Archives for the ‘Blog’ Category

Why I Feel So Good About Climate Change

I have been marinating in the meaty world of climate change for a good five years now having been on a wild ride as a film maker producing a documentary called 2 Degrees. Our film looks at the flaws in the UN climate negotiation process through the gritty lens of climate justice, and then follows a fantastic community uprising lead by a fiery 80 year old woman mayor in South Australia.

As a result of this process I have become intensely interested in how we respond psychologically to climate change as humans. How do we cope with the grief, anger, confusion, disbelief and disempowerment that inevitably arises when we allow the reality of those doomsday news reports to sink in? Can we keep our chins up amidst all this?

Personally, I can. I’m way beyond depression and anxiety. In 2009 I sat in at the Four Degrees and Beyond conference in Oxford when the world’s eminent climate scientists shared their current research and came to a collective realisation that the worst case scenarios that each was predicting via their various areas of specialty modelling was, in fact, already playing out. It was a sobering vibe to say the least.

Later, filming in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I witnessed poverty and suffering which left me stunned and numb with shame and sadness. And then of course there was the Copenhagen climate conference. Watch my film to get a feel for that! It was…unbelievable…

Yet today I feel good about this climate emergency – a time of emerge-ence – because each morning when I awake I know that I will do the best that I can in the day ahead to address it. In my own small ways. And that this is the most I can do…that any of us can do.

In conversations about climate, of which I have many, people often express to me their despair at what WE have done, at what WE need to do, and what WE are unlikely to do, with faces grim and foreheads sagging.  And herein lies my message. For me it is not so relevant how WE respond. Ultimately I am only responsible for how I myself tackle climate change and this is where it all begins.

Hold the concept of a million tiny lights across the world. We are each one of these lights and together they make up  a virtual supergrid of light as we all wake up to the destruction and step up, speak out and act. Every day I learn of incredible new ideas and initiatives and am now constantly in awe and celebration of these.

Think of ourselves, those of us who care deeply about all this, as the Earth’s immune system. As the dis-ease of ecocide – large scale air pollution and destruction of ecosystems – takes hold, we are mobilised like white blood cells to protect our pulsing, precious body. Make the difference you can make – by what you consume, how you travel, changes you initiate or support in the work you do, your work place, school or community group.

Importantly, talk about climate change. A lot. Because this is how we learn and how we connect in to a collective response. Build community. There is much to be inspired and excited about, and much work to be done. Join the revolution.

Ange Palmer is a Nelson-based documentary film maker. She is planning a NZ tour with her film 2 Degrees in August / Sept.  where she will share her experiences of making the film, and speak on our response to climate change, and Eradicating Ecocide. If you could support Ange by hosting a screening contact

A film is a great way to create a community dialogue, and can be a pathway to action.

The film can also be watched online via the website or by purchasing the DVD.

Film Website        


Twitter                             @2degreesmovie

Ange Palmer, on location, Democratic Republic of Congo

Ange Palmer, on location, Democratic Republic of Congo




A source of hope?

Jeff Canin Comment:  More brilliance from George Monbiot below explaining how our current governments are avoiding taking action on climate change and simply telling future generations they have to adapt to the damage we are inflicting.  Coincidentally I heard a presentation from Polly Higgins, lawyer & barrister from London recently about a concept called ecocide.

Polly asks “How do we create a legal duty of care for the earth? If I were to represent the earth in court the existing environmental laws are not fit for the purpose. Something is wrong when we give permits to pollute – we need to ask who is being protected here – people and planet or polluters.” She calls the existing laws “catch me if you can” laws.  She also talked a lot about the abolition of slavery and how back then there was a moral awakening across the world and that eventually turned into “well if its morally wrong then it should be outlawed” ….and that this is what is now happening across the planet. It was a really inspiring evening.

 I have a faint hope that one day all the negligent enviro vandals running our countries will have to face justice for the ecocide they are so casually willing to inflict on future generations.

Polly has had a huge amount of coverage – and is very compelling.

Here is George’s take on this:

Loss Adjustment

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 11:51 AM PDT

When people say we should adapt to climate change, do they have any idea what that means?

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 1st April 2014

To understand what is happening to the living planet, the great conservationist Aldo Leopold remarked, is to live “in a world of wounds … An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.”(1) Read more →

The climate lesson from our burning summer

Jeff Canin Comment:  The Australian government continues to plumb new depths in its disregard for the environment, or as some would argue, their war on the environment. From their cavalier attitude to the future of the Great Barrier Reef in allowing the dumping of dredging spoils to today’s assertion that too many of Tasmanian forests are locked up in National Parks.  When the need for action on climate change is such a no brainer, why do our politicians continue to resist this so mightily.  I can think of only three reasons:  1.  They have room temperature IQs and just don’t get it.  2.  They have completely sold out to the fossil fuel industries and won’t do anything to restrict their immediate profits.  3.  They cannot think outside the electoral cycles, and will do anything to stay in power.  This means that any issues requiring long term thinking and planning gets dumped for short term populism.  I’ll leave you to decide which you think is the reason the rights of future generations are so easily dismissed.  Myself, I think its a combination of all three.

The Climate Lesson From Our Burning Summer

By James Murphy
James Murphy is a Policy Research & Strategy Volunteer with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. He studied Politics at Swinburne University.
The bushfires that swept the nation this summer are a reminder that climate change is not just an ecological catastrophe but a real and present danger to our communities, writes James Murphy

Today marks the close of another Angry Summer for our sunburnt country. For the last three months south-eastern Australia has been battered by record-hot days, a slew of brutal heat-waves, and galling dry-spells — and all of this during cooling phase of the El Niño cycle.

We’re also at the end of what’s been a truly fearsome bushfire season.

It began early — shockingly early — in September, with 500 firefighters battling blazes in Western Sydney. By October, New South Wales was in a state-of-emergency. Hundreds of fires scorched the state and over 200 homes were lost.

In January fires ran out of control through the Grampians in Victoria, the Flinders Ranges in SA and the Hunter Valley in NSW. Just three weeks ago bushfire swept through the Adelaide Hills and took dozens of homes in Melbourne’s outer northern suburbs. Fires are still burning at Hazelwood power station, covering the Latrobe Valley in dangerous smoke. It’s been wave after wave after wave of fire and we could well be in for more before autumn truly kicks in.

It’s plain to see that bushfires are becoming more and more frequent. Over the past few years there have been a dozen panels, inquiries, reviews and commissions put together to tell us how we can stop this happening again. They’ve come back to us with reports overflowing with recommendations on how to minimise the fire threat, from repairing the power grid to centralising emergency services to new insurance levies and public information schemes.

It’s all important stuff, but each time we somehow manage to miss one of the biggest contributor to the fire risk in our corner of the country: fossil fuels. Read more →


Jeff Canin Comment:  The last paragraph in this article says it all: don’t hold your breath for effective action on climate change. Its not that our governments are filled with morons who just don’t understand the science. Okay, there is a certain percentage in there. But not all. They just don’t want to make it a priority. Long term thinking is not the name of the game. They won’t be in office then, so why bother, let the next lot of mugs deal with the problems we are causing. And who wants to annoy the Murdoch media empire or the mining or fossil fuel industries?

If we want them to change this short sighted behaviour, we have to somehow get them to realise that there are short term consequences for failing to take long term action. As in, vote them out. All Parties need to realise that this is a priority for us, and we will only vote for a Party that is genuinely concerned about climate change and has a program of action.
So it is vital that we communicate with all political parties and let them know this. Let them know that the price of inaction is years in the political wilderness. Only then will they take it seriously and do something.

The Conversation
11 December 2013, 6.42am AEST

Government doesn’t need climate bodies: it needs commitment
Neville Nicholls
Professor at Monash University

In closing the Climate Commission, and introducing legislation to abolish the Climate Change Authority, the government has said it can instead rely on information from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO. Is that claim reasonable?
The Climate Commission
The Climate Commission was established to provide information about climate change to the public. The most obvious impact of its closure will be on local governments and businesses.
The Commission has been providing such bodies with the information they need to determine how best to adapt to the future climate. Most local governments do not have the resources they need to identify how climate change should affect decisions, such as deciding whether sea walls are an appropriate reaction to rising sea levels and changes in storminess. In the absence of the Commission such bodies will need to employ consultants, at considerable expense, to provide such advice.
Read more →

Still Time to Change

Jeff Canin Comment:  Is it all too late to do anything about climate change? This is such a commonly asked question. If it is, why spend our time and energy worrying, changing our lifestyles, instead of partying (on the Titanic), and seeing if we can get a little closer to the lifeboats, just in case.

Here is a very interesting take on this question. I would argue that while the answer is still uncertain, we have a moral responsibility to do whatever we can to reduce our own personal carbon emissions, and encourage our family, friends, corporations and governments to do the same. As Clive Hamilton says in 2 Degrees, “its that old classic cliché: what did you do in the war daddy, and I hope I can say, I did my best”.

The Conversation
11 December 2013, 6.42am AEST

Still time to change Earth’s long-term forecast
Jørgen Randers
Professor of Climate Strategy at BI Norwegian Business School

After a lifetime promoting sustainability – sadly, with limited success – last year I sat down to consider what will happen to my beloved world over the next 40 years. The main question I asked myself was whether I should continue worrying about the future during my final 20 to 25 years here on Earth.
My answer is in 2052 – A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years. The main message is simple: I predict that the world average temperature will surpass 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial times – the internationally agreed danger threshold – in 2052. And the temperature will continue rising, condemning our grandchildren to the likelihood of climate disaster in the second half of the 21st century.
This means that the global future will resemble one of the 12 scenarios from The Limits to Growth, which I co-authored in 1972. The world will resemble the “persistent pollution scenario”, with carbon dioxide as the “persistent” pollutant which, once emitted, resides in the atmosphere with a half-life of 100 years. (For more on the original Limits to Growth forecasts and how they fared compared to reality, you can read this CSIRO discussion paper or this article in The Conversation.)
I do not forecast an energy crisis, a resource crisis, a food crisis, a water crisis – but neither do I expect to see one of the more optimistic “sustainability” scenarios from Limits. I believe that man-made greenhouse gas emissions will prove to be the real problem. Read more →

Why Politics Fail

Jeff Canin

I’m going to use this space to introduce you to my favourite bloggers and commentators. One of the most prolific, thought provoking and insightful is the UK journalist George Monbiot. His recent article was a brilliant summary of how corporate power is is having such a devastating impact in the UK. As always, I think Australia is not far behind. In fact, we may even be ahead, given how quickly politicians in Australia watered down and now are dumping the Mining Tax. Read George’s article below:

Why Politics Fails

Posted: 11 Nov 2013 12:19 PM PST

Nothing will change until we confront the real sources of power.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 12th November 2013

It’s the reason for the collapse of democratic choice. It’s the source of our growing disillusionment with politics. It’s the great unmentionable. Corporate power. The media will scarcely whisper its name. It is howlingly absent from parliamentary debates. Until we name it and confront it, politics is a waste of time.

The political role of corporations is generally interpreted as that of lobbyists, seeking to influence government policy. In reality they belong on the inside. They are part of the nexus of power that creates policy. They face no significant resistance, from either government or opposition, as their interests have now been woven into the fabric of all three main parties.

Most of the scandals that leave people in despair about politics arise from this source. On Monday, for example, the Guardian revealed that the government’s subsidy system for gas-burning power stations is being designed by an executive from the company ESB, who has been seconded into the energy department(1). What does ESB do? Oh, it builds gas-burning power stations.

On the same day we learnt that a government minister, Nick Boles, has privately assured the gambling company Ladbrokes that it needn’t worry about attempts by local authorities to stop the spread of betting shops(2). His new law will prevent councils from taking action.

Last week we discovered that G4S’s contract to run immigration removal centres will be expanded, even though all further business with the state was supposed to be frozen while allegations of fraud are investigated(3). Every week we learn that systemic failures on the part of government contractors are no barrier to obtaining further work, that the promise of efficiency, improvements and value for money delivered by outsourcing and privatisation have failed to materialise(4,5,6). The monitoring which was meant to keep these companies honest is haphazard(7), the penalties almost non-existent(8), the rewards stupendous, dizzying, corrupting(9,10). Yet none of this deters the government. Since 2008, the outsourcing of public services has doubled, to £20bn. It is due to rise to £100bn by 2015(11).
This policy becomes explicable only when you recognise where power really lies. The role of the self-hating state is to deliver itself to big business. In doing so it creates a tollbooth economy: a system of corporate turnpikes, operated by companies with effective monopolies.

It’s hardly surprising that the lobbying bill – now stalled by the Lords – offered almost no checks on the power of corporate lobbyists, while hogtying the charities who criticise them. But it’s not just that ministers are not discouraged from hobnobbing with corporate executives: they are now obliged to do so.

Thanks to an initiative by Lord Green, large companies have ministerial “buddies”, who have to meet them when the companies request it. There were 698 of these meetings during the first 18 months of the scheme, called by corporations these ministers are supposed be regulating(12). Lord Green, by the way, is currently a government trade minister. Before that he was chairman of HSBC, presiding over the bank while it laundered vast amounts of money stashed by Mexican drugs barons(13). Ministers, lobbyists – can you tell them apart?

That the words corporate power seldom feature in the corporate press is not altogether surprising. It’s more disturbing to see those parts of the media that are not owned by Rupert Murdoch or Lord Rothermere acting as if they are.

For example, for five days every week the BBC’s Today programme starts with a  business report in which only insiders are interviewed. They are treated with a deference otherwise reserved for God on Thought for the Day. There’s even a slot called Friday Boss, in which the programme’s usual rules of engagement are set aside and its reporters grovel before the corporate idol. Imagine the outcry if Today had a segment called Friday Trade Unionist or Friday Corporate Critic.

This, in my view, is a much graver breach of BBC guidelines than giving unchallenged airtime to one political party but not others, as the bosses are the people who possess real power: those, in other words, whom the BBC has the greatest duty to accost. Research conducted by the Cardiff school of journalism shows that business representatives now receive 11% of airtime on the BBC’s 6 o’clock news (this has risen from 7% in 2007), while trade unionists receive 0.6% (which has fallen from 1.4%)(14). Balance? Impartiality? The BBC puts a match to its principles every day.

And where, beyond the Green Party, Plaid Cymru, a few ageing Labour backbenchers, is the political resistance? After the article I wrote last week, about the grave threat the transatlantic trade and investment partnership presents to parliamentary sovereignty and democratic choice(15), several correspondents asked me what response there has been from the Labour party. It’s easy to answer: nothing.

Blair and Brown purged the party of any residue of opposition to corporations and the people who run them. That’s what New Labour was all about. Now opposition MPs stare mutely as their powers are given away to a system of offshore arbitration panels run by corporate lawyers.

Since Blair’s pogroms, parliament operates much as Congress in the United States does: the lefthand glove puppet argues with the righthand glove puppet, but neither side will turn around to face the corporate capital that controls almost all our politics. This is why the assertion that parliamentary democracy has been reduced to a self-important farce has resonated so widely over the past fortnight.

So I don’t blame people for giving up on politics. I haven’t given up yet, but I find it ever harder to explain why. When a state-corporate nexus of power has bypassed democracy and made a mockery of the voting process, when an unreformed political funding system ensures that parties can be bought and sold, when politicians of the three main parties stand and watch as public services are divvied up by a grubby cabal of privateers, what is left of this system that inspires us to participate?

















George Monbiot