Saturday 12 February 2011

SOAPBLOG: Geoff Holland - Cairns is procrastinating on Climate Change

Geoff Holland is a long-time environmental activist and has promoted debate and dialogue in the community via the an online Cairns-Coev discussion forum.

He argues that Cairns lacks effort and determination in contributing to a better environment and that our Greenhouse gas emissions are amongst the highest in the world (per capita) and one of the highest in Australia, and Cairns cannot consider ourselves a 'green' or 'eco-city' by any stretch of the imagination.

Just two weeks ago Premier Anna Bligh said that the flood disaster in South East Queensland, that resulted in around 20 deaths and $5 billion damage, could not be linked to climate change.

She has cut back on some climate change mitigation projects to help pay for reconstruction. Greens Senator Bob Brown responded by saying that it beggars belief.

Queensland receives hundreds of millions of dollars from coal exports. We have a very bad record of land clearing. There is a myth out there that the floods are simply a one in a hundred year event. I have heard the same said about Category 5 Cyclone Yasi.

I was surprised to hear James Cook University academic Jon Nott on Lateline say that it was not possible to tell if Cyclone Yasi was the result of climate change. What a lost opportunity Jon. Shed your academic conservatism. You can be faithful to science by saying "it conforms to predictions generated by mainstream climate change models."

From Hurricane Katrina to Burma's biggest cyclone in their recorded history, to the devastating floods in Pakistan, to the three freezes in NE and East USA due to warmer oceans, to Typhoon Ondoy in the Philippines which left flooding for three months, to many other exceptional and
extreme weather events around the planet. We know the oceans have warmed up. We know nine out of the last 10 years have been the hottest in recorded history.

Why are we dithering? Why are we procrastinating? Why are academics and government leaders being so cautious and conservative? This is not a time for restraint, it is a time for action. Australia dithers about reducing our Greenhouse gas emissions by 20% when New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Maldives, Costa Rica, Iceland, Denmark, Monaco, Tuvalu and Vatican City have pledged to achieve zero net emissions, some by as early as 2030.

The city of Malmo in Sweden has already become carbon neutral. Many other cities have made that commitment.

The city of Cairns in Far North Queensland has Greenhouse gas emissions amongst the highest of any city in the world (per capita) and one of the highest in Australia. We have lower for electricity since we have hydro, but very high for transport. We cannot consider ourselves a 'green city' or 'eco-city' by any stretch of the imagination.

A new arrival from Adelaide is shocked how our public rubbish bins do not allow for recycling - dumbing down the public. Her apartment block has one large skip for all rubbish.

What has Cairns Regional Council, Advance Cairns, or the Chamber of Commerce done to assist solar energy, solar water and PVs, going into apartment blocks, rental properties and housing commission? The private solar companies are cherry-picking and local government and business organisations are doing nothing to help. Meanwhile State Government is cutting short the rebates for solar.

Our Cairns bus system is a joke. It needs to return to public control, yet works well in Sydney and other cities. The reason we need to return to public ownership of the bus system is because communication and accountability is too difficult and inefficient. Vital statistics on passenger trips is not available due to commercial confidence arrangements. The bus system is a natural monopoly. Sunbus is only interested in profit.

The Cairns bus system needs to have half-hourly services, not hourly services. It needs to increase its routes by 30% and extend hours of operation by 20%. That is a 300% increase over the current service.

We need strong carrot and stick policies to encourage people to use public transport, particularly commuters, similar to the current carrot and stick policies to encourage people to switch to solar. We need to prevent the destruction of City Place under the guise of improving public transport. This is a lie and a sham. City Place represents the key pedestrian precinct and all that goes with a people-focused and culture-focused city, not a car-focused and primarily consumer-focused city.

We are incredibly complacent. We need to get active and start making substantial changes soon.

I encourage everyone to commit two hours per week to one of many projects and groups working to bring about sustainability in Cairns and Far North Queensland.

The mainstream climate change models predict even greater climate extremes which means more extreme flooding, more extreme drought, more extreme cyclones. There is much more to come.

Australia needs to take a lead in international climate negotiations. The only way we can do this is to demonstrate our commitment to change, rather than the pathetic dithering we have demonstrated since Earth Summit Rio 1992. Our first commitment was to increase emissions by 8%.

What will we showcase at Earth Summit Rio 2012? Maybe the City of Cairns and Cairns Regional Council should have a booth at Earth Summit 2012.


Bryan Law said...

A bold experiment in Australian democracy is unfolding right now in Canberra, and I urge you all to take advantage of the opportunity, and push for sensible social justice and peace objectives.

1/ The legislation to impose a “flood levy” on taxpayers to pay for Post-Disaster reconstruction has been introduced into Parliament.

Rob Oakeshott (independent), Andrew Wilkie (independent) and Adam Bandt (Greens) and Tony Windsor (independent) have all said they want to examine alternatives to the governments current proposals.

As part of the parliamentary reform package negotiated by Labor, Greens, and independents last year the legislation has been referred to the Economics Committee.

Public submission to the Committee close Monday 15 February.

2/ Rob Oakeshott has dared to suggest that saving might be found in the ADF’s major weapons acquisition program.

There is $6 Billion in this year's budget for acquiring new weapons (tanks, fighter/bombers, air warfare destroyers, drones, cruise missiles, satellites, networked electronic C3 systems) + $5 Billion to maintain existing weapons systems. Expect the same each year for at least for the next 20 years. There is already $57 billion committed by the Rudd government over the next 20 years to the large weapons acquisitions, and the current Defence Capability plan Plan calls for $159 Billion worth of acquisition commitment by 2018. There's a call in last Saturday's Australian for 12 nuclear powered attack submarines, at $3 Billion ea capital cost so we can “defend ourselves against China” (our bestest buddies and trading partners).

Meanwhile in Afghanistan we’ve gone back to a policy of blowing up houses and villages. In Vietnam we called them hamlets.

The money needed for disaster reconstruction, public transport, energy efficiency and community development is dwarfed by the defence budget, but (because we are now in a condition of perpetual war) the defence budget is sacrosanct. The Gillard government will be cutting family tax benefits, pensions, and renewable energy programs instead. Tony Abbott would do the same (or worse).

3/ Beyond my obsession with peace issues, many, many local folk in Cairns want to see greenhouse, education, public transport and community development money quarantined (at least) from the proposed budget cuts.

Most of us would like to see a four-fold increase.

4/ NOW is our chance to test the quality of our parliamentary reform. On behalf of whatever issue really turns you on;

Make a submission to the Committee. Insist that climate, peace and social justice programs be not cut to pay for disaster reconstruction;

Send a letter or e-mail to:

Write letters to the editor:

Spread the word among your friends and encourage local political figures about it.


Visit for related forms of agitation.

John Panton, Earlville said...

It is about time Geoff Holland withdrew his cranium from his fundamental orifice and studied the changes to Planet earth, going back say, 140 million years.

Uninformed people such as he have, without a skerrick of scientific evidence, manipulated the so-called “climate change” debate to suit their own (erroneous) viewpoint.

I will go so far as to say that the scientists who know the real facts do not have the testicles to stand up and tell the truth because they are – in one way or another – on the government’s payroll through research grants and so on. If they contradict the government policy, then they risk losing their funding – and income.

Geoff Holland said...

Hi John Panton,
Yes is possible that 2000 of the world's best climate scientists are not being objective and are only interested in more funding.

It is possible that virtually all national governments around the world have been duped by the climate scientists (because they recognise the mainstream climate change models as being the most valid based on all current data), and they are merely pandering to public sentiment which has been misguided by climate change zeolots like me.

But it is unlikely.

It is possible we have got the climate science theory wrong. But maybe we are 90% likely to be right, 10% likely to be wrong.

Anyway the transition to stablise greenhouse gas emissions need not damage the economy, and can in fact enhance the economy if done cleverly.

And if the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is right (90% likely), or even half right, non-action as you might advocate would be disasterous. (We cannot wait a million years or more for biodiversity to recover as it has in the last five mass extinctions, let alone the human toll).

John Panton, there is always room for healthy debate. Why not post five of the best links you have to the best articles debunking climate change? We can take it from there.

Cheers, Geoff Holland

Unknown said...

Oh no !!!

Look what we are doing to the sun.

Read below ...

Carbon Tax Now !!
Carbon Tax Now !!
Carbon Tax Now !!

"A POWERFUL solar eruption that has already disturbed radio communications in China could disrupt electrical power grids and satellites used on Earth in the next days, NASA said.

The massive sunspot, which astronomers say is the size of Jupiter, is the strongest solar flare in four years, NASA said yesterday.

The Class X flash - the largest such category - erupted on Tuesday, according to the US space agency.

"X-class flares are the most powerful of all solar events that can trigger radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms," disturbing telecommunications and electric grids, NASA said.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory saw a large coronal mass ejection (CME) associated with the flash that is blasting toward Earth at about 900km per second, it said.

The charged plasma particles were expected to reach the planet's orbit tonight."