Tag Archives: climate-change

National Day of Climate Action – be seen, be heard!

I caught up with my assignments 3 days ago, and since then I’ve been catching up with everything else in my life that’s taken a back seat over the last couple of months. So apologies for the flurry of blog posts, but I have to get in quick before the assignments start up again next week!

Amongst my neglected passions is climate change. I know this is a contentious issue for a lot of people so I won’t force my beliefs down anyone’s throat. But… Can anyone honestly say they don’t believe we have caused a lot of pollution?

There is a lot of asthma in my extended family, and I have seen first hand how living near intense sources of pollution – like say a freeway or major road – has exacerbated asthma attacks amongst my nephews and nieces. I have also driven through the La Trobe Valley countless times on the way to somewhere else, and I have wrinkled my nose up at the smell as the car traveled from the clean forests into the pollution haze over the valley*.

So just from the perspective of human health, pollution is not something I can ignore. It has consequences for for me and mine, and I know we are not alone.

Now ask yourself this question : why should we have to suffer the consequences of pollution when the companies creating that pollution do not?

Think about this as well : until fairly recently [last 2 decades?], Melbournians did not have to pay for their water consumption. We paid a set MMBW charge every year [less than $50 from memory] but the water coming from out taps was free. And we used it freely – to wash our cars, water our gardens, fill our swimming pools ad nauseum. Taps were allowed to drip, and no one batted an eyelid if a fire hydrant gushed water for hours. Now we pay for every drop of water we use.

We also have to pay to get rid of our rubbish. My own area is draconian in its efforts to make us reduce and recycle.

If we have to pay for the water we use, and the pollution [rubbish] we create, why is it so inconceivable that business too should have to pay for the pollution it creates?

Companies know exactly how much every part of their product cycle costs, from materials to labour to distribution. They have to know these things because otherwise they cannot calculate their profit. Yet until the introduction of the Carbon Tax, they did not have to factor in the cost of pollution at all. Pollution was free.

Sadly, when something costs you nothing, you don’t have to find a way to reduce it.

From a simple, psychological perspective, I know that no one ever does anything unpleasant unless they have to. Ergo, if we want to reduce pollution for health, or climate change if you believe in it, there has to be a price of some sort on pollution.

But it will end up costing us, the consumers!

Doesn’t everything? When a car company builds a new plant with cutting edge technology [which will save them money in the long run], doesn’t the cost of that plant filter through into the price of the cars in the showroom? You know it does. We barely blink when a business does something to make itself more profitable, even though we end up paying for it. Why should we be so shocked at having to pay when a business is forced to do something to improve our lives?

The difference, I think, is that pollution is not like a bright, shiny new car – it is invisible, and its effects have crept up on us little by little over the years. Like so many things in our modern world, we don’t even notice that it’s there until it makes us very, very sick. The ‘cure’, however, can be very expensive in terms of time, effort and money. Here I’m thinking specifically of Kathryn Chastain Treat. After years of suffering from a severe mold allergy she contracted at her place of work, she is now a little better, but just getting to that point has cost her more than you or I can imagine. And a cure is still just a pipe dream.

Another analogy most of us should be familiar with is the maintenance of the family car. If you have it serviced regularly, those services cost you money that you might otherwise spend on something else, but the car lasts for years. However if you don’t maintain your car and the little bits of damage accumulate over time, eventually that car will break down. At that point you will either have to spend a lot of money getting it repaired, or you will have to spend even more money to replace it.

The moral should be obvious but I’ll spell it out anyway. If we continue to pollute the globe, we will eventually reach a point where it will become unlivable. We can’t replace the earth, so the only option will be to repair it…and that will cost a HUGE amount of money. Essentially that was the gist of the Stern Report.

As a mother, I look at the future as the place in which my childrens’ children will live. I may not be around to suffer the consequences of industrialization myself, but they will, and they are a part of me going forwards. What kind of a parent would I be if I just shrugged pollution off because it might not affect me personally?

The human race faces that same decision now : do we live only for ourselves, or do we live for our children, and their children after them?

This coming Sunday, I’m going to get off my butt and go into the CBD [central business district] of Melbourne to lend my support to the National Day of Climate Action. The venue in Melbourne is Treasury Place, at 11am, but similar events are planned all over Australia :

Melbourne – Treasury Place, 11am
Sydney – Prince Alfred Park, 11am
Canberra – Garema Place, 11am
Brisbane – Queens Park, 10am
Perth – Russell Square, 11am
Adelaide – Elder Park, 11am
Hobart – Parliament Gardens, 12pm

I doubt we’ll achieve a great deal as Tony Abbott clearly believes all Australians are with him on this issue, but I have to do something more than just turning off lights and recycling; I owe it to the future.

* The Latrobe Valley in Victoria, Australia, is where massive power plants generate electricity from brown coal.



Science: How to save the world and reverse climate change by INCREASING livestock use

I found this video clip on Colin’s blog… and I was more than a little skeptical. I thought it would be about some sort of fake science, sponsored by cattle ranchers. After all, everyone knows cattle ruin the soil. Right?

By the end of the video my brain was on fire, connecting up the dots with a book I had read some years ago. That book was  ‘Back From the Brink’, by Peter Andrews, and it opened my eyes to a whole new way of looking at the land, even small blocks like mine. That book changed how I garden, and after watching this video, I’m convinced both Allan Savory and Peter Andrews are on the right track.

Thank you so much for introducing me to this mind boggling video clip Colin [and Mark!]. If the rest of your generation are as switched on as you two then we have hope. 🙂


The problem with science is…

…that we’re all human, and as such, we all have a split personality. On the one hand we are more or less hard wired for rational thought [work with me here please!], but at the same time we have the capacity to live quite happily with paradox. For example, I consider myself to be a very logical person, so I refuse to accept the idea of pre-destination, yet when things go my way I get this warm feeling that ‘fate’ is being kind to me. If a paradox becomes too painful I  do something about it, eventually, but most of the time I just live with it.

“Get to the point!” I hear you say.

“Yes, Master,” I reply as I tug my forelock.

So the fact that we can live with paradox tends to explain things like the rise of creationism. After all, you don’t see creationists giving up their cars, dishwashers, huge tv’s and all the other creature comforts that rely on the science they deny, do you? No, of course not. If asked they will say that they only deny evolution, which would be fine if evolution relied only on Darwin’s observations. The truth though, is that evolution is backed up by all sorts of other scientific disciplines, including the discipline of geology which gives us the petroleum that fuels our technology.

And therein lies another human fact : we are ignorant. We know how to use a light switch or an iPad but 99.999999% of us have no idea how either one works, or is produced. The same ignorance extends to the sciences. Notice that plural? It’s important because until fairly recently there were two types of science – pure and applied.

Back in the day, Universities used to be funded by governments and philanthropists so scientists could be free to explore new ideas just for the hell of it. From this ‘pure’ research, other scientists would come up with clever ways to put the discoveries to use. This was the ‘applied’ part of the equation. Industries then turned these discoveries into manufactured goods and services for consumers, i.e. us.

If we fast forward to the present day, however, we find that a third branch of science has been added to the family. I call this one ‘commercial’ science. Large companies with lots of money fund research and development directly. The scientists who work for these companies are paid well to do the kind of research that will benefit the company. Successes are turned into patented, goldmines. Clinical trials that fail are quietly swept under the carpet. This is not how pure and applied science is meant to work but hey, who wants to lose their job, get blacklisted and face possible litigation as a whistle-blower?

So from the heyday of the first man on the moon, we [the general public] have gradually moved to an era in which we no longer trust science quite the way we used to. We still cling to the technology, but we’re starting to feel uneasy about the juggernaut that’s bearing down on us.

The two great controversies of the present era – genetically modified food and climate change – are prime examples of our love-hate relationship with science. We don’t know who to trust any more because we don’t understand how the system works. And so we allow creationism equal time with evolution. And because we don’t understand how the politics of science work, we end up distrusting both the science that gave us genetically modified food, and the science that’s telling us our lives depend on doing something about climate change before it’s too late. As with government politics, scientific issues are now surrounded by so much spin and counter spin that no-one knows which way is up.

My compass in these murky waters is the old saying ‘follow the money’. On that basis I reject genetically modified food because it benefits huge multinational companies like Monsanto, and I accept the science of climate change because it definitely does not benefit huge, multinational corporations who might have to clean up their act.

I know this is a very unscientific way of making choices, but it works for me. Do you agree? Disagree vehemently? Have a completely different take altogether? You know I love a good debate and the weekend is looming, so let’s get this discussion started!



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