while more trees come down!
When the ACT government announced on September 25 an allocation of $14 million to plant 54,000 trees across Canberra, clearly it was designed to give the impression that the government took trees and biodiversity seriously.
Once upon a time, Canberra tourism included views of tree-lined suburban streets. That was Canberra as we knew it – a city in a landscape. The ambience was greenery and open spaces.
The ACT Government’s planning directorate has an impenetrable structure that reminds me of the “Star Wars” concept – the Borg Hive – called The Collective.
The residents of Canberra love this city because of the trees. There are numerous occasions when people have had to rally to save our trees.
In Australia the government has completely messed up any opportunity to gain long-term economic sustainability for the country. We have just witnessed the current government do a dirty deal with another party led by a mining millionaire to do away with an opportunity for a just tax on the miners.
The writers cover most topics including: health, the environment, education, migration, science and the economy. It is definitely worth the time to make your way through them.
It was announced in the UK that the winner of a competition has proposed that to deal with population growth that new cities should be built nearby established ones. These would be garden cities connected back to the older city by public transport.
This is a job well done. I saw an article about this and was determined to have a look. Now if only they had been sensible and given an address.
From The Guardian: London – with all its tarmac, brick and glass – is actually 38.4% open space and ranks as the world’s third greenest major city. Now Daniel Raven-Ellison wants to go further … and make Greater London a national park. His campaign and online petition aims to have the city treated in the same way as parks like the Peak District and the Brecon Beacons, to conserve its natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage.
Paul Costigan, 20 August
The Guardian has published a terrifying article of just how far down this country is heading. As Tim Flannery says: The Great Barrier Reef is sick. Almost half of its coral is already dead and a massive new coal mine, which was given final approval this week, will only cause further damage. This is not just an issue for Australia, it affects us all.
Paul Costigan, 3 August 2014
The landscape architect, Mia Lehrer, has spent nearly two decades helping transform a mammoth drainage canal into a true urban amenity.
Paul Costigan, 28 July 2014
The Academy of Science brought together young researchers and leading scientists to discuss climate change and its impacts on health.
When you read the statistics on the range of dangerous changes already occurring to the planet because of climate changes, you do wonder about the stupid and dangerous decisions being made by the present Australian Government.
Suzanne Goldenberg has written that because of the changes to climate the world is nearly five times as dangerous and disaster prone as it was in the 1970s. Her reference is a new report from the World Meteorological Organisation.
Click here for that article.
Paul Costigan, 26 July 2014
There is a very hard-hitting article in the August 2014 issue of The Monthly on how the two large supermarkets have been allowed to rip anyone and everyone off. Even more depressing is that it points to how we, as consumers, are continuing to allow this to happen.
The major point raised by the article is how this dominance of the two of these supermarkets has reduced the food security in this country.
Many of the world’s biggest problems require asking questions of scientists — but why should we believe what they say? Historian of science Naomi Oreskes thinks deeply about our relationship to belief and draws out three problems with common attitudes toward scientific inquiry — and gives her own reasoning for why we ought to trust science. (From YouTube)
Naomi Oreskes is an American historian of science. She became Professor of the History of Science and Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University in 2013, after 15 years as Professor of History and Science Studies at the University of California San Diego. (Wikipedia)
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.
Paul Costigan, 20 July 2014
I have said it before and am happy to say so again, I live in a suburb in Canberra that has a fabulous amount of trees. The amount of trees in the public arena, streets and parks etc, combined with those throughout the residential properties delivers an ambience that is hard to explain to anyone who has not experienced it. With our local trees comes other biodiversity and heaps of bird life. Researchers have just worked this out. Click here for a story on this.
I have the benefit of living in a suburb with plenty of tree cover. In fact the view outside onto the streets is almost as if the street is a parkland. The concept that any suburb should have an abundance of trees and shrubs and associated bio-diversity is simply so logical that one wonders why would anyone think otherwise.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dealing with contemporary planning agencies has become a very stressful task for any person with concerns for their immediate and future urban environments.
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!).
Australians can only wonder what the President thought about after having his conversations with the Prime Minister of Australia knowing that this is the man who proudly said climate change is crap.
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.
Silent rooftop wind turbines could generate half of a household’s energy needs
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
Paul Costigan 5 June 2014
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.
Sharon Beder has written some informative pieces previously and has her own website – click here – definitely worth a look
Paul Costigan, 29 May 2014
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
There 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.
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.
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’!
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.
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.
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.
Paul Costigan 14 April 2014
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
From the Independent Australia Blog comes the warning about 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dear 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.
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.
Paul Costigan, 28 March 2014
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.
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.
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.
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.
Does Size Matter? An Economic Perspective on the Population Debate
The 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.
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.
a presentation put online by the UK Landscape Institute. Enjoy!
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
In 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
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.
This is a link to a review on the online Magazine: Metropolis.
I 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.
I 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.
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
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.
Paul Costigan, 25 February 2014
Edgewood no. 1, from the series “Edgewood: Aerial Photography of New Suburbia” (2006); originally seen at the Museum of Sydney, 2010
The desperate need for frank, honest, timely and evidence based advice.
Remember 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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
re-post from The Drum on the ABC
If 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
A paper has been posted online by Stuart Bryce Capstick and Nicholas Frank Pidgeon. The Abstract reads:
It has been argued that public doubts about climate change have been exacerbated by cold weather events seen as a form of disconfirming evidence for anticipated ‘warming’. Although a link between perceptions of climate and weather is well-established, such assumptions have not been empirically tested. Here we show, using nationally representative data, that directly following a period of severe cold weather in the UK, three times as many people saw these events as pointing towards the reality of climate change, than as disconfirming it.
re-posted from Philly.com
Posted: January 07, 2014 Coming from image-conscious professionals who prefer to gush about the beauty of flowers and the joys of growing vegetables, the words were downright shocking: “Horticulture is under siege.” They jumped off a three-page letter penned by a half-dozen of the country’s most prominent plant people sent in December to 800 schools and universities, government agencies, industry associations, and growers of everything from almonds to onions. Clearly, horticulture – once a priority, if not an obsession, for generations of Americans – is in trouble. The letter warns that if something isn’t done soon to boost the ranks of plant scientists, breeders, students, and others in the field, horticulture could become a lost art and a forgotten science. see the full article on Philly.com: click here
Couple of articles about Big Coal and its attitude to the truth:
When Barack Obama first ran for president, being green was so popular that oil companies like Chevron were boasting about their commitment to renewable energy, and his Republican opponent, John McCain, supported action on global warming.
As Mr. Obama seeks re-election, that world is a distant memory. Some of the mightiest players in the oil, gas and coal industries are financing an aggressive effort to defeat him, or at least press him to adopt policies that are friendlier to fossil fuels. And the president’s former allies in promoting wind and solar power and caps on greenhouse gases? They are disenchanted and sitting on their wallets.
more from the original NY Times – hopefully the link is working
We live in strange times. The former Australian Government had developed an international reputation for being in the business of looking after its people, of caring for the environment and for careful financial management.
The new Rabbott government is establishing itself as far more interested in the short term aim of providing for those who assisted it into power. This means handing decisions on social, financial and environmental issues back to the business lobby groups. This is the new version of government taking a back seat and allowing business to drive the agenda. In many cases, this means the business lobby groups are having government wind back programs, especially on any issues dealing with the environment. There’s a good piece in The Conversation on the attitude taken by this government to addressing climate change.
“Reverting to fossil fuels, phasing out of renewable energy incentives and increasing deforestation levels to accommodate expanding agriculture explains most of this. Which begs the question of Australia’s government: are you serious?” read the full article here.
From the Guardian (Friday 24 January): This Australia day, us underdogs will fight Big Coal to save Maules Creek. In the battle that is gripping my community, my fifth generation farming family and I are siding with traditional owners and environmentalists against miners to save the land we love; an article by Phil Laird.
This Australia Day, many of us will gather to reflect on and celebrate what’s great about our democracy. It’s our good fortune as a nation to be blessed with abundant natural resources that are our common wealth. Our fertile land, clean air and water underpin our country’s agricultural heritage, which has fed and clothed us. Australia’s native wildlife is unique, and the bush where Australians walk, fish, hunt and camp is habitat for the animals that are emblems of the country itself. Traditional owners of the country have the longest continuing culture in the world, and a connection to the bush that goes back tens of thousands of years. click here for the Guardian Article
The linked article has ramifications for the current forest management methods and choices about what to log or not. The piece also reminds us all of the importance of all trees, not only for shade and green infrastructure benefits, but also as carbon sinks.
While becoming carbon neutral must be the top priority, it remains that trees are part of the adaptation processes of dealing with some of the carbon in our atmosphere. This points to the need to increase our urban forests and to ensure that new developments include more than adequate trees to deal with heat island effects, to provide for increase health and wellbeing and to be part of city-wide urban carbon sinks.
Reporting on research being undertaken
You are urged to ‘watch this space’ for research and reports by scientists who have been carrying out research on Urbanism, Climate Adaptation and Health. To quote from their website:
Safeguarding future health in Australian cities, The CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship has funded scientists and researchers from a range of disciplines to develop adaptation strategies which will improve the health of urban populations in the face of a variable and changing climate.
The Urbanism, Climate Adaptation and Health Cluster was established in 2010 and officially launched in March 2011 at a Conference in Cairns, bringing together nine different partner organisations focusing on 7 major research projects.
Climate change got more coverage on broadcast news in 2013 than in the previous few years, but the issue still didn’t get nearly as much attention as it did in 2009, Media Matters found in a new analysis. ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox together featured more coverage in 2013 than they did in 2012. The amount of airtime granted to climate change on both the Sunday shows and the nightly news was up, too — to a total of 27 minutes, and an hour and 42 minutes, respectively, for the entire year. The progressive media watchdog group Media Matters totaled the time broadcasters devoted to climate change for a new report released Thursday. read the full article here
(Taken from a media release)
The Productivity Commission this week released a staff working paper that examines methods available for assessing costs and benefits for environmental values.
In Australia planning authorities and government administrative services sections still do not address the proven links between health and the access to open spaces. One has to only look to the small budgets for parks initiatives and worse still to the shrinking allocations for park maintenance within local governments.
Meanwhile all our governments are under stress because of the increasing requirements being identified under their health portfolios.
Living in an urban area with green spaces such as parks has a long-lasting positive impact on people’s mental well-being, a study has suggested. UK researchers found moving to a green space had a sustained positive effect, unlike pay rises or promotions, which only provided a short-term boost.
The authors said the results indicated that access to good quality urban parks was beneficial to public health. The findings appear in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
Threats to Climate Action
re-post from the Guardian
Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid
Once upon a time, not that many years ago, Australia was on the world stage as a leading in actions on climate change. It was not that a lot had actually happened. The truth was that a many new initiatives were being proposed.
The aura was that the country was on the move. The Australian Government was open to do business on climate change.
Other countries were admiring the remarkable turn around on climate change actions from those of the previous Howard government years. If you happened to have been overseas, you felt proud of your country and were able to discuss these issues in the knowledge that your country was out their doing its stuff; or at least about to do so.
In the midst of a January heatwave in South East Australia, with temperature outside being around 40 degrees Celsius for several days, it is refreshing to see the science being discussed as to what happens and why. As usual there will be the trolls who try to distract the facts being put forward. I for one thank the researchers who continue to seek evidence based answers to the many queries around weather and the links to climate change. Here’s the link to the piece by Tess Parker, on The Conversation
re-post from the ABC
The link below takes you to an article by the ABC. While you’re sweating it out, you’re paying for your neighbour’s air-conditioning to be running. How? It’s because the electricity market in Australia needs changing. CSIRO published a post yesterday about some demand management ideas that have been given a run. It includes an idea they call ‘cost reflective pricing’, which is also known as ‘time of use pricing’ or ‘flexible pricing’. In essence, your electricity company charges you more for electricity at peak times of demand, thereby encouraging you to save your energy-intensive activities for a cheaper time of day. Some energy retailers in Australia offer such a service, but it tends to be something that customers need to ring up and request, rather than being automatic read electricity and air conditioners on the ABC article here and through the link to the CSIRO post on electricity and air conditioners
World must sustainably produce 70 per cent more food by mid-century
There are many debates in Australia suburbs about trying to achieve planning and development more relevant to contemporary suburban priorities including to address issues of climate change adaptation. Most of these advocacy efforts are hard work and very frustrating.
Re-posted from The Nature of Cities
Cities and biodiversity and national parks.
It is about equating the Natural Environment of National Parks to the natural environment of Cities – there are the one environment!
Many the time I have had frustrating debates with bureaucracies over how we address the issues of biodiversity and landscape. Often it results in the otherwise intelligent bureaucrat insisting that we talk about two separate entities, the built environment and the natural environment. This perception has also surfaced in discussions with organisations such as Conservation Foundations and their like.
If cities look to stay within their boarders, there is the need to seek acceptable ways to intensify the number of residents within the older suburbs. This requires an intelligent engagement with the present residents of suburban areas on a case by case basis.
Given the need to address climate change within the suburbs as they are being redeveloped and upgraded throws up a host of requirements that should have by now have been built into legislation. Sadly this is not so as most of the re-development and intensification as been left to laissez-faire market forces.