It's always interesting to discuss rural, 'bottom up' sustainability initiatives in our class. At a recent sustainability living festival at Woodend, a $100,000 grant was announced for a solar farm at an old timber mill. The income earned from the tenant's electricity payments will be reinvested in more solar panels, creating a perpetual fund for community energy. Also in Central Victoria, Newstead has received a $200,000 grant to become fully powered by renewable energy. Closer to home, Indigo Shire Council, after a community consultation process, voted unanimously to formally adopt a policy totally opposed to the coal seam gas industry. Indigo Councillors spoke of the north east being both a prime site for renewable energy and of prime agricultural land - 'fracking and agriculture don't mix'. Agriculture is the subject of another article based on Melbourne University's recent 'Appetite for Change' study. It seems food production changes are a barometer of climate change. For farm animals, heat stress during heat events is significant. Dairy cows produce less milk, beef cattle are delayed in reaching target weights. Warmer nights mean plants have less time to recover before the next day's growth. Wines, especially merlot and shiraz, grown in our Mediterranean climate areas will be less suitable for growth by 2050. Bananas will continue to feel the impact of cyclones. Potato production could be affected by potato famine like conditions. We also read about a South Gippsland dairy farmer who is encouraging 'her girls' to calve in April and May to mitigate summers that seem much earlier and longer and less conducive to grass growing. Looking through a 'food miles' lens, we discussed a thought provoking article about how the concentration of ownership of food production alongside mind boggling food miles can lead to waste and insecurity in farming communities. Land was also on our agenda in terms of the need for improved strategies to tackle the growing electronic waste stream entering landfill; and the impact of coal seam gas exploration via fracking, seismological changes and earthquakes. Another jam packed month!
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
10 am to 12 midday
U3A Meeting Room 1
Convenors and contact details
0474 936 460
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'