We often find ourselves pondering about the capacity of climate contrarians to reject rigorous scientific evidence and worry about the impact this has on those working towards a sustainable future. Making waves recently have been two influential ‘climate contrarians’, Maurice Newman and Bjorn Lomborg, who ‘consistently argue against action on climate change’ (Assoc. Prof Michael Brown, astronomer, Monash University). In our own ‘Country News’ supplement ( 15/4/2015)we read that conjecture by the Coalition’s Agriculture Committee about climate change resulted in the poor hearing received recently by nine climate campaigning farmers from across the country concerned about changes in the timing and severity of frosts. John Pettigrew, from Bunbartha near Shepparton, described their meeting with the Agriculture Committee as their ‘worst reception in Canberra’. Internationally we read (NY Times 28/4/2015) that the upcoming encyclical from Pope Francis relating to climate change is causing concern among conservative think tanks and politicians in the US. Pope Francis has a particular concern that climate change will particularly impact upon people in poverty.
We often read and discuss articles describing policy and bureaucratic initiatives and battles relating to sustainability. We monitored the negotiations between the parties as to the size of the Renewable Energy Target. The need for certainty and indeed a more robust renewable energy target than the Abbott Government initially proposed was becoming increasingly evident during the negotiations and also evident in the request by the Victorian government to establish its own renewable energy target.
We take a particular interest in positive interventions which promote sustainability such as the planned placing of solar panels over sewerage ponds in Jamestown, SA, which has the added benefit of reducing evaporation, and the construction of a $50 million dollar wind farm northwest of Bendigo, an area with strong winds which can produce energy nearly 90% of the time, to provide cheap electricity to more than 14,000 Canberra homes. We also read a heartening report that the highly polluting brown coal generator at Anglesey attached to Alcoa’s defunct Point Henry aluminum smelter, is to be closed for economic and environmental reasons.
The best news this month is undoubtedly the release of Tesla’s new Powerwalk, a compact, wall mounted, rechargeable, lithium-ion battery designed for homes and small businesses. Apparently there was such pent up demand that the storage system has sold out until mid-2016.
For our June 19th meeting, the group will be joining in the council sponsored tour of composting and recycling facilities in Shepparton and Wangaratta.