Interlude

The Green Journal AU has undergone a hiatus during summer in the southern hemisphere.

Following the COP21 in Paris last December, actions of individual countries in reducing greenhouse emissions should have started to speed up the momentum. This blog attempts to provide updates soon.

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Q & A at the Melbourne Town Hall, 7 March.

Meanwhile in Australia, three influential scientists/academics/authors have been invited to open a conversation on climate science and hope for the planet. The Sydney Opera House and Wheeler Centre, in cooperation with the University of Melbourne, have arranged the forum led by the trio: Naomi Oreskes, David Suzuki, and Tim Flannery. The engagement was held last week in two venues: Melbourne Town Hall (7 March) and Sydney Opera House (8 March).

Suzuki spoke of his long-time experience as an activist in conservation, along with his involvement with indigenous people in Canada as well as in South America. He reiterated the interconnections of all living beings as one. Oreskes, on the other hand, emphasised the scientific evidence of climate change based on the accumulated experience and expertise of people working together. Flannery, meanwhile, noted some scientific breakthroughs that could offer solutions to give humanity hope for future.

It was a full house in both venues. Guests and other participants are positive the event was just a beginning of the conversation.

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Vandana Shiva is coming to Sydney

By Feb 12, 2015 

Dr. Vandan Shiva: "Planet on Plate - Eating and Farming for our Future" - Intriduction by Joel Salatin (Photo: Supplied)

The 2010 Sydney Peace Prize and Right Livelihood Award recipient Dr. Vandana Shiva is coming to Sydney, Feb 20, to share her continuing fight to save seeds, farmers, and food from corporate monopolies. The internationally renowned environmental and agricultural activist will be speaking at the Teachers Federation Conference Centre hosted by the GM-free Australia Alliance and Sydney Food Fairness Alliance.

Dr. Shiva will discuss the need for a transition to ecological farming systems and regenerative agriculture to secure food supplies for the future — in stark contrast to the current unsustainable globalised food industries which are based on agrichemicals, seed patents, and genetically modified (GMO) crops.

Shiva explained that globalized industrialized food is too costly for the Earth, for the farmers, for people’s health. She said the Earth can no longer carry the burden of groundwater mining, pesticide pollution, disappearance of species, and destabilization of the climate adding

“Farmers can no longer carry the burden of debt, which is inevitable in industrial farming with its high costs of production. It is incapable of producing safe, culturally appropriate, tasty, quality food. And it is incapable of producing enough food for all because it is wasteful of land, water and energy. Industrial agriculture uses ten times more energy than it produces. It is thus ten times less efficient.”

Organisers noted a few GMO fiascos, including a $15 million GM ‘super banana’ developed by Dr. James Dale at QUT in Australia. Financially backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the ‘super banana’ recently had human feeding trials at Iowa State University experimenting on female students but they were delayed due to diligence problems.

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Another GM ‘golden’ rice feeding trials were carried out at Tufts University in Boston, but were exposed as a scandal last year.

In Uganda, the GMO pro-vitamin A-enriched banana, supposedly being developed to deal with Vitamin A deficiency has been rejected as unwelcome by African civil society in a recent open letter by AFSA (African Food Sovereignty Alliance).

Adam Breasley, event spokesperson said the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded GMO ‘super banana’ coming out of the Queensland University of Technology. However, Dr Shiva has rightfully spoken out against it. Shiva found the super banana not an invention, but an act of ‘biopiracy’ against neighbouring Pacific peoples’ traditional knowledge and biodiversity.

Fran Murrell, president of GM-Free Australia said, “The Earth and human communities cannot bear the hidden ecological, economic and social costs of high input industrial farming any longer. The monocultures depend on constant inputs of diminishing oil, phosphate, land and water resources, so we must change.”

“We don’t need more false claims of GMOs based on piracy of indigenous biodiversity and knowledge.
The GMO banana project based on biopiracy must stop”, said Shiva.

Spinifex Press will publish essays on “Seed Sovereignty, Food Security: Women in the Vanguard” edited by Dr Shiva this month.

Booking details HERE.

Santos to pay the price for contaminating Pilliga forest

The New South Wales Land and Environment Court is prosecuting for the first time an oil and gas company for spilling a toxic gas waste into the forest killing acres of trees.

The Sydney court is expected to announce its verdict on Santos Ltd. after the New Year. Santos is prosecuted this week for 10,000 liters of coal seam gas spill in the great inland of the Pilliga Forest, northwest of Sydney, in June 2011 without reporting it as required by law. Santos is the first-ever to be prosecuted under 1991 forest law.

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Community groups form a blockage to denounce Santos and the risks associated with fracking (Photo: Supplied)

On Wednesday, the company pleaded guilty on the spill and three counts of failing to file accurate environmental reports. Each charge carries a maximum fine of AU$110,000. Santos is also ordered to pay an additional AU$110,000 for the costs of the investigation and prosecution. The court’s prosecutor, Stephen Rushton, said the penalty serves as deterrence for others to follow.

Santos, acquired Eastern Star Gas July 2011 for AU$626 million. ESG ran a water treatment plant in the Pilliga forest. The polluted water spilled into the forest in June 2011, killing 77 percent of the trees in a 1.75 hectare area, the prosecution said.

The Wilderness Society claims that the senior management of Santos at the time knew about the June 2011 spill, but tried to cover it up. The Society said the court proceedings would then be a test for NSW Government regulation of the coal seam gas industry.

Wilderness Society Newcastle Campaign Manager Naomi Hogan said Santos deserves the maximum penalty for the cover up and that any penalty should be a serious deterrent to other companies.

The Society notes that communities across NSW are watching the ruling closely, as this court case exposes the reality of the water pollution and environmental damage associated with coal seam gas fracking operations.

The damage considered in this case was just from a handful of wells, yet now residents of north-west NSW are facing Santos’ plans for 850 production wells across the Pilliga and Narrabri region, the Society adds.

Local farmers had to report the toxic spill to the media before Santos took action, according to the Society, and this is ”a scary prospect to think that community members will have to continue to monitor coal seam gas pollution if gas fields expand across the north west as planned by Santos and the NSW Government.”

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Community leaders inspect the affected area of the Pilliga Forest (Photo: Supplied)

The Pilliga is considered the last great inland forest, home to many threatened species including the koala and Pilliga mouse. It’s part of the Murray Darling basin, Australia’s largest food bowl, and a major recharge zone for the Great Artesian Basin, an essential source of water for Outback Australia.

About 40 community members blockaded Santos’ Pilliga forest operations on Tuesday and another 25 protests outside the court on Wednesday. Dozens more protested outside Santos offices in Gunnedah and Narrabri.

Santos has always insisted people needs education when it comes to understanding the processes and benefits of fracking.

Drawing from its rich history for 40 years, Santos has been fracking for natural gas from sandstone in the Cooper Basin in outback South Australia. The gas is piped thousands of kilometres to Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney.

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