An email I received from the Australian Youth Climate Coalition asks me to question our politicians about what they are doing to combat climate change.
The same day, I listened to David Attenborough, 92, creator of acclaimed TV series Life on Earth, telling the World Economic Forum that civilisation is now in the Anthropocene, a new geological age of human changes to Earth. Sir David calls for government and business to focus their problem-solving skills on coming up with practical solutions to save the planet.
So we have youth, inheritors of Earth, united with age, articulating his lived experience of the momentous developments and environmental changes that have taken place in his lifetime. Both exhort us to engage with these obvious and profoundly relevant concerns with our political leaders.
I would like to know Premier Steven Marshall’s policies on climate change and how they fit with his plans for a “relentless pursuit of economic growth” . Environmental sustainability is at stake in preventing catastrophic impacts of climate change. Political commitment is imperative or we will face the collapse of the living planetary ecosystems that support and make human life possible.
Leaders of the future
After seeing the hopeful faces of the students who rallied in Australia, and indeed worldwide, on November 30, I encourage them not to give up. I was blown away by how articulate and well-educated the students involved are.
They are inspiring leaders of today, not just leaders of tomorrow; they must be the change they want to be.
I congratulate them, for their messages were powerful. They are developing a network enabling students to share ideas and action for the environment and sustainability.
To follow a sustainable, compassionate vegan lifestyle is one of the easiest solutions to help reverse climate change. Irrespective of which government wins the next election, they must not waiver.
Action on climate
The opinion piece by Andrew Bolt (“ Uncouth youth protest their flawed arguments”) included a reference to me “admitting” that we “could stop all Australia’s emissions – junk every car, shut every power station, put a cork in every cow – and the effect on the climate would still be ‘virtually nothing’ .”
Those are Andrew Bolt’s words, not mine, and they are a complete misrepresentation of my position. They suggest we should do nothing to reduce our carbon emissions, a stance I reject, and I wish to correct the record.
On June 1, 2017, I attended a Senate estimates hearing, where Senator Ian Macdonald asked if the world was to reduce its carbon emissions by 1.3 per cent, which is about Australia’s rate of emissions, what impact would that make on the changing climate of the world.
My response was the impact would be virtually nothing but I immediately continued by explaining that doing nothing is not a position that we can responsibly take because emissions reductions is a little bit like voting, in that if everyone took the attitude that their vote does not count and no one voted, we would not have a democracy.
Similarly, if all countries that have comparable carbon emissions took the position that they shouldn’t take action because their contribution to this global problem is insignificant , then nobody would act and the problem would continue to grow in scale.
Let me be clear – we need to continue on the path of reducing Australia’s carbon emissions . Australia’s emissions for each person are some of the highest in the world.
In response to the recent IPCC report, I urged all decision makers – in government, industry, and the community – to listen to the science and focus on the goal of reducing emissions, while maximising economic growth. Sitting on our hands while expecting the rest of the world to do their part is simply not acceptable.
Dr. Alan Finkel AO, Australia’s chief scientist
NSW schoolgirl Harriet O’Shea Carre, 14, wrote this message hoping to attract the attention of Scott Morrison and relevant politicians: “You must listen to us now! You cannot continue pretending we are not here, and that climate change is OK. Because we are here, so is the climate crisis, and it is destroying our planet.”
Along with students from other countries, high school students will strike, rally and forgo their studies in order to bring home their important message to our politicians.
Veganism the way of the future for the planet
The recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) stated that “Livestock is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all other food choices,” which contradicts the statement from Douglas Leibe at the Australian Lot Feeding Assoc Beef Ex conference.
His misleading study overlooked the fact that the land used to grow the crops to feed animals would be utilised to feed humans directly.
The IPCC report went on “Emissions are caused by feed production, enteric fermentation, animal waste, land-use change and livestock transportation and processing.”
Veganism is not a fad, it is the way of the future, latest technology used in hydroponic, vertical planting as shown on Catalyst, Aug 14) uses little water and solar power.
Mr Leibe, I suggest it is hard to find an obese vegan, if they are overweight their reliance on junk is responsible, as with any carnivore or vegan.
The report from the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change has just been published.
Australia cannot be taken as a “stand-alone” just because we have a relatively small population.
Global warming is a worldwide problem to which, when taking into account our contribution as the biggest worldwide exporter of coal, we are substantially responsible for burning fossil fuels and creating greenhouse gas emissions.
The report states: “Australia’s emission reduction target of 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 is woefully inadequate and is not aligned with what the science says is necessary to effectively tackle climate change.”
If all other countries followed our emission reduction target, we would be heading to global warming of well over two, up to three, degrees Celsius. Why is the government not acting?
Thanks to Charlie Pickering for the segment on “lab meat” on The Weekly on September 5. He emphasised the bad impact of the cattle industry on our environment and its contribution to climate change.
It was good to hear from an old man, Professor Peter Singer of Animal Liberation fame and a young man, involved in the production of lab meat speaking about the future practicalities of “lab meat” for our children’s futures.
Cut and dried
The Bureau of Meteorology has just announced that, following a dry summer, a dry autumn and a dry winter, spring is going to be “drier than usual”.
With water levels down below 10 per cent in many areas, now is the time to consider ways to save water.
It’s undeniable that between irrigating the crops that farmed animals eat, providing millions of animals with drinking water each year, and washing away the filth of factory farms, transport trucks and slaughterhouses, animal agriculture places a tremendous strain on our precious water supply.
It takes on average 4000 litres of water to produce a steak. It takes over 500 litres of water to produce a litre of milk. A combined study carried out by the University of Melbourne’s School of Social and Environmental Enquiry and its Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering found that a vegetarian diet could save households up to 35 per cent of their total water usage – 13 times the volume of water that would be saved by not watering the garden.
Going vegan saves more than 4000 litres every day, and not eating a kilo of meat saves more water than not showering for 12 months.
You can save water, save money and save hundreds of animals from a life of suffering and a terrifying death just by going vegan.
Desmond Bellamy, PETA Australia
"Editor note" 3/05/2018. Another Prime Minister and nothing significant has changed. As usual the effects of animal agriculture will be ignored.
An international team of scientists, headed by the CSIRO have confirmed Australia is facing devastating impacts from climate change unless we reduce global carbon pollution.
Even an article in The Australian states: "Australia and its region will probably be hit by almost twice as many severe floods this century like the ones that devastated southeast Queensland four years ago."
Those events not only devastate communities, they cost the country billions of dollars as we respond and rebuild. It's essential we lower emissions and develop a sustainable plan for the future so we can better manage the impact of climate change.
Meanwhile, Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party are stuck in the past, ignoring the evidence and taking Australia backwards on climate change action.
We need to stand together and make it clear to Tony Abbott: Australians want action on climate change and we want it now. Can you share this article and make sure more Australians have the information they need?
Australians deserve a better government than what they’ve got right now. It’s unbelievable that Tony Abbott can ignore so much evidence; risking Australia’s economic and social well-being. Let's keep the pressure on.
Shadow Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water
The Earth at night, demonstrating the global extent of human influence. The Anthropocene defines Earth's most recent geologic time period (Anthropocene) as being human-influenced, or anthropogenic, based on overwhelming global evidence that atmospheric, geologic, hydrologic, biospheric and other earth system processes are now altered by humans. The word combines the root "anthropo", meaning "human" with the root "-cene", the standard suffix for "epoch" in geologic time. The Anthropocene is distinguished as a new period either after or within the Holocene, the current epoch, which began approximately 10,000 years ago (about 8000 BC) with the end of the last glacial period.
Origins of the term
Anthropocene is a new term, proposed in 2000 by Nobel Prize winning scientist Paul Crutzen. A similar term, Anthrocene, was coined by Andrew Revkin in his 1992 book Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast, but was not adopted by scientists. Crutzen noted that the term originated in 2000 at "a conference where someone said something about the Holocene. I suddenly thought this was wrong. The world has changed too much. So I said: 'No, we are in the Anthropocene.' I just made up the word on the spur of the moment. Everyone was shocked. But it seems to have stuck.". Crutzen then proceeded to use the term in print in 2000. In 2008, Zalasiewicz and colleagues published the first proposal for the formal adoption of the Anthropocene epoch by geologists, and this adoption is now pending
Evidence for the Anthropocene
Geologic epochs are distinguished from one another based on geological observations, such as the composition of sediment layers and other tools of paleoclimatology. To justify the identification of a new Anthropocene epoch, it must therefore be demonstrated that evidence of anthropogenic global change is present at such a level that it can be distinguished using geologic indicators despite natural variability in these across the Holocene.
The most commonly cited and readily measured global change associated with humans is the rise of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide and methane, around the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, together with the associated rise in global temperatures and sea level caused by this global warming. Other key indicators include massive global increases in soil erosion caused by land clearing and soil tillage for agriculture; massive deforestation; and massive extinctions of species caused by hunting and the widespread destruction of natural habitats.
When did the Anthropocene begin?
The originator of the Anthropocene terminology, Paul Crutzen, favors the beginning of the Industrial Revolution as the starting point for the Anthropocene. In a 2002 paper in the journal Nature he stated: "The Anthropocene could be said to have started in the late eighteenth century, when analyses of air trapped in polar ice showed the beginning of growing global concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane.". Zalasiewicz et al. are in general agreement with Crutzen that the Anthropocene is best identified at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, though they also propose the beginning of the nuclear era in the 1960s as a useful date, due to the global presence of radioactive isotopes in sediments at this time.
However, as yet, there is no official start date for the Anthropocene. Moreover, William Ruddiman proposes that globally significant human alteration of greenhouse gasconcentrations and associated climate change, extensive land clearing and soil erosion, and mass species extinctions actually began approximately 8,000 years ago with the rise of farming and the global spread of human populations in the latter stages of the first Agricultural Revolution. For this reason, the Anthropocene might be considered to begin 8,000 years ago. On the other hand, this "Early Anthropocene" definition is difficult to differentiate from the Holocene epoch which began only 2,000 to 4,000 years earlier.