Author Archives: Lyndal Breen

Community energy for the Highlands

CANWin Speaker, 21 August 2015
…renewable energy projects which are truly win-win projects for the environment, the economy and the local community

Sure beats a coal mine.

Come along and find out more. See you there.

The complex questions around climate change

Word cloud for climate changeNow that we’ve all agreed that climate change is happening, and that it is not good for animals, plants, little children or the rest of us, what can we do about it?

Stop burning fossil fuels seems to be the answer, until we start to work out why we burn fossil fuels and how we might be affected by stopping. Our modern way of life is based on cheap energy. Up to now this has come from burning coal and other fossil fuels, and which may well continue to do so for some time. Individuals may and should attempt to find ways to limit their energy consumption through actions such as reducing private vehicle travel, and limiting excessive consumption. But our industrialised world seems to be powering on with “business as usual” demanding continued and increasing economic growth, based on the production of ever more buildings, roads, and consumer goods. In Australia we see continuance of major land clearing for open-cut coal extraction, the building of more ports for export of raw materials despite damage to reefs and fisheries, the destruction of forests and habitats in favour of pulp and paper making… Continue reading

New Land Services Boards will matter

CANWin and Moss Vale Land Care member Lyndal Breen writes:

Hello all,

Please note the electoral roll for the upcoming election of board members on the Local Land Services Boards will close on 17th February. If you know any landholders who could be on this roll but who may have overlooked its significance, please mention it to them. As landholders who were on the previous Livestock Health and Pest Authority Roll will not be automatically transferred, it is important to remind them. They can get the form from the website below, but they have to submit the form at their local land services office. The closest one to our area is the former HNCMA office in Clarence House, Moss Vale (beside IGA)

Please see http://southeast.lls.nsw.gov.au/our-region/our-board/elections for full details.

I feel that people in CANWin and other environmentally focussed groups may not be appreciating the importance of these Boards. These are the people who will be making decisions about funding and support available for issues in areas such as natural resource management, biosecurity, emergency management and agricultural production advice.

It is important for anyone interested in areas such as Landcare, food miles/food security, organic farming, use of GMO crops, soil erosion, weeds, fire management, and/or rural issues in general, to take notice.

It is particularly concerning that the Boards’ memberships are limited to Landholders.

Regards, Lyndal

A Milder Moss Vale?

A version of this article appeared in the Southern Highland News, 9 October 2013. More articles from the CANWin column.
Australian Bureau of Meteorology climate data search screenTwo signs of a warming climate are warmer night-time temperatures and milder winters. Are these signs visible in the Highlands?

One region, still less one town, can neither prove nor disprove that the climate of the whole Earth is warming. But a look into the detailed historical records for places we know can give a better idea of how much and what kind of data goes into weather and climate models. We can also see for ourselves some of the limitations and difficulties that scientists must deal with in order to extract useful information from raw data.

The Bureau of Meteorology website ( www.bom.gov.au ) provides weather and climate data to the public. You have to dig for it, but if you’re interested in weather and climate trends you can find a vast amount of information from this site.
For instance, there are Annual Potential Frost Maps that show where frost can form. A typical frost in the Wingecarribee area is ‘radiation’ frost, caused when the temperature drops below 2 degrees on a clear and windless night. Over the last 30 years the average number of frosts has gone down from 75 to 72 per year.

This does not mean that we will see the end of winter frosts any time soon, but the trend towards fewer frosts will continue.

You can also find temperature records from the Highlands weather stations. For example, for Moss Vale they show that from 2001 to 2013 the average minimum for June was 3.4C, and for July was 2.3C. By contrast, for the period from 1962 to 1975 the average minimum for June was 3.0C and for July was 1.0C. So it looks as if the Moss Vale winter has become a little milder (out of the wind anyway).

The June mean minimum has been quite high for four out of the last five years, which might indicate that winter is starting later.

Last June CANWin and Wingecarribee Council hosted a public talk by BoM climatologist Dr Blair Trewin, whose specialty is analysing long-term Australian rainfall and temperature records. You can find a report of his talk at http://canwin.org.au/entry/2013/06/24/whats-up-with-the-weather/

Review: Requiem for a Species

RequiemSpeciesCoverClive Hamilton has written a number of books on climate change and the consumerist society of Australia, including Scorcher, Growth Fetish and Affluenza. He is Professor of Public Ethics at the Australian National University and is the highly respected founder of the Australia Institute. Well-known as a writer, he has also authored many newspaper and magazine articles for general reading

Requiem for a Species is a study of why we ignore the urgent scientific information about the future warming of our planet, which examines those aspects of the human species that are in conflict over this question. Hamilton sees a battle within humanity between forces that should help us to protect the earth, such as our ability to reason and to connect with nature, and qualities that lead us to damage it, such as greed, materialism and alienation from nature. In Hamilton’s eyes the latter have triumphed, and now we will have to deal with our failure to seriously examine the evidence and take action to ensure that our own species survives.

The book is not an easy or pleasurable read. The first chapters examine the scientific views on what levels of Greenhouse Gases (GHG) may be acceptable. They show that even 2 degrees C of warming will pose risks to climatically sensitive Earth systems, quoting for example James Hansen’s belief that the safe level of CO2 is no more than 350 ppm (we have already reached 400). Hamilton does not believe that we can stabilise the climate at a specified level of GHG in the atmosphere, and seriously doubts that adaptation will be possible either. Nor does Hamilton have any faith in technical fixes such as Carbon Capture and Storage. The only solution he sees is that of drastically reducing emissions, from right now. Massive investment in energy efficiency, renewable technology and storage technology is needed.

Hamilton sees the need to despair as a ‘natural human response to the new reality’ but if we are to save humanity, we must emerge through despair, accept the situation and take action.

This book is available for loan at Wingecarribee Shire Library (Call No. 363.7387/Ham)

Other reviews of Requiem for a Species

Crikey review

Times Higher Education Supplement

Good Reads

Book Launch at ANU, 29 March 2010