Taking it to the Streets

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Blog posts have been pretty thin on the ground over the past couple of months.  There has been plenty going on here which would generally be perfect material for posts, however, I have written about most of it before, and in some instances, several times.

I know that there is no reason not to revisit a topic but I have been grappling with a broader issue and want to discuss that here today.  I am looking for other people’s views and would really appreciate your input.

It is good to be doing what you can within your own home and personal decisions with regard to reducing your carbon footprint but should we be doing more?  To really make a difference it is vital that we work to influence change on a bigger scale.  This can be overwhelming and make you wonder whether it is even worth trying but we need to remember that change does not happen overnight nor is it likely to be easy.

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In the past few weeks we have been busy.  We attended a local screening of ‘Before the Flood’ and associated audience discussion. This is a 2016 documentary on climate change features Leonardo DiCaprio.  Like anything on this topic it left me torn between optimism that we can all make a difference and despair that any action will really be a matter of ‘too little, too late’.  However, my final decision is a renewed enthusiasm to really make a difference as soon as possible.

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On a more local note, I went to an information evening about recycling in the Sunshine Coast Council area which was presented by Barung Landcare with a speaker, Sandie Johnston from Envirocom, an environmental consultancy who provide education and training for Sunshine Coast Council.  Waste minimisation and recycling have been at the forefront of my actions for over 25 years and this was an eye-opening presentation.  Some things have changed with regard to recycling so it is great to have up-to-date information that I know is accurate for our local council area.  I am looking forward to sharing this information in the hope that it can be disseminated more broadly which should lead to a greater compliance with recycling ‘rules’.

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I also attended one of the five consultation evenings regarding the ongoing management of the Maroochy River estuary as preservation of our natural environment is critical and the issue of coastal management is paramount if we are to protect low-lying areas such as Cotton Tree from inundation.  Whilst the issue of replacing the geotextile bag groynes with rocks may only have come to the notice of some people recently, there has been a small but dedicated band of people working to preserve the natural river mouth for at least 40 years.  This is a perfect example of long-term activism.  If you live in the Sunshine Coast Council area or visit the Maroochy River estuary (Cotton Tree) please consider completing the council survey here.

Just like charity, activism begins at home, or at least in your local area so here are a few ideas that have caught my interest.

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I have begun looking into the idea of Boomerang Bags with a view to getting this idea up and running in Maleny.

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A couple of months ago I joined Spare Harvest, an online platform dedicated to sharing garden produce and resources.

I have been active in a couple of different Zero Waste/War on Waste Facebook groups and am pleased to have discovered a local Sunshine Coast group.  These really seem to have gained momentum since the ‘War on Waste’ television program here in Australia.  I am hoping to be able to connect with more local people to see what difference we can make as a group.

I will continue to write about the small things I do each and every day to live more sustainably  but I am looking forward to trying to extend this to more people in the community and I hope to share more of that with you, too.

 

Spring has Sprung

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Even though it is barely the middle of August there is definitely spring (some would say summer) in the air.  Our winter was very mild here and we could be in for a long hot summer so it makes sense to get a head start on the summer growing season before it gets too hot.

I harvested the last 4 purple cabbages and dug over the bed in readiness to plant some beans.

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We have never had quite enough soil to fill these beds to the level I would like so I took the opportunity to add some more material to the bed before I planted the beans.

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This is one of the various mulch/compost piles that are dotted around our property.  GMan uses this one exclusively for grass clippings.  I know that the purists say that you cannot compost just one type of material such as lawn clippings but I can assure you that the underneath of this heap had broken down beautifully into rich compost and was teeming with worms.

We removed the decomposed material from the bottom of the heap and returned the rest to the heap for another day.

Here is the bed topped up and ready to plant.

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Meanwhile, I weeded the carrots which are continuing to grow nicely.  I have harvested some baby ones as I thinned them out.

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The newer blueberry bushes which are now a couple of years old, are finally getting established and showing some real signs of progress.  Some, like this one are covered with flowers and fruit.

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A closer view.

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Finally, a reminder that the garden is not only about growing food.  It is about enjoying our surroundings.  This photo is of the natural sculptural form of the the deciduous white cedar which dominates the back garden.

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What season is it in your garden?  Is it changing?  Have you modified your planting habits or even what you can grow to accommodate changes?

 

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.

 

 

Dragged Down

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As much as possible I try to keep my blog posts positive.  Now I know why.

During the last few days I have stumbled on some really negative and downright depressing discussions on the internet.  I have realised how much I have been dragged down by it all.  This combined with being tired from a busy work schedule has drained my creative juices and made writing a blog post almost impossible.

One of the discussions was related to this article which is well-written and contains some really useful information in the article and also within the links.  However, many of the responses were negative and ranged through bitterness, envy and disbelief.

The other was about global warming, although I prefer the term ‘climate change’ as a more accurate descriptor.  I was astounded and dismayed at the number of people who seemed unable to accept the premise of human-induced climate change which is accelerating at an ever increasing rate.  Even more worrying were the links being shared which referenced articles from such ‘luminaries’ as Ted Cruz, Andrew Bolt and Lord Monckton.

However, my faith was somewhat restored when I read this comment in the discussion.

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I thought I would add what I have been doing personally as I am very concerned about this issue myself.
I have read Naomi Klein book This changes everything. It was very hard to read for me as I need things set out more clearly in non fiction but she raised some good points. I also read Vandana Shiva Soil not oil which was much easier to read and something I felt I could do more about.
Switched to power shop for my electricity. Compost all food stuffs though council. Reduce car usage etc. Trying to cut down meat consumption. I know a lot of people think we should all just go vegan and angrily support that but I think think that would be like a badly failed diet for everyone. I think think you’re better off encouraging a slow change to encourage permanence.
I have joined one million women, 350. Org , green peace and a heap of others to support their works sign petitions etc.

Need to work on my plastic bag use and buying unnecessary packaging, although I am doing better than most I know.

It is lovely to hear of others who are prepared to do their bit and I applaud every small step that each and every one of us can take.

It is only 2 weeks until July – and that means 2 weeks until ‘Plastic-Free July’ so please take a look here and consider what you can do to make a difference.

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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.