A crowd of 60+ locals rugged up on a cold morning and met at the Old Flour Mill in Kirkland St, Euroa, to hear many guest speakers address climate issues. Local identity Shirley Saywell gave a Welcome to Country which linked caring for the land and the environment to respect for country. This somewhat hearkened to the indigenous notion of "we do not own the land; the land owns us", and the duty to care for the land is connected to caring for our environment and hence, responding to climate changes issues locally. This is respect for country.
Frank Ryan of Vox Bandicoot and Sustainability St drew our attention to the "Star" Guest of the day, "Uncle" Albert Einstein. The Einstein Star: We’re not only clever, but also imaginative. Our minds are supremely powerful, and just as we got ourselves into this mess, we can likewise get ourselves out!
Frank Ryan went on to impress that for most people, forward thinking was not on the table. Many, - including the government - are rooted in yesterday's thinking. A backward looking mentality prevails. Opportunities are being ideologically overlooked. Exciting economic opportunities are ignored. This puts is in a situation where we are fundamentally unable to address issues of social justice, international responsibility.
Frank Ryan - along with every other speaker, referred to Pope Francis' recent encyclical Laudato Si and expressed hope that the Pope was an agent of change. Every speaker told about themselves - whether they were spiritual or not, Catholic or something else - or just people with a personal spirituality (as Rob Gell told), and expressed enthusiasm, full endorsement and support of the Pope's encyclical. This is a telling witness, for Pope Francis broke with tradition and addressed his encyclical not only to his flock, but to all humans. He wrote the encyclical for everyone.
Rob Gell - Environmentalist - took us via wordle on climate change from the local perspective to the worldwide perspective. Rob pointed out that more people (374 people according to the Victorian Government Health Department) died before the Black Saturday bushfires than those that perished in the terrible fires.
Rob Gell then took us through how the effects of greenhouse gases (GHG) trapped in our atmosphere is seen with direct affects ofstorms, floods, heatwaves, drought and wildfire, sometimes called bushfires. The indirect effects are found in water quality, air pollution, land use change and ecological change. This leads to change in social dynamics for age and gender, health status (old people do travel well through heatwaves), socioeconomic status (the inability to earn keep when the workplace disappears), leading to change in social capital - the person to person connection and networks, and public health infrastructure cannot cope.
The Lancet Commission recently completed a study on the health effects of climate change, and Rob Gell took us through the video that the Lancet Commission has prepared. You can view this video below:
Climate change has a large scope of impact, much of which is unforeseen. Raised average and extreme temperatures, altered rainfall patterns sea level rise and extreme weather all contribute to biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse, the multiplication of pests and new viruses. Deforestation and denudation of landscape leads to new viruses, heretofore unseen; we have seen SARS, MERS and the resurgence of Ebola. Bacterial diarrhoea can increase, leading to dehydration, under-nutrition, impact on mental health, and may have a profound effect on respiration.
There was much discussion about low carbon economy, and how individuals may reduce their carbon footprint. This also scoped to include rural living in homes that are off the grid and burning wood each night in the cold weather. Every effort, every positive thought about reducing carbon footprint has an effect on us all as Frank Ryan pointed out.
Vicky Fysh of University of Melbourne talked about divestment and how a grass-roots movement towards divestment and ethical investment and savings with ethical banks has produced transformation and change. If more transformation and change come about, then there will be much more divestment. Cecille van der Burgh shared about the Kids in Nature network and how people exploring nature sans shoes and socks have a radically different experience of nature. Kids in Nature network conducts an annual nature play week for children in Melbourne.
Alan Pears, Senior Industry Fellow at RMIT University addressed the low carbon economy and gave many examples. As all true leaders do, he shared examples from his own life of purchasing carbon credits, use of public transport and how he himself, practices a low carbon footprint. He gave examples of his work with energy agencies and how some of Australia's major energy suppliers are actually taking steps to respond to climate change. Alan went on to show a power point on how young Australians are living better with less. He went over a most interesting list of motivations that these young Australians addressed, and their goals, and the strategies young Australians used to reach their clean energy - reduced footprint goals.
Alan went on to say that young Australians consider "What I control now"; "What I can control in future" and "What Can I Influence?" (through their buying power, their life choices. Many young people use the Australian Greenhouse Calculator to inform their choices.
talking about the Road to Paris at Euroa
The Interfaith Declaration on Climate Change
The Interfaith Declaration on Climate Change is a collaborative initiative for all people united by our common needs and aspirations on a shared planet in cooperation with the Energy + Environment Foundation.
The IDCC brings together religious leaders, scientists, and others committed to addressing climate change to act as a ‘trusted messenger’ to deliver an urgent message to communities and our leaders for action at the international level through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and at national and local levels through actual reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
At the Bangkok talks on Climate Change in September-October of 2009, the Interfaith Declaration on Climate change was launched at a comprehensive press conference in the UN Theatre.
Interfaith Declaration on Climate Change
The nurturing and respect for Life is a central doctrine of all faiths on Earth. Yet today we are endangering life on Earth with dangerous levels of greenhouse gas emissions. These gases are destabilizing the global climate system, heating the Earth, acidifying the oceans, and putting both humanity and all living creatures at unacceptable risk.
The extraordinary delicacy of Nature’s balance is becoming increasingly apparent, even as human actions inflict ever larger, more dangerous and potentially irreversible changes on the indivisible web of atmosphere, earth, ocean and life that is creation. Today our faiths stand united in their call to care for the Earth, and to protect the poor and the suffering. Strong action on climate change is imperative by the principles and traditions of our faiths and the collective compassion, wisdom and leadership of humanity. We recognize the science of climate change, and we call for global leaders to adopt strong, binding, science based targets for the reduction of greenhouse gases in order to avert the worst dangers of a climate crisis. We urge the nations of Earth to ensure that those who will suffer under climate induced changes such as more severe storms, floods, droughts and rising seas, be aided to adapt, survive and equitably prosper.
We recognize that climate change is not merely an economic or technical problem, but rather at its core is a moral, spiritual and cultural one. We therefore pledge to join together to teach and guide the people who follow the call of our faiths. We must all learn to live together within the shared limits of our planet.
We recognize that just as climate change presents us with great challenges, so too it offers great opportunities. Mitigating climate change can stimulate economies sustainably, protect our planet, lift up the poor, and unite to a common cause people threatened by a common danger. Assisting vulnerable communities and species to survive and adapt to climate change fulfills our calling to wisdom, mercy, and the highest of human moral and ethical values.
We commit ourselves to action – to changing our habits, our choices, and the way we see the world – to learning and teaching our families, friends, and faiths – to conserving the limited resources of our home, planet Earth, and preserving the climate conditions upon which life depends.
In this spirit, we call upon our leaders, those of our faiths, and all people of Earth to accept the reality of the common danger we face, the imperative and responsibility for immediate and decisive action, and the opportunity to change.
Presenting the Interfaith Declaration on Climate Change to Yvo de Boer, Chair, UNFCCC
Individuals and Organisations may endorse the Interfaith Declaration on Climate Change on the website.
The declaration is also available in a number of languages.
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