The problem

This report was published by the Victorian government in February 2014. It highlights the need for action to slash carbon emissions. But where are the policies that follow up on that?

You could ask the mayor of Geelong and your local councillor if they have read this particular report – and what more precisely they are going to do about it.

The sad reality for most parts is that our elected leaders don’t have a clue. Which is also why you will most likely see very few, if any, of them showing up at the Renew Geelong Picnic. They believe to have more important things on their agendas than climate change.


The root of the problem
Climate change is actually not that much of a problem. According to the United Nations’ climate panel, IPCC, the “cost” of avoiding a climate change catastrophe is to reduce the median annual growth of consumption over this century by a mere 0.06 percent.

So you’ll be hearing people saying that it is our elected leaders – or rather: the inaction of our elected leaders – the general lack of political will – which is creating the problem.

Which is true to a point. On the other hand, when you think about it, while we have a finger pointing at our politicians, three fingers are pointing at ourselves: we can’t really blame our politicians for their inaction, because as long as climate change is not a concern for the average voter, then why should elected politicians be concerned about something that so obviously won’t get them reelected?

In other words, the root of the problem is that current public pressure for action on climate change is insignificant, almost invisible. There is not enough people who understand what climate change is, how to deal with it, or even why they should be concerned about it. They couldn’t care less that the problem won’t be solved unless they begin to speak up about it.

That is the real problem we face. Our fellow human beings. Is it a problem we can deal with? Of course we can! That’s for instance what events such as the Renew Geelong Picnic are all about. Awareness. Knowledge-sharing. Strengthening the understanding of where the solutions to the problem lie.

As the matter of fact, private and individual solution-building is all that Australia’s got at the moment: Two thirds of all investment in renewable energy in Australia in 2013 was from households. Together, they invested $2.8 billion in solar in 2013.

As years pass by, as education spreads and the consequences of climate change begin to have direct consequences on more and more peoples’ lives, public pressure will rise.

Enter our next problem. We are up against another crucial issue: the time factor.
Unfortunately, the scientists are telling us that we are running out of time:



» Climate News Network – 18 April 2014:
The energy revolution is in reverse
The world should be moving to a clean energy future, the IPCC says. The recent record of global greenhouse emissions show it’s heading in entirely the wrong direction.

» Triple Pundit – 25 April 2014:
New IPCC Report: The World is On Track for a Hefty Temperature Increase This Century
If the world continues down its current carbon-spewing course, global temperatures will hit a staggering 4.8 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels by the end of the century, with potentially disastrous consequences for humanity, ecosystems and sustainable development, according to a new report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).


Speeding up the transition towards clean energy is an issue. There are tipping points that we should not pass. But as it is going at the moment, we will. Global carbon emissions keep rising, and according to the hundreds of scientists of the United Nations’ climate panel IPCC, our collective inaction threatens to make habited and arable land virtually unlivable, to cause breakdown of food systems, create more violent conflicts, increased frequency of wild weather events. Problems of a magnitude we are unable to deal with are rising in the horizon.


The Age: Climate Change Its Here

Climate change made it to the headlines on the front cover of The Age on 1 April 2014. But no, unfortunately, it was not an April Fools’ story. “Surface air and oceans are warming, rain patterns are changing and there is worse, much worse, to come,” wrote The Age




The facts are in and the message is clear: the climate is in trouble and now is the time to act. We need to stop polluting the air. Relatively quickly.




Several international bodies, including the United Nations, the World Bank, and the International Energy Agency, warn that to keep global warming to relatively safe levels, most proven global fossil fuel reserves will have to remain in the ground.

Here is what Dr Emily Shuckburgh, one of the world’s foremost climate scientists, has to say about the climate crisis:

Dr Shuckburgh leads the Open Oceans research group at the British Antarctic Survey, which is focused on understanding the role of the polar oceans in the global climate system. She is also a fellow of Darwin College, Cambridge. She is a climate scientist who has worked at Ecole Normal Superieure in Paris and at MIT, as well as at the University of Cambridge.


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The data
The polar ice is visibly disappearing right in front of our “eyes” – the satellite cameras. The climate data and CO2-parts per million measurements are non-debatable. The consequences of these changes in our climate caused by our increasing annual emissions, now over 30,000,000,000 tons of CO2, are very serious and beyond doubt.

Fire frequency and intensity, for instance, is expected to increase substantially in coming decades. Last year was Australia’s hottest year on record, and around Geelong and Melbourne, July was the warmest July on record.

View from Waurn Ponds, Geelong, 2014

View from Waurn Ponds, Geelong, 2014


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The New York Times – 18 March 2014:
Scientists Sound Alarm on Climate
“The new report is a recognition among scientists that they bear some responsibility for the confusion — that their well-meaning attempts to convey all the nuances and uncertainties of a complex field have obscured the core message about risks. The report reflects their resolve to try again, by clearing the clutter.”



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“Australia’s multibillion-dollar mining, farming and tourism industries all face significant threats as worsening global warming causes more dangerous and extreme weather, the world’s leading climate science body will warn.

A final draft of a five-year assessment by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, seen by Fairfax Media, details the global impacts of intensifying climate change, including the displacement of hundreds of millions of people, reduced crop yields and the loss of trillions of dollars from the global economy.”


Sydney Morning Herald – 23 March 2014:
IPCC warns climate chaos will worsen, harming Australia’s economy
The draft Australasia chapter outlines significant local threats if human-caused climate change is allowed to get worse, in particular that fire seasons, especially in southern Australia, will extend in high-risk areas. There is significant risk of increased damage and death from heatwaves caused by more frequent extreme high temperatures. Flood risks would be worse, with the draft report warning of increasing damage from inundation. Article by Tom Arup, Environment editor, The Age


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» Infographic: How climate change is destroying the Earth


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The health problem


3 April 2014:
Health professionals demand urgent climate action following IPCC report


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The health aspect:

Seven million premature deaths annually linked to air pollution

Air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk. Reducing air pollution could save millions of lives. According to the World Health Organisation, air pollution killed one out of eight in 2012

In new estimates released on 25 March 2014, the World Health Organisation reported that in 2012 around seven million people died – one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure. This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that.


In the case of outdoor air pollution, WHO estimates there were 3.7 million deaths in 2012 from urban and rural sources worldwide. Outdoor air pollution-caused deaths – breakdown by disease:

40% – ischaemic heart disease
40% – stroke
11% – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
6% – lung cancer and
3% – acute lower respiratory infections in children

“Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution; the evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe,” said Dr Maria Neira, Director of WHO’s Department for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health.

» www.who.int


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The solutions

There is not one solution to this mess. There are many. Most of them are electrical and all are non-polluting.

It is time to confront the reality of climate change and take bold steps to transition to renewable energy – along with the guidelines of, among others, the World Bank and the United Nations, and their global government-supported initiative Sustainable Energy for All.


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allthatstandsintheway

“All that stands in the way of saving the planet is a combination of ignorance, prejudice and vested interests.”
Moms Clean Air Force

Article in New York Times on 17 April 2014 by Paul Krugman:
Salvation Gets Cheap
“The incredible recent decline in the cost of renewable energy, solar power in particular, have improved the economics of climate change.”


Geelong: Take part in local solution building

» Booklet:  ‘The Solution’

» Event:  ‘Renew Geelong Picnic’


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→ More about the solution
Centre for Climate Safety: The good news

→ More about the problem
Centre for Climate Safety: The bad news
The Tree – Content for Climate & Energy Communicators: treealerts.org/australia