Record participation for Earth Hour 2012

Here’s a press release of the WWF Australia:

Tonight’s the biggest ever Earth Hour with a record 147 countries and territories are preparing to send a united message that now is the time to take action for the planet.

Hundreds of landmarks across more than 5,000 cities and towns will go dark at 8:30PM on Saturday local time, with Libya, Algeria, Bhutan and French Guinea among those participating for the first time.

Earth Hour began in 2007 as a one-city initiative in Sydney, Australia and has since grown to be the world’s largest voluntary action for the environment.

In Australia, cities across the country will go dark with 151 towns and cities signed up including, for the first time, the Torres Straight Islands, Christmas Island, and the Territories of Cocos Keeling Isles. The Prime Minister Julia Gillard has also lent her support to Earth Hour this year, saying “what began in Sydney as a simple idea to raise awareness of climate change – has become a global success.”

A number of other prominent Australians are also supporting Earth Hour this year including Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, Isabel Lucas, Peter Garrett MP, Bill Granger, Miranda Kerr, Missy Higgins, Bindi Irwin, Laura Andon and Lizzy Lovette.
Around the world prominent supporters for this year’s Earth Hour include cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo, former Vice President Al Gore, The Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, the President of Fiji Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, and astronaut André Kuipers who will take part in Earth Hour from the International Space Station.

Read on….

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Self-anointed saint supports Gay Marriages

From my inbox in time of the coming Easter:

To Members, Friends and Associates of St Michael’s,

Very recently six Catholic Bishops have made a public statement and plea, that gay marriages be outlawed on the basis it would undermine family life or damage society.

Many at St Michael’s express a more accepting stance on the issue of Gay Marriages and do not agree with this recent statement. If you agree with Dr Macnab and others at St Michaels, would you please express your opinion and make it public. Pass this link onto others or ‘Like’ this in your facebook. At no other time in history has the actions of one individual had such significant power. Please make your voice heard.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/stmichaelsmelbourne
Blog: http://stmichaelsmelbourne.tumblr.com/
Twitter: www.twitter.com/stmichaelsmelb

Kind regards,
St Michael’s Uniting Church

Francis Macnab, the reverend minister of one of the largest non-denominational congregations in the heart of Melbourne, is responding to one of the major issues of our times– gay rights or equal gender marriages.

Unorthodox and heretic, he has long debunked the divinity of Christ as well as the authority and authenticity of the Holy Scriptures.

In 2010, Andrew Bolt noted Macnab as a self-proclaimed saint aligning himself with Florence Nightingale and Martin Luther King Jr.

Even my own children couldn’t help but laugh at the effrontery:

A stamp postage of Francis Macnab (Photo: Herald Sun)

Dissident Uniting Church minister Francis MacNab has posted a giant billboard over the Monash Freeway with pictures of Florence Nightingale, Martin Luther King and himself as model leaders.

Dr MacNab, minister of St Michael’s in Collins Street, launched his ‘’new faith’’ in late 2008 with another controversial freeway billboard: ‘’The Ten Commandments, the most negative document ever written.’’ He rejects the idea of a divine Christ and a personal God….

’Every morning I drive past and think ‘what an impertinence’,’’ said commuter Geoff Slattery, a Catholic.

Photo at the link. More on MacNab’s self-canonisation on his website. Just who is in his “liberal and progressive” congregation?

Sustainable Housing

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Sustainability is the capacity to endure. For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of responsibility, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of stewardship, the responsible management of resource use. In ecology, sustainability describes how biological … Continue reading

Defeat of QLD Labor, death of Green projects

The official tally of Queensland State Election 2012 (Photo: The Australian)

With the political massacre of the left-wing Labor Party in the recent Queensland state election, new leader from the Liberal National Party Campbell Newman ordered the demolition of environmental projects.

Newman has already directed to scrap the $1.2bn Solar Dawn solar thermal project near Chinchilla, west of Brisbane. This will stop the $75 million in state funding pledged for the scheme which the Anna Bligh government signed last February, the SMH reported.

Resources Minister Martin Ferguson noted he Solar Dawn project was initially thought it would bring $60m in research funding to the University of Queensland, and provide an average of 300 jobs during the three-year construction phase, due to start in 2015. He also suggested the federal government to withdraw its own $464m contribution pledge last month.

Solar Dawn solar research and power plant at Chinchilla (Photo: SMH)

Newman is now working  to axe seven other green schemes saying the carbon tax would make them redundant. The Australian reported. These include the following:

  • $430m Queensland Climate Change Fund which provides $30m a year for climate change initiatives
  • $50m Renewable Energy Fund which supports the Geothermal Centre of Excellence
  • $50m Smart Energy Savings Program which helps businesses improve energy efficiency
  • Waste Avoidance and Resource Efficiency Fund
  • Local Government Sustainable Future Fund
  • Solar Initiatives Package
  • The Future Growth Fund set up in 2006 with the net proceeds from the sale of state-owned energy corporations

Newman assigned the demolition job to bureaucrat Greg Withers, the husband of the now defunct Queensland leader, Anna Bligh. Withers led in setting up the green energy schemes.

Coal-fired power stations in Victoria are one of Australia’s dirtiest. (Photo: Paul Jones/SMH)

Meanwhile, in Victoria, gas emitters are welcome to do business. The Ted Baillieu Government removed the cap on greenhouse gas emissions from new coal-fired power plants, the SMH reported.

Energy Minister Michael O’Brien announced this development contradicting earlier government’s decision to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by the end of the decade. It also came as the state government released a report on future impacts of climate change in Victoria, finding average temperatures could increase by 1 to 4.2 degrees by 2070 relative to 1990.

The Coalition –Labor and Greens–  had proposed a new coal power standards that would cap emissions from new coal-fired power plants at 0.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide for every megawatt hour of electricity generated. They also suggested the installation of new power plants that would use clean coal technology.

Environment Victoria’s Mark Wakeham said ”polluters are welcome in Ted Baillieu’s Victoria while the government is going out of its way to make it harder to build clean energy projects”.

Baillieu is reported to have released an independent review of Victoria’s Climate Change Act that “recommends repealing the state’s 20 per cent emissions target – which the state government has agreed to – because it would have no extra environmental benefit and would only lighten the load for other states in meeting a national 5 per cent emissions target.”

Blog Link: Asian Correspondent

Australia’s mining tax and CIA conspiracy

The mining tax has dominated Australia’s political landscape this week.

The Senate passed the mining tax on Monday imposing a 30 percent tax on super profits generated by mining companies from coal and iron ore. The tax revenue will be used to elevate income and pension funds of the less well-off Australians and to cut tax on small businesses.

This sent shockwaves to the mining industry which could have been rejoicing over mining boom worldwide.

Mining magnate Clive Palmer hits CIA of mining conspiracy

Queensland mining magnate Clive Palmer lashed out at the federal government and claimed the CIA is behind the mining tax as part of America’s conspiracy to kill Australia’s coal industry.

Palmer also accused the Greens as “tools” of the US government and the environmental activists group, Greenpeace, is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.

He said he will lodge a double High Court challenge on both carbon and mining taxes.

But his accusation hits back like a boomerang.

The CIA via ABC email denied his claim prompting him to back away from inflammatory comments, Fairfax reports via SBS.

Crikey, an alternative online media said,

Now Clive Palmer again has demonstrated the eccentricity that comes from having so much money you don’t have to care what anyone thinks of you…

Palmer is doing no more than continuing Queensland’s rich tradition of conspiracy theorists, which has produced the Citizen’s Electoral Council and Pauline Hanson, to name only the most prominent of recent years. Nor is it the first time he’s accused people of being a CIA front — back in November, it was American Express who were doing the bidding of the spooks.

Palmer could probably find consolation in knowing another mining group, Fortescue Metals, confirms it has sought legal advice ahead of plans to mount a High Court challenge against the Federal Government’s mining tax, News Corp said.

Chairman Andrew Forrest of Fortescue Metals leads a protest against mining tax during Kevin Rudd’s time

Fortescue claimed the MRRT is a poorly designed tax, drafted by the big miners behind closed doors to minimise their tax exposure at the expense of the rest of the industry,” the company said in a statement.

The Government is also facing a revolt from Liberal-led mining states.

Western Australia’s Premier Colin Barnett, for one, says he will support any legal action against the tax.

Not Amused

Newly appointed Foreign Minister Bob Carr blasts Palmer’s “reckless” CIA conspiracy claims

He said the “recklessly irresponsible” claim that the CIA is sponsoring a campaign against the coal industry will trigger concern from the United States government and business community.

Carr said the comments should also make many Australians question  Palmer’s links to the Opposition. He said Palmer is very close to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and Palmer is considered the largest donor to the Liberal Party.

Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr

Treasurer Wayne Swan has also denounced Palmer’s claims. He supported Carr’s claim the mining businessman “is in cahoots with Mr Abbott.”

Federal Greens leader Bob Brown has echoed the remarks of Carr and Swan saying Palmer is a life member and a major donor to the Queensland Liberal National Party.

Meanwhile, Greenpeace senior campaigner John Hepburn rejected Mr Palmer’s comments as “ludicrous”. He said Greenpeace would not accept money from any government, corporation or secret service.

The mining tax was initiated almost two years ago, floated by former Treasury boss Ken Henry. It originally proposed a 40 percent tax on super profits—a proposal that stirred an industry-wide opposition rocking the Labor Party’s leadership. It was the same tax proposal that ousted Kevin Rudd from prime ministership in 2010.

Rising to power, Prime Minister Julia Gillard negotiated a modified tax rate with BHP, Rio and Xstrata although smaller miners remain unhappy with the deal.

The Mineral Resources Rent Tax (MRRT) Bill 2011 and related bills are now ready for the governor-general’s royal assent. The mining tax will start from July 1 this year, Australian media report.

The federal government estimated the new tax will generate $11 billion in three years which will be used to elevate income of the less well-off Australians. It will boost compulsory superannuation contributions, infrastructure payment and a one per cent tax cut for business.

The Australian, however, is pessimistic over the tax. Its editorial page said:

While this newspaper recognises the benefit in ensuring that some of the revenue generated by the once-in-a-generation mining boom is secured for future generations, this tax will do little to drive reform in the slower sectors of the economy while the fastest-growing sector is slugged with a tax that could damage our competitiveness.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott supports Palmer

I defence of Palmer, Abbott said he was a “larger than life” character.

“I think when he says that the Greens want to stop the coal industry he’s absolutely right – of course the Greens want to stop the coal industry,” Abbott told Channel 10.

Abbott is vowing to repeal the tax if he wins the next election.

Blog Link: Asian Correspondent

Against native forests’ logging and retailing

Here’s from the email inbox: The Last Stand announced its new anti-Ta Ann Group website to discourage Japanese clients from buying Tasmania’s plywood disputedly harvested from native old-growth forests.

The banner design of the new cyber campaign

Likewise, here from the website of Market for Change which posted the list of local retailers of Tasmania’s native forests.

Tasmanian native forests' local retailers

The activists’ group has drawn a map on the extent of forest destruction in Australia– in which some of Australia’s most unique and species-rich forest habitats are still being logged including:

  • Tasmania’s native and old growth forests including the Tarkine, Blue Tier, Styx, Weld, and Upper Florentine Valley areas
  • Victoria’s Central Highlands – identified as some of the most carbon-dense forests on earth and areas in East Gippsland
  • New South Wales’ highly biodiverse sub-tropical and temperate native forests in the state’s north-east and south-east coastal regions
  • Western Australia’s native forests in the southwest of the state have been named a global biodiversity ‘hotspot’ yet logging in the state’s endemic karri, jarrah, marri, tingle, and tuart  forests continue despite new threats from drought and disease.

It speculates that there are 1,287 forest-dwelling species accross Australia that are listed as vulnerable, threatened or endangered under the Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBCA) 1999. They include:

  • The Tasmanian Wedge-Tailed eagle
  • Carnaby’s Black cockatoo of WA.
  • Victoria’s Leadbeater’s possum
  • The koala population of southern NSW.

These species are losing their homes

This campaign has hit the media big time, with the launch featured in the Australian – a rare event indeed!  It is also a hot topic in Tasmania with regular mentions in the local press.

Our online action is doing great, heading up to 1500 emails now, and crew in Hobart have maintained a strong visual presence, letterboxing key areas and, most recently with the Ta Ann

We are continuing to work with Markets for Change and the Huon Valley Environment Centre as well as heaps of other good folks, and have also appreciated the support of the most excellent peoples at DoGooder.

So spread the message to your friends to jump on board!

For the forests,

THE LAST STAND CREW

Aussie forests escape inferno, Greens rejoice

Australia’s old-growth forests will not go to the furnace to generate electricity—at least for now.

Environment watchers are rejoicing over the Parliament’s vote against subsidies intended for loggers to burn native growth forests to generate power.

A campaign against forest burning. (Design by Paul Kimbrell http://www.eastgippsland.net.au)

Tasmania’s Huon Valley Environment Centre, for one, praised the Federal MPs who voted against Lynn MP Robert Oakeshott’s motion to allow Renewable Energy Certificates to be generated by burning wood from the logging of native forest.

The Green Left described the motion as a narrow escape for the logs to avoid the blazing inferno — a vote of 72-72 with Speaker Peter Slipper casting the final ‘no’ vote to Rob Oakeshott’s motion.

A spokeswoman for the Western Australia Forest Alliance, Jess Beckerling, says it is a win for forests around the country. “It’s a really strong indication that common sense has prevailed,” she told the ABC.

In a press statement, the Huon Valley Environment Centre biomass campaigner Will Mooney also said this rejection must encourage government and businesses to search for a truly renewable energy options. He said communities across Australia will be relieved that plans for polluting native forest fuelled power stations will not be eligible to draw on incentives.

He added the vote scrapped the plan to build power station near Lonnavale in Tasmania. A 30MW power station is estimated to consume over 300,000 tonnes of timber a year.

Huon Valley Environment Centre spokesperson Jenny Weber also said the vote “backs up the concerns of conservation organisations, health advocates, scientists and community groups who have voiced a range of concerns about logging industry plans to prop up native forest logging with large scale wood-fired power stations…”

Prior to the vote, letters have been sent to the Members Of Parliament rejecting Oakeshott’s Disallowance Motion.

A Tasmanian tourist spotted this sign and posted it in a travel blog.

The Australian Forest and Climate Alliance urged the MPs to act at this critical time for the future of not only Australia’s forests, but also the climate.

The native forest logging industry is currently experiencing market driven changes that provide the opportunity to shift Australia’s wood and paper production industry onto a sustainable path, based on plantations. The opportunity to transition the forest industry at this critical time will be lost if new incentives are created that will drive ongoing native forest logging.

The disallowance motion put forward by Mr Oakeshott that would allow native forest wood ‘waste’ burnt for electricity to be eligible for Renewable Energy Certificates under the government’s Renewable Energy Target. The climate alliance cited reasons to reject disallowance motion which summarise the unfeasibility of the plan.

This motion, if passed, will create a new incentive to log Australia’s last remaining native forests, prevent the rapid transition into a viable plantation based industry.  Australia’s public native forests are much more valuable as carbon sinks, biodiversity habitats, water providers and purifiers, and as tourist destinations.

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet told Nine News the government was determined to provide support for bio-energy investment while also ensuring that native forests are afforded appropriate protection.

“While biomass derived from native forests though is no longer recognised under this regulation as an eligible renewable energy source … those changes do not … prohibit the use of this biomass for bio-energy.”

The vote against Oakeshott put to rest the controversial “endorsement of scientists” who argued burning forest can lead to renewable energy.

A poster purportedly designed in favour of clearfelling (Photo:Anonymous blog)

Early this month, the Port Macquarie News reported a controversial move to classify burning of native wood waste as renewable energy has received support from scientists.

It said 49 forestry scientists and practitioners signed a letter of support for a motion put forward by Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott and seconded by New England independent Tony Windsor that would see logging companies granted Renewable Energy Certificates for burning native forest residues.

Professor Rod Keenan, the director of the Victorian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Research Centre at The University of Melbourne, was among the signatories, the paper reported. Keenan is said to have argued that wood waste, now burnt either in the forests or at the sawmill, was an appropriate substitute for fossil fuels.

However, the Green Left published ” Scientists’ open letter to Oakeshott: Burning forests for energy will make climate change worse.”

At Styx Forest, TAS, the diameter of an old tree can hold a number of people. (Photo: Flickr)

The green publication noted the scientists saying the ”decision to support incentives for native forest-burning power stations has alarming ramifications for communities and natural ecosystems across Australia.”

If you have any question about this article, please leave a Reply or email The Green Journo.

News Link: Asian Correspondent

New species found in Skullbone Plains,Tasmania

From the email loop circulated by the Tasmanian Land Conservancy which was dropped into my inbox today:

The recent Bush Blitz at our fabuolous Skullbone Plains reserve has been a tremendous success — with between 520 to 550 species of plants and animals collected during the week.

Phil Hurle, Australian National Botanical Gardens preparing specimens collected from Skullbone Plains (Photo: TLC)

Now that the fieldwork is now over, the team of 20 scientists are back in their labs identifying the specimens. This can often take many months, if not years to complete. Each specimen will be painstakingly described and documented before being entered into the collection of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and the Tasmanian Herbarium, as well as other museums, universities and herbaria around Australia. They will be carefully preserved and made available for research.

A recent exhibit of the Australian National Botanical Gardens

Why the Blitz ? There are many plants and animals still to be discovered by science. There are an estimated 566,398 species in Australia – but three-quarters of this biodiversity is yet to be identified. Forty-five per cent of continental Australia and over 90 per cent of our marine area have never been comprehensively surveyed by scientists.

Published by Reed Books Australia, 1994

Interesting stuff. I have just read the introduction of Tim Frannery”s book, The Future Eaters, which brings into light how the waves of settlement and immigration have changed Australia’s biodiversity. Many of the native animal and plant species have become extinct in the course of influx of foreign species and foreign environmental practices.

Sustainable Communities: An invite to listen

Here’s to mark my calendar to attend this event.
Sustainable communities: collaborating, planning, delivering – a C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group public event

Dear Rowena,

The City of Melbourne, in conjunction with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, invites you into the minds of the world’s leading thinkers on sustainability. The sharpest minds on cities and sustainability will be in Melbourne during March for a workshop on sustainable cities and this Melbourne Conversations event is your chance to hear what they are saying.

Sustainable communities: collaborating, planning, delivering has been developed in conjunction with the C40 workshop and will allow you to hear about leading-edge approaches to creating and maintaining sustainable communities.

Come along and give us your comments and opinions from the audience ‘hot seat’ or get involved in the conversation online through our Facebook group or on Twitter.

Date: Thursday 29 March 2012 Time: 6pm to 7.30pm (doors open at 5.30pm) Venue: BMW Edge Federation Square, corner of Flinders and Swanston streets, Melbourne

Free entry – no bookings

For more information visit the City of Melbourne What’s On website.

We would like to thank all of our contributing partners for their involvement in this event: Federation Square, C40 Cities, Future Leaders, Lend Lease Development, the Australian Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Green Building Council of Australia, ICLEI, Places Victoria and World Green Building Council.

Professor Jan Gehl – Gehl Architects: Copenhagen, Denmark Professor Billie Giles-Corti – Director, McCaughey Centre: VicHealth Centre for the Promotion of Mental Health and Community Wellbeing, Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne Ms Li Lixin – Deputy Chief of Air Pollution Control Division, Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, Beijing, China Ms Romilly Madew – Chief Executive, Green Building Council of Australia, Sydney Ms Melanie Nutter – Director San Francisco Environment Department, USA Moderator: Peter Mares, Fellow, Cities Program, Grattan Institute, Melbourne

Being Green and Colourful

The good thing about gardening is to experience the freedom of being connected to Mother Earth. It is like going back home. Whether you sow a seed or a tiny sprout, nature will show its wonder day after day. Soil, water, sunshine, and the care of the gardener unfold a miracle as the sprout grows, flowers, and produces fruits. Grown from a tiny plot of land at the backyard, these capsicum and chillis are genuinely organic in every sense of the word– no fertiliser, no pesticide, and non-commercial.

Green capsicums (bell peppers) and unripened chillis are grown on a tiny plot of land at the backyard. (Photo: The Green Journo)

Speaking of Gallery of Re-imagined Objects, green objects can be colourfully re-created. Here’s my re-creation:

A colouful creation (Photoshopped by The Green Journo)