Time to shift our thinking

If it weren’t for uninformed climate deniers that have obstructed progress for decades, we would have solved the problems by now. Let’s get on with it.

I am concerned when so-called climate sceptics use their doubts to take risks on behalf of us all. A sceptic is defined by the Oxford dictionary as “A person seeking the truth; an enquirer who has not yet arrived at definite convictions”. I therefore don’t believe a person who claims to be a climate sceptic and then makes the statement, “It’s most certainly a case of the dog being wagged by the tail.” (see Letters 15 March 2017). By definition, that is not a sceptical statement. It’s a statement of conviction. That person is a climate denier. I’m concerned that his emotional, unscientific claims are stopping us from taking reasonable precautions. Like our “sceptic”, I object to inequitable funding: The funding of coal-industry-friendly projects like carbon capture and storage. By hugely favouring this project, the government admits that carbon emissions are a problem. However, instead of solving this problem with existing technology (renewable energy), they favour a barely-tried, risky, pie-in-the-sky option. Base load power from renewable energy is available with existing technology. It requires a re-design of our power distribution system, but it can be done. We are approaching the climate problems with the wrong question. Instead of asking, “How can we avoid having to change?” we should be asking, “What can we do to solve these problems?” If it weren’t for uninformed climate deniers that have obstructed progress for decades, we would have solved the problems by now. Let’s get on with it.

Joe Boin, Invermay


Take action on climate change at home

Psychologist Carol Ride (Courier, 2nd March) wrote about the emotional struggle that many people face once they come to accept the overwhelming evidence that climate change is real and dangerous, and that human emissions are the main cause.

We feel so anxious about the consequences for our lives and families, that we avoid talking about climate change and don’t know what to do to relieve our emotional tensions.

While further denial is the usual defence, the Melbourne group ‘Psychologists for a Safe Climate’ advocate that the only remedy for emotional relief is some form of concrete action to combat climate change.

The many types of ‘climate action’ available for citizens include reducing CO2 emissions at work or in travelling, using and advocating for renewable energy, eating more local food, divestment from fossil fuels, and making our homes more energy efficient.

As most homes in Ballarat are extremely inefficient in terms of energy use, this offers major prospects for reducing emissions, as well saving owners hundreds of dollars in annual energy bills.

Well designed modern houses can even be net generators of electricity.

So in efforts to enable Ballarat residents to improve their home energy efficiency, Smart Living Ballarat is running a series of free workshops, with support from the City of Ballarat.

The second of these workshops is on Wednesday 15th March at 12.30 – 1.30 pm in the Ballarat Central Library.  This talk and workshop will be led by an experienced home energy assessor Sue Harling, and is entitled “DIY Home Energy Assessment”.

Information provided should be valuable to everyone wanting to reduce their gas and electricity bills and CO2 emissions, that is owners and renters of older homes as well as families seeking to renovate, or to buy new homes. For information see http://BREAZE.org.au.

John Petheram, Smart Living Ballarat

Letter to the Editor – http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/4523881/letters-to-the-editor/?cs=65

Should we welcome a Royal Commission into climate science?

Recently Lawrie, a member of the Ballarat Climate Action group, wrote a letter to the editor after reacting to the news of Pauline Hanson’s election to the Senate. In it he raises the spectre of Royal Commission into climate science, something that Hanson is pushing and asks the question perhaps it’s what is needed to break the deadlock once and for all in science wars.

The truth will out

With her wish for a Royal Commission into climate science, Pauline Hanson has completed the Holy Trinity of requirements for recognition as a raving conservative. Having excelled in xenophobia and homophobia she now proudly adds climate change denial. No doubt Hanson imagines a like-minded group of anti-science Royal Commissioners including George Christensen, Cory Bernadi, Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt. However, as Malcolm Turnbull found, trying to clear the Senate of obstructionist ratbags, you must be careful what you wish for.  In reality, a properly constituted public Royal Commission would include the world’s best climate scientists with experience in the physics, chemistry and biology of the atmosphere, land and oceans.

Evidence from irrefutable peer-reviewed research would tell us what Australian governments already know: the earth is warming dangerously, it’s because of fossil fuel emissions, and we face catastrophe unless most of the world’s fossil fuels, including Australia’s massive reserve, stay in the ground. A Royal Commission appears unlikely though, because as Australia strives to become the world’s fossil fuel export superpower, Labor and the Coalition are as much in denial as Hanson.  Absurd as it may seem, all Australians must press for a Climate Science Royal Commission. It’s the only way to reveal the truth and prevent catastrophe.

Lawrie Wilson, Ballarat

Published as a Letter to the Editor in Ballarat’s Courier.

Open Letter to Greg Hunt

Before the dust settled after the 2016 federal election Joe Boin, member of the Ballarat Climate Action group, sent this dispatch to the potential Minister for Environment. Calling Greg Hunt to take a stand for the environment and the future.

Greg Hunt MP                                                        Postal Address:
Member for Flinders                                               PO Box 274
Minister for the Environment                                     Hastings Vic 3915

Dear Mr Hunt,

Congratulations on your likely re-election.

I also believe that your party will be returned to a tenuous position in charge of this wonderful country.

Despite your performance so far, I believe you care about our environment and hope that you will now be able to take some real steps to further our interests.  You’ll notice that I used the adjective “our” twice – that’s because our interests are synonymous with those of the environment that supports us.

Please stop this misdirection of spending money on run-off control in North Queensland.  We both know that the real cause of the Reef’s problems is Global Warming.  We Australians make a significant contribution to it with our coal … and you are approving a huge increase in that contribution.  The effects of the run-off control and the “Direct Action” plan will be swamped by the extra emissions from that coal.  I know it seems like economic heresy, but our coal must stay in the ground.  I spoke to our local Liberal candidate about that and she, though well-meaning, didn’t get it.  Surely you are better informed than that.

It’s as if we’re living in a house that’s falling apart and spending all our efforts on good food, comfortable furniture, solid doors and the latest white goods and electronics – it won’t mean much when the roof falls in.

I ask that you take a truly responsible (and courageous) stand for our environment and therefore our future.

Please don’t respond to this with one of those general, “trust us” (with a paternal pat on the head) responses.  It’ll mean you (or your minders) haven’t read this.  I’d rather get no response.

I ask that you take the stand of an Environment Minister who looks after our environment, not one who makes excuses for the demise of its health. The latter is how I see your overall performance so far.


Joe Boin

Ballarat Climate Change Federal Election Survey 2016

The Ballarat Climate Change Federal Election Survey 2016

Climate action means jobs for Ballarat with over $2 Billion in renewable projects around Ballarat ready to go. It’s a local issue and a global issue with the effects hurting everyone and everything – like the Great Barrier Reef or droughts in Western Victoria.

The Ballarat Climate Change Federal Election Survey has ended. It returned results from three candidates but has been ignored by the other candidates.  The questions in the survey related to Paris agreement that has a target of 2 degrees and action that is required to reach that, candidates level of commitment to banning new coal mines and coal seam gas projects, banning donations, price on carbon and how they regard the scientific evidence of climate change.

Going from the responses to our survey the Greens scored the highest followed closely by Independent Bren Eckel and then Catherine King.

Climate change has largely been ignored during the election and it doesn’t surprise me that candidates would rather have silence than to highlight their policies regarding climate change.

There has been research that shows people rate action on climate change very high and that they will vote on it but the research also shows that people still don’t know which party has the best polices. We wanted to make it easier for voters.

The survey was sent to all candidates for the seat of Ballarat and also the senate candidate John Madigan who has an electorate office in Ballarat.

Three candidates responded to the survey, the incumbent Catherine King from Labor, Alice Barnes from the Greens and Bren Eckel an Independent. We appreciate the effort of these three.

The candidates that didn’t response were Dianne Colbert – Australian Christians, Paul Tatchell – The Nationals, Graham Howard – Family First Party, Tran Tran – Rise Up Australia Party, Sarah Wade –  Liberal and John Madigan….Poor form.

Bren outlined achieving zero carbon:

“As soon as possible. My policies make renewable energies very attractive and very competitive alternatives to fossil fuels. I am also seeking to profoundly change the motoring of most Australian motorists by making an eCar a really sought after product by the largely urbanised Australia and providing the electric highway as a part of Australian infrastructure.”

He also agreed to all the questions except was unsure about a price on carbon.


“The Greens are determined to see Australia generate at least 90% of its energy from renewables by 2030, and we want to double our energy efficiency by then. So, according to our RenewAustralia policy, it won’t be long before we are able to achieve zero carbon emissions.”

Alice answered in the affirmative to all questions.

Catherine King directly answered when the Labor Party was planning to have zero emission which she states is 2050, she also agreed that there should be a price on carbon, which the Ballarat Climate Action Group commends.

To try and understand where the non-responsive candidates stand I’ll just look at what they’ve said at public forums or their Parties policy. Paul Tatchell was asked at a candidate forum if the National Party had a target for zero emissions and he said “I’d like to think so…” In fact the National Party doesn’t have any policy. Emissions have been rising under the Liberal Party who scraped the price on carbon and is supportive of new coal.

Rise in emissions after the scrapping the price on carbon


The Australian Christians Party are not concerned about climate change at all. Their website says “The world has more important priorities other than the likelihood of global warming.” John Madigan has made statements that question the science of climate change see here here and here.

You can read the candidates responses here also check out other environmental organisations score cards below. Here’s a good compilation by John Englart from Climate Action Moreland.


Environment Vic scorecard




  1. Do you accept the conclusions of IPCC regarding that human caused global warming is a real and serious threat to our environment, our economy and our society and believe that all levels of government, business and the community must take urgent action to immediately reduce emissions and help stop dangerous climate change?
  2. Do you accept the Paris climate agreement to keep temperatures at 1.5 to 2 degrees?
  3. Will you develop and/or update a National Sustainable Transport Plan to help communities reduce their emissions from transport?
  4. Do you have a target for zero carbon emissions? If so when?
  5. Do you accept the evidence based proposition from the climate council that “It is likely that over 90% of Australian coal reserves are unburnable under even the most generous carbon budget. Exploitation of Australia’s Galilee Basin coal deposits is incompatible with effective action on climate change”?
  6. Should Australia set a price on carbon emissions?
  7. Do you commit to a ban on donations from fossil fuel companies, if elected?
  8. Should all new coal mines and coal seam gas projects be prohibited?
  9. If elected do you commit to a ban on subsidies on the fossil fuel industry?
  10. Will you develop and/or update a National Sustainable Agriculture Plan to help that sector and communities reduce emissions from agriculture?