Speak up, Russell and Darren! by Lauren Burns

Lauren Burns, left, and Lynn Atkinson prepare for Gippsland’s day of climate action

First published in the Bass Coast Post

WHERE are our elected representatives when we need them to speak out for urgent action on climate change, to stem the disastrous impacts on Gippsland? In the light of catastrophic bushfires, damaging sea level rises and drought affecting local farmers, Gippsland federal MPs Russell Broadbent and Darren Chester are noticeably absent from the dialogue on reducing our carbon emissions.

Both MPs have been silent on the climate emergency but vocal in their support for a gas-led economic recovery from the ravages of COVID-19. Gas is a polluting fossil fuel that will counter any chance of Australia meeting the internationally agreed Paris climate target. In response to this inaction by our democratically elected representatives, a community-led, COVID-19 restriction-compliant action is planned across Gippsland on October 3. Groups of up to 10 residents will meet at a key location in Gippsland towns. COVID principles will be observed, with social distancing, face-masks and hand sanitiser.

Each group will take photos, and record a short video to show Darren Chester and Russell Broadbent that we want climate action now. The day of action is and event of Gippsland Extinction Rebellion groups. Participants need to register for the action to support our planning and ensures a COVID-safe event.

One of the organisers, Lynn Atkinson, a grandmother of six school-aged children, says both MPs have supported policies that will destroy the futures of younger generations. “It is important for climate, sustainability and community groups across Gippsland to come together and show their MPs the extent of their concern about the climate crisis and the climate damaging impacts of a gas-led recovery. We need a climate and nature positive COVID-19 recovery program – not tax cuts and subsidies for fossil fuel businesses.”

Lynn says Gippsland has changed greatly since Mr Broadbent was elected in 1990, whereas his vision for the region has not. “Despite rising temperatures, drought and fires, he doesn’t publicly recognise the climate emergency and the need to act now. We can only assume Mr Broadbent and Mr Chester care more for their positions of power and the interests of party donors than ensuring a safe and liveable Gippsland for generations to come.”

A recent report from economic consultancy firm Ernst and Young found that a renewables-led economic recovery is jobs-rich and would create almost three times as many jobs as a fossil-fuel-led recovery. “They are leaving it too late:  this isn’t economic recovery, this is an economic disaster founded in an inability or reluctance to understand the risks of climate change,” she said. “I encourage everyone to get involved in this peaceful, upcoming Gippsland-wide, COVID-compliant action on Saturday 3rd October at 11 am in your own town. She says the day of action is an opportunity for Gippslanders to be heard. “Let’s make it very clear that we know our Federal members are being deliberately silent and we demand action now.”

Lauren Burns is a member of Extinction Rebellion. Participants in the Gippsland day of climate action need to register for the Action to support our planning and ensures a COVID-safe event. See here.

Our MPs can help reduce Global Warming

(image Tony Peck)

Media Release EGCAN

East Gippsland climate action campaigners are appealing to local MPs Darren Chester and Russell Broadbent to help reduce global warming. Angela Crunden of the East Gippsland Climate Action Network acknowledged the well-respected elected local representatives are bound by Coalition climate policy. But they say they believe in climate change and could work within the Coalition to help bring about climate policy change.

“It would be a titanic struggle,” she said. “Both of these politicians are popular in their electorates and are capable of providing the leadership required to get action. Look at Darren’s efforts on fire recovery and Russell’s recent comments on aged care. We know that as party members, they are under pressure to support Coalition policy to accept expansion of coal and greenhouse gas emitters. These are strategies that will raise global average temperatures 4C by 2100.”

“We the public can do our bit through actions such as recycling, Landcare participation, making our homes more energy efficient and using solar panels. But we can’t do it on our own. We need the MPs we elected to represent us to help change Canberra’s mind. We must have a federal plan to reach Net Zero emissions with support for acting urgently across the nation.”

“Covid 19 will seem like a walk in the park if we don’t act soon and decisively on climate. Bushfires here and in the USA, plummeting insect populations and powerful, destructive weather events are clear, terrifying warnings. We can’t afford these nightmares to continue”.

Gippsland Climate activists will gather on 3 October to send a message to the local MPs to join in helping to change Australia’s climate policy.

More information here.

The Murdoch Anti-science Agenda

Recently whilst discussing the coronavirus epidemic with my older sister she mentioned an article in the Australian given to her by one of her children. The article stated the death rate in aged care homes this year was less than the previous year. I was asked what I thought of this and, despite being extremely suspicious of anything published in the Murdoch media, for a moment was taken aback. Like so many arguments posited by these articles there may have been a kernel of truth in it. I expressed my suspicions but replied that because of social distancing, lockdown and flu vaccinations, the fatalities from influenza, normally about 500, had dropped to about 35, and that the figures quoted in the article may therefore be possible.

There are problems about writing about something that remains unsighted, but most of the pieces in the Murdoch media conform to a pattern and much of the commentary is an interpretation designed to push their various hidden agendas. Many of these agendas are obvious even to a casual examination. For instance, the continuous attacks on the ABC, or more recently those on google, facebook and twitter, are because these organisations threaten the News Corp business model – they provide their news free. Again, the anti-labour stance of the Murdoch media is merely the continuation of policy in such organs as the Sun Herald that they have been following for 100 years.

But it is the agendas relating to science, or objective truth, carried on by the Murdoch media that are the most bizarre, puzzling and possibly criminal. The unsighted coronavirus article possibly contains cherry-picked or misleading statistics, distortions of morbidity stats and unattributed, and therefore highly doubtful, sources, all supporting the agenda that the current Andrews government coronavirus lockdown in Victoria was a big mistake. Whilst it is evident that this government has made some mistakes it is also quite clear that they are following best science in the coronavirus lockdown, and the political ‘blame-game’ agenda they are playing is most unwelcome.

Which brings us to the anti-science climate agendas of News Corp. They have been recently exposed by the NSW bushfires Royal Commission and critically in the ABC’s Media Watch in relation to their “bushfires are caused by arsonists not climate change” campaign. Anyone living in or near the fire zones in East Gippsland could tell you instantly that this was a fabrication and that the source of all our fires was lightning strikes, which in turn, were heavily influenced by climate change. The Murdoch media in their war against climate science is both Machiavellian (whatever it takes to get what you want) and Marxist (the end justifies the means) with their “lies, damned lies, and statistics” and is certainly criminal. It hardly varies from some of the Goebbels Nazi propaganda methods of the 1930s – that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it. 

Climate Change and Risk

A simple definition of ‘risk’ is “the avoiding of harm or danger” but it is much more complicated than that. One implication is that the risk of many of the threats we face occurring are of minor or no importance. The question of the probability of any threat occurring is also involved. To assess risk clearly, as the insurance industry does all the time, requires clear and reliable information.

As individuals, we assess risk continually. For example, when we are crossing a busy road we look to see whether there is any oncoming traffic and whether it is safe to cross, we are analysing the risk of being hit by a car. To analyse the risk we need accurate and reliable information – whether the road is busy or there are no vehicles heading towards me. We then make a decision based on that risk assessment whether to cross the road or wait. If we make a mistake in this, the decision to cross can be catastrophic.

The matrix above enables a clear analysis of specific threats, with the probability of the threat occurring on the vertical axis and the result of that risk occurring on the horizontal axis. In a recent U3A class it was pointed out that climate change is ‘almost certain’ and the consequences of this are leaning towards the extreme and catastrophic. The climate risk can also be assessed in a variety of ways – in terms of numbers, geographically and its immediacy.

Further, the risk assessment of various aspects of climate change may different. For example, sea level rise is certain, as it is being measured now, but the rise is small and in terms of human lifespan the threat is seen as distant and negligible. On the other hand, a number of the more immediate consequences of climate change – drought, heatwaves and bushfires – are with us now. Gippslanders have experienced all of these extreme weather events this century and whilst bushfire threat may be geographically restricted to south-east Australia and California, the heatwaves occur anywhere.

Climate activists often pose the question of risks involved with climate change in terms of ‘russian roulette’ and whether the ‘possible’ outcome ‘catastrophic’ (ie death) is acceptable. Some have posed a similar question as to whether you would fly in a plane that had a 10% chance of crashing. The answer to these questions is obvious. Yet the near criminal activities of those in politics and the media that mislead, deny, or obscure the evidence on which we can base a reliable risk assessment, continue. They are playing ‘russian roulette’ with you, your children and grandchildren, and unless there is grand scale urgent action, the consequences will be ‘catastrophic’.

Local Media and the Demise of News Corp

Online journalist Michael West recently predicted the demise of News Corp in a critical online article. He noted that both local and national media was in a state of rapid transformation and News Corp was in diabolical trouble. This was partly because “Rupert’s proliferation of online rivals distribute their content for free via email, Twitter, Facebook and other social media while his newspaper business model relies on chopping down thousands of trees, buying ink, sustaining presses and newsrooms, and carting the newspapers around the country on the back of trucks.”

West noted: “Most of the newspapers will have to shut at some point. They have been losing money for years. Same deal for Nine Entertainment.” Further, that now “Investors are valuing Rupert’s Australian media assets at zero, so unless he and his successors somehow stage a corporate recovery, News Corp is destined for oblivion, along with its grip over government.”

We hope West’s predictions are accurate and from the point of view on climate change that they happen soon. There are some signs that the climate-denying mogul’s grip on governments across Australia is weakening. I have written at length on the criminal opinions of News Corp columnists on a numerous occasions. Also there is the failure of all our mainstream media, including the ABC, to treat global warming as the emergency it is.

Local media is expanding online as the mainstream media falters, and News Corp and Nine are slowly divesting themselves of regional titles or putting them online behind paywalls. Locally ‘Gippsnews’ is on board and doing a similar job to the media giants, but selecting and promoting news of local interest. Likewise, with excellent local content, is the Bass Coast Post, which has been publishing for some time, and the more recent Just Community in South Gippsland. No doubt there are others I am not aware of.

Essentially this news is generated from below and content and control is also in the ‘grass roots’, hence the prominence of climate and climate action in their pages. I have become increasingly reliant on these particular media outlets – one as promoter of my blog and the other two as regular sources of relevant news on climate and renewable energy in our backyard.

Bass Coast Council Climate Action Plan

Catherine Watson of the Bass Coast Post has written an interesting account of the Bass Coast Shire Council plans for climate action following their declaration of the climate emergency last year. She noted: “It has been a little more than 12 months since BC CAN (Bass Coast Climate Action Network) submitted a petition to the Shire Council demanding action on the global climate crisis. The petition gained more than 1,000 signatures and initiated a climate emergency declaration at the Council meeting on August 22, 2019.”

“At that meeting; seven out of the nine Councillors supported a 2030 target of net zero emissions from both Council operations and the community. Last week Council approved a detailed action plan to ensure that the target is achieved. The Community Reference Group that participated in developing the Plan included four BC CAN members: Bhavani Rooks, Isabel Rooks, Michael Nugent and Naomi Coleman.”

It is often forgotten (or not realised) that signing on to the climate emergency is just the beginning of a long and arduous road. Following the declaration of intent there is the need for planning and implementing a program of action. Michael Nugent noted “A year ago we asked Council for leadership in the face of inaction from other levels of government. This Plan delivers that leadership. It’s the roadmap we need to face what the climate has in store for us all.” Michael is a climate candidate in the upcoming local elections.

The plan is looking at net zero shire emissions by 2030. Amongst council actions to achieve this includes energy efficiency, a power purchase agreement for 100% renewable energy, transition of vehicles to low emissions, presumably electric, and to offset “residual emissions through the Biolinks project.”

The plan outlines a wide range of actions and practices for the whole community including Households (switch to all-electric and zero carbon energy) Business and Industry (switch to more sustainable transport) and Farming (advocate for stronger climate change action by state and federal governments) communities. The full report is here.

Thanks to the Bass Coast Council and the committed community activists for their work so far and to Catherine Watson and the Bass Coast Post for keeping us up to date.

A democratic approach to climate change by Tony Walker

Excerpts from an article in Just Community No. 8

Even with its inherent problems, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s National COVID-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC) has something worthwhile to tell us about the current crisis in the legitimacy of representative democracy and the remedies available to address it.

Almost immediately the ideological and structural shortcomings of Morrison’s approach started to become evident, with his appointees to the NCCC being heavily weighted towards the fossil fuel industry, and particularly the gas industry. It was hardly a surprise then when the commission’s first recommendations were for “a gas-fuelled recovery” and massive subsidies and public investment that would guarantee profits to the industry, along with the removal of environmental protections and the abolition of state-government bans on unconventional gas development…

If the Prime Minister had sought advice from a wide range of expert opinion there would have been more options for action across the economy and society, less contention and more common vision, which means less conflict and more constructive outcomes.

Morrison’s strategy to lead Australia forward is deeply flawed, because what the country needs right now is the opposite of the NCCC’s recommendations. Our economy needs to be remade, not just repaired. Instead, the government ignored the opportunity to listen to diverse views and looks likely to back a single strategy – investment in gas – at a time when a majority of Australians think otherwise.

Doesn’t it seem far more beneficial to address the challenges of the pandemic-induced recession and severe climate change by pursuing recovery strategies that capitalise on the emerging opportunities offered by renewable energy technology? This is what a Just Transition, also sometimes referred to as a Green New Deal, offers us. And it’s not just about transitioning away from a carbon economy, but also addressing other critical matters facing us all. We can reduce the energy and carbon intensity of our economy and society, stop environmental degradation and deal with resource limitations, whilst creating new jobs, achieving biodiversity in the environment and delivering socially just and equitable outcomes.

But if vested interests and vision-impaired politicians are able to get their own way at the national level despite what citizens might want, does that mean there aren’t any opportunities for people to engage with these issues in different ways and work towards better outcomes for all rather than just a few?

The Just Community website is here.

The Author is from Fish Creek

Council Elections – VOTE CLIMATE!

An old ACF poster

From the Bass Coast Climate Action Network Newsletter August 2020

When the climate emergency was declared by Bass Coast Council last year, two Councillors abstained. They are both in Bunurong Ward. It would be a great win for the climate if they were replaced at the October council elections. Well… two members of the Bass Coast CAN core group, Leticia Laing and Michael Nugent, will be candidates in Bunurong Ward.

Here is what you can do to support them:

1. Like, follow and share their Facebook pages even if you are not in Bass Coast, and make comments, ask questions, etc. on posts

https://www.facebook.com/pg/NugentForBass/posts/

http://www.facebook.com/Leticia4BCCouncil/

2. They will need help letterboxing in a few weeks’ time. This is an allowable activity outside Melbourne under current COVID rules. Please let them know if you might be willing to spend a few hours helping out:

. leticialaing@gmail.com  0415 801 821

. mnn@fastmail.fm  0416 039 933

3. Do you know anyone with a holiday home or hobby farm, or who runs a business in Bass Coast but doesn’t live here? They are entitled to vote both where they live and in Bass Coast. But only if they enrol in both places. They don’t need to be here at the time of the election, and won’t risk a fine since voting is not compulsory for non-residents, even when they are registered. Non-residents make up a massive 42% of all possible votes in Bass Coast! So, if you know any non-resident rate-payers, please urge them to enrol before next Friday, August 28, and to vote for the climate.

Further info at: https://tinyurl.com/y5lfjn5o or call 1300 226 278.

Forms are at: https://tinyurl.com/yxn78343 (click REGISTER TO VOTE).

4. Spread the word: tell friends, neighbours, relations, acquaintances … People you pass in the street… That a vote for Michael Nugent and Leticia Laing is a VOTE FOR THE CLIMATE at these council elections.

Authorised by: P N Mckenzie 166 Reed Cres. Wonthaggi 3995

Generational Climate Activism

Antarctica Melting by Ray Dahlstrom

When I first started acting seriously on a daily basis on climate change in 2008 I knew that this was a task that would consume the rest of my life. At that time I was angry with our elected representatives – that in a society based on knowledge they should ignore the clear message of science. I also felt a certain resentment, as I knew most of my energy was going to be diverted, though not entirely, from my preferred task of studying history.

Now my elderly disposition has started me thinking about the end of my career as a climate activist. Coincidentally, an opinion piece in a similar vein published this week in the Guardian by Sonia Sodha was entitled “We’ve got to start thinking beyond our own lifespans if we’re going to avoid extinction”.

Much as I dislike the use of the term ‘extinction’ in our literature this otherwise generally pessimistic piece makes the important point that global heating will be with us for a long, long time and that this requires a ‘monumental’ change to our way of thinking. Sodha noted “we could learn from those times in history when humans have proved their ability to think beyond their own lifespan: ‘cathedral thinking’ is based on those architects who planned spectacular buildings that would never be finished in their own lifetimes.”

On the other hand, Sodha downplays short-term activism, whereas I am of the opinion that the work of activists is cumulative. For many the lack of progress at a federal level of politics may seem a failure. Certainly, the ‘Vote Climate’ campaign at the last election did not gain the traction that we all had hoped. A number of my activities including my political campaigning and attempts to form a ‘climate’ party may be considered failures, yet there are now at least 2 single issue parties registered, and a number of locals entering the political arena as I have bowed out.

An old Arab proverb is a good guide for activists – “work today as though you were going to die tomorrow, plan for tomorrow as though you were going to live a thousand years”. With each action, each word, each vote, each lecture, each book, even each blog, we progress slowly towards our goal. We need those who come after us – our children and grandchildren – to follow, to help construct a ‘cathedral’ of ideas and action.

Prom Area Climate Action (PACA) News by Jo Wainer

Republished from Just Community No.8

Our BIG news is the launch of our website. Thanks to the smart and hard-working Elizabeth Collins and her team, PACA now has its own home on the internet at www.promareaclimateaction.org. Please visit and see what we are up to, join in whatever takes your fancy, become a member, and listen to our previous webinars at your leisure.

On July 21st, the monthly webinar featured Fish Creek resident and PACA member Madelaine Moore, who spoke about water across the globe, the topic of her recently completed PhD. Madelaine said the move to privatise residential water provision and establish water trading markets in the commercial arena has severely limited access to clean drinking water and forced farmers, particularly in Australia, to compete with large speculative investors for access to agricultural water.

Our speaker this month is Waratah resident Bryan Watterson, who will speak on creating a forest. Bryan is a long-standing Landcare member and enthusiastic conservationist. He escaped from Carlton in the late 1970s to the southern foothills of the Strzeleckis. His initial property straddled the Little Franklin River, encompassing ancient ash, huge blackwoods and slender tree ferns and lyrebirds. In his [own] words he had “landed in paradise”. This lush, raw mix of healthy forest quickly developed into an ingrained essence.

Bryan’s next property at Toora North, a degraded, denuded dairy block provided an enormous challenge. Sixty-thousand trees and 20 years later a young forest is filling eroded steep gullies and creating corridors linked to the Agnes River. He will tell us aspects of this journey and how it rolls into the bigger picture of catchment restoration. What an amazing legacy. Can you imagine leaving a forest as your contribution to healing the damage we have done to Mother Earth?

The author is from Walkerville

Contact Just Community here.