Welcome to our second Newsletter of 2008
As we go to press the dust is yet to settle following Ross Garnaut’s Interim Report to the Federal Government on Climate Change.
Things are hotting up not only for our planet but in the political arena too on this important issue. Professor Garnaut himself acknowledges this “diabolical problem” needs bipartisan support but the very real danger is that it will be turned into a gigantic political football. The Federal Government will be under incredible pressure from business and special interest groups all pursuing their own agendas. The Coalition, anxious to get back on side with the electorate, is obviously determined to make political mileage where it can by championing the battlers, as it has done on its leader’s stand on the petrol price debate. Though his plan to cut the excise by 5c, saving the average family, as some economists have suggested, $2.50 per week, assumes petrol retailers would pass on the entire cut and not merely increase prices by a further 5c. When you have daily fluctuations in the petrol price of up to 20c who would be able to tell? Maybe we do need the Government’s proposed Petrol Price Watch Scheme.
SO WHAT CAN WE DO
Most Australians don’t have time to read Professor Garnaut’s shocking 600 page climate report, so GetUp have created a quick clip that summarises it fast – what it means for Australia and what it means for you.
Garnaut is already under fire from a “scare campaign” being waged by the polluting industries’ lobby groups and the Opposition. Get up have pointed out that over the next fortnight the government will formulate its response to Garnaut in the form of a Green Paper. They suggest that we help shape that debate by writing a letter to the editor of a newspaper and to write to your local Member of Parliament.
Send an email now to our new federal Member for Bennelong Maxine McKew and let her know you are concerned about the slow response to climate change and would like to see the Garnaut Report implemented in full immediately.
RUDD GOVERNMENT FAILS ITS FIRST REAL TEST?
The Federal Budget has been and gone and as far as climate change is concerned it hardly rated a mention and was a big disappointment. For a critical appraisal one needs to look no further than Professor Tim Flannery’s budget response, go to
Perhaps one area where more support was expected was for solar power but in a hard to understand and very short sighted decision the Government’s means testing of the solar power rebate has drawn much flack from many quarters. If you feel angry at this incredible decision you too can vent your spleen by signing the petition organised by Channel 7’s sunrise programme. Log on to http://au.lifestyle.yahoo.com/sunrise/ the link is usually in the top left of the page. You then can follow the prompts and sign the petition. If you can get 10 people to sign up and each of those 10 to get another 10 and so on we can get this dumb decision overturned.
This latest petition follows 7 Sunrise’s 2006 campaign that had 170,000 petitioning for the Solar Rebate to be retained when the Howard Government threatened to scrap it. When I signed up it was already over 34,000.
CONFUSED ABOUT THE ETHANOL AND FUEL vs FOOD DEBATE?
Ethanol is an alternative fuel made from renewable resources usually agricultural grains or sugar but also other woody products. The NSW government has flagged the possibility of legislating for all petrol to contain 10% ethanol, known as E10.
As a fuel, ethanol and other biofuels produce less greenhouse gas than petrol. But producing it requires fossil fuels to grow the crop, harvest and transport it. E10 can be used by most cars produced after 1986. (For a full list see www.fcai.com.au/ethanol)
Bio fuels have been blamed for recent global rises in food prices. Realistically there are many more factors leading to low stocks and high prices including increased demand for food, drought and increasing oil prices, which increase the cost of fertilisers, pesticides, and cultivation costs.
In Australia, our biodiesel and ethanol are made from waste and co-products of food production, not from food itself and the current levels of biofuel production don’t offer competition for food prices. The good news is that non-food sources are being successfully trialled. These include eucalypt trees and grasses, garden clippings, waste products such as corn cobs and algae (summary from article by Jennie Curtin, Sydney Morning Herald April 2008). Clearly though some environment groups are concerned about the view that we can simply quench our petrol thirst with bio fuels, with Friends of the Earth campaigning for a moratorium on biofuel targets and incentives.
ENERGY SAVING TIP
Turn off heating appliances 15 minutes or so before leaving the room or bathroom rather than when you leave. In this time the room, if properly draft proofed, should remain warm.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
“…………..the oft stated goal to keep global warming less than 2 degrees Celsius is a recipe for global disaster, not salvation.”
– James Hansen (climate Scientist)
To listen to Jim visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auTEWanRTfM Unfortunately this video is no longer available but if you go into this link on the right hand side of the page click on to the related video – Not Facing up to Climate Change Crisis a Crime.
EVENTS COMING UP
Peak Oil and Climate Change – how will these two mammoth issues interact? If you want to find out then set aside Monday evening 7.00pm (for 7.30pm start) 21st July 2008 at Ku-ring-gai Centre for Seniors, 259 Pacific Highway Lindfield and listen to a presentation from Peter Driscoll and Andrew Harvey from Transition Australia hosted by Permaculture North. For more info ring 1300 887 145 or visit www.permaculturenorth.org.au.