A Critical Mass

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The Australian government continues to lag behind most of the rest of the world when it comes to any kind of action with respect to climate change.  I have often thought that any serious action would need to be driven by a groundswell of public opinion but despaired that it would ever happen.

For many years I have felt like I was swimming against the tide as I refused excess packaging, tried to avoid as much single-use plastic as possible and generally tried to reduce my carbon footprint as much as possible.  Gradually, I have seen an increase in groups and individuals trying to make a difference but recently this seems to have taken a definite upswing.

There even seems to be some interest in the mainstream media with programs such as ‘War on Waste‘.

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Are we reaching a point where there are enough voices to actually begin to make a difference?  What do you think?

Not Tree-Hugging Nonsense

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For too long investment in renewable energy, electric cars, sustainable agriculture and a swag of other activities has been seen as the preserve of alternative individuals in our society.  These people are often derogatorily referred to as tree-hugging greenies by those who do not share their values or see the urgency in transitioning our communities to more sustainable practices.

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The Australian government continues to refuse to accept that exponential economic growth at the expense of environmental protection is not the key to our future.

However, I believe the tide is turning.  I have read several articles in the past few days in which the impact of climate change is of concern.  Doctors are identifying health issues, global banks are withdrawing funding for coal mines and an Australian private health fund has announced that it is divesting itself from fossil fuels on the grounds that it cannot reconcile supporting an industry which harms the health and well-being of its members.

This one from APRA (Australian Prudential Regulation Authority) is close to home and should be a stark warning to the government that they simply cannot continue on their current trajectory with regard to action on climate change and support of power generation from non-renewable sources such as coal..

As the support for the coal industry wanes and associated funding options begin to evaporate, the government is determined to push on with its agenda of coal at any cost.   The latest idea is to use the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to fund the establishment of more coal-fired power stations using ‘clean coal’ technology.  This is an absolute disgrace and should be stopped.

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Joining the Dots

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I have just checked my blog and realised that it is now 6 days since I last posted.  Why?  Well, I could tell you about how busy I have been but that is not really true.  Life has been ticking along and there has been plenty of activity.  On Wednesday I took our 2 granddaughters to see the matinee performance of “Matilda – The Musical”.  This was their Christmas gift from us and we all thoroughly enjoyed it.  Then I spent Thursday and Friday in Sydney on work-related business so there really has not been a huge amount of time for blogging.

However, the real truth is that I have felt so overwhelmed by the recent political events, both domestic and international, that it has been quite difficult to think about writing about the simple things that I do here at home.  When you add in a dose of exceptionally hot weather the inertia really takes over.

It is difficult not to despair when the Treasurer of this nation (supported by his colleagues) brings a lump of coal into the parliament and mercilessly mocks those for whom climate change is a real and present threat.  This, in a week where much of the country is sweltering through some of the highest temperatures on record and it is set to be even worse in Queensland tomorrow.

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What will it take for these dinosaurs to understand that we are living with climate change here and now and there is a real risk to public health?  Yet their answer is to dig up more coal to supposedly generate cheaper power for the air-conditioners which are deemed essential to cope with the environment we have created.  Will they ever manage to join the dots and work out that the solution is not digging up more coal?

Here are a few basic statistics from NASA.  15 of the hottest 16 years on record have been since 2001.  Climate change, perhaps?  Why would our government believe that?  A lump of coal is much more fun!

This article should be compulsory reading for all of our politicians.

 

 

Taking Responsibility

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Firstly, I would like to apologise to those of you who have commented over the past couple of months for not replying to your comments.  I do read your words and value your input, however, too often I set them aside with grand plans to reply ‘later’ and ‘later’ does not happen.  I have gone back and tried to fill in the blanks and have promised myself that I will do better in 2017.  Thank you for sticking with me.

I had already written the title for this post when I realised that I had used an identical title in February last year.  You can read it here.  Perhaps it is a new year that makes us reassess what we are doing in a variety of ways.  Reducing our carbon footprint, minimising our reliance on single-use items, supporting ethical businesses, taking stock of our possessions are just some of the ways we can make a difference to our own lives as well as the lives of others and of course, the health of the planet.

I read something recently where someone commented that if everyone had to deal with their own rubbish rather than just wheeling a bin to the kerb then they would think differently about what they acquire – both in goods and packaging.  Of all the articles and discussions I have read, this makes more sense than most.

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It is easy to get jaded when the discussion is about where the nearest supermarket is that accepts soft plastics for recycling.  Do you think that shoving a bundle of soft plastic bags and packaging into a supposed recycling collection point absolves you from making any additional effort to reduce your waste?  Do you really believe that soft plastics are actually recycled?  Have you any idea how much energy is required to recycle materials into new products?  Is it true that plastic can only be recycled once?  And the absolute no-brainer….. Did you know that plastic is made from oil which is a finite resource?  That means it will run out one day!

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This is just one example of where it would be far better to make or buy a few sturdy fabric bags to transport shopping and other goods.

Give up shopping as a pastime, buy only what you actually need……that is need, not want and remember that recycling should be a last resort, not an easy option to salve your conscience.

Call me cynical, but I do whatever I can to minimise the amount of recycling I produce because I am not convinced that my efforts end up reaping results.  I have heard that if there is any contamination found in an entire truckload of recyclables then the whole load is dumped.  Whether or not that is true, I would much rather save any cardboard and newspapers that we acquire and use it as a mulchable weed mat in the garden.  Smaller pieces of paper are shredded and used as bedding for the chickens and then finally make their way to the compost.

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Tomorrow I will discuss the concept of zero-waste and what it means to me.

 

Mr President

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There is only one topic tonight – the election of Donald Trump as 45th president of the United States.  Like many others, I am draped in a cloak of disbelief.  How could this happen?

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I am not a great fan of Hilary Clinton but even a shred of decency should have been enough to drive people away from Trump in droves.

However, the decision has been made and unfortunately we are all going to have to live with it.  The ramifications of a Trump presidency have the potential to be far-reaching and affect people far beyond the boundaries of the United States.

So, what does this mean for Australia?  According to early media speculation, an increasingly isolationist America would almost certainly impact on trade, defence and foreign policy.  Strategic alliances with Indonesia, our populous Muslim neighbour, relations with China and the problems in the South China Sea and of course trade agreements are all at risk.

Closer to home, this election victory has given Mr Trump’s Australian surrogates such as Liberal senator Cory Bernardi, One Nation senator Pauline Hanson and the LNP’s George Christensen, the opportunity to claim an endorsement of their own views on topics as diverse as immigration, refugees and climate change.

I am fearful of what this means for our future but I am also hopeful that commonsense and decency will prevail.

An Endless Summer

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Here in Australia we have had a long, hot summer.  There is no other way of describing it.

I found found some statistics from the Bureau of Meteorolgy.  There is no information for April but we all know that the warmer than average trend continued.
December
Second-warmest December mean minimum temperatures on record
Warmest December mean temperatures on record for Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia
Two heatwaves break December records in southeast Australia
Severe bushfire in southern Victoria
December was another very warm month for Australia, the sixth-warmest on record for nationally-averaged mean temperatures. The national mean minimum temperature was the second-warmest on record with an anomaly of +1.24°C, while maximum temperature was the warmest on record for parts of southeast Australia including Victoria (+3.80°C).
January

National mean temperature above average

Maximum and minimum temperatures both above average
January mean temperatures were warmer than average for Australia as a whole (an anomaly of +0.52°C), with all States and the Northern Territory recording warmer than average mean temperatures.
Tasmania recorded its second-warmest January on record.
The Australian mean daily maximum temperature was 0.21
°C above average and the Australian mean daily minimum temperatures was 0.83°C above average
February

Australia’s ninth-warmest February on record

Heat wave in northwestern Queensland results in some daily maximum records broken.

February was a warm month for Australia and the ninth-warmest February on record. The national mean temperature was 0.92°C above the historical average, with the monthly mean maximum temperature 1.43°C above average and the monthly mean minimum temperature 0.41°C above average.

Mean temperatures and mean maxima were above average in all States.
Queensland recorded its fifth-warmest February on record for mean temperatures and equal sixth-warmest for both maximum and minimum temperatures. Tasmania was sixth-warmest for minimum temperatures.
A heat wave in north-western Queensland in the last week of February resulted in a number of records for daily maximum temperatures being broken in this region
March
Mean March temperature for Australia warmest on record.
National mean March minimum temperature warmest on record.
National mean maximum temperature seventh-warmest March on record.
A new record for the warmest March day on record for Australia on the 2nd.

This month was the warmest March on record with a mean temperature anomaly 1.70°C

above the average, exceeding the previous record set in 1986 (+1.67°C). The national mean March minimum temperature anomaly was also the warmest on record at +1.97°C.
The hottest March day recorded in Australia was recorded on the 2nd.  On this day, more than one-third of Australia recorded maximum temperatures in the warmest percentile.
During the month warmer than average maximum and minimum temperatures affected much of the country. New South Wales and Victoria experienced record high mean March temperature anomalies (+2.49 °C and +2.42 °C respectively).
Nationally, the mean March maximum temperature was the seventh-warmest on record (+1.42 °C).
How did you cope with the heat?  Did you enjoy the ‘endless summer’.  Are you looking forward to ever increasing temperatures over the coming years?
Think it won’t happen?  Check out this graphic.
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Climate change is real and it is here right now.  It is time to stop and consider what the future is going to look like.  What is life going to be like for our children and grandchildren?  We are well on our way to leaving them a legacy of an uninhabitable planet.
Check out this page for more information.
What do you think?  How do you feel?
I am interested in your opinion whether you are here in Australia or overseas.