Thinking of going for a drive? Consider a trip to Glenrowan via Winton to check out the construction of the new solar farm near the Electricity Sub-station. It’s quite impressive.
"Roving Reporter" (name supplied!)
Did you know that it’s Plastic Free July! The Plastic Free July campaign encourages us to reduce our use of plastic and to set an achievable goal or two which results in reduced consumption of Plastics. Find out more at https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/get-involved/what-you-can-do/
Thinking of going for a drive? Consider a trip to Glenrowan via Winton to check out the construction of the new solar farm near the Electricity Sub-station. It’s quite impressive.
"Roving Reporter" (name supplied!)
These are extraordinary times when we are all threatened by the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
In our final session before the cancellation of our program we discussed the question, "Does more carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere help plants grow?"
The scientific study we were discussing indicated that more carbon dioxide does make plants more efficient. This is because photosynthesis (the process essential for growth) relies on using the sun's energy to synthesise sugar out of CO2 and water. Plants use this sugar as an energy source and the basic building blocks for growth. When the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air around the plant goes up, it can be taken up faster, supercharging the rate of photosynthesis.
We humans are producing more carbon dioxide which is causing more plant growth, however this does not mean that producing more CO2 is a good thing. And it definitely does not mean that we should use the concept of carbon dioxide fertilisation to downplay the severity of climate change. While more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does allow the landscape to absorb more CO2 (a little over a quarter), almost half of our emissions remain in the atmosphere.
The authors say their research highlighted the capacity of plants to absorb a proportion of human emissions, slowing the rate of climate change. They point out that this underscores the urgency to protect and restore ecosystems like forests, savannas and grassland and secure their carbon stock.
The authors also conducted research into how different aged forests around the world take up carbon. They found that young forests, often regrowing on abandoned agricultural land, draw down even more carbon dioxide than old-growth forests. In a mature forest, the death of old trees balances the amount of wood grown each year. A regrowing forest, on the other hand, is still accumulating wood, and that means it can act as a considerable sink for carbon until it reaches maturity.
Adding this age effect to the carbon dioxide fertilisation effect make young forests potentially very strong carbon sinks and so reforestation should be encouraged to enlarge the area of regrowing forests.
While our U3A sessions are shut down I will be providing class members some articles to read so that we all stay well informed. One interesting link I provided to them was to a climate change tracker, where after entering the year you were born, you can see how temperatures have changed over our lifetimes, and how we can mitigate future impacts if we all work to lower our emissions.
'Sustainability' COVID-19 response - classes cancelled to end of April when situation will be reviewed
I have had a response from half the members of the group who have all supported cancelling some sessions.
This afternoon all convenors received an email from U3A President, Dorothy Weber, saying that U3A classes will continue if convenors are comfortable with that. If convenors don’t want to lead their class, that class will close down. U3A will continue to use the room until the council or government close it down
I think I have made it clear in my last two emails that I have serious concerns about continuing to hold the Sustainability sessions.
My concerns are based on the following:
The 65+ age group is at significant risk from the COVID-19 virus. Many people in the Sustainability group are in that age group.
The risk is even greater for people in the 80+ age group and we have a number of members within that group.
The greatest risk from the virus is to those in the 65+ age group with pre-existing medical conditions and there are a number of people who are in this category.
Government guidelines say that sharing a room for 2 hours with a person who is infected (but may not be aware of that) can lead to the spreading of the virus.
U3A sessions last for two hours in a closed environment.
We are also strongly advised to practice social distancing to prevent the spread, i.e. staying at least one and a half metres away from each other.
I don’t believe that is really possible in the U3A room with more than 10 people, and what about when we go into the kitchen to get our cuppa?
For these reasons I believe the safest option is to cancel Sustainability sessions for a number of weeks.
There will be no Sustainability session this Friday (March 20) and I believe I should also cancel the two sessions that would have been held in April.
I will review the situation in late April.
However, I will not let Sustainability just ‘fade away’ as I will continue email contact with you and continue to provide articles for you to read.
Of course we will miss the discussion but if anyone wants to share comments about any of the articles that can also be done by email.
I have some very interesting articles lined up. I may send one around early next week.
Everyone please take notice of the advice from government authorities and stay safe and healthy.
Much of our first session for the year was dominated by discussion about the horrendous bush fires. A major point of discussion was the role that climate change had played in bringing about the conditions that resulted in such disastrous fires and loss of life and property. There was general concern about the lack of action from the Federal government and its refusal to talk about climate change.
During the second half of the session we looked at some more positive aspects. Professor Ross Garnaut has a positive vision for Australia if we rise to the challenge of climate change. In his new book,' Superpower', he thinks that Australia "can emerge as a global superpower in energy, low-carbon industry and absorption of carbon in the landscape." Australia is more richly endowed with sun and wind than any other developed country and has great scope for "natural climate solutions" such as carbon farming. Garnaut also says that to maximise our chances of benefitting from the move to a low-carbon world we have to get to zero net emissions sooner than the other rich countries.
Some more positive news was found in the results of a poll conducted by Ipsos Australia during January which showed that the environment now trumps the economy on Australian's list of biggest worries. "Cost of living" and "health care" ranked as the equal-second biggest concerns. Younger Australians are the most worried but concern among older people is catching up with 42 percent of Baby Boomers considering the environment a top issue. However, it appears that confidence in political parties' ability to solve environmental problems was low across the board.
Politics is a difficult topic to avoid when discussing climate change and it arose again in our second session when we discussed an article by Waleed Aly. He asks the question, "Has anything really changed in our political landscape after the fires, floods and extreme weather events?" Despite all the media activity and the headlines, the Coalition is still split on the issue of climate change and Labor continues to be spooked by the damage it sustained last election in coal mining seats. There was much discussion around this article and a general agreement with Waleed Aly's conclusion that there has been little change in "what really counts".
To finish our session in a more positive note we looked at an article which had "Fifteen Tips to Lower Your Carbon Footprint."
An important aspect of this list was that the tips required minimal effort so there was really no excuse for not doing them. While many of the tips were probably known to group members the list was compiled in such a way that made it easy to understand.
Discussing the list raised the issue of 'How can small things by one person have an impact on climate change? The answer of course is that if very many people undertake to do these things the impact is significant.
Our final session for the year was held during the time of the bushfire emergencies in NSW and Queensland, and so the link between climate change and bushfires was a major topic of discussion. There was also much disappointment, and frustration, with the federal government's refusal to acknowledge the connection between a warming world and more frequent bush fires.
We read an article by Greg Mullins, a former Fire & Rescue NSW commissioner who has 47 years of experience in fighting fires. He said these fires are unprecedented and are burning in places and at intensities never before experienced - rainforests in norther NSW and tropical Queensland, and the formerly wet old-growth forests in Tasmania. This drought which has been made worse by climate change is more intense than the Millennium Drought, with higher levels of evaporation due to higher temperatures. This has dried out the bush and made it easier for fires to start, easier for them to spread quickly, and enabling spot fires to start twice as far ahead of the main fires as we would normally expect.
For most of this year the news about climate change has been very depressing with very little good news and so I decided that we would finish the year looking at some positive developments. An obvious place to start was to look at the developments with renewable energy. Rooftop solar installations set a new record during October and there are now more than 2.2 million homes and businesses in Australia with small scale rooftop solar installations.
We also learnt that the output of wind and solar generation was greater than the output from brown coal for the entire September quarter. This was the first time that had happened for the whole quarter.
More good news was that renewables, solar, wind and hydro, combined to deliver more than half the power into the National Electricity Market for ten minutes on Wednesday 6th November. The continuous rollout of rooftop solar (mentioned above) was a key driver in reaching this achievement.
We also heard about the potential for hydrogen to be a game-changing technology in the transition to a low-carbon economy. Hydrogen is a versatile fuel capable of powering everything from household appliances to transport to industrial processes, and can be stored in our gas pipelines or shipped overseas.
We started our first session in October with reports from people who had attended 'School Strike 4 Climate' rallies in Shepparton and Wangaratta. The general feeling was that the rallies were worth attending.
We then spent some time discussing the "Greta Thunberg phenomenon" and watched a video of her address to the UN summit on climate change - which our Prime Minister did not attend!
We also watched the recent Foreign Correspondent program about three young women leaders of climate action in Germany, USA and Australia. These young women, teenagers or early 20's, were most impressive with what they had done to organise large climate movements in their home countries.
One of the articles discussed was by Tim Flannery, Climate Councillor and well known climate activist, who said that climate deniers are a threat to our children, and that the lack of climate action by our government leads him to believe that his 20 years of climate activism has been a colossal failure.
In the week leading up to our second session in October there had been lots of climate protests by the Extinction Rebellion groups causing quite a lot of disruption to people in our capital cities. There was much discussion about how annoying these protest were and if they would achieve their goal of more action on climate change.
This lead to discussion about how civil disobedience, or non-violent resistance, had resulted in significant achievements in the past such as the civil rights movement in the USA and Gandhi in India, and even our own 'anti-Vietnam War' marches.
One of the articles we read summed up the situation as follows. "Whatever your views on civil disobedience, the climate emergency would be far less serious if governments had taken action decades ago. Further inaction will only lead to more numerous and active social movements, driven by the same mixture of love and rage that provoked Extinction'.
September - Amazon rainforest fires; economics vs the future of civiliation; recycling; energy bills and more
At our first session in September there was much discussion about the fires in the Amazon rainforest and the fact that many were deliberately lit to clear land for agricultural use. While these fires are a major concern for the global community we were reminded that many governments around the world were not heeding the warnings from climate scientists. Dr Andrew Glikson, an Earth & Climate scientist at the ANU, writing in The Age (27/8/2019) stated, "As fires rage across the Amazon and while forests are ablaze in Siberia, Alaska, Greenland and southern Europe and parts of Australia …… it would appear parliaments - including Australia's - are preoccupied with economics and international conflicts while they hardly regard the future of civilization as a priority." Unfortunately, many of the articles studied at Sustainability sessions reinforce this point.
The use of recycling is another topic regularly discussed with a number of members suggesting that Victoria should adopt a system similar to Germany with its better sorting of recyclables. An article by a recycling and waste consultant suggested that Victoria should implement a 4 bin system - organics, glass, other recycling and residual waste. If you live in urban Benalla you already have an organics bin which has been very successful in reducing the amount of material going to landfill.
Discussing the issue of recycling always raises the issue of why Victoria is the only state that has not adopted a container deposit scheme.
Another topic that led to much discussion was the question of energy bills and how they had been rising. This led to information about the Victorian government's energy reforms that were introduced on July 1st, including the Victorian Default Offer and the requirement that energy retailers must inform customers if they are on the best energy plan for their circumstances. (See www.esc.vic.gov.au/getting-best-energy-plan and www.energy.vic.gov.au/victoriandefaultoffer)
As the second Sustainability session for September would clash with the "Global School Strike 4 Climate" on September 20, I informed the group that I would not attend the session, as I would be attending a regional 'school strike' to support the young people who are asking adults all over the world to take urgent action on climate change. I encouraged other members of the group to do the same and no doubt this will be a topic for discussion at our first session in October.
What happens in 'Sustainability' sessions? Group members usually discuss well written and researched articles or documentaries selected by convenor John Lloyd, which this month included 'Action now’: the farmers standing up against ‘wilful ignorance’ on climate' Gabrielle Chan in 'The Guardian' July 2 2019; 'We only have one planet, but we're still using it up too fast' Gareth O’Reilly in the Age July 28, 2019; 'The new electricity boom: renewable energy makes staggering leap but can it last?' Adam Morton in The Guardian 29/7/2019. News of current developments related to sustainability in Benalla is shared, such as Renewable Energy Benalla's current workshop series Reduce Energy Bills and Increase Thermal Efficiency, which is being held on alternate Tuesdays at the Uniting Church Meeting Room in Carrier Street from 7.30 to 9.30pm. Places are still available - Lighting & Windows (Sept 2) Efficient Hot Water Systems, Heating and Cooling (Sept 16) Appliances & Cooking; Transitioning from Gas (Sept 30) Energy Monitoring, Solar Power & Batteries (October 14). Registrations - phone/SMS Peter on 0418 135 330. Members also share ideas about living sustainably and introduce sources of information they find useful, such as the 'Energy Insiders' podcast by Renew Economy's editor Giles Parkinson and industry analyst David Leitch. Just ask your Google Home Mini (or other home assistant) .... "OK Google. Play latest episode 'Energy Insiders'". All welcome!
‘Action now’: the farmers standing up against ‘wilful ignorance’ on climate
Gabrielle Chan writing in 'The Guardian' Tuesday 2 Jul 2019
We only have one planet, but we're still using it up too fast
Gareth O’Reilly writing in The Age, July 28, 2019
The new electricity boom: renewable energy makes staggering leap but can it last?
Adam Morton writing in 'The Guardian' 29th July 2019
The following information published on the Benalla Rural City website is likely to be of particular interest to members unable to get to the Benalla Landfill and Resource Recovery Centre, particularly those downsizing! "Small items can be disposed of at the Council's Customer Service Centre at a cost of $1 per item. These include the following items of e-waste - Toasters, Kettles, Mobile phones, Clock radios, Irons, Hairdryers, Drills, Saws, Laptops, Remote controls, Radios, ...Any similar sized electrical items" Source: http://www.benalla.vic.gov.au/Your-Community/Landfill-Waste-Recycling/E-waste
"At the Sustainability session on Friday 21st we will be having a presentation from Godfrey Marple and Frank Dunin about coping with drought, particularly in relation to caring for sheep".
I would also like to follow up last sessions discussion about the support for action on climate change, particularly in relation to the ABC's Vote Compass figure of 80% support. We will draw upon the findings of the Perceptions of Climate Change survey conducted by Sustainability Victoria 12 months ago (refer below). I think there is some interesting data in there.
I also expect many of you will want to talk about the Adani approval."
See you on Friday.
Following class discussion about e-waste this month further clarification was found on oon the Benalla Rural City website, along with some information about batteries.
"From 1 July 2019, the Victorian Government has banned all e-waste to landfill. This means that you can no longer put electronic waste in your red bin.
What is e-waste?
E-waste is any item with a plug, battery or power cord that is no longer working or wanted. This includes large appliances, such as fridges and washing machines, to batteries, watches, remote controls and old lamps. You can find more examples of e-waste at sustainability.vic.gov.au
What should I do with e-waste?
Is it still in working order? You might be able to donate, sell or give away your electronic waste.
If not, you can dispose of it at the Benalla Landfill and Resource Recovery Centre. We have specific e-waste cages available for you to dispose of e-waste materials. If you’re coming with other items, we recommend you separate your waste first.
How do I dispose of batteries?
We can't accept household batteries at the Benalla Landfill. However, you can dispose of these at our local ALDI supermarket. You can find out more on ALDI's battery recycling page.
Large batteries, such as automotive batteries, can be disposed of at Benalla Landfill."
In our last newsletter, President Dorothy Webber wrote "We have received news from Benalla Rural City that solar panels and new internal and external light globes will be installed before the end of June". A Sustainability group member captured the action as solar panels were installed on the roof recently. Another contribution towards Renewable Energy Benalla's vision of Benalla becoming ‘100% renewable energy by 2028’!
John has set two thought provoking articles on the theme 'Capitalism and Climate Change' as prereading for class on Friday 17 May. Here's the link:
John's links for today's class included a recent Foreign Correspondents report 'Climate Hackers' (available from ABC iView until 27 May) and the following videos.
The Sustainability group is now well underway. It is wonderful to be able to welcome new members as concerned about sustainability as members who have attended this group for many years.
During the first session we looked at "The Concept of Sustainability" which was first discussed in The Limits to Growth, published in 1972 by the Club of Rome. This report concluded that the finite nature of the natural environment meant that the world economic system could not expand indefinitely. An issue that is constantly raised today in discussions about that state of the planet we are leaving for future generations. We also heard how Sir David Attenborough reiterated this theme at the World Economic Forum in Davos. In his opening address he urged political and business leaders from around the world to make a renewed push to tackle climate change before the damage is irreparable.
January's extreme heat was an obvious topic for discussion and we were not surprised to hear that Australia sweltered through the hottest month in its history in January, with scientists concerned that extreme heat is hitting faster and harder than expected. We also read about a senior Australian firefighter who says climate change is contributing to bushfires so horrendous that homes and lives cannot be protected with fire seasons that are much longer and more severe.
When discussing sustainability and climate change there are so many negative stories however John does also look for positive stories. To our surprise we read about an Australian 'start-up' that hopes to have its electric engines propelling light commercial aircraft within three years, while promising flights that are cheaper to operate, better for the environment and more comfortable for passengers.
Australia's energy system was also another obvious topic for discussion and we focussed on an article titled, "What would Australia look like powered by 100% renewabl-e energy?" Obviously big on wind and solar but also lots of different technologies in different locations, such as pumped hydro, wave and tidal energy, solar thermal with storage, batteries, sustainable bioenergy and more. Industry and transport would need to go renewable too.
An article about Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenage activist who has inspired 'School Strikes 4 Climate Action' all over the world, led to a thought provoking discussion about school students taking action about climate change. We will be continuing to monitor the nature and impact of student engagement and activism related to climate change.
This month we discussed the future of our group. We decided that it was sustainable and would continue, albeit with a change of title to the ‘Sustainability’ group. ‘Towards a Sustainable Future’ can be rather a mouthful! Included among the many topics discussed this month– a look at the take-up of electronic vehicles in Australia and an article ‘Australian students plan school strikes to protest against climate inaction’, an issue young people in the United States have mounted legal action in the courts to address.
A particularly engaging discussion was held in response to an article titled ‘Our No 1 Recycling Mistake? It’s in the bag’. Apparently the number 1 mistake is to throw soft plastics, which get caught up in sorting machines, into the kerbside recycling bin. Soft plastics such as bread bags need to be dropped off at Coles and Woolworths stores in the REDcycle bin. Another common mistake– putting recyclables into bags, which get picked out manually and put into landfill. We should keep items loose when placing recyclables into the recycling bin. It seemed from the article and our discussion that we all get rather anxious about some of the decisions we need to make regarding ‘red’, ‘green’ or ‘yellow’ bin contents!
We also talked about two events being supported by BSFG’s Renewable Energy Benalla action group, a Solar and Battery Offer by Mondo Power which closes on December 7 and an upcoming seminar ‘Electrifying Industry--showcasing how industry can move to 100% renewable energy’.
It's almost time to think about classes for next year!
Towards a Sustainable Future has operated for the past 11 years as a ‘readings’ based class in which our facilitator, John Lloyd, presents articles for discussion selected on the basis of sound research on current developments.
The group isn’t an activist collective, however it is very clearly made up of older people concerned about climate change and a sustainable future for their grandchildren.
Members talk about strategies they use which work towards sustainability, practices including installing solar panels; reducing use of single use plastic; retrofitting homes, and more.
While sometimes John laughs that the group gets rather 'grumpy', we do look for good news stories and find many of them!
John has asked us to consider the future of this group – is it sustainable with some of our long term members now finding it more difficult to attend meetings on a regular basis?
When our convenor John Lloyd is unable to come to class he always provides articles for us to discuss, however we sometimes become distracted! At our last session, with John in Melbourne at a conference; our ex-VFL player Frank attending the football finals and Kathy ‘leading some birdo and plant people from Alexandra at Reef Hills’, the remaining members covered many topics. Most related to our focus area of sustainability!
Two of our newer members were asked why they had become interested in and so highly value a sustainable environment. A love of nature developed during childhood featured in their responses—a common theme amongst our members. Group members were also asked how they felt their grandchildren were responding to climate change, whether they appear to be depressed or worried about it, resulting in an interesting discussion.
Did you know that BSFG’s action group ‘Renewable Energy Benalla’, is ‘for Benalla to become a zero net energy town by 2028 by reducing and balancing energy demand with 100% renewable energy supply’. It is approaching its mission from three angles – ‘Reducing 1/3’, ‘Replacing 1/3’ and ‘Switching 1/3’. You can find out more at the new Renewable Energy Benalla website https://reb.org.au
Our meeting on 17 August 2018 included a discussion of the difficulty of achieving political action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The latest policy proposal, the National Energy Guarantee, has been discarded since our discussion, and that was just the start of the tumult that ended Malcolm Turnbull’s Prime Ministership.
On a positive note it is encouraging that the Coles and Woolworths supermarkets in Benalla both now have REDcycle bins in their foyers to collect soft plastic items for recycling. A Melbourne-based company RedPlas has been collecting and recycling soft plastics for a number of years now, and turning them into products such as benches, signs, boardwalks and bollards. They collect plastics that cannot be recycled in our yellow bins, and that would otherwise end up in landfill.
Items they want include bread bags, silver lined chip packets, clean cling wrap, frozen food and fresh produce bags, bubble wrap, plastic Australia Post satchels and zip lock bags to name just a few. But they DON’T WANT plastic bottles or containers, drinking straws, glass, polystyrene, paper or cardboard. The REDcycle website shows what plastics can be recycled through the REDcycle bins at Coles and Woolies. Basically if it is soft plastic that can be scrunched up into a ball, it can go in the REDcycle bin. A detailed list of what and what NOT to REDcycle is attached below.
John is unable to be at class on Friday 17 August but has sent us the following articles to consider--the first three recommendations relate to the NEG:
Baldwin, Ken (2018) 'The renewable energy train is unstoppable. The NEG needs to get on board' 15 August 2018 Ken Baldwin is the Director of the Energy Change Institute, Australian National University.
Murphy, Katherine (2018)'Claimed power price cuts from energy guarantee are 'virtually meaningless' The Guardian 15 August 2018
John also recommended that we watch Renew Economy's video of the day for August 14th the video link on the Renew Economy article 'Counting Frydenbergs NEG Lies' by Sophie Vorrath:
Foden, Blake (2018) 'Many parts of the earth could become uninhabitable--Study's grim warning' Sydney Morning Herald 7 September 2018
If we have time, we will listen to a lecture Frank saw presented and highly recommends,The Changing Face of Agriculture and Food System into the 21st Century a lecture by Professor Mark Howden, tracking the accompanying slide show as we do.
This is the lecture in audio - you can listen and scroll down the slide show as you go.
As we follow current developments in relation to a sustainable future we pick up many new ideas and concepts related to sustainability. The concept of the circular economy was used in an article read in July titled ‘Rethinking recycling: could a circular economy solve the problem?’. (Naaman Zhou, The Guardian, 15 July 2018).
A circular economy is one in which everything used in an economy is recycled within it, an economy in which everything which enters recycling is ‘reincarnated’. A particular example cited is that of glass, which can almost be entirely reused if crushed back into sand. We read that the circular economy is job creating, with the chief executive of the Waste Management Association of Australia stating “Studies have found repeatedly that, for every one job in landfill and 10,0000 tons of waste, over four are created by resource recovery”. The article also considered the concept of ‘end of life product stewardship’ important, with onus being put back on the manufacturer, and included the need for government procurement to be made from recycled materials.
John has often suggested that our sessions could be produced as an ‘episode of ‘Grumpy Old People’! However, we do look out for good news and were pleased to read in July’s edition of ‘Council News’ that Benalla is doing well in terms of reducing landfill; that our organics composting has saved more than 3 million kilograms of carbon dioxide (the equivalent of 27,210 tanks of petrol); and that Benalla Rural City has received a grant for $440,000 as part of a $900,000 upgrade for the construction of a Transfer Station and improvement to the internal road structure.
The role of community energy in Benalla is continuing to be discussed, with a Community Energy Forum to be held at BPACC on Friday 3 August at 7.30 pm. All welcome.
Over the past month the topics of plastic and recycling have featured among the articles we have read and our discussions. ‘Plastic Free July’ is almost here; the new series of ‘The War on Waste’ is just about to appear on the ABC and the community will soon be adjusting to the new single use plastic bag free practices of the major supermarkets.
In our ‘third age’ we find ourselves reverting to the plastic bag free environments of our ‘first age’ when string bags and baskets were the order of the day! You may have seen Plastic Wise Benalla’s ‘upcycled bags’ being made at the Drill Hall by volunteers, including a number of our U3A members. The bags cost $5 and are available at Fruits ‘n Fare, the West End Post Office, One Wild Apple, Benalla Aquatic Centre and Blooms on Bridge. The change from single use plastic bags by the supermarkets is just the start – it is quite possible we’ll soon be taking our own containers with us when we purchase take-away, meat from the butchers, and more.
As well as reading and discussing articles of interest, we’ve kept abreast of local news related to sustainability, including the Church Street Surgery receiving the Benalla Business Networks’ Environmentally Sustainable Business award this year; the monthly building efficiency workshops being held by Renewable Energy Benalla; the uptake of the Mondo battery ready solar bulk buy offer; and the proposed solar farm at Winton.
Many U3A members attended the Swanpool Environmental Film Festival recently - our class members will no doubt be discussing the excellent speakers and films shown with John at our next session.
John was in Melbourne at a conference related to Community Energy Projects at our last session in May, however left some articles and the comment 'No doubt the group will find plenty to talk about'. We did indeed! Decision making about solar energy featured, with Bill pleased that his decision to update an evaporative cooler and install a heat pump on his solar hot water service had led to a significant reduction in the electricity bill and generating significant renewable energy for the grid. Another member reported that, while keen to become involved in the REB/Mondo Power battery and microgrid ready bulk buy offer, he had been ethically advised by the assessor that their current array of was sufficient for their needs and to add more could become quite expensive with recent changes in requirements re cabling. Another member wondered whether he should make any changes to the array of 18 panels on his house with a rate for selling to the grid of 70c a day to 2025 –the group advised him against making changes as he might lose this rate.
Agriculture and biodiversity also featured, with our environmentally aware farmer summing up his concerns as ‘’We do need some trees”. He is deeply concerned that soon the only trees near where he farms will be along the roads; that even those strips are being cleared and trees being trimmed up to make easy access and manoeuvring of big machines. He’s worried that the trees are being singed badly when stubble is burned; that bird life and shade for cattle are being lost; and is worried that many croppers ‘Just don’t like trees’.
We talked about what people were reading, with books discussed and shared including ‘Dark Emu’, ‘Cry of the Reed Warbler’ and 'The Biggest Estate on Earth - How Aborigines made Australia' and 'The Hydrogen Economy'. Kathy’s contribution of handouts comparing the services of Wangaratta and Shepparton's recycling transfer stations created lots of interest.
Reading of John’s recommended articles 'Who are Australia's largest carbon emitters?'; 'Solar and Wind could ease Australia's water shortage' and 'The new 100% recyclable packaging target is no use if our waste isn't actually recycled' followed the break. We left with Frank's recommendation to listen to The Changing Face of Agriculture and Food System into the 21st Century a lecture by Professor Mark Howden, which is available on line and a reminder about the Swanpool Environmental Film Festival on Saturday 16th June.
We all look forward to meeting up each fortnight to update our understanding of current concerns and developments in relation to a sustainable future, with reading selected by our convenor underpinning our learning. There is always much to cover and our discussions are well informed and thought provoking.
This year we have been following the steps being taken towards a zero net energy future for Benalla by Renewable Energy Benalla. During the month a number of members of our group and other U3A members attended information sessions held by Renewable Energy Benalla and Mondo Power regarding their battery ready solar bulk buy offer for Benalla residents and businesses. We understand there is still some time register interest in this offer, with information about the Benalla offer available on the Mondo Power website.
Wearing his 'other hat' as President of the Benalla Sustainable Future Group and member of Renewable Energy Benalla, our convenor John Lloyd will be the guest speaker at Meet & Mingle on May 16, John will present ‘An Update on Renewable Energy in the Benalla Area’
The human impact on our planet has, in recent times, become the concern of governments and ordinary people world-wide and has resulted in many questions about the sustainability of our present lifestyle. This course aims to explore topics such as global warming and climate change, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, clean energy options, the challenge of population growth, sustainable agricultural practices, water use, sustainable use of resources, sustainable and energy efficient building design and various economic and lifestyle issues. From time to time we might also focus on the politics of climate change – a topic that can hardly be ignored. Our sessions during the year will examine different aspects of these major topics with a focus on looking towards a sustainable future. No prior knowledge of these topics is required just a general interest in the issues around climate change and sustainability. With discussion of these topics throughout the year you will find that you become better informed about these issues.
1st and 3rd Friday
9.30 to 11.30 am
U3A Meeting Room, Fawckner Drive
Convenor and contact details
John Lloyd 5765 2476
Renewable Energy Benalla - website
Economists for Equity and the Environment
The Future Economy
Population Matters-For A Sustainable Future
Strathbogie Voices Seminars on Climate Change in Euroa (YouTube)
Frank Dunin's paper 'Fire reduces water harvest from Melbourne's water supply catchments'.
Frank Dunin's response 'Chemistry Lesson for Scott Morrison'
Developed and maintained by members, this website showcases U3A Benalla & District.
Photographs - acknowledgment to U3A members; Benalla Art Gallery website;
Weebly 'Free' images;Travel Victoria and
State Library of Victoria