopped.
 Join the community rally! Say No to the Lara Big Incinerator
Saturday, 16th September
Time: 11 am
Where: Austin Park, Lara
Find out more about the Lara incinerator
Sign the petition to stop the Lara incinerator
For decades the government has neglected waste and recycling, and now they want to burn the problem and leave the regions to deal with the mess.

Mass incineration is a toxic short-cut our communities don’t need and most importantly it’s not clean, it’s not cheap and it’s definitely not renewable.

I’ll be tabling a petition in parliament in early October that rejects the proposal by Prospect Hill International to build this waste incinerator in Lara.

Please add your voice, and let’s tell the State Government that this is a massive step in the wrong direction.
Sign the petition

See you at the rally on Saturday!

Sarah Mansfield
Greens MP for Western Victoria

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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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