Thursday, 24 May 2012

I'm not alone!

Here is an interesting, intelligent appraisal of the current state of the Catholic Church. Good to read that others have similar views to my own!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Stay Focussed on Our Renewable Energy Future!

Over the passed few days some of you may have heard some outspoken environmentalists talking about the dangers of large scale renewable energy.

Aerial view of the PS10 solar tower plant outside Seville, Spain
It would seem to me a sensible thing to accommodate both localised and large scale forms of renewable energy. I have been talking about this here in Warrnambool for a number of years now as the SW of Victoria is possibly the richest renewable area in Australia. We have wind a plenty (if the Baillieu Govt would only let us use it), wave energy, geothermal and of course the potential for both solar panels and solar thermal.

In places like Warrnambool which supports a population of 35,000 it would be sensible to create power from our own sources of wind and waste with perhaps a booster from centralised large scale sources as well.

This is a picture of the Spittelau incineration plant which supplies heating to a district in Vienna.

Essential services already have their own emergency generators. It would be good to see these move immediately to renewable sources such as waste from our local tips and for organisations such as hospitals waste from the kitchens and other sources.

These are solar heating panels.

Renewable heat technology

It is good to have such conversations as long as they are productive because they may help us refine our understanding of what a clean energy future might look like and help us to work out what our country will actually require to transition toward a fully functioning clean energy future for all our purposes. However, in the light of catastrophic human induced climate change, it would be very unwise to allow these differing opinions to distract us from our united aim to create 100% renewable clean and efficient energy for our country and the entire world.

I agree with Ben Courtice from Friend's of The Earth. The Government of Australia must make a plan for the clean energy future which involves the restructuring of our energy grid to include both localised and centralised renewable power sources.

A centralised energy grid would seem to be more appropriate for urban communities with prioritisation of energy efficiency and the maximisation of domestic feed in potential with an eye on the development of future technologies.

It would seem to me that localised production makes more sense in rural and remote areas such as Warrnambool and if that means we need some centralised help to run our businesses and industries then that should be available too.

Many of us are already aware that we cannot go on forever with the 'business as usual' mentality but perhaps we can make the transition smoother by staying focussed and working with governments, industries and communities to make a renewable energy future possible. We need to work together, not against each other.

This is a picture of the Nesjavellit Geothermal power plant in Iceland.
File:NesjavellirPowerPlant edit2.jpg

Here is an example of what the localised renewable energy advocates have been saying.

Hello friends,
the following link is to a post by John Isaacs-Young, who is active in
Transition Sunshine Coast, He points out that there are serious
unexamined assumptions about movements to cut emissions and solve the
climate change problem with large scale renewable energy projects. The
probable almost certain future is one with drastically less energy not
more business as usual.
Big Green Tech - and the Beyond Zero Emissions movement could be
wasting vital energy and resources duplicating our existing
dysfunctional centralized energy infrastructure when what we will need
is locally produced electricity.
In the face of declining energy (money) availability and the
disintegration of the world as we have come to know it, we will tend
to want to cling to our big-system world and demand that it be fixed.
Most of us will continue to lend our support to those who claim to be
able to bring it back. Those who enjoy or have enjoyed positions of
power are even more invested and will be relentless in their efforts
to rebuild the big systems. Time and again this will look like it is
going to work, only to fail again - think Grecce. Eventually we will
get the idea. There will be a shift in values and a different way of
doing things with less energy.
"Climate activists in particular", says David Holmgren, "tend to focus
on the fossil energy industries as the 'enemy' (both for generating
greenhouse gases and funding climate change denial), but naturally see
any parties accepting the new climate change agenda as allies. I
believe that many of the global players promoting the climate change
agenda are as dangerous as those denying that agenda."
I commend this article to you.

Beyond Zero Emissions " BZE are developing a detailed, costed blueprint for the transition to a completely decarbonised Australian economy by 2020. The Zero Carbon Australia project will consist of 6 transition plans covering the 6 sectors of energy, buildings, transport, land use, industrial processes and coal exports."

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Stop reading The Australian and The Herald Sun!!/photo.php?fbid=189895001060316&set=a.189894997726983.45873.163595073690309&type=1&theater

So what are your thoughts on this? Do you think the average Australian citizen is getting a fair media coverage of the major issues effecting our country? Do you think that people are being well informed? How do you think the facts of say the 'carbon price' could be more impartially explained to the general populace?

How does an objective, well informed explanation of say the 'price on carbon' reach someone who perhaps spends all day working, even more than 12 hours a day, who is not a university graduate and who has not had much interest in politics, the economy, environmentalism, human rights or anything much other than cricket, football and other sports? This demographic makes up the majority of voters in Australia and these people will determine who will be elected to government in the 2013 Federal election.

Has the present Govt failed to inform this demographic of voters? The Labor Party was once the workers party. Has the labor Party failed to clearly explain the issues and policies to the workers? Is it that the Liberal National Party has won over the Murdoch press and therefore the influence of the working and middle classes?

Much of the voting public actually believes the bias of the Herald Sun, The Daily Telegraph  and The Australian. The educated conservatives amongst us read The Australian and I have even heard some left wing voters say they read it because the articles are well written! The likes of Philip Adams write for The Australian! How long has The Australian been the right wing paper for the intelligensia? Anyone read The Age lately? I do but sometimes feel disappointed in the level of professionalism amongst its journalists.

Can you think of a way to educate the populace on the simple facts of the important issues affecting our country and convince them that we need to act now on climate change? If you can, you'll receive a medal from me!!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Ted Baillieu to turn Victoria into another Pilbara!!!

Q & A was particulalry dismal last night. What a miserable lot! Why are people not stating the bleeding obvious, that there are more than two political parties and more than two choices?

VOTE GREEN! Voting GREEN is the answer to the tired old two party dilemma. Just do it people.
How can the Greens do more for human rights and the environment without your vote?

Everyday I am asked why the Greens aren't doing something about specific issues:
about the Fukishima disaster which is threatening to become a global concern;
about Australia's uranium and coal exports which add to the problems of radioactive waste and greenhouse gas emissions;
about the fact that we are digging up the last of our wilderness and the last savannah wilderness in the world, the Kimberely and prime farming lands in Queensland and NSW for coal, gas and coal seam gas;
about the pathetic treatment of the renewables industry;
about disability support and centerlink payment decreases;
about the forests which State Governments want to decimate;
about the decimation of the Kimberely and the destruction of sacred sites;
about the fact that Ted Baillieu said he wants to turn Victoria into another Pilbara;
about the Baillieu Government's withdrawal of funds from threatened species programs;
about marriage equality;
about the preservation of our farming land;
about saving the Murray darling Basin and all our wet lands, rivers and waterways;
about bloomin' cane toads;
about our struggling education system;
about funding for TAFE and universities;
about child abuse and the problems in child protection and social services;
about the abuse of women;
about koalas and the terrible loss of species in Australia everyday...especially Western Australia and Queensland;
about ocean acidification;
about plastic waste and packaging;
about Genetic Modification;
about our first peoples and their right to self determination;
about our health system and the shortage of doctors and dentists;
about animal welfare;
about maintaining workers rights and decent working conditions;
about the overseas buy up of Australian farming land;
about the loss of our manufacturing industry;
about the need for local communities to become self sufficient and sustainable;
about biofuel from waste;
about empowering individual Australians through the support of small businesses and the curtailing of large coorporations;
about reveging Australia;
about the salination of good farming land;
about human induced climate change;
about teaching music, the arts and history in schools;
about pollution and chemicals on our food and in our water;
about the desperate need for decent public bloody transport, not new bypasses and freeways;
about the sexualisation of children through the media and via the internet.

Oh and by the way, Australia is not a highly taxed country. Here is the proof.!/photo.php?fbid=10150740730989397&set=a.10150564539594397.374037.100162559396&type=1&theater

Here are some of the amazing things just a few Greens in Government have either been able to instigate or influence over the passed few years.
#a price on greenhous gases ( the so called 'carbon tax' though it is not a tax and it is not carbon!)
#compensation for fireman effected by chemicals
#bike and bus lanes in Melbourne
#a Bill passed by the Vic Upper House but not discussed in the Lower House...for a 10c container deposit levy
# raising the stakes on marriage equality
# the pulp mill
Here's what the boss, Christine Milne, says about the budget.

Go on...go to the Australian Greens website and see the rest. We are an amazing group of people and we never, ever give up!
If the world is destroyed by human induced climate change it will not be because the Greens have not fought the good and tireless fight.
COME ON PEOPLE, be a part of the solution and join the fastest growing political party in Australia, THE GREENS!

The 'New Pilbara'?
Dear Lisa,
Did you see the front page of the Age yesterday?
Martin Ferguson was on it, alongside (as is usually the case whenever Fergo is involved) some disastrous news. The Federal and Victorian governments, he declared, are currently working together to transform Victoria's deposits of brown coal into a mining and export hub on the scale of the Pilbara region or the Hunter Valley.
There is enough brown coal in Victoria to push our planet past the brink of dangerous climate change if it was all burnt. And if Minister Ferguson has his way, that is exactly what will happen. His comments were made to a government-funded internatinal 'low-rank coal symposium' held this week in Melbourne. Happily, Quit Coal was at the symposium as well, with nine of our activists slipping past the 20 police on guard. Inside they gave delegates from Korea, China, Russia, Indonesia and Japan a flyer containing information about the risks involved in investing in Victorian coal.
But it's going to take more than a flyer to stop these insane plans becoming a reality.  We need to work together to build so much community opposition to these plans that investors won't take a risk on them and the pollies either abandon them or are voted out of office.
Can you get involved or donate to help Quit Coal out? We've never needed you more.

 Good News – HRL On Ice
The week was not all bad news however, with HRL stopping all work on their planned new 600MW new coal-fired power station as a result of a condition placed upon them in the ruling handed down recently by VCAT.
The ruling stated that HRL cannot be built unless an equivalent amount of coal-fired generation is shut down in Victoria. And while there is a possibility of such a shut down happening, this nonetheless poses yet another important delay for HRL's project. Given that the Federal government has pledged that the company has only until the middle of the year to meet the conditions of their grant, this could well be the final straw for HRL.
Until we are sure, however, Quit Coal will continue to campaign vigorously to ensure that HRL doesn't go ahead.
Help us to Stop HRL and the government's insane plans to poison our planet with brown coal exports. Join us here, or help our campaigns by donating here.

Quit Coal
PO Box 222
FITZROY, Victoria3065

Add us to your address book

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Unity, attractiveness, fruitfulness and growth.

This one is for the believers or at least the sympathizers and if you are an unbeliever or if you're offended by believers then stop reading right now. Go on. Move away from the computer and make yourself a cuppa or Google your favourite author or post something on FB because there will definitely be some God talk in this installment and I don't want to be responsible for a blog related unpleasantness.

Are they gone? Good.

The Gospel at Mass today was about the '..true vine.' You know Jn 15: 1-8 
" I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that bears no fruit he cuts away and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes to make it bear even more...I am the vine and you are the branches...It is to the glory of My Father that you should bear much fruit and then you will be my disciples."

 Fr. Michael Lenehan, from St.Pius' West Warrnambool, always gives an intelligent, if a slightly unsatisfying sermon. He spoke of his days in the country around Mildura and the many 'beautiful' vineyards he saw. He said that the vineyards made the countryside look beautiful and the sight of them lifted the spirit. He said that the water from the Murray made the the earth come alive and made these wonderful vines possible, producing much fruit and excellent wines.

Of course, being an environmentalist, all I could think of was the the damage done to the poor Murray Darling Basin and the terrible sight of human induced salt pans and bad lands as I drove from Mildura to to Renmark along the Murray last October.

But no, I was in a generous mood and the music which had been particularly beautiful thanks to the efforts of Don Stewart and Paul Venzo had softened my attitude. So I was willing to push environmentalism temporarily aside in an attempt to hear the message of the vines.

Fr.Michael told us about the people who worked on the block or the vineyards of that area. He said that according to the season, the workers would prune the branches,  pull the twisted dead bits off the lattices or wire frames and then feed in the new tendrils which would bear the next harvest. He said that many of the people at Mass in Mildura were from the vineyards and one man told him that his favourite prayer was '...fruit of the vine and work of human hands...' He said that this man would take these words back with him to the vineyard and recite them as he worked. He took the Mass with him to work everyday.

Fr.Lenehen said that this part of the Gospel was telling us to work in unity with each other so that we can be fruitful in our labours to do God's work. Pruning refers to learning in the sense that we let go of the old and open our minds to the Gospel's message of love, forgiveness, inclusion, acceptance and oneness in Christ. He said that according to this reading, our communities should be unified, attractive especially to the secular community, fruitful and growing.

Well, it would seem to me that the church has gone backwards in these respects. It's not particularly unified, not particularly attractive, only fruitful at a very grassroots level and definitely not growing.  Perhaps the worker cut off the wrong branches. Perhaps the church itself cut off the wrong branches, in particular its progressive section including priests, nuns and laity.

The church is an example of what Mildura and other irrigators have probably done to the Murray Darling Basin.

It is a beautiful thought and I would love to apply it to the human rights movement, our environment group and the Greens, especially our local branch...of the vine! Did I just hear a great big collective thud? Was it the conservative Catholic human induced, climate change deniers fainting at the mention of the Greens?

The conservative hierarchy of the church has done an absolute number on us. I'm still trying to get used to the pointless changes in the wording of the Mass. So much effort, money and carbon emissions spent on such a useless task, the only point of which was to flex the hierarchy's collective muscle.

I will pray that our groups will indeed flourish and also that the Church will once again open its doors and windows and let in the fresh air of the Second Vatican Council which brought with it healthy debate and freedom and enlightenment. Perhaps then, once again, we will be unified, attractive, fruitful and begin to help grow our country toward social justice, equality and a sustainable environment .

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Swooping swallows and a black shouldered kite.

For the last three days we have been visited by a black shouldered kite.

He or she sits in the gum tree behind the gazebo. It sits with its back to us, looking down with an exorcist swivel of the neck...We watch it with the binoculars, mesmerized by it's beauty. It has no partner which is probably not a good sign. David and I stand at the fence for ages admiring it and congratulating each other for having so many trees filled with so many birds in a neighbourhood where trees are considered the enemy. I hope our black shouldered kite visits us for a long while.

Perhaps if we had chickens we might not feel so welcoming. We had two ducks for about ten years and each year a crow would pick off a few of their ducklings. It was a bit traumatic but not as traumatic as when a fox took our ten year old ducks one freezing August night. It was so cold I had brought the dog inside to be warm leaving our ducks unprotected. They say that when a fox dies and their family goes away or dies too, another takes over the territory and a yard that may have been passed over for years and years suddenly becomes a hunting ground. It was horrible.

At the top of our street there is a view of sandstone cliffs and rolling white waves. I always drive slowly to admire the view but today we were treated by the sight of hundreds of Welcome Swallows swarming to feed on insects.

They were swooping low across the grasses, climbing and diving. The air was thick with them so I pulled over and stood amongst them. It reminded me of when we brought our adopted baby son home from Korea and as we stepped along the path to the back door the swallows flew all around us so closely I could feel the draft from their wings. It felt like they were welcoming my beautiful boy. They are Welcome Swallows.

Welcome Kite, Welcome Swallows.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Sorry for your loss...not!

Here's a question for you or perhaps it's a gripe really.
I find the phrase 'sorry for your loss' extremely annoying. When did 'I'm sorry to hear that....' disappear and why replace it with such a stupid phrase?
Perhaps 'Sorry for your loss' is a symptom of alienation as it further distances us from each other. To me it says 'I'm saying sorry but I don't really mean it because it's your loss not mine.' whereas 'I'm so sorry...' is a statement of connection, of empathy, of compassion and is, by the way, far more articulate.
Do the American creators of this puerile phrase think that they will be accused of murder if they say 'I'm sorry.'? Are people really that stupid? Hey everyone! Let me just say " I'm SORRY!' Alright?
 David and I were watching 'Game of Thrones'. It's a story about a parallel universe or an earth like world and the characters use phrases such as the 'loss' phrase. I wanted to switch it off.  Imagine if suddenly, during The Lord of The Rings, Frodo said 'Sorry for your loss'. There would but definitely be a credibility crisis.
So let's start a movement to reintroduce 'I'm sorry.' OK?