It was uplifting to see so many women and men in the March 4 Justice demonstrations throughout the country recently, including the one in Cairns. The courage of the survivors who spoke out was both moving and inspiring.
Living in the Barron River catchment is a great lifestyle for many – but come the first rains of the wet season the water turns different shades of muddy brown, and often resembles chocolate milk. Over the wet it stays a constant brown, sometimes dark, clay or tan. The reason is sediment – soil and debris washed off the land and into the river during rain. Big storms will often see the water go brown very quickly, full of sediment washing out of the river mouth and into the sea. It then drifts onto coral reefs and destroys them.
In early October, yet another science report was released by the World’s leading climate body, the IPCC, confirming that climate change is well underway, and that under current estimates warming will reach 1.5 degrees in the next few decades.
An increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius will make the climate much more unstable; bigger storms and cyclones, harsher droughts and heat waves.
However, 2.0 degrees hotter is much, much worse and would cause very serious social, economic, and environmental problems. Destruction of coral reefs, rising sea levels, collapsing food supplies are all real and happening now.
Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees would require a complete reduction of greenhouse gasses to zero by 2050 or sooner.
But we all know this – scientists have been telling us with increasing alarm for decades that the planet is getting cooked – and we, its inhabitants, are facing a very uncertain and unstable future. The IPCC report is optimistic that governments across the world will see the light and quickly move to phase out fossil fuels and start planning to adapt to the uncertain future.
Unfortunately, this optimism seems misguided. The Paris Climate Agreement signed in 2016 will not limit global warming to 1.5 degrees – actually it will do very little because the commitments are too weak and the United States has run away.
Most governments and industry either don’t care or far worse are staging a huge deception campaign to undermine climate science, and any real efforts to limit greenhouse emissions.
The public has been duped by the likes of the coal and oil industry, by their slick marketing companies, and by dodgy scientists and lobby groups funded by these interests. For example, Tony Abbott and his colleagues have happily pushed the coal industry’s agenda, undermining energy reform and dumping real climate action.
These people and the industries they support are a minority, holding humanity to ransom for their own political or financial gain. Let’s stop being hoodwinked by big industry and demand immediate and far reaching action to reduce greenhouse emissions to zero.
ACTION:To move Australia beyond fossil fuels, the climate movement must grow to an unprecedented scale and size. Join FoE Australia's Tipping Point team of national volunteers: email [email protected] to find out more.
Toolbox for Sustainable Development
What is sustainable development?
Perhaps the most complete definition is development that meets the needs of the current generation without degrading the ecological inheritance of future generations.
Is this what we are seeing in our region?
Over the last few decades, there has been an onslaught on the recovering rainforest and bush in Kuranda and the wider region. Cassowaries and other endangered wildlife have been killed by loss of habitat, traffic, feral animals and domestic cats and dogs. Just recently, large numbers of paperbarks have been cut down in the centre of Mareeba to evict flying foxes.
As habitats shrink, the clashes between humans and wildlife will increase unless a more collaborative and sustainable planning approach is taken. With this vision in mind, the Kuranda Region Planning Group (KRPG) has been set up. See www.kurandaregion.org for further information. This is a network of local residents, environmental groups and wildlife experts that aim to work with government at all levels. FoE FNQ is a member of this network.
ACTION: Support KRPG's Wet Tropics World Heritage Vital Corridor Buy Back Scheme email [email protected] for further information.
Opposing environmentally destructive development
We have various options:
Engaging with the official governmental planning system at local, State or Federal level
We can put in submissions to Mareeba Shire Council about potentially environmentally destructive developments that conflict with the Mareeba Shire Planning Scheme 2016 For a list of current development applications, see https://msc.qld.gov.au/building-planning/development-applications/
If the development is still approved, we can then appeal in the Planning and Environment Court against the approval – but only if we were submitters. The Environmental Defenders' Office (EDO) offers legal advice, fact sheets and community handbooks prepared by legal experts. However court cases can be lengthy and expensive. Mediation is another option to achieve a better outcome.
Very large developments are assessed by all three layers of government – and this is the case for the mega resort KUR-World.
ACTION: Write a submission to the Coordinator General about KUR-World. Email [email protected] to find out more.
Nonviolent direct action
In the 50th year after Martin Luther King was killed, this remains one of the most powerful tools we have. The Daintree Blockade in the 1980s was a local example of people risking their lives to protect the rainforest. Though it failed to stop the Bloomfield track being bulldozed through, it helped to save the Daintree and kick started the listing of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. This inspiring local history has been chronicled in the new book The Daintree Blockade: the battle for Australia's Tropical Rainforests by Bill Wilkie.
It is well worth the read with the added bonus of name spotting local eco-heroes who still live in the area. As Bob Brown said ' The sheer energy and commitment of those campaigners on the ground- that was the core to saving the Daintree itself' As we battle mega resorts and huge subdivisions and find out how weak and woolly the planning law is in Queensland, this may be what it takes to save the Kuranda region.
Protesters buried in the path of bulldozers in efforts to stop the Daintree road.
Photo by Cliff Frith.
Bryan Law and others up to his chest in mud blocking the Daintree Road.
Our Kuranda property was recently sprayed with the herbicide Roundup by Council workers without our authorisation. Our property adjoins Jumrum Creek which ultimately flows to the Great Barrier Reef via the Barron River. Due to the ecological sensitivity of our property and region, we initiated a formal complaint through the Queensland Ombudsman. Mareeba Shire Council’s actions and subsequent dismissive response reveals a common belief that Roundup is innocuous. While this complacency has been fostered through decades of aggressive marketing by agrochemical company Monsanto, there is mounting research suggesting Roundup is toxic not only to the environment, but to human health.
In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified Roundup’s declared principle ingredient ‘glyphosate’ as "probably carcinogenic to humans". The European Chemicals Agency has classified it “a substance causing serious eye damage and being toxic to aquatic life with long-lasting effects". After bitter division in 2017 the European Union approved a limited 5-year licence for glyphosate, with France declaring a ban within 3 years. Currently, more than 700 US farmers, landscapers & gardeners are involved in a lawsuit against Monsanto claiming that exposure to glyphosate caused their cancers.
If you like your energy clean and carbon free then you may be happy that a transition to renewable electricity is underway in Australia. Around the country a number of large-scale renewable power stations are under construction. In 2017 alone 4670 megawatt (MW) of renewable generating capacity was added to the national market. South Australia installed one of largest battery facilities in the world, providing reliable network storage. New technologies are coming online, such as solar thermal and pumped hydro that can be used during periods of high demand.In North and Far North Queensland, there are a number of commercial scale renewable facilities under construction, and many more in the pipeline. Construction of thecontroversial Mt Emerald Wind farm west of Walkamin is nearing completion and will have 53 turbines generating 180 MW of electricity. Two large solar photovoltaic (PV) installations are being built at Lakeland and at the old Kidston goldmine near Georgetown. Additional large solar projects are proposed for Mareeba (announced in late 2017) and at Lakeland, a pumped hydro plant for the Kidston mine, and plans for a big wind farm at Forsayth. Rooftop solar installations are also very popular, and over 18,000 homes in the region have installed PV systems.
Mareeba Council Fails Kuranda Community Again
At the July 2017 council meeting, it took just nine minutes for council to pass more than four motions, two of which allowed assessment of high density, rural residential developments in an environmentally fragile area (Myola Valley, Kuranda) under the old, 2004- and now superseded planning scheme.
The high density. rural residential development applications are for the Kuranda vets' land (subdivision into approximately 48 blocks of around 2 acres in size) and the Barnwell road property (site of the ambitious and possibly fictional KUR-World project) of 176 blocks also of around 2 acres each.
These subdivisions would not be deemed appropriate according to the Mareeba Shire Council 2016 plan, the FNQ2031 plan and the State Planning mapping (Matters of Environmental significance). Hence this extraordinary tactic of trying to have the developments assessed under the old plan, which was rejected a decade ago by the Kuranda community and eventually by the State Government.
In previous articles we mentioned the dangers associated with conventional agriculture as bores have turned up with too high levels of arsenic in Koah possibly due to the use of arsenic during tobacco farming times. Conventional farming uses many dangerous chemicals. Some insecticides, for example the much used Methomyl and Chlorpyrifos are anti-cholinesterases(nerve poisons) just like Sarin. In fact it was only after some potent insecticides were developed that armies also saw their usefulness in chemical warfare.
It follows that keeping conventional agriculture as far away as possible from environmental values and populated areas is a safe precaution.
What you can do:
Ring MSC on 1300 308 461 or 07 4086 4500
Email [email protected]
Ask them: "put the old 300 metre buffer zone back into the new MSC2016 plan to protect against dangerous spray drift. This will help to avoid 'accidents' like we saw in Mareeba last year, in future."
Use social media to say Stop #spraydrift [#spraydrift is the globally used hashtag for this issue which effects communities across the world]
Australia is fortunate to have an excellent daily web journal - Giles Parkinson's Renew Economy - which is professionally-written and covers the issues of climate change and energy policy in considerable detail.Because most of the mass media reports these issues so poorly, it's well-worth getting information on these topics from credible alternative sources.In fairness, The Guardian also covers climate change very well, as does the ABC. Yet the amount of disinformation in much of our mass media is horrific.Take the case of the recent power blackouts ib South Australia. The Turnbull Government swiftly seized upon these incidents as "proof" that renewable energy increases energy insecurity. A large swathe of the Australian "commentariat" uncritically repeated this untruth.In fact, the outages had nothing to do with renewable energy - see for instance Renewable energy witch-hunt continues after South Australia outage or Wind energy not to blame for South Australia power outage.
FOE Questions the Subdividing of KOAH until Issues of Water are Resolved
Mareeba Shire Council continues to subdivide Koah region without solving water issues. Mareeba Shire Council is giving different messages regarding its responsibilities regarding safe drinkable water.
Planner Brian Millard wrote to Kuranda Region Planning Group that
“In terms of planning requirements for subdivisions outside of a reticulated water supply network, the developer must show an adequate water supply.”
He suggests it’s up to the owners to test and treat their own water. But this appears to contradict other advice and regulations attached to subdivisions.
It’s true that Council is not directly responsible for bore water quality. However when the Planning Department of the MSC makes a subdivision subject to potable water (“each lot must be provided with potable water”) this surely means that the water is drinkable and not just available.
Foe FNQ is assuming that the definition of “potable” is drinkable according to particular Standards. Who's responsibility is it?