Fortifying people not profit

The Sustainable Hour no. 505 | Transcript | Podcast notes

The Sustainable Hour on 29 May 2024 covers a range of topics and challenges related to agroecology, corporate power, and climate justice. We touch on the connection between democracy, equality and resilience in the community, as well as the role of Big Oil and Big Ag in environmental degradation

Our anonymous guest from India explains about the importance of agroecology and the impact of industrial farming on the environment and food systems, the impact of industrialised rice production, adding iron to rice, the importance of a diverse diet, the role of local farming in addressing food programs, the global economic system, the need for localising, and the power of activism and community building. 

Our guest wish to be anonymous because of concern of possible repercussions from the Indian government which is clamping down on people who are speaking out publicly against their government’s policies and actions on climate and related matters. This oppression of activists is currently playing out all around the world. 

Young climate activists Lauren MacDonald and Mikaela Loach speak strongly and calmly at the respective psychopathic fossil fuel executives at Equinor’s and Shell’s Annual General Meetings. Both are classic examples of speaking truth to power, and yet another example of the world closing in on the fossil fuel companies. This momentum is growing. As both the young women say: “We aren’t going away,” and: “We will win.”

We also hear short excerpts of podcast interviews by Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson who talks about how we can respond to the situation, and Luke Kemp who studies what makes civilisations resilient, and we play the Youtube-video Big Picture Activism by Local Futures.

More information, including Colin Mockett OAM‘s Global Outlook, can be found in the transcript below.

The big question is how many people have to die, how much destruction has to occur before the people elected to look after their constituents’ interests start to get real on climate and do what the science is demanding?

Let’s also not forget that in Australia, we are in a relatively privileged position to be able to speak out like we do on this podcast. Not every country allows this. There’s absolutely no justice on the fact that our courageous Indian guest today had to do so anonymously. This sort of oppression has to be called out and will have no place in our post carbon world – the safer, more just, inclusive, peaceful and inclusive world so many of us yearn for. We will continue to use this privilege until we get to where we need to be. We will continue to be the difference.

“A study on a agroecology state program in Andhra Pradesh was put out just two weeks back, which shows that the anemia levels fell drastically in these programs. They had some experimental programs combined with the farming in an agroecological way where they set up some training with women. They had some kind of behavioral change programs. They supported them with backyard poultry. So, in their household, they can have poultry, they can have small fish ponds and they can have kitchen gardens and then some recipe classes or whatever. They did some campaigns, and it worked because anemia levels fell.”
~ Anonymous agroecology activist in India

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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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Speaking truth to power

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Agroecology and regenerative agriculture

While agroecology in India and regenerative agriculture in Australia share common goals of sustainability, ecological health, and resilience, they differ in their specific principles, practices, and cultural contexts.

Agroecology in India

Definition and approach:

  • Holistic and contextual: Agroecology is a holistic approach that integrates ecological principles into agricultural practices, tailored to local contexts and conditions​ (FAOHome)​​ (IFAD)​.
  • Bottom-up processes: It emphasises bottom-up and territorial processes, involving local communities and their traditional knowledge in decision-making and implementation​ (Stray Dog Institute)​.
  • Biodiversity and ecosystem services: Agroecology focuses on enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem services through practices such as polycultures, agroforestry, and integrated animal-crop systems​ (BioMed Central)​.
  • Social and economic dimensions: It addresses social equity and economic sustainability by empowering marginalised groups, including women and small-scale farmers, and promoting fair governance of resources​ (FAOHome)​​ (IFAD)​.

Key practices:

  • Crop diversification: Using a variety of crops to enhance resilience and reduce pest outbreaks.
  • Organic inputs: Reducing chemical inputs and relying on organic fertilisers and biopesticides.
  • Community engagement: Active participation of local communities in agricultural planning and practices.

Regenerative agriculture in Australia

Definition and approach:

  • Soil health focus: Regenerative agriculture primarily focuses on restoring and enhancing soil health through practices that rebuild soil organic matter and improve water retention​ (BioMed Central)​​ (IFAD)​.
  • Top-down and bottom-up: It combines both top-down scientific approaches and bottom-up farmer-led initiatives, often supported by research institutions and policy frameworks​ (IFAD)​.
  • Carbon sequestration: Regenerative agriculture emphasises carbon sequestration as a means to combat climate change by increasing the amount of carbon stored in soils​ (Stray Dog Institute)​.
  • Economic viability: It seeks to create economically viable farming systems that are resilient to climate change and market fluctuations​ (BioMed Central)​.

Key practices:

  • Cover cropping: Using cover crops to protect and enrich the soil between planting seasons.
  • No-till farming: Minimising soil disturbance to maintain soil structure and reduce erosion.
  • Holistic grazing: Managing livestock grazing patterns to mimic natural ecosystems, enhancing soil fertility and plant diversity.

Similarities and differences


  • Sustainability goals: Both agroecology and regenerative agriculture aim to create sustainable and resilient agricultural systems that are environmentally friendly and socially equitable.
  • Biodiversity: Both approaches promote biodiversity as a key component of sustainable farming systems.
  • Climate resilience: Both methods seek to enhance resilience to climate change through improved soil health and ecosystem management.


  • Focus areas: Agroecology has a broader scope that includes social equity, local knowledge, and community empowerment, while regenerative agriculture has a more specific focus on soil health and carbon sequestration​ (FAOHome)​​ (Stray Dog Institute)​.
  • Implementation: Agroecology often involves more community-led and localised practices, whereas regenerative agriculture can include a mix of local initiatives and broader scientific research and policy support​ (IFAD)​​ (Stray Dog Institute)​.

In conclusion, while agroecology in India and regenerative agriculture in Australia share common objectives, they are distinct in their approaches and areas of emphasis. Agroecology incorporates a wider range of social and ecological factors, whereas regenerative agriculture focuses more intensively on soil health and carbon management. Both, however, contribute significantly to the goal of sustainable agriculture.

Source: ChatGPT

“Localisation is our ‘new story’ that thrives on a foundation of human connection and diversity. This is a global movement that seeks to create a lifestyle and society that regenerates both people and nature. Together, we grow and eat food locally. We raise children in a relationship. We value each individual and the nature that nurtures us. A local economy is one where money circulates locally and creates stable employment. It is something everyone can be proud of.”


Local Futures is a group that wants to raise awareness about the power of ‘going local’. If you’d like to help them spread the word about the need for an economic shift from global to local, you can find out more about this on

CRAM Podcast’s interview with Luke Kemp about what makes a civilisation resilient

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Transcript of The Sustainable Hour no. 505

Lauren MacDonald:
“We will fight for everyone and everything that we love. And I promise you that we will win.” 

The Sustainable Hour. For a green, clean, sustainable Geelong. The Sustainable Hour. 

Anthony Gleeson:
You’re with the Sustainable Hour. We’d like to acknowledge that we’re broadcasting from the land of the Wathaurong people. We pay tribute to the elders, past, present and those that earn that great honour in the future. We’re broadcasting from stolen land. Land that was never ceded. Always was and always will be Aboriginal land. We cannot hope to have any form of climate justice without justice for First Nations peoples here. It’s particularly appropriate this week, which is one of the major weeks in the calendar year for First Nations people here, the Reconciliation Week. It goes for a week. In Geelong in particular it’s going to be celebrated by an event called Reconciliation in the Park and that will be in Johnson’s Park Saturday from 10 till 3. So highly recommended being there and get to interact with local First Nations people.

Marine biologist Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson:
It’s not that simple list of, you know, vote, donate, spread the word, protest, lower your carbon footprint. Like, that’s not enough. There are actual fossil fuel and big ag and advertising executives and politicians who are enabling all of this. Like, there are individual humans, actually a quite small group of them, who are making these decisions that are impacting life on this planet for the eight million or so species that share it.

And like that should make you mad because who are they to decide the future of life on earth and to be so callous and so short-term thinking and so quarterly earnings, profit, shareholder, dividend driven, that they are jeopardising biodiversity and quality of life for all of us. 

Mik Aidt:
Well said, Ayana Elizabeth Johnson! She’s a marine biologist and she was interviewed by the New York Times in the podcast The Interview. She’s also on her way with a book called, ‘What If We Get It Right?’ And we will be talking today about that topic about Big Oil and Big Ag. We’ll be handing over the microphone to some young people who are mad at the big oil industry. And we’ll be learning about something called agroecology in India. 

But first, it’s that time of the week, isn’t it? The time for a global outlook on the important developments that have been happening around the world. So Colin Mockett OAM – the microphone… I’m handing it over to you. 


Well, thank you very much, Mik. Our roundup this week begins in Singapore at the first inquest after one of the city-nations planes dropped 6,000 feet last week. You must have seen it on the news. It caused multiple injuries and one related death. The initial inquiry found that the incident was not associated with inclement weather. It occurred when the skies appeared placid. It was unseen by both the pilots and the ground weather radar. And at the weekend, another almost identical occurrence happened over Baghdad with the Qatari Airlines headed to Dublin. 12 people were injured in that one.

It turns out there are four classifications for turbulence, light, moderate, severe and extreme. Both of these were extreme turbulence and in cases of these, the research indicates that this change is sparked by climate change, specifically elevated carbon dioxide emissions affecting air currents. The research comes from Paul Williams, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Reading in England who studied turbulence for more than a decade. Dr. Williams’s research has forecast that clear-air turbulence, which occurs most frequently at high altitudes and in winter, that could triple by the end of the century. He said this type of turbulence, of all categories, is increasing around the world at all flight altitudes. His research suggests that we could encounter bumpier flights in the coming years and that could potentially result in more injuries.

Now to Orlando in Florida where the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted this week that the coming hurricane season in America will be the biggest or the worst since records began. The NOAA expects this year to experience 17 to 25 named storms, including 8 to 13 hurricanes and 4 to 7 major hurricanes of category 3, 4 or 5. They have winds of at least 111 miles an hour or more. The federal agency based its unprecedented forecast on a confluence of factors, most notably near record sea surface temperatures that are as warm now as they normally are in August. That forecast is the greatest number of storms that we’ve ever forecast, said Ken Graham, who’s the director of the American National Weather Service. Now is the time to prepare. And just to hammer home that point, in Texas on May the 9th, hailstones the size of baseballs hit San Marcos and Johnston City. They took down power lines and cracked cars wind screens. And weeks before, hail had damaged panels in a Texas solar farm. And in mid-March, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri were hit by grapefruit sized hail, leading to damages on the ground exceeding $4 billion.

Now so far this year, the damage done by thunderstorms in the US and more surprisingly in Europe, has been steadily ratcheting up. In the decade from 1980 to 1989, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported only eight severe storms in the US that caused a billion dollars or more in damage. They translated that and upped the amount to bring it in line, and there have been 67 such storms just since 2019. So there were eight in a decade in the 1980s, 67 in five years.

And it wasn’t just hurricanes and hailstorms bothering the North Americans this week. It’s so hot in Mexico that the howler monkeys are falling dead from the trees. At least 83 of the primates were found dead in the Gulf Coast state of Tabasco. Others were rescued by residents, including five that were rushed to a local vet who battled to save them. “They arrived in critical condition with dehydration and fever” said Dr. Sergio Valenzuela. “They were as limp as rags. It was heat stroke.” While Mexico’s current and ongoing heat wave has been linked to the deaths of at least 26 people since March, it was the monkey’s death that hit the headlines in America.

Meanwhile, authorities in the Indian capital of Delhi have ordered schools to shut this week. This is early for their summer holidays after temperatures in Delhi hit 47.4C degrees Celsius at the end of last week. City officials told schools to shut with immediate effect due to the blistering heat according to a government order. This was quoted in the Hindustan Times at the weekend.

India’s weather broadcast has warned of severe heatwave conditions this week, reaching a peak of 47C. And then in Europe, severe flooding has hit wide areas from Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands right through to France and northern Italy. The reports came up with what for us is a familiar theme, a whole month’s rain arriving in a single deluge over one or two days. In the case of Italy, They’ve already had their May average. It arrived in two days, causing widespread flooding. But now after that catalogue of disasters,

I’ve got a small piece of positive news. And it comes from, of all places, the Real Estate Institute. Last week, Australian real estate agents worked out that people who have fitted climate change amendments to their homes had lifted their house values by an average of $70,000. Their research shows that sustainable houses attract 16.7 per cent more online listing views from buyers and other counterparts. The Domain Sustainability and Property Report released last weekend measured whether properties sold had keywords in their listing such as eco, energy saving, solar, solar panels, sustainable, double glazing or north facing words in them. And a green premium of 14.5 per cent separates the two types of houses. For units, green homes affects 70,000 or 11 per cent more. But the gap varies by cities. It’s above $330,000 or 23 per cent in Sydney, and it’s above $241,000 or 28 per cent in Melbourne.

The domain chief of research and economics, Dr Nicola Powell, said: ‘Not only are buyers willing to pay a premium, but they are then highlighting those sustainability features when it comes to time to sell. It reduces the running cost of a home. It makes a home more livable and therefore it’s better for your health,’ she said. A review of Australian and international studies by a research fellow at the Sustainable Building Centre at the University of Wollongong found that there was typically a premium of 5 to 10 per cent for energy efficient homes, but the gap could be as high as 27 per cent. And that positive note ends my roundup for the week. 

Listen to our Sustainable Hour – for the future. 

Lauren MacDonald speaking at Equinor’s AGM:

“Last year, I came to your AGM and pleaded with you to stop the development of the Rosebank oilfield. And you did not listen.

Since then, our climate has continued to spin out of control much faster than before. For the first time, global warming has broken the 1.5 degree limit set by the Paris Agreement for an entire year.

Ocean temperatures are not just off the charts. They’ve set a new record every single day for the past 365 days.

You read the same headlines as we do. Scientists are completely horrified by the speed at which our climate is changing and the untold suffering that lies ahead of us. The biggest driver of this is fossil fuels.

I no longer feel it is the right approach to plead with you on behalf of the science which so clearly tells you not to open any new oil and gas fields because you know this and yet you don’t stop.

I have spent a lot of time trying to understand how you justify your actions. But honestly, I really don’t think I will ever understand human to human how you could continue expanding oil and gas production.

Surely you must know that money is not a good enough reason. But you keep taking. In the past year you made £29 billion in profit. And even then it’s not enough for you.

You’ll pocket billions more thanks to tax breaks from our government to develop Rosebank, the UK’s biggest undeveloped oil and gas field.

So it’s clear to me that in your inconceivable greed, you cannot see your humanity.

So we cannot plead to your humanity. Instead, I am here to tell you that we will stand in your way.

I am here on behalf of thousands of people across the UK who are committed to opposing you and your oil field. Scientists, faith leaders, politicians, doctors, parents, grandparents, young people, thousands of us, and none of us are going away. I promise you that.

In fact, everywhere you go, we will mobilise against you. We will make sure that everyone knows who Equinor is and what you are doing. We will be there on the streets, in the halls of parliament, in the media, at your events and in the courts.

We are no longer asking you to do the right thing.

We are telling you that while you continue to fight for your own profits, we will fight for everyone and everything that we love. And I promise you that we will win. We will stop Rosebank and Equinor, we will stop you. Thank you.

Thank you. [Applause]

Mik Aidt:
Lauren MacDonald here, a young Scottish climate activist speaking directly and looking in the eyes of the CEO and the executives of Equinor at their annual general meeting. Equinor is a Norwegian oil company. They plan to start up this massive Rosebank oil project in the North Sea, some hundred kilometers north of the Shetland Islands. 

Anthony Gleeson:
Whoa, that was absolutely brilliant. And the smile that there was no hatred in her eyes, in her voice, in her face. I see that as a really good way of leading into our guest today. Now, this person doesn’t want her name mentioned, so we won’t. Out of concern for her future in the country in which she lives, India. And just wondering if she’d like to comment about what we’ve just heard.

Indian agroecology activist: 
Thanks so much. It’s a pleasure for me to be here on this call. And yeah, that video was so powerful. It was just reminding me how it’s just regular people, common people who are always going to be the force behind change. And we can’t just sit around waiting for business as usual to end because there’s clearly vested interests there.

There’s no reason why they should change because it’s going to lead to more and more accumulation and power. And so these are the kinds of actions that must be taken by all of us as citizens. And we all have to play whatever small role that we can. So, yeah, thanks for starting with that video. It was really inspiring and a great way to set the tone for our conversation today as well.

Anthony Gleeson:
And what’s the role that you play in all this?

Anonymous activist:
So I do a bunch of different things, Tony. Initially, when we chatted a while back, it was about a food program that’s going on in India. So I’ve been part of food and farmers movements in India, historically speaking, and particularly working on agroecology as a climate solution and looking at how we can transform our food system from a system that is currently governed by large corporations, very powerful corporations, entities like Equinor that we just saw, and also a lot of funding coming in from, you know, very big philanthropists today, billionaires like Bill Gates in particular has played a very big role in funding, lobbying all around the world to corporatise the food system even more. 

My role has been to support grassroots, family farmers, small farmers, and for the food system to continue to be in the hands of people, to be localised, to be sustainable. And so one of the campaigns that I’m part of at the moment is on a large program called the “Food Fortification Policy” in India, and also supported by Bill Gates. And they’re basically trying to add iron to rice and then supply that in the state food schemes. And we’re talking about millions and millions of almost 75 % of the population of the country relies on these food schemes. So there’s a lot of money to be made by these companies who are then going to be supplying that iron and doing that work. And it’s precluding real solutions coming from the communities and real solutions that people need, not just a bunch of chemicals and iron, but real food coming from our farmers and farms. So that’s what I’m doing. And then another thing that I also do is I work in the philanthropic sector. So that is essentially trying to raise resources for grassroots communities and frontline communities and activists for the most part, because we do need to divert resources there.

A lot of the resources coming from large philanthropists like Bill Gates, for instance, who has amassed a lot of wealth now and is making grants through his foundation, they’re going into the fall solutions as well. So one of the roles that I play is as an activist in the donor sector in challenging how a lot of the power is entrenched in the hands of these big billionaires who are now coming up with world solutions to everything from climate to all the different polycrisis that we face. So I would say those are the two areas, food and philanthropy is where I work. What excites you most about the work that you’re doing? Well, it’s difficult sometimes to feel very excited, I must say. But I think the best part is just the kind of camaraderie and relationships with people, with farmers, with communities, with other activists. I think the kind of dedication and commitment and friendships and bonds that develop are what really keep me going and really inspire me as well. What are your hopes for the future in your work? You know, the hope for the future is there are some amazing solutions all around the world, particularly in India as well.

Our country is a country where it’s becoming now the third largest economy in the world and it has 271 billionaires, which is massive. It’s the third largest number of billionaires after China and the United States. So there’s a lot of wealth in the nation. And however, it’s also one of the poorest countries in many ways because of the inequality that is so staggering and when you look at health and food, which is the area where I’m working, you see that a third of the world’s malnourished children are in India. 60 per cent of Indian women have anemia. And it’s also, according to the Global Hunger Index, which just came out, this India’s situation is considered to be very serious. So the majority of our people cannot afford a healthy diet. And that’s really what’s concerning and where things are at. But there are solutions, you know, there are solutions which are right under our nose and they should be funded and they should be supported by the state, by policy, but they’re not because of these kinds of vested interests that we saw earlier and even in the space of climate. But there are some glimmers of hope because people on the ground are doing the work, communities are doing the work. And now we have some small openings in policy, for instance, in the agroecology space where I work. The UN, for instance, has agreed that we made a mistake with the green revolution and with industrial farming. It’s causing problems. It’s leading to climate catastrophe. It’s a major contributor to emissions. So we need to change things. But of course, even for the UN, it’s not easy to change anything because it is for the most part controlled by lobby groups and governments that represent those lobby groups, so the United States being a case in point. So it’s very hard and these agribusiness companies have a lot of stake over there as well. So there is though a support by the UN and by governments now that agroecology should be funded, agroecology should be supported. It has many benefits, both on climatic terms but also for livelihoods of farmers and health because there’s a farmer crisis going on all over the world. If you’ve seen protests, there was massive protests in India. We saw the protests in France and Germany as well. There’s protests in Europe going on with these big tractors. I don’t know if you saw that in the news. So there’s definitely a farm crisis globally because of how agriculture is heading the direction that it’s taking. And so the recognition that we need to change it.

That in itself is something that is giving me hope and it’s made some openings for communities and for groups that are working on solutions. So in the case of India, we have policies now coming from the state. And in particular, there’s one state which is quite large. It’s a Southern Indian state called Andhra Pradesh. And this state has announced that it’s going to transform its entire agriculture to agroecology. So that’s almost 6 million farmers and 6 million hectares and by 2031. And so it’s very rare to see a policy like this. And there’s a lot of opposition in the government as well, because it’s so straightforward that the government can just go and implement the right solution. Cause you know, the vested interests are always fighting and they control narratives in the media as well. So there’s all these rumors, you know, that you can’t feed the world. You can’t feed people with agroecology, for instance. But the policy is going on and we’re seeing some promising results as well. And this is exactly the kind of thing that farmers movements and people had been asking for. We need support. We need policy support for these kinds of solutions as well. And there’s only so far that we can go and the state can play a role in catalysing these initiatives. So I think that’s something that is giving me some hope at the moment in this particular area of farming, food and health. What exactly is ecological agriculture? So for the most part, historically people farmed in that way, which is farming with nature and not against it. And it’s only in, you know, when the kind of 1960s and it’s quite interesting if you read the work of Vandana Shiva, who’s an Indian activist, you may have heard of her and she’s done a lot of work analysing, looking at the history of how this industrial farming took over the world and it has a lot to do with war. It has a lot to do with the Vietnam War and Agent Orange which was used as a chemical, as a war chemical. And then eventually when the war ended they didn’t know what to do with it and so they launched the Green Revolution and basically just moved those chemical weapons into farming as pesticides, as herbicides. And so that is what industrial farming is, is essentially farming against nature, using not relying on natural companionships between plants, not relying on nature’s rhythms, using chemicals, using monoculture, which is of course completely unnatural in the real world. You’ll never find a monoculture anywhere. And so it’s really the beating down of nature and that’s industrial and agroecology is then the opposite of that. And that is really about studying the ecology at the farm level and understanding how ecological processes work.

And they are all very, you know, we all know that there’s like five or six processes how photosynthesis occurs, how water is recycled. And then you basically apply that to the farm level. And so that’s agroecology. And then there’s also agroforestry, which is essentially combining farming with tree production. And so you’ll see these beautiful farms, which are literally like mini forests, but they are growing shade coffee and they’re growing, you know, on the same plot of land, growing hundreds of species.

And so that’s sustainable, that’s adding back to the land, but it’s also good for whoever’s farming, for the farmers and the families, because it provides a diverse source of income and it also provides a diverse source of nutrition. And one of the quotes that Vandana had made, which I want to use again, is that the diversity on the farm represents the diversity on our plates. And that’s really the crisis of nutrition we’re seeing now.

Even in our country, we have this what we call the serialisation and around the world, including in industrial countries, the country that I know well as the United States, where you see that the poor cannot access fresh produce. So they’re forced to eat industrial food. They’re forced to eat the McDonald’s or whatever that they can access at a cheap price. And then you have this crisis of obesity and you have all these other health problems which are emerging.

However, with agroecology and if there is that kind of promotion and the farms are diverse, then the food is also going to be diverse because one important thing to note is that the majority of the hungry in our country are actually peasants and farmers themselves. So they’re farming and but they’re farming like monoculture, sugarcane and cotton and then they don’t have food, which doesn’t make any sense. I mean, they should be able to access food and good food and good diets. So, yeah, so in a nutshell, that’s kind of what I would say agroecology is. Just going back to something you referred to before about the decision to add iron to the rice, the fact you mentioned earlier too about the lack of iron in women, the problems that that’s causing. You can sort of understand how the government says, okay, let’s add iron.

What’s the alternative that doesn’t involve that industrialising the rice? Right, absolutely. So let me just start with that whole iron policy and the idea behind it. I think one of the things we’ve learned from doctors, and there’s no doubt that the real food is the best thing that anybody can eat in order to actually get those nutrients from food and supplements are not actually as effective. And the other thing we’ve learned is that, you know, hemoglobin, which is what anemia is associated with, when you have low hemoglobin, you have anemia. And anemia has different reasons as well. Iron is just one. And then the other major one is malnutrition. And hemoglobin cannot be synthesised by iron alone. So that’s what we’ve learned is that in the natural world, there’s so many processes that take place. There’s enzymes, there’s protein.

There’s fat, all of that is needed to produce that hemoglobin. And just pumping iron into somebody’s body is not going to be synthesised. It’s not going to lead to that. So we have bodies who are underfed, they have low calories, and then they’re eating cereals. And then we have a crisis of diabetes in India. So India is called the world’s diabetes capital. And it’s not because people are eating sugar, it’s because they’re eating cereals all the time. It’s just excessive carbohydrate consumption and rice. And there’s nothing much else with that. So you need to have vegetables, you need to have protein, you need to have fat. And that’s what you need to have. And then you need to, these are what give you all the micronutrients to finally create that hemoglobin. And there’s been studies which show that just giving someone a meal, just giving children one meal a day, cured anemia. So it didn’t even have to do with iron. It has to do with just getting adequate calories and somewhat of a diverse diet. So the solution is very simple. And in India, we have one of the biggest food programs in the world. Poor people, people under a particular economic threshold, they can get rations from the state at very subsidised rates, but there they only get rice and wheat. So again, they only get cereals.

And then they started a school meals program, also learning from other countries, because they realised that if you provide a meal in school, it keeps people in school, and that’s one way to solve malnutrition. So we have a school meals program, which is actually quite good, and you get this food there. You get a full meal there every single day. And then they also have programs for young children. So instead of improving all of these programs and saying, OK, let’s add some other things. Let’s add some oils. Let’s add some vegetables.

Whatever, they’ve said that we are just going to add iron to rice and feed people even more rice. So that’s again the problem because we don’t need more and more rice and adding calories from just one source and that to cereal, it’s just going to lead to more diabetes in the country. And there’s, you know, it’s a very bad idea overall. So the solution is very simple. It’s just how can we support these existing mechanisms to have access to food?

And we also have a farm crisis. So why not support farmers to grow the food that we need and then supply it to these programs? And you know, Brazil has a really amazing program started under Lula around school meals. And the government said that we will support the farmers who are doing agroecology and we will get that food for our school meals program. And we’ll offer a premium price to the farmers who are doing organic or agroecology. So that way they,

They supported both like climate resilient farming, but then they also supported children to have, you know, chemical free and healthier diets. And so these are the solutions and we have so many, so much unemployment in our country. We have so many, you know, women’s groups can be created to cook those meals, to process that food. And so it’s an opportunity for generating livelihoods as well.

Yeah, so that’s why I’ll say that the solution lies. And we do have examples. In fact, there’s a recent study done on that state program that I was talking about in Andhra Pradesh, the agroecology program. And they just put out a study just two weeks back, which shows that the anemia levels fell drastically in these programs because they had some… experimental programs combined with the farming of agro in an agroecological way where they set up some training with women. They had some kind of behavioral change programs. They had, you know, they supported them with backyard poultry. So, you know, in their household, they can have poultry, they can have, you know, small fish ponds and they can have kitchen gardens and then some recipe classes or whatever. They did some campaigns and it worked because Anemia fell. So these kinds of solutions, which are much more, I would say, community focused, community based and culture based, it’s around shifting, you know, how people are eating only cereals and showing them that, okay, you can do this quite easily in your own home. So that’s the solution. Instead of, you know, the state has now spent $600 million on this Bill Gates funded rice fortification and why are we wasting all this money and lining the pockets of these actors? And so that’s where the problem lies, I would say.

Mik Aidt:
In Australia, we have a whole movement of regenerative agriculture. People coming together around similar principles that you’re talking about with the agroecological solutions that you talk about. And we also have a movement for localising, which means to use the local farmers instead of buying things that came from far away. And just recently, there was a promotion video that came out about, you know, understanding the big picture. And they talk about big picture activism and that’s where they’re bringing together the regenerative movement, the farmers, with this localised movement, especially in a group called Local Futures. Let’s hear that little clip. It’s a video, but we’ll just hear the audio from it because we’re doing radio. So you’ll get an impression of what’s going on and what’s being advocated for here in Australia. 

Big Picture Activism video on

Every day on the news, we see a world hurtling from one crisis to the next.
Most of us are running faster than ever just to keep food on the table and a roof over our head.
But worst of all, we’re told it’s our fault. It’s human nature.
It can certainly look that way, but dig a little deeper and something else emerges.
The ever-expanding global economy.
Favouring global traders over community is a central cog in the economic machine.
Our governments have been using our tax money to subsidise and deregulate these global corporations. Big tech, big ag, big media, big oil, big banks, big pharma. While at the same time squeezing local and national businesses through heavy taxation and over-regulation.

Today these corporations and banks have become a sort of global invisible empire to the point where they regularly determine the policies of our governments. Trade has always been a part of our lives but it has now acquired an almost religious status, resulting in meat, vegetables, manufactured goods, currencies, even bottled water moving around the globe in every direction.

In 2019, the US imported 1.4 million tonnes of beef and veal and in the same year exported almost exactly the same amount. While English grown apples have travelled all the way to South Africa to be washed and waxed, then flown back again to be sold. The taxes we pay from our hard work are not supporting our local communities or the things we value like health, the environment or democracy.

Instead they’re propping up this ever-expanding economic machine. We are blindly crowdfunding our own social and environmental demise. When we realise that the machine is working against almost everyone’s interest, then there’s genuine hope of building up enough people power to turn the cogs around. Right now, we are allowing the rules of this system to be written by a tiny minority. And why is this happening? Largely because of ignorance. We know that big corporations have too much power, but we hear almost nothing about how the economic system works to give them that power. And it is ignorance. The vast majority of us, even those who work within corporations, don’t want to see nature destroyed or a wider gap between rich and poor. That’s why raising awareness needs to be our first action. Big picture activism.

That means showing how the global system is damaging both people and planet, and how going local can help to turn things around. It’s vital that we share this knowledge so we can unite social and environmental activists and bring about a mass movement to make a united demand of our governments. Reregulate the big and global. Rebuild the small and local.

This doesn’t mean eliminating global trade, but rather encouraging greater self-reliance. And that means shifting taxes, regulations and subsidies that currently favour global trade to support local, regional and national economies instead. It’s about ensuring that the democratic process shapes business, rather than big business shaping our societies, supporting small scale on a large scale.

This means supporting more diversified small farms selling at local markets and shops. It means supporting community energy and local finance initiatives because it’s on the foundations of local economies that the deep bonds of community can be built. Going local offers us a genuine human connection. And that’s why a localisation movement is already happening around the world. It’s time to wake up.

Listen, learn and act. It’s time to demand these changes from our politicians and to elect brave leaders who support these changes. It’s time to embrace Indigenous wisdom and remember that our real economy is the living world. It’s time to stop fighting each other and start fighting for a better system. There’s nothing inevitable or natural about our current system. It’s man-made. And if enough of us come together, we can change it.

Mik Aidt:
A very active drummer there and some advocating for the big picture activism. Does that ring a bell in India?

Anonymous activist:
Yeah, absolutely. I think it does. And there’s definitely all of the things that were mentioned there. There’s definitely recognition that we need to start localising. And we have some, you know, because I was mentioning philanthropy playing a negative role and the big billionaires kind of trying to change the world, et cetera, and kind of doing this. I want to quote this author called Anand Giridharidas, who I think is the editor of Time. And he’s written a fascinating book that I recommend called “A Winner Take All”, its subtitle is ‘The Elite Charade of Changing the World’. And we’re seeing now a recognition amongst people. And there’s a movement of younger people who are inheritors of wealth, for instance who are recognising that they want to do something different and that we can move the resources that we are inheriting into these kinds of initiatives that are localised, building people power, building community and connecting the dots because all of the different crises, we cannot look at them in isolation because the food and the climate system are so closely connected and livelihoods are so closely connected and water is so closely connected.

Mik Aidt:
So, it’s these solutions which was mentioned, you know, the big picture solutions, connecting the dots, connecting the different struggles, definitely are going to be the… And one dot I find that one dot that is certainly too seldom connected with climate is equality. And, you know, the relationships that there are both ways, for instance, the findings, the research that shows that those societies that are more equal are also more resilient when they’re hit by extreme weather events and when climate hits down.

Luke Kemp in The Cram Podcast:
The biggest factor which explained why some societies seemed more robust and resilient to climatic change was inclusive institutions. When they were more democratic, when they basically had more inclusive political structures and decision-making, they tended to experience less social change and deal with both hardship and climatic change much more effectively. So if you look in the modern world and you try to look at population loss and loss of GDP during natural disasters, so hurricanes, earthquakes, even terrorism. The best studies here all suggest that when you have usually a stronger state plus a more democratic one, that tends to minimise the amount of losses you take. It results in more resilience. And there’s a general finding here that if you have more inclusive institutions, people tend to both cope with and prepare better for disasters. So in short, democracy equals greater resilience. 

Mik Aidt:
Explains Luke Kemp, who is a researcher at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge. In an interesting interview he did in a podcast recently, and we will put a link to that podcast in our podcast notes. But the point here is, you know, connecting the dots that when we talk about creating more democratic and more equal societies, that actually also makes us more resilient to the dangers that are ahead of us.

Anonymous activist:
Absolutely, absolutely. And, you know, the struggle for equality is one that is so important because I think we have a situation in India, as I mentioned earlier, the level of inequality is so just staggering. But then we also have a government which recently…just came and our chief economic advisor made this statement that, you know, it’s not the government’s responsibility to fix inequality. And so essentially what they’re saying is that they’re very happy with the fact that we have billionaires in the country and that’s just showing that we are becoming more and more powerful. But it’s the opposite of what’s actually happening is the level of inequality.

And we’ve not been able to solve the basic issues, like health, food and hunger. And so, you know, what use is this economic growth and who is it benefiting?

And you look at the kind of climate solutions that the elite are engaging in and, you know, they have to do with building bunkers and, you know, about post-apocalyptic world and all kinds of bizarre… I mean, I read an article about a guy who’s a consultant to these individuals who are building these post-apocalyptic bunkers. And so it’s ridiculous to me that you have all this wealth… Just give it away for the right solutions and give it away to fix problems because these individuals have enough wealth to, let’s say, solve hunger or solve health crises.

Anthony Gleeson:
Yeah. And just looking at where we choose, where our elected or the people we elect to represent us, what they’re subsidising. It’s like there’s millions of dollars going into fossil fuels and all the other areas that are causing harm. So, you know, we’re paying, our money is paying for that to happen. You know, hearing Helena Norberg-Hodge referring earlier to the international movement to live locally and come together and look at what unites us. And it’s, you know, we all share the atmosphere. So maybe wanting to protect that will unite us all. 

Mik Aidt:
In Europe right now, it’s springtime and springtime is also AGM time. So all the big oil companies as well are having their AGMs. And it seems like a pattern that at each of these oil companies AGMs, a young woman speaks up. Certainly that’s what happened at the Shell AGM recently. Have a listen here to Mikaela Loach who gave a speech there – or was trying to give a speech because she was barely allowed to. 

Mikaela Loach speaking at Shell’s AGM:

Security, leave it for a minute.

On account of your fossil fuel production in the Niger Delta in Nigeria, the life expectancy there is currently only between 41 and 46 years of age. That’s younger than most of the people in this room today. How can you be comfortable profiting from limiting the lives of millions of people? The money that lines your pockets and allows you to comfortably grow old prevents that same dignity for people in the Niger Delta.

In the 70 years where you made stupendous profits for your shareholders, you transformed the Niger Delta into the most polluted place on earth, and its people among the poorest and most poisoned. In that period, your company has been complicit in flaring gas non-stop at 178 flare points all over the Niger Delta, emitting millions of tons of CO2 yearly and poisoning over 40 million people with cancer and other respiratory illnesses.

Several reputable studies have established that methane carbon dioxide and other chemicals from flared gas poison people with cancer, respiratory illnesses, birth defects, and diseases of the skin. When it rains, the poisonous chemicals in the atmosphere return to further pollute the soil and rivers, reducing farm fertility and killing fishes.

Several scientific reports, including those from the United Nations Environment Programme, have been published. All of them indicting you for massive pollution and poisoning. They have confirmed that your activities have led directly to major health risks and livelihood losses. This is not speculation, these are facts.

But it feels important now to share a human story. Our friend’s only water source, a hand dug well, has produced nothing but crude oil for three years. In one year alone, our friend unexpectedly lost his sister, his father, and his baby niece. Up until now, Shell has refused to accept that its ruptured pipe is the source of the pollution that has contaminated the drinking water of the entire community.

I’m sorry, could you maybe ask a question? I said one to two minutes, I’ve already given you four. Sorry, could you ask a question?

Thank you, thank you.

Heartbreakingly, this is the reality for countless families as a result of your pollution. Who will fix the health of millions of people you have poisoned? For years, you have pushed back against the legal case from the Agale and Bilay communities, against you for your decades and decades of pollution. The Agale and Bilay communities are many of hundreds of communities whose livelihoods have been devastated by Shell and who are now suing Shell this year in the UK courts for their right to health and a clean environment.

It’s convenient that this case coincides with you selling off your onshore oil assets to shadow consortiums that were conveniently only set up recently. Now that the case can be heard in the UK courts, we know that you are rushing to sell off your assets to avoid accountability. You’re attempting to walk away from seven decades of reckless oil extraction and its attendant ecological health and livelihood impacts. As you always have, you’re attempting to avoid justice and reparations. We will not let you do that. You will not get away with the destruction of our communities. People across the world are rising up against the Delta and the game show. Your days of profiting from destroying our lives are numbered.

You’re going to be asked to leave the audits room. I’ve heard your question.

Other people have had more time than me to ask questions.

Can you please go this way, please? Just finish your question. Leave it for a minute. Security, leave it for a minute.

Leave her for a minute. Could you maybe turn and face the people who you’re asking the question.

Yes, I can.

I think you’ve asked your question.

I haven’t asked my question. My question is: Who will clean up nearly 70 years worth of oil spills and gas flaring in the Niger Delta? Who will fix the health of indigenous people? Who will restore their livelihood?

Okay, thank you.

I just want you to know that your days of profiting off our lives are numbered. And we will end your profits, we will end your company. You do not deserve to continue profiting from us.

Anonymous activist:
I think what gives me hope is the younger people. I feel like the younger Gen Z in particular has been really active and I think one of the reasons is the fact that they’re so well connected. And we’re seeing this on different issues as well around imperialism and what’s happening in the Middle East as well. We’re seeing some action by people, and also they’re not afraid to challenge these actors who, you know, in the past have been, seemed like, you know, very powerful and you can’t really challenge them, but they are, they’re lashing out at them. And I also saw that recently the Goldman Environmental Prize was won by two activists from… I’m not sure if they were from Niger, but they were also campaigning against Shell. And I think they’re involved in a big court case against Shell.

So I think the fact that this is happening, there’s recognition and these companies and entities, they don’t seem like all that powerful anymore that it is possible to challenge them. And we need to start, basically, and we need to start from so many different angles and strategies and, you know, activism and challenging them through shareholder meetings and doing litigation against them.

And the narrative shift, you know, the kind of work that you’re doing, I think we need to hear stories, see the real face of the problem. And that narrative shift work is also so important, I feel, and social media is helping that. But of course, social media is also now – we’re seeing censored and, you know, so there’s all of those challenges, but yeah, I think it gave me a lot of hope. Just listening to that.

Mik Aidt:
The story is changing. The story is changing among the youth. The story is changing around the world. And thank you for sharing what’s happening, good things that are happening in India as well. The story is changing in India as well, isn’t it? And that’s what, thank you for sharing that with us today.

Anonymous activist:
Yeah, absolutely. It was a pleasure sharing and I think India is always been a country with, you know, there’s always been a lot of dissent and we’ve had some great movements, liberation struggles, anti-colonial struggles, and you know, we’ve seen modern movements with the farmers movements and so many different social movements. And so, you know, I think that times are changing and people power does matter. And as much as we can, we need to continue to support these processes and these building community.

Mik Aidt:
That’s what we could fit in one Sustainable Hour, which goes very quickly. Always, doesn’t it? 

Anthony Gleeson:
Sure does. And just the thing that comes through for me is the things that are valued globally. You know, we’ve spoken to people, we’ve had input from people from many different countries today and just the anger and the, or the controlled anger in most cases. You know, the fact that a person didn’t want to be named because of concern around repercussions and repression from government. 

Colin Mockett:
The Indians are voting this week in what is the world’s largest democracy. And I think I’m right in saying that earlier this year, India replaced China as the most populous nation on our planet, which is something very good in that we’ve got a democracy as the leading place, but it’s still frightening that a member of the community is still scared to even allow her name to be published in case of repercussions.

Anthony Gleeson:
Yeah, the incredible gap between ultra-rich and poverty, extreme poverty in India is something that she referred to as well. It’s amazing the number of billionaires they’ve got. I couldn’t believe that.

Mik Aidt:
I think the conclusion I make is that, you know, in order to deal, if we are to deal with the climate crisis, we need to, we need to not only take action, but actually to talk about it. We need to dare to speak up. And we’ve seen some examples of young people who are doing that today. And that’s the spirit we need to pass on, you know, in our private lives and for ourselves, you know, we need to dare to be that difference that we talk about.

Colin Mockett:
Absolutely. Dare to do it.

Mik Aidt:
Be the difference.

Missy Higgins: ‘The Difference’

Everything I see, everything I watch,
makes me wanna hold my ears till it stops
Makes me wanna run, makes me wanna hide,
makes me wanna set this house alight

Oh but I remember my mother’s voice
Telling me that every day’s a choice
For where there’s good, there’s bad
But my child you always can

Be the difference
Be the difference
I know the world’s gone mad, it’s true
(she said) be the difference
(you can) be the difference
cos I see a fighter locked in you

Greta Thunberg:
This report doesn’t tell us what to do. It doesn’t say you have to do this and then you have to do this. It doesn’t provide us with such solutions or tell us that you need to do this. And that’s up for us. We are the ones who need to take to take the decisions and we are the ones who need to be brave and ask the difficult questions to ourselves. Like what do we value?

Song continues:
So am I gonna open everything up,
am I gonna let fury fill my cup
Am I gonna be an anthem singing in the dark,
gonna light up this burning heart
Am I gonna still as rock,
while everything shakes and tumbles off
Am I gonna remember the truth

Cos I wanna be nasty, wanna be brave,
not let his fear make me afraid
I don’t wanna pretend I’m too small to jump the wall
I’m just trying to remember her voice
Telling me that every day’s a choice
For where there’s good there’s bad
But my child you always can

Be the difference (be the difference)
Be the difference
I know the world’s gone mad it’s true
(she said) be the difference
(you can) be the difference
Cos I see a fighter locked in you

So you gotta fight it
You gotta resist
Every days a choice to light the dark

You gotta sing loud
You gotta shout out
Fear is not a choice but you can choose to be the difference

Be the difference
I know the world’s gone mad it’s true
(she said) be the difference
(you can) be the difference
Cos I see a fighter locked in you

Be the difference
Be the difference
When hope is a hand you don’t wanna trust
(She said) be the difference
(you can) be the difference
Cos darling the future’s watching…

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

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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