Category Archives: climate change

Advocacy and research to achieve resilient, engaging and healthy settlements

Al Gore: New Hope for Climate

Al Gore writes on optimism in dealing with Climate Change

In an article in Rolling Stone, Al Gore provides some very welcome optimism on how we may yet deal with the coming climate change events.

The article is very very long. It takes quite a commitment to allow the time to get through it all.

It is worth it! Happy reading. Click here.

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Paul Costigan, 20 July 2014

 

Architectural Eyesores

Comment: From James Howard Kunstler

James Howard Kunstler’s blog often has interesting points to offer in the debate about design and architecture and how it is assisting, or not, with solutions for the future.

Click on the image for eyesore of the month of June 2014. I do not always agree with what he sees as eyesores. But it a great start to any debate. In this case, yes, the tall towers’ days have gone but the developers and architects will stay with them while there is money to be made. Stuff the environment!

Click on the image.

Continue reading Architectural Eyesores

Value the Landscape

How can we work with the landscape to make liveable places?

A video, about six and half minutes, introducing the concept of valuing landscape and the link to liveable settlements.

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see also – Sustainable Sites Initiative

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Paul Costigan, 24th June 2014

 

Value Landscape

How can we work with the landscape to make liveable places?

How the liveability of our cities means designers and planners working with the landscape rather than against it.

A video, about six and half minutes, introducing the concept of valuing landscape and the link to liveable settlements.

Continue reading Value Landscape

Solar: Good Behaviour at Home

Political Comment

The Prime Minister and Solar and how good behaviour starts in your own backyard.

solar-lodge-590x319

It well established that how people behave in their own back yards normally reflects their attitude to the world outside their household. Our Prime Minister is having his house, The Lodge, refurbished. This was well overdue.

Continue reading Solar: Good Behaviour at Home

Climate Game nearly Over

A report from Bill McKibben
Reporting on the possible end game in Climate Change – three books mentioned.

 

mckibben_1-071014_jpg_600x767_q85

Not sure what more can be said.

The climate change actions by our governments remains pathetic given that the climate change effects have been with us for too long and the end game is even closer than anyone had predicted.

Click here.

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Paul Costigan, 28 June 2014

GoodBye to Big Coal

Report Just in

Utilities wake up to threat of mass grid defection

 

rabbott01A report on that the wake up call may at last have been heard by some of the energy suppliers.

As the reality hits home, some energy companies are realising that coal based energy may not be as a sustainable business model as the proposed by Australia’s foolish Prime Minister; he who is soon to be the rabbott caught in the bright lights of change!

Click here for the story.

Sustainable Sites

Announcing new Tools

The Sustainable Sites Initiative 2014

 

Blue Hole Swimming Area

The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES™) is a program based on the understanding that land is a crucial component of the built environment and can be planned, designed, developed, and maintained to protect and enhance the benefits we derive from healthy functioning landscapes. Sustainable landscapes create ecologically resilient communities better able to withstand and recover from episodic floods, droughts, wildfires, and other catastrophic events. They benefit the environment, property owners, and local and regional communities and economies.

Continue reading Sustainable Sites

Solar Prime Minister?

Political Comment

The Prime Minister and Solar and how good behaviour starts in your own backyard.

solar-lodge-590x319

It well established that how people behave in their own back yards normally reflects their attitude to the world outside their household. Our Prime Minister is having his house, The Lodge, refurbished. This was well overdue.

Continue reading Solar Prime Minister?

GoodBye Big Coal

Report Just in

Utilities wake up to threat of mass grid defection

 

rabbott01A report on that the wake up call may at last have been heard by some of the energy suppliers.

As the reality hits home, some energy companies are realising that coal based energy may not be as a sustainable business model as the proposed by Australia’s foolish Prime Minister.

Click here for the story.

Melbourne’s Urban Forest

City Council policy to address Climate Change

Always good to check if any Australian City Councils are taking actions and setting targets despite the dangerous attitude of our Federal Governments.

Melbourne City Council has an Urban Forest Strategy to increase markedly its tree coverage across the city (remembering this is the inner city council – who knows what the rest are doing!).

Continue reading Melbourne’s Urban Forest

Urban Agriculture

From ASLA The Dirt: Is Urban Agriculture Utopian?

 

(part of the series on the 2014 Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) conference

“Urban agriculture is a phenomenon today,” said Farham Karim, an architectural historian at the University of Kansas, at the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) conference in New Orleans. Upwards of 70 million people are now involved around the globe — on Farmville, at least, the popular game app, he laughed. But, in reality, there are many tens of millions farming on the ground, too. With all the growing interest, Karim played devil’s advocate, wondering: is urban agriculture scalable? And who is going to be doing all this urban farming? And if we know it’s not a cost-effective solution for solving the world’s food problems, why the persistent interest?

click here for the full article.

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Paul Costigan, 17 June 2014

Sydney Urbanity & Architecture

Is architecture is failing contemporary Sydney? Part One

 

P1050514

 

There is no doubt that the City of Sydney and its harbour are magnificent to behold. (click on the photo to enlarge). The mix of built structures really makes for a view that demands you take the time to stare, contemplate and to just enjoy it for as long as it takes. However…..

Continue reading Sydney Urbanity & Architecture

Canberra Urbanity & Development

Recent Canberra Government development announcements

 

16RegentsCanal-1100774

In recent weeks and months there have been several significant development proposals announced by the territory (ACT) government in Canberra. If all the government’s ambitions come to fruition then residents about to witness some very serious alterations and additions to the make-up of several parts of the inner city urban fabric.

Continue reading Canberra Urbanity & Development

Canberra Urbanity and Development

Recent Canberra Government development announcements

16RegentsCanal-1100774

In recent weeks and months there have been several significant development proposals announced by the territory (ACT) government in Canberra. If all the government’s ambitions come to fruition then residents about to witness some very serious alterations and additions to the make-up of several parts of the inner city urban fabric.

Continue reading Canberra Urbanity and Development

Just Say No

Comment: on being True to the Planet can mean sometimes you have to just say no.

OConnor01

How are we being served by our professions in their provision of buildings and landscape projects? The highest priority for the future of the planet remains that every action be taken in the context of addressing climate change adaptation.

Continue reading Just Say No

climate and insurance

from the Guardian

article about climate impacts on property

 

Consumer and climate experts say extreme weather could raise insurance premiums and lower property values. This is something still being ignored as too many people have allowed the federal government misinformation campaigns to distract them from addressing these devastating issues. click here

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Paul Costigan 5 June 2014

those carbon offsets

How those carbon offsets can do more environmental harm than good

 

Yet again there’s a nice piece on The Conversation about how we need to be far more serious about carbon. It also points towards the use of Green-Wash by corporations to allow them to continue with business as usual. The author, Sharon Beder, says  “Carbon offsets are a greenwashing mechanism that enables individuals to buy themselves green credentials without actually changing their consumption habits, and nations to avoid the more difficult structural and regulatory change necessary to prevent further global warming.” I could not agree more and could name some very dubious lobby groups that are assisting in the processes of green washing by corporations and developers.

click here for the link to the article

Sharon Beder has written some informative pieces previously and has her own website – click here – definitely worth a look

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Paul Costigan, 29 May 2014

all that green-wash

How those carbon offsets can do more environmental harm than good
q3gx4hds-1401170769Beware of all that green-wash.

Yet again there’s a nice piece on The Conversation about how we need to be far more serious about carbon. It also points towards the use of Green-Wash by corporations to allow them to continue with business as usual.

I have commented on this on our other blog – The Sustainable Settlements Institute – click here

Urban Agriculture

 Urban Agriculture – one part of the solution

from The Guardian, Designing cities and factories with urban agriculture in mind. The Netherlands offers inspiration for designers looking to create environments that harvest water, energy and nutrients.

Urban farms are transforming inner city spaces – rooftops, infrastructure, streetscapes, building skin – into generative ecologies that support the lives of people, and pollinators too. They are bringing into cities, and into plain view, the natural systems that sustain urban life

click here

Featured Landscape Architect

Recommendation

Looking for a Landscape Architect in South Australia?

We highly recommend calling the great people at outerspace landscape architects

Click on the logo below for more. (or here)

outerspaceand I am sure that they could negotiate on any job elsewhere in Australia

Featured Landscape Architect

Recommendation

Looking for a Landscape Architect in Canberra?

We highly recommend a call to Harris Hobbs Landscapes.

Click on the logo below for more. (or here)

HHL GREEN

 

 

and I am sure that they could negotiate on a job outside Canberra.

 

 

Car Parking

Using Parking Meters in Climate Change

 

parkingmadridThere are all sorts of stories in circulation in Canberra as a result of the decision to introduce paid parking for all areas within the Parliamentary Triangle. This has a big impact on those who work in the area. Some public servants are devising clever tricks to continue to have free parking.

This will also mean that visitors will now have to pay to visit the national institutions and have limited time to visit. This could be a marked change in how visitors regard the national cultural institutions. I know as a local, it will mean less visits to these institutions.

Continue reading Car Parking

UK versus Australia Solar

UK will install 3 times more solar than Australia in 2014

_72762812_solar1Given that Australia is being presently governed by a load of Rabbotts, Bogans and Rodents, it comes as no surprise that during this year that the UK will install 3 times more solar than Australia.

It has to believe that the United Kingdom with its cloudy, wet and drizzly weather is already forecast to become the largest market for solar PV in Europe in 2014.

So all that sunshine goes to waste while Rabbott and co continue to subsidize and prop up their Big Coal corporate friends.

Continue reading UK versus Australia Solar

Joe Hockey for Coal

Opinion: The Australia’s Treasurer’s anti climate statements

Even when you know you have one of the most stupid governments on earth, it is still amazing when the Australian Government’s Treasurer, Joe Hockey, says wind turbines ‘utterly offensive’!

lake-george-CanbTimes

Read the article: click here

But wait! we have the solution for Joe. Let’s get rid of those horrible things on the horizon.

Continue reading Joe Hockey for Coal

Eliminating Coal-Fired Generation

Creating Cleaner Air in Ontario

Province Has Eliminated Coal-Fired Generation

 

From the Ministry of Energy

Ontario is now the first jurisdiction in North America to fully eliminate coal as a source of electricity generation.

The Thunder Bay Generating Station, Ontario’s last remaining coal-fired facility, has burned its last supply of coal.

Operated by Ontario Power Generation, Thunder Bay Generating Station was the oldest coal-fired station in the province. The plant is scheduled to be converted to burn advanced biomass, a renewable fuel source.

Continue reading Eliminating Coal-Fired Generation

Big Coal Stumbles

Big Coal Chief has brawn but no brains

 

The same crowd that managed to assist in bringing down the Rudd Labor government when the government proposed a tax on the riches being ripped out of the country, have just introduced an online promotion to bring together those in favour of Big Coal and its future.

Sadly for Big Coal have entered the democratic world of online chats and twitter. The full story is told in the Guardian – click here. Enjoy and chuckle at the expense of the not so bright chiefs of Big Coal.

solar power

Rooftop solar and Australian politics

There’s evidence appearing about the take up of solar may in fact continue to expand and become fully part of the country’s source of electricity. This is amazing given the on-going vicious and well-funded campaigns being carried by Big Coal and their allies in the present Australian Government.

The next big trick is to get solar to be a key issue at the coming elections, both state and federal. With many of the subsidies now being removed, those who have solar are starting to notice how they are being duded by the Big Coal electricity companies who do not want solar to succeed.

There’s a very good article online titled: Rooftop solar may be ‘sleeping giant’ of Australian politics – click here. It is worth a read to gain an update on this debate and some facts on the current rip offs underway.

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Paul Costigan 14 April 2014

 

Climate inAction

About climate action – or climate inaction

A piece from the New Yorker that again points out that the time for action on climate change is now but that inaction has actually become the norm. So many politicians have come to office on the back of statements on climate change, yet here we are in 2014 with no significant actions being undertaken to realistically deal with climate change.

The really sad part is, as pointed out in the article, the longer we allow our national governments to sit on their hands, then the harder it will be in the coming years as the problems will have worsened and become far more difficult to deal with. It seems we are all waiting for someone else to solve this problem.

Eventually of course, someone or at least something  will. That will be the planet that rejects the dangerous race called humans.

Here’s the link to the New Yorker article – click here

 

 

Food Security

Australia needs to listen to the warnings about its food security.

From the Independent Australia Blog comes the warning about food security.

The latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change paints a grim picture for the future of Australia’s food security.

Food security is an issue that must be carefully and comprehensively addressed by our government as a matter of critical forward planning. And it must be given priority over trade “arrangements” that may have attractions now, but which will limit the government’s policy options when current circumstances change, which all indicators point to being soon.

Continue reading Food Security

Sustainable Cities

World Urban Forum Highlights Opportunities for Sustainable Cities

In a blog on the Huffington Post, the authors point out the obvious. That is, obvious to those who are looking and care as opposed to too many who are presently making decisions about cities and sustainability.

The evidence is there.  Design well and all the benefits can follow. Design badly, which is too common, and all the inequities and unsustainable practices come to the fore. As the authors say:

Well-designed cities generate jobs, innovation, and economic growth for all. But when designed poorly — with too much sprawl, waste, and inefficiency — they can divide cities and exacerbate pollution, inequality, and political instability. Moreover, poor design has long-term consequences given that urban infrastructure often lasts decades. Continue reading Sustainable Cities

Los Angeles in 2033

From The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post presents a wonderfully optimistic report about a city that is often regarded as being a terrible example of urban development. I disagree. It has many things wrong with it but if you spend time there you can see that there are some really great things happening. All cities have their problems and many do not much to boast about.

Continue reading Los Angeles in 2033

Media and Climate Confusion

The role of the Media in confusion over climate change action

As reported many times, the current mainstream media has become part of the problem in encouraging the world to act urgently on climate change.

In Australia it has become painfully obvious that media, such as our own ABC, has gone far too far in providing what they term as ‘balance’. The voices of the scientists and the weight of their reports and the mountains of evidence is ‘balanced’ by the time given to complete skeptics and their lack of scientific evidence.

Continue reading Media and Climate Confusion

wetlands

Comment: Wetlands and Climate Change Adaptation

wetlands-P1030438

Australia has a very mixed understanding and relationship with wetlands. I happen to be fortunate to live close to one. This came into existence just a couple of years ago when the local government transformed a disused and degraded parkland into a wetland attached to an old style concrete drain.

Continue reading wetlands

LA in 2033

From The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post presents a wonderfully optimistic report about a city that is often regarded as being a terrible example of urban development. I disagree. It has many things wrong with it but if you spend time there you can see that there are some really great things happening. All cities have their problems and many do not much to boast about.

Continue reading LA in 2033

wetlands

 Comment: Wetlands and Climate Change Adaptation

Australia has a very mixed understanding and relationship with wetlands. I happen to be fortunate to live close to one. This came into existence just a couple of years ago when the local government transformed a disused and degraded parkland into a wetland attached to an old style concrete drain.

This wetland was part of a series of several wetlands installed into the inner northern suburbs of Canberra. Our hope is that one day the same local government will take on the challenge of enlarging the nearby wetlands to include much of the concrete drains through the inner northern suburbs. This would then be then be a linear park and wetland that would wind its way through several suburbs and increase the amount of green infrastructure. It would also be a wonderful walkway and increase the chances of locals getting out and walking.

Continue reading wetlands

IPCC and climate change

George Monbiot: Loss Adjustment

Following the IPCC report earlier this week, it was predictable that these dire warnings received just token media attention. The reporting was more along the lines of ‘just another report’. With the current Australian Government stuck in ‘business as usual’ mode, being just do what we did in 20th Century, I suspect this important report will be quietly ignored by the population.

George Monbiot has used a another story to make his point – click here

UK Farrell Review

Report: The Built Environment

Farrell2 In January 2013 Ed Vaizey, the UK Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries, commissioned Sir Terry Farrell to undertake a national review of architecture and the built environment. The report is now available online.

Terry Farrell undertook this Review independently with his team at Farrells and advised by a panel of 11 industry leaders with a breadth of experience that covers education, outreach, urbanism, architecture, property and philosophy.

 

Continue reading UK Farrell Review

The Farrell Review UK

Report: The Built Environment

Farrell2

In January 2013 the UK Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries, commissioned a review of architecture and the built environment. The report is now available online.  The recommendations covered: Education, Outreach and Skills; Design Quality; Cultural Heritage; Economic Benefits; and Built Environment Policy.

See our other blog for more details and comments click here

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Paul Costigan, 2 April 2014

Climate and Soils

Soil as Carbon Storehouse:  New Weapon in Climate Fight?

From environment360, by judith d. schwartz

The degradation of soils from unsustainable agriculture and other development has released billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere. But new research shows how effective land restoration could play a major role in sequestering CO2 and slowing climate change.

Soils of the world must be part of any agenda to address climate change, as well as food and water security. There is now a general awareness of soil carbon, an awareness that soil isn’t just a medium for plant growth.

click here for the full article

 

Technology and Conservation

How Technology Is Transforming Conservation

from the online – Foreign Affairs, April 2014

Conservation is for the first time beginning to operate at the pace and on the scale necessary to keep up with, and even get ahead of, the planet’s most intractable environmental challenges. New technologies have given conservationists abilities that would have seemed like super powers just a few years ago.

Continue reading Technology and Conservation

Climate Change

Report from the IPCC

rabbitt01Dear Sir Rabbott: The latest IPCC report predicts future food and water supply insecurities, calls for both mitigation and adaptation. No further information is necessary – it is all in the reports – please read them and bring Australia’s national action on climate change into the 20th (and then maybe the 21st) century.

The Guardian – click here – or – The UK Independent – click here

IPCC report

Report from the IPCC

 

rabbitt01Dear Sir Rabbott: The latest IPCC report predicts future food and water supply insecurities, calls for both mitigation and adaptation. No further information is necessary – it is all in the reports – please read them and bring Australia’s national action on climate change into the 20th (and then maybe the 21st) century.

The Guardian – click here – or – The UK Independent – click here

Rural Health & Climate

Climate Change and Rural Australia

There’s a pdf document on the Rural Health Alliance’s’ web site that addresses the issue that people most exposed to the economic and health effects of climate change are the world’s poor. In Australia, those who live in rural and remote areas are more exposed than those in major cities.

The final report of the Garnaut Review suggests that a wide range of agricultural industries are vulnerable or highly vulnerable, including those related to irrigation, grain and livestock. Australian fisheries are also likely to be affected, as is tourism, for example as a result of the effects on the Great Barrier Reef and Australia’s snowfields. Forestry may benefit from increased CO2 concentrations, but will also suffer from reduced rainfall and increased risk from bushfire. Infrastructure damage resulting from flood, bushfire and rising sea levels, and global tensions (eg related to environmental refugees) may require the diversion of funds from other areas such as health, education and welfare.

Click here – to download the pdf.

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Paul Costigan, 28 March 2014

global system unravel

industrial civilisation headed for irreversible collapse

global system unravel

The evidence is out there. “A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.”

Yet governments continue to play down the message in order for short term political gain. The article is definitely worth a read, not to become alarmed, but to become more informed of the need to rethink the way we do business. click here.

Green Roofs

Green Roofs and Urban Design

I remain skeptical about all the hype around green roofs and green walls. This is not to say that when delivered comprehensively, that green roofs can be very effective in reducing temperatures of the buildings. It is more that so many of the current crop of green roofs and green walls are token add-ons.

Despite the hype by the building companies and their contractors about how wonderful particular green walls and roofs are, many are superficial and deliver very limited benefit, if any. When done properly, a green roof can be a contributor to the green infrastructure of urban areas.

Continue reading Green Roofs

Watching the World Change

PBS deals with the Big Coal myths

PBS dives headfirst into the myth of clean coal and pretty much tears it apart using something we don’t often see these days when it come US energy issues: facts. And the most complete take-down of “clean coal” in the segment came from the CEO of the second largest coal electricity company in the US.

see the report on the program (not available online to Australia) through the web site – Coal is Dirty – click here.

 

Big Coal Demise

Carbon Crash – solar dawn

are we seeing the demise of Big Coal at last?

The internet came upon us and became everyday very quickly. This is the way of technological change. We humans seem to not realise when change is upon them until it has already happened. The world has lived with Big Coal as if it was here to stay. The world continues to receive the notices that Big Coal is doomed and is endangering the planet and life as we have come to expect it. Yet we continue to make decisions and elect governments to keep things going along a ‘business-as-usual’ model. Big Coal lives within the corridors of power to ensure that any government actions favour the Big Coal and Big Oil industries. It is indeed refreshing when voices appear to point out the obvious and to interpret the evidence correctly. There is such an article online on the Renew Economy web site – click here.

Climate Terminology

Climate Change Terminology

It’s all in the words we use

Variability in terms is a product of government climate

About a decade ago, when some of us were attempting to get the issues of Climate Change to be the basis for the debates on sustainable settlements, it was curious to see the distractions being manufactured in order to avoid taking these debates as comprehensively as they needed to be.

The most ardent opposition to a simple us of language actually came from particular academics who should have been the ones leading the charge to have clear and precise arguments. I suspect that despite their so called concerned views, the overriding pressure was that they were in fact part of large corporations, called universities, that had yet to step up and tackle the then conservative government’s point of views on climate change.

Continue reading Climate Terminology

Andrew Leigh

Report: Andrew Leigh’s Speech

Does Size Matter? An Economic Perspective on the Population Debate

max-P1020481The world is not a totally happy place right now. We are facing all sorts unbelievable challenges. One of the basic requirement is to obtain some real facts and evidence upon which to base decisions. This may seem logical.

However the level of misinformation coming through via the mainstream media, that has become the basis of political decision-making, is totally stunning.

 

Continue reading Andrew Leigh

Climate Council Report

Climate Council Report: The Angry Summer

Continuing hot on the heels of the ‘Angry Summer’ of 2012/2013, Australians again endured record breaking extreme events this summer.

The Climate Council’s report provides a summary of extreme weather conditions in the 2013/2014 summer, illuminating a continuing trend of hotter summers and more weather extremes in Australia.

click here for more on the 2014 Angry Summer Report.

Climate Council

Report: The Angry Summer

ba9e755e8d612a34ae915d28114d8f1fContinuing hot on the heels of the ‘Angry Summer’ of 2012/2013, Australians again endured record breaking extreme events this summer. The Climate Council’s report provides a summary of extreme weather conditions in the 2013/2014 summer, illuminating a continuing trend of hotter summers and more weather extremes in Australia. click on the graphic for more.

Urban Sustainable Development Goal

Why We Need an Urban Sustainable Development Goal

To quote from the article on The Nature of Cities” : The arguments for an urban Sustainable Development Goal are many. Urbanization has the ability to transform the social and economic fabric of nations and cities are responsible for the bulk of production and consumption worldwide, and are the primary engines of economic growth and development. Roughly three-quarters of global economic activity is urban, and as the urban population grows, so will the urban share of global GDP and investments.

The right to development for low-income and middle-income countries can only be realized through sustainable urbanization that addresses the needs of both rural and urban areas. It must also be recognized that cities are home to extreme deprivation and environmental degradation with one billion people living in slums. In many countries the number of slum dwellers has increased significantly in recent years, and urban inequality is deepening.  see the full article here

 

climate action

Extreme weather is ‘silver lining’ for climate action

rabbott01In an article from the Guardian, Christiana Figueres speaks optimistically of the effect of the numerous devastating weather events should have on political decision making on how to deal with climate change. Obviously she has not yet learnt that there are people in this world such as those who presently hold the power in Australia on these matters. I am not here referring to the idiots we have in the government, such as the Rabbott, but those who are the real puppet masters.

Nevertheless, I agree with her thrust that this matter is at last moving to another level of government thinking and that maybe now they may take action. Here is the link to the Guardian story – click here

Empires of Food

Book Review

Empires of Food: Feast, Famine and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations

empiresoffoodEvan D. G. Fraser and Andrew Rimas.  Random House, 2010

As if there was not enough information available on how the world is not paying attention to all the warning signs, this book was recommended to me to make me aware of the dire situation coming our way in relation to the supply of adequate food for coming generations.

This is all linked in with the issues of climate change, population growth and the way we have allowed our food supplies to be controlled by particular market and political forces. This book is a must read for all.

 

Continue reading Empires of Food

Empires of Food

Review: Book

Empires of Food: Feast, Famine and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations

Evan D. G. Fraser and Andrew Rimas.  Random House, 2010

empiresoffoodAs if there was not enough information available on how the world is not paying attention to all the warning signs, this book was recommended to me to make me aware of the dire situation coming our way in relation to the supply of adequate food for coming generations.

This is all linked in with the issues of climate change, population growth and the way we have allowed our food supplies to be controlled by particular market and political forces. This book is a must read for all.

Continue reading Empires of Food

Suburbia

Book Review: The Charms of Suburbia

This is a link to a review on the online Magazine: Metropolis.

Paradise-PlannedI was attracted to this as I believe in suburbia but get very annoyed (or is that angry) about the way current planning and development agencies have gone about ruining concept of suburbia through their lack of care for developing sustainable settlements.

This new book is a comprehensive history that rescues the garden suburb from the periphery of urban design, and repositions it at the heart of the debate on cities.

 

Continue reading Suburbia

Climate and Equity

Climate and Equity

There’s an interesting debate on how we convince people to take action on climate change. This action can be that we vote for the political parties that will follow through on actions, or it could that we all need to take some personal responsibility for climate change and take appropriate actions.

A Sydney GP has an interesting take on this and how we need to use particular words to convince all people.

Continue reading Climate and Equity

Reasons for Optimism

The State of the Debate on Climate Change

Reasons for Optimism

Old Colony_tcm3-34346I have to admit that having done a lot of reading and been involved in many discussions on climate change and the lack of concerted actions, it was novel to read an article titled: The State of the Debate on Climate Change: Reasons for Optimism.

I do however share the view that any optimism for change is based not on the behaviour and actions of the national or state governments, but on the policies and actions as undertaken by some of the local governments.

Continue reading Reasons for Optimism

Sydney and Climate Change

Sydney and Climate Change

The Lord Mayor speaks on Climate Change

cloverNot many cities in Australia have Lord Mayors who dare to speak out on issues. Sydney has been blessed to have a Lord Mayor who has a national and international profile. The Sydney City Council controls just a small part of the greater metropolitan area. However this has not stopped this local government from being a national leader in dealing with climate change. Within Australia, the Commonwealth and most state governments are well behind in dealing with the urgent climate issues. Leadership in this country, like many others, is coming from local government. On this Sydney is way in front thanks to Clover Moore and her team. This they have achieved despite the reactionary forces from her own state government. There’s a good piece in the Guardian from Clover – click here.

The State of the Debate on Climate Change

The State of the Debate on Climate Change:

Transformational Change Needed

At a conference organized by the National Council on Science and the Environment (NCSE) in Washington, D.C., Diana Ürge-Vorsatz, director of the Center for Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Policy at Central European University, said “spreading today’s best building practices could hold energy costs steady,” but the big question is “how to get the public and private sectors to work together to make transformational change.”

The session then outlined some more problems limiting action on climate change, and the transformational solutions needed to solve them. Interestingly one of the problems first identified was to do with higher education. Another was the decision making processes. There were others such as water and energy wisdom. See the report on this session on The Dirt (ASLA) – click here

Water Competition

Notice: Water Competition

tulaneWin A million Dollars – find the solution to this particular water problem

Tulane University is offering a $1 million prize to the team who comes up with the best solution for combating hypoxia-affected waters, the dead zones in the world’s lakes and oceans. Hypoxia is the oxygen depletion in water bodies caused by “excessive amounts of river-borne fertilizers and other nutrients.” Tulane’s grand challenge is a response to President Obama’s call for universities and philanthropies to step up and pursue innovative solutions to our most pressing environmental problems.

click here for the details

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Paul Costigan, 25 February 2014

Soils

Book Review (re-posted): Soils

What Has Nature Ever Done for Us

There is book review on the Guardian site. This is timely as Australia government goes through all sorts of actions to set the clock back on environmental issues. I dread what chance anyone would have right now of confronting this government over the long-term treatment of our soils, our biodiversity; in fact anything at all to do with nature.

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climate’s dark art

dealing with climate’s dark art

The desperate need for frank, honest, timely and evidence based advice.

 

max-P1020481Remember how things were during the more optimistic days of living in Australia, when climate change was not a dirty word or two?I am referring to the times of the Kevin Rudd and then Julie Gillard governments.

Back then the country was known internationally as taking a whole raft of initiatives to deal with climate change mitigation and adaptation.

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climate dark art

climate dark art

The desperate need for frank, honest, timely and evidence based advice.

 

max-P1020481Remember how things were during the more optimistic days of living in Australia, when climate change was not a dirty word or two?I am referring to the times of the Kevin Rudd and then Julie Gillard governments.

Back then the country was known internationally as taking a whole raft of initiatives to deal with climate change mitigation and adaptation.

I have to admit that I found the public sector involved in these areas to be under all sorts of pressures. The then government’s priorities kept changing as they worked through what they could and couldn’t do, given the nature of the controls other parties had over the government’s policies.

Continue reading climate dark art

Wind Farm

Wind Farms

The truth is out there!

rabbott01Things are looking desperate in Australia. The present Rabbott government continues to ignore science and the benefits of policy decisions based on scientific evidence.

The latest example of stupidity is that the Prime Minister has announced a review of the health problems linked to wind farms.

Maybe he, or at least his infamous chief of staff, should learn to read rather than just respond to lobby groups. The media share a lot of responsibility on this issue. Despite the case being closed by scientific evidence that there are no health problems, the media will still take any nut job and allow them equal time in any debate. This keeps the false debates alive.This keeps the case for ‘there remains doubts’ alive.

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Get Real on Climate Change

Definitely time to Get Real about Climate Change

There are may time as a citizen, that one despairs that any government is really going to Get Real about climate change.

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This is more frustrating because as we all know that they have at their finger tips all the advice and scientific information necessary for intelligent and timely decisions. Yet for so many governments, it is business as usual.

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Get Real

Get Real about Climate Change

There are may time as a citizen, that one despairs that any government is really going to Get Real about climate change. This is more frustrating because as we all know that they have at their finger tips all the advice and scientific information necessary for intelligent and timely decisions. Yet for so many governments, it is business as usual.

According to an article just published, the State of Victorian has an agency that is prepared to offer frank advice about the crucial steps we all need to take as a nation. It has listed the top challenges for Australia. In their simplest form, they are:

  1. Getting off coal
  2. Getting on to renewables
  3. Ending fossil fuel subsidies
  4. Stop facilitating the emissions of others
  5. Get ready

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Climate Change voices

Comment: More Climate Change Voices required

It is definitely time for political leaders and other voices to take the issues of climate change up to the mainstream media and the bunch of nut jobs who we politely call climate deniers.

The United States President and the White House team have been unable to deliver on its climate and environmental agendas due to the emasculation of anything sensible by the legislators. This should not stop any or all of them making more leadership statements to encourage the rest of the world and their own state governments to get on with dealing with the enormous challenges.

Continue reading Climate Change voices

Climate Change Voices

Comment: More Climate Change Voices required

 

It is definitely time for political leaders and other voices to take the issues of climate change up to the mainstream media and the bunch of nut jobs who we politely call climate deniers.

The United States President and the White House team have been unable to deliver on its climate and environmental agendas due to the emasculation of anything sensible by the legislators.

This should not stop any or all of them making more leadership statements to encourage the rest of the world and their own state governments to get on with dealing with the enormous challenges.

Continue reading Climate Change Voices

Climate Change Flooding

Climate Change Flooding in the UK

While the predictions forecast an increase in temperatures and a drier climate for places such as most of Australia, especially in the South East, the same predictions forecast much wetter conditions in countries in the north, such as the UK.

While the former predictions are starting to be fulfilled, the latter for the UK is now being questioned. That is, not whether they are true, but whether climate change has already affected the weather in the UK.

With the massive flooding now underway and more expected, these questions are being asked and answered by the scientists within their bureau of meteorology.

Continue reading Climate Change Flooding

neglected trees

Opinion: Trees

and yes, we should be looking after them.

During times of heat, drought, and extreme temperatures, it really demonstrates how the planning of Canberra, ‘the garden city’, was based on serious misunderstandings.

click on any photograph to enlarge it

Woden-P1030512

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Cities and Biodiversity

Cities and Biodiversity

There’s a short presentation online that introduces the benefits and urgency for all countries to do more for Cities and Biodiversity. The presenters have some key messages on their web site.

Key Messages for Cities and Biodiversity Continue reading Cities and Biodiversity

urban ecology

urban ecology

re-posted article: What are the social justice implications of urban ecology, and how can we make sure that “green cities” are not synonymous with “gentrified” or “exclusive” cities?

Here is Australia there is a lot of talk amongst city planners and such that there is a need for green cities, sustainable cities and lots more simplistic terms. It is very hard indeed to find amongst the rhetoric any realistic commitment to urban ecology.

The need to base all urban developments against a measure based around preserving and enhancing the soil, the ecology and the green infrastructure remains an optimistic wish for those interested in the survival of the planet. Current approaches to urban design and planning are still very much ‘business as usual’ with market forces, meaning the quick dollar, as the drivers and measures applied.

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Wind Farm Refugees

Wind Farm Refugees

re-post from The Drum on the ABC

rabbott01If you have paid any attention to the wind farm debates within Australia, two names surface. One is the Waubra Foundation, and the other is their leader, Sarah Laurie. The town of Waubra has had its name used by this so-called foundation, even though it has requested that they cease using their town’s name in this campaign. As for Sarah Laurie, there have been numerous articles exposing her claims. Today there is another researcher who calls into question the claim that people have become refugees of the wind farms as they have had to leave their properties to get away from the harm caused by the wind farms.

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Canberra and climate change

The city of Canberra and climate change

Re-posted from the Canberra Times

There are times here in the City of Canberra when one despairs at the actions of the planning authority in its spin about how it goes about the planning, design and redevelopment of Canberra’s suburbs. In short: It is shocking!

The authority uses all sorts of green wash in its spin. The planners within the authority still favour the so called market forces to translate their lose planning requirements to deliver what the local developers consider as adequate for residents. This means an extremely artificial nod to the urgent climate change adaptation issues that are impacting on our urban environments. Say no more.

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Lawns of Kingston

Opinion: the Lawns of Kingston return

Beware politicians and designers: We love our Lawns

Kingston-GrnSq-P1010961

In a previous post I had spoken of Australia’s love of the lawn. (click here)

In particular I mentioned a local battle over Green Square at the Kingston Shops in Canberra whereby the local government had replaced a green square of lawn with a designed space,  complete with brick walls and seating and drought friendly, low maintenance plants.

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Edible City

Advocacy: Edible City

A presentation: Turn your city to being an edible city

Developed by the American Society of Landscape Architects, this presentation will assist advocacy to deal with the forecasted food shortages as climate change kicks in. The presentation demonstrates how to turn a conventional community into an edible city. Learn how to transform unproductive spaces into agricultural landscapes that help fight obesity and reduce food deserts. Make sure you note the address and send it onto anyone in decision making roles.

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Revitalizing Cities with Parks

Advocacy: Sustainable Landscapes – Revitalizing Cities with Parks

Developed by the American Society of Landscape Architects, this presentation should assist anyone with their advocacy for Revitalizing Cities with Parks. In these times of reactionary governments and tight budgets, it is important to maintain efforts to introduce the simple idea to create more parks.

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Drought

Opinion: It is hot!
Drought

I am writing this while the temperature outside is about 38 degrees Celsius. It is hot and dry in SE Australia and has been for weeks and it may be this way for a couple of weeks to come.

Australia had its 10 year drought and now the yearly temperatures have settled down to being the hottest on record. And it just keeps on being hot and dry. Yet the government does not think it there is anything to worry about.

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Leadership in Design

Leadership in design of the built environment

watson-House-P1030003I was attending a meeting of combined community council two years ago, when to members of the public who were in attendance made very similar appeals. Both were very upset with the quality of the redevelopments that had appeared within their street, despite the local communities objections about key aspects of the developments.

As far as I could ascertain, they were not necessarily opposed to the infill of their suburb. It was more about the nature of the apartments being built.

Continue reading Leadership in Design

Leadership in Design

Leadership in design of the built environment

watson-House-P1030003 I was attending a meeting of combined community council two years ago, when to members of the public who were in attendance made very similar appeals. Both were very upset with the quality of the redevelopments that had appeared within their street, despite the local communities objections about key aspects of the developments.

As far as I could ascertain, they were not necessarily opposed to the infill of their suburb. It was more about the nature of the apartments being built.

Continue reading Leadership in Design

Urban Forests

Advocacy: Urban Forests

A presentation: Urban Forests = Cleaner, Cooler Air

Developed by the American Society of Landscape Architects, this presentation will assist advocacy for more resource allocation for urban forests. Governments need to deal with climate change in the urban areas, and dealing with urban forests is a good place to concentrate some resources. The urban forest issues are linked to the population’s health and wellbeing and avoiding heat island effects.

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Leadership

Leadership

Online Presentation: The Best Planned City: Olmsted, Vaux, and the Buffalo Park System

Despite all the evidence and all the advocacy, our political leaders are still not up to the challenge of dealing with something that is a threat to life as we have come to know it here on this planet. True leadership seems to be in short supply these days.

There are a host of professions that could be showing much greater leadership. Many have learnt to be spin doctors and have filled pages with their commitments and their policies. All this is very nice and very polite.

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climarte

climarte

climarte: Notice of public program

I am writing to invite you to attend the first public program being produced by CLIMARTE, a new independent not for profit body that I am running together with Bronwyn Johnson (ex Director of the Melbourne Art Fair).

I hope to see you there. Kind regards, Guy Abrahams

Continue reading climarte