Monthly Archives: June 2014

Latrobe Valley’s brown coal industry is not the beacon of hope for jobs

The people of the Latrobe Valley ought to be worried about the “bold” plans to dry and export brown coal to China as announced on the front page on 6th industry that involves the burning of fossil fuels including coal is a dead end. Sooner or later the reality of climate change is going to dawn on everybody and there will be a transformation in our energy supply away from coal. Hopefully that realization will happen sooner as things are looking grim already with record high temperatures across Australia last summer, melting of Arctic ice, oceans becoming acidic, severe floods and droughts, hurricanes occurring in abnormal severity and position- and all this with less than one degree of average global warming so far.

Recent news of job losses in the Geelong region have prompted immediate pledges of money and support for the area far in excess of what has flowed to the Latrobe Valley despite job losses on a grander scale. The Geelong area also boasts an innovative company producing carbon fibre car wheels which has been generously supported by our federal government.

These are the kinds of initiatives that would truly make our community resilient – diversified industry as called for in the Latrobe Valley Transition Committee report. Clearly there are better uses for the carbon in coal than burning it. Imagine if the billions of taxpayers dollars that is currently flowing to the overseas private companies who own the power stations was instead flowing to new Latrobe Valley businesses and infrastructure, health services and renewable energy companies. Those billions of dollars should be supporting our economy not lining the pockets of overseas investors. This is the vision of the Greens and why I am proud to be the candidate for McMillan. Please remove your blinkers and stop supporting political parties who are selling us out.

Other things the government could do for Latrobe Valley are:

http://www.latrobevalleyexpress.com.au/story/1447659/shout-out-for-support/

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/scienceshow/geothermal-power-from-victorias-latrobe-valley/3105988

http://www.ga.gov.au/image_cache/GA20040.pdf

 

 

Can a stroll on the beach inform us of the effects of climate change?

arctic ice melting, problem with ice melting, world culture pictorial, methane gas,

The ice caps melting is a concern not only for rising sea levels but also for the amount of methane gas they release.

Ron Bernardi visited Cape Patterson looking for evidence of climate change as described in his letter on the 4th of Feb. It’s not clear whether he accepts climate change is happening or not but his letter does highlight the problem facing ordinary folk looking out their windows and not seeing any evidence of change.

As the planet’s average temperature rises we expect and are observing the effects of more energy in the atmosphere, for example more severe rain and flood events. Locally this has caused unprecedented land slips and road damage. In Queensland floods that are considered one in a hundred year events are happening every few years. We are experiencing more hot days than would have been expected. The severe weather events in the US are finally causing enough people and politicians to wake up and acknowledge the need to change so we don’t end up with a world that is 4-6 degrees hotter which is where we are heading now. Ocean acidification, loss of Arctic ice cover and changes in behavior of wildlife are not readily observed from a stroll at Cape Patterson but that doesn’t mean it is not happening.

As for Ron’s question on when do the Greens expect sea level rise to inundate Cape Patterson, the answer is that sea levels have already risen but not enough for Ron or anyone else to notice by having a walk on the beach. Sea level rise of metres is ultimately possible if the land based ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica melt but that will take decades and decades. The whole point of raising these concerns is to avoid the calamity of climate change. Pretending it isn’t happening is for fools. The Greens are the only political party with a serious agenda to tackle the problem. We accept the message is not popular or easy to cope with but it is right. The sooner we transform our energy mix toward renewables the better off we will be with more jobs in new industries, better health outcomes without fossil fuel pollution and better prospects for a safe climate for our children.

Jane Goodall explains climate change:

For further reading:

http://www.worldculturepictorial.com/blog/content/arctic-heats-thaws-permafrost-sealing-methane-greenh

http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/8/1723/2008/acp-8-1723-2008.pdf

http://www.knmi.nl/~laagland/KIK/Documenten_2010/Jacobson_soot_JGR115_D14209_2010_2009JD013795.pdf

http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v5/n6/abs/ngeo1480.html

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2013/jul/24/arctic-ice-free-methane-economy-catastrophe

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2013/aug/05/7-facts-need-to-know-arctic-methane-time-bomb

Standing up for Narracan

I have lived in Moe, Warragul or Yarragon for the last 20 years and have done my best to provide great healthcare to my patients as a rural GP, while running a successful small business. I’m also a husband and father to 3 girls. I’ve been involved with the Baw Baw Sustainability Network since its inception. I was a participant in the Baw Baw 2050 community consultations where the overwhelming desire of the group was to preserve the rural landscape of West Gippsland.  We have some of the most productive farming land in the country but also face rapidly rising population and urban sprawl. We need to plan to design tight urban boundaries, with higher density residential spaces ensuring cycle and pedestrian access to more locations which will allow us to preserve our ability to grow food and keep our rural landscapes.

The rising world population and our agricultural producers’ clean green image paint a rosy picture of opportunity to expand our food production and earn more income for the region through exports. The introduction of coal seam and other forms of onshore gas mining is clearly contrary to the interests of farmers and consumers and I stand as the only candidate from a major political party that has undertaken to stop any expansion in this industry if elected to government.

The reason I am involved in politics is to create change. It disturbs me that our society is pushed and pulled by forces that I believe are out of step with common sense, majority opinion or protection of basic needs. As examples, please consider these situations. More of our children are becoming obese with grave consequences for their health and well-being while health and public policy experts are calling for restrictions on junk food advertising to children. No such action is taken because policy makers value the right of corporations to advertise more than they value our children’s health. There is overwhelming evidence that the global climate is changing due to human influence through the burning of fossil fuels and if not addressed immediately we face enormous harm and even collapse of civilization and yet policy makers are reversing the small gains made in creating change. The state Liberal government has restrictions against wind farm development based on the lie of “infrasound” causing harm. Eighty percent of the population support voluntary euthanasia.They recognize the distress caused to those people dying of prolonged terminal illness and their families yet attempts to legislate are thwarted by the other major parties for reasons I do not fully understand.

Many voters are suspicious, wary or hostile towards politicians in the wake of scandals involving political party donations in return for favourable policy outcomes that are not for the society’s wellbeing. We have seen evidence of outright dishonest conduct by a few, lying to get votes or hypocritical behaviour seen in government compared to opposition. More and more voters are recognizing that policy is favouring corporations ahead of community interests and rather than get angry and active they become disengaged and apathetic. I want to connect with those feelings in people and move our society in the direction of common sense, true parliamentary representation of community wishes and above all in protecting us and our children from the looming effects of global warming.Rising temperatures and sea levels, acidifying oceans, severe weather events and loss of biodiversity spell catastrophe.

Gippsland is rich in natural resources. We have forests, freshwater, coal, oil and gas, fisheries and beautiful landscapes that underpin a strong tourism sector. For over 200 years, we have exploited these resources and in order to sustain them we need to change our ways. Timber and related products have always been very useful. Over time, we have depleted the area of old growth forest including rainforest to the extent that we have forced many species to extinction due to habitat loss. The Greens and I are very supportive of a strong, sustainable timber industry but one that is based on harvesting plantation-grown trees. I’ve been a member of the Gippsland Agroforestry Network for longer than I’ve been a member of the Greens and am well aware of the issues surrounding milling of plantation trees, competing uses for agricultural land and the decline in the forestry industry. There is no doubt in my mind though that a farm incorporating agroforestry plantations can be as, if not more, productive than bare paddocks and provides a diverse source of income.

In order to avoid catastrophic global warming we need to leave four fifths of the known fossil fuel reserves in the ground. Though blessed with huge reserves of coal and gas, Gippsland and the world will be better off leaving them alone. Our skilled workforce needs to be diverted to powering our state with renewable sources of energy and it just so happens that Gippsland is also a rich resource for wind and geothermal power. We have the industrial base to serve also as a manufacturing hub for renewable energy plants installed elsewhere, for example solar thermal plants.

Energy efficiency, that is reducing the power bill by using less, is a huge opportunity for us. Homes that are built to the “Passive House” standard typically use about 10% of the energy of a modern building. This is possible by ensuring good solar access, super insulation and draught sealing. It makes sense to change building standards and to craft programs to retrofit existing buildings. We will live more comfortably and spend less on energy as a result. There will be enormous numbers of skilled jobs to achieve these goals.

As an example of the different approach I would take to local jobs consider the recent announcement by the state Liberal government of granting $25 million dollars to a Chinese company to produce briquettes from Latrobe Valley brown coal for export. That is tax payers money going to overseas business owners to produce a product that is harming people in the process of mining, burning, transport and CO2 pollution. The same $25 million could have been used to kickstart 25 local businesses like Earthworker who will manufacture solar hot water systems. That is taxpayers money going to locally owned enterprises that are making a product that reduces pollution, saves people money and as a result more money flows through the local economy. I don’t think this is a difficult concept to grasp. I don’t think you have to be a Greens supporter to think it is a good idea but it seems that in order to get results like this you need to vote for me and the Greens, as Labor and Liberal are unable to deliver common sense.

We deserve better as a local community, we need a strong local representative, unsullied by donations from big corporations and therefore able to act for the common good. I believe I am that person, being honest, community minded and willing to work hard for a better, more caring society for all of us.

Dr Malcolm McKelvie

Tracking electricity use since buying an electric car

SP AusNet’s my Home Energy

Here’s an update on our electricity use since buying the electric car. Ages ago I set up an account with myhomeenergy and today I have had a look at the site for the first time since then. If you are interested in your patterns of electricity use by day, season or even 30min blocks then this site is for you!

We bought the Nissan Leaf in April 2014 and you can see on the chart below the effect it had on our power usage. We calculated our average daily use of electricity and added our estimated use of an electric car before installing our solar system over 12 months ago and decided on a 4.9kW system from sustainable Impact in Yarragon. Next April we’ll have 12 months of car use and generation data to see if we are in fact generating as much as we use.

We’re a family of five with one mostly living away, live in a straw-bale and rammed earth wall house with spray foam ceiling insulation, good quality double glazed windows and the only heating we use is a wood heater which along with the Apricus evacuated tube system supplies us with hot water. There is no gas or electric boosting. There is no active cooling but despite this we are very impressed with the comfort levels in winter and summer.

Victorian forestry policy is a disaster

 

I was dismayed to hear our state member of parliament, Gary Blackwood speak on the radio about the proposed change to the regulations on forestry. The Lib/Nats propose that threatened species can be protected on a “landscape wide” perspective so that if animals that are threatened with extinction are found in a proposed logging coupe a bureaucrat will be able to ignore that fact if she thinks there are sufficient other places where those animals could be living and proceed with logging.

 

This is in response to court action taken by environmental groups to save forest at Brown Mountain, which was successful and shows that there is no stopping the business machine if there are resources to exploit and money to be made. If Mr Blackwood and his party listened to biological scientists they would hear that we are living through a mass extinction event the likes of which has not been seen for millions of years and it is due to us. Our desire to consume energy, forests, minerals and so on is reducing the habitat of countless species to the point where they are dying out at about 1000 times faster than the normal rate.  Given this fact it makes sense to me and to many others that we should be expanding the habitats for other species not destroying them.

 

The counterargument is that consumers want their timber products, their paper and their export dollars from woodchips. My answer to that is that responsible government is about safeguarding our society and its long-term interests. A responsible parent would not allow a child to consume endless quantities of junk food just because that’s what it demands.  Our whole life depends on the biosphere- the thin layer of soil, fresh water and air and all the life that is part of it. A responsible government would make its preservation a top priority.

Response to axing of Environmental Defenders Funding

My response to the axing of funding to the Environmental Defenders Office by the Abbott government (18.12.13) ought to be of concern to the people of Gippsland. Our fight to protect our land, water, food security, property values and rural amenity from the threat of unconventional gas mining has been supported by the EDO.

Many people will have seen EDO lawyers speaking at community meetings on coal seam gas, informing landholders of their rights. Their services are an important part of the action taking places across many communities affected by coal and coal seam gas exploration licences. 


We can expect to hear from the Liberal and National parties that they came to this decision to save money. At the same time they are increasing the generous treatment given to multinational mining companies who already receive at least $10 billion annually in subsidies and can look forward to the end of the Mineral Resources Rent (mining) tax. If you vote for the coalition at either state or federal level, you are voting for weaker action to protect our farmland, our natural resources and associated tourism industries- all to appease the big mining companies. 


Our soil, air and water are vital for all life on earth. They do not have a voice. At the moment they are being polluted for the profit of a few and to the detriment of all. The EDO are giving our natural world a voice. Shame on the Abbott government for trying to silence it.