Selective hearing on science

Every day during the Coronavirus epidemic there has been at least one state or national leader holding a news conference outlining the situation and their plans to keep us all safe. Every one of them was flanked by a senior medical expert to lend scientific credibility to their statements. During this crisis, Australians have trusted scientists, yet when it comes to the climate crisis politicians scoff at the scientific evidence.

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Love your children

by Peter McCallum, Coordinator, Mackay Conservation Group

The most intense moments of my life have been witnessing the birth of my children. New life entering the world filled me with love, hope and enormous responsibility. 

No parent would intentionally place their child in danger. The opposite is true. Parenting is a process of protecting a new young life, while giving the child the opportunity to learn to live independently. 

Maybe that’s why I despair for the future. I have two beautiful grandchildren whose journeys are just beginning. But what sort of world will they inherit from me?

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Mackay Regional Council- Candidate Climate Survey Results

Voting in council elections can be difficult. Even long term residents can find it hard to find candidates that they can confidently say represent their values or policy views.

With this in mind, the Mackay Conservation Group surveyed all 21 candidates running for election in the Mackay Regional Council about their views on key climate change issues.

The survey asked council candidates to share their views on three questions all related to climate change. Candidates were asked to respond by indicating their level of support.

The questions were:

  • Do you support Mackay Regional Council declaring a climate emergency?
  • Will you support Mackay Regional Council planning for a zero net emissions regional economy by 2050?
  • Do you support the diversification of the Mackay region’s economy and a just transition for workers in thermal coal mines?
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Coal miner speaks out on climate

Grant Howard lives in Queensland and is a coal miner currently working in the Bowen Basin

At 17, fresh out of school, I landed my first job as a coal miner and have been doing that ever since. I grew up in a coal heartland of Wollongong, south of Sydney, the location of some of the oldest mines in the country. As a teenager, I took mining for granted, just like I took the amazing beaches, beautiful escarpment and bush for granted.

I have worked in all aspects of underground coal operations, including longwall extraction, developing access roads, methane drainage and supervising coal mining crews in these processes.

For the last two decades I have been lucky to live and work in Queensland. I have worked through boom and bust cycles where mining corporations hired workers, then laid them off and shut mines when it suited. I witnessed the growth of automation which has led to a contraction of jobs, and will continue to do so in the future. I have also seen the industry talk up job prospects to get their latest mine approved, and then seen the actual numbers drop once production began.

In recent years I bought a piece of land outside of Mackay where I stay when I’m not rostered on in the Bowen Basin. I’ve grown to love this block but I worry about its survival too, having witnessed the severe impacts of extended heatwaves and changing rainfall patterns on the bush and the animals that live there.

After watching what climate change is doing to my land, and knowing that burning fossil fuels is making these extreme conditions worse, it strikes me we have a clear choice. We can protect Queensland’s unique way of life and exceptional environment by transitioning to clean energy. Or dig more coal, for limited jobs and economic benefit, at a time when the trend away from coal is accelerating.

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Climate change increasing fire threat in rural QLD

Mark Ogge speaks to the Kuttabul community fire forumMackay Conservation Group recently sponsored a community bushfire forum in Kuttabul so that locals could find out more about the future likelihood of fires and how to prepare.

The Australia Institute’s principal adviser, Mark Ogge, told the forum that data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) showed that our region will become hotter in future. We are on track to have less rainfall, more hot days and, most importantly for bushfire risk, many more hot nights.

Andrew Houley from the Rural Fire Service said that firefighters use the night time, when temperature and wind speed falls, to get on top of bushfires. 

The BoM data shows that our region currently has about 15 nights per year with a minimum temperature above 25°C. In the worst-case scenario we may suffer through nearly 50 hot nights in 2030 and up to about 160 by 2090. That will make it much harder for Rural Fire Brigade volunteers to do their job.

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Worldwide movement to declare Climate Emergencies

🚨 A fast-growing number of countries, nations, territories and cities are accepting the science and declaring climate emergencies. 🚨

This includes entire countries of the UK, Canada and Portugal and the nations of Scotland, Ireland and Wales. The City Councils of London, New York and Auckland have also joined the list.

In Australia, 25 areas have declared climate emergencies including the Australian Capital Territory and the city councils of Sydney, Hobart and Fremantle. 

So what exactly is a climate emergency declaration? And will it mean climate action?

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Source your electricity from local renewable projects today

Many of us are keen to reduce our environmental impact and do our best but with limited access to public transport, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, coal and gas dominating energy production and suburban sprawl making us dependent on our cars it can seem hard to significantly reduce our carbon footprint.

There are of course clean energy alternatives like purchasing rooftop solar and battery storage but many people simply can’t afford it, live in unsuitable homes or rent and don’t get a say about how their electricity is sourced.

However, there are affordable options for electricity consumers to switch to renewable energy no matter where you live.

For example. Mackay’s sole energy retailer Ergon Energy customers can source between 10 to 100% of their electricity from renewable sources by participating in Ergon Energy’s ‘Clean Energy Programme’.

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The Climate Change Election

Central Queenslanders are feeling the impacts of climate change. The region suffered through the hottest summer on record that inflicted seemingly endless weeks of extreme heat, wild fires in Eungella National Park and unprecedented flooding that is estimated to have killed half a million cattle or more in the Townsville region.

Unfortunately the Australian government’s response to this is to open up the Galilee Basin to build Adani’s Carmichael coal mine and up to 8 more mega coal mines in the region.

The carbon emissions from these mines were they to go ahead would increase dangerous climate change here in Australia but all around the world with devastating consequences.

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Voters want principle based policies

46121096101_9134a3dd42_o.jpgIf there’s a single lesson for politicians from last week’s Victorian election it is that voters want political parties to develop rational policies and stand by them. Despite a major scare campaign around law and order, the ALP leader, Daniel Andrews, stuck to his reasoned platform and was rewarded with a hugely increased majority. He displayed leadership and authority over his party, maintaining a steady course all the way to polling day. With a federal election looming there must be more than a few MPs and candidates contemplating their future in the light of the Victorian result.

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How will climate change affect Mackay?

Mackay Conservation Group community organiser, Maggie Mckeown, recently made a presentation to Mackay Regional Council about the impacts of climate change on the region. Here's what she said.

20170328001301531293-minihighres-1-960x540.jpgMackay city is a low lying coastal city in an part of the world that is frequently threatened by tropical cyclones. Last year the city dodged a bullet when Cyclone Debbie changed course and did not arrive in Mackay. We know that there was an unprecedented level of preparation for the cyclone but all that would have been completely insufficient had Debbie made landfall in Mackay simultaneous with a 5.8 metre tide. Most of the urban area would have been inundated and potentially significant numbers of casualties. We have seen two very large cyclones in Northern Queensland over the past decade, Yasi and Debbie. Predictions are that cyclones will become larger and more destructive as ocean temperatures rise due to global warming. The cost of dealing with major climate related events is significant both locally and globally. Cyclone Debbie cost insurers $1.56 billion by November. That will undoubtedly lead to increased insurance premiums and increased difficulty in obtaining insurance for those in cyclone prone zones. The cost to the Queensland economy has been estimated at over $2 billion with mining, agriculture and tourism industries were severely disrupted by the cyclone.

The Mackay region is not alone in facing climate induced catastrophes. Right now we are witnessing Cape Town in South Africa, a city with a population of 3.7 million about to run out of water, the first city that magnitude to do so. The water supply failure has been blamed on poor city management but without three years of unprecedented drought the city would not be facing a crisis. Closer to home, Pacific Islanders in places such as Kiribati have seen sea level rise make parts of their island nation uninhabitable. Sixteen percent of the land area of India is dependent on glacial fed Himalayan streams. Those glaciers that maintain stream flows during summer and winter are melting. Initially that means more rapid flows and floods but in the long term it means drought and chronic food and water shortages. All these events and many more are inevitable consequences of a hotter climate which in turn is brought about by human burning of fossil fuels.

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