Archive for the ‘Express 112’ Category

UNAA WED Awards Winners for the Environment

Posted by admin on June 10, 2010
Posted under Express 112

UNAA WED Awards Winners for the Environment

The United Nations Association of Australia announced the winners of this year’s World Environment Day Awards at the Awards Presentation Dinner held at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne on 4 June, 2010 and hosted by Rob Gell, environmentalist and President of Greening Australia. For special mention here was the award for Environmental Reporting shared by Adam Morton of The Age and Tanya Ha for “Warm TV”.

The United Nations Association of Australia announced the winners of this year’s World Environment Day Awards. Winners were announced at the Awards Presentation Dinner held at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne on Friday 4 June, 2010. This gala event was hosted by Rob Gell, Environmentalist and President of Greening Australia.

The new Department of Sustainability and Environment Biodiversity Award, introduced this year to celebrate the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity, went to the Western Australian Local Government Association for its development of Local Biodiversity Strategies, training opportunities and the bringing together of State government, industry and community groups.

Awards were presented across 14 categories to individuals, schools, community groups, businesses and local governments, highlighting top environmental initiatives and programs from across Australia.

Amidst strong competition the Virgin Blue Business Award for Best Specific Environmental Initiative was won by Goulburn Valley Water & Greater Shepparton City Council for their joint project “Resource Recovery Precinct.” Centred on the Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility, the project involves several businesses that turn waste into resources such as renewable energy and compost.

The Kimberley Toad Busters took out the Community Award for its “Cane Toad Control” project, an initiative which has mobilised the community with volunteers clocking up more than a million hours working to stop the progress of cane toads towards the Kimberley.

The Northern Gulf Resource Management Group’s “Carpentaria Ghost Net Programme” was the winner of the Excellence in Marine and Coastal Management Award, impressing judges with its support of the indigenous communities who are finding local solutions to tackle the negative effects of fishing net debris on native marine life.

Bond University was declared winner of the Szencorp Green Building Award, having been accredited with a six star Green Star rating for its Mirvac School of Sustainable Development Building which allows visitors to experience its sustainable processes in action.

Equally impressive was the Monash Sustainability Institute who won the Education/School Award for its “Green Steps” program empowering participants with the skills and knowledge to positively affect environmental practices within organisations.

International law firm Allens Arthur Robinson won the WSP Lincolne Scott Sustainability Leadership Award for its performance and approach to sustainability as well as its ability to influence both their suppliers and clients from an environmental, social and community perspective.

Edstein Creative Stone was awarded the Excellence in Sustainable Water Management Award for developing a recycling system which cuts its water use in stone cutting and polishing by 98 per cent.

Established in 2000, the Awards program is now in its 11th year and continues to acknowledge action taken at a local level to address global environmental issues.

Department of Sustainability and Environment Biodiversity Award WINNER: Western Australian Local Government Association – “Perth Biodiversity Project & South West Biodiversity Project”

Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development Meeting the Greenhouse Challenge Award WINNER: Darebin City Council – “Darebin’s Climate Change Action” SPECIAL COMMENDATION: National Australia Bank – “Carbon Neutral 2010 Strategy” Szencorp Green Building Award WINNER: Bond University – “Mirvac School of Sustainable Development Building”

Virgin Blue Business Awards – Best Specific Environmental Initiative WINNER: Goulburn Valley Water & Greater Shepparton City Council – “Resource Recovery Precinct” SPECIAL COMMENDATION: Zoos Victoria – “They’re Calling On You!” – Environmental Best Practice Program WINNER: InStyle Contract Textiles “Sustainability with Style”

WSP Lincolne Scott Sustainability Leadership Award WINNER: Allens Arthur Robinson SPECIAL COMMENDATION: National Australia Bank Education/School Award WINNER: Monash Sustainability Institute – “Green Steps” Excellence in Marine and Coastal Management Award WINNER: Northern Gulf Resource Management Group – “Carpentaria Ghost Net Programme”

Excellence in Sustainable Water Management Award WINNER: Edstein Creative Stone Local Government Awards – Excellence in Overall Environmental Management WINNER: Byron Shire Council – “The Brunswick Estuary Management Plan & Sewerage Augmentation Scheme” – Best Specific Environmental Initiative WINNER: Moonee Valley City Council – “Moonee Ponds Green Precinct” SPECIAL COMMENDATION: Fairfield City Council – “Sustain ‘n’ Save Business Program” Community Award WINNER: Kimberley Toad Busters – “Cane Toad Control”

Individual Award for Outstanding Service to the Environment WINNER: Emeritus Professor Tor Hundloe – “An Environmental Pioneer” Media Award for Environmental Reporting JOINT WINNER: Adam Morton, The Age – “Climate Change Coverage” JOINT WINNER: Tanya Ha – “Warm TV” Source:

While not a winner, the work of Greenfleet was recognised for biodiversity in World Environment Day Awards. In addition to recapturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, Greenfleet has always committed to planting a selection of locally native trees to form biodiverse forests, which also reduce salinity and erosion, and increase habitat for wildlife.

This commitment was recognised recently when Greenfleet, along with project partner Biolinking Australia, was selected as a finalist for the UNAA World Environment Day Awards in the Biodiversity category. The Northern Victorian Biolinks project is a collaboration between Biolinking Australia and Greenfleet – two likeminded organisations focused on developing an innovative market-based approach to protecting, enhancing and restoring Victoria’s biodiversity.

So far the project has achieved: • Landscape scale revegetation of over 2000 hectares of marginal agricultural land • Protection of over 1300 hectares of existing formerly grazed areas of biodiversity • Increased connectivity between significant areas of privately owned remnant vegetation • Increased resilience of significant populations of threatened species While we didn’t win, we were still pleased to be named a finalist.

We were also particularly pleased to be recognised for our actions during 2010 – International Year of Biodiversity. This recognition helps to demonstrate that action on climate change can also bring about significant benefits for the Australian landscape.


The Anthropocene Debate: Marking Humanity’s Impact

Posted by admin on June 10, 2010
Posted under Express 112

The Anthropocene Debate: Marking Humanity’s Impact

Human activity is altering the planet on a scale comparable with some of the major events of the ancient past. Some of these changes are now seen as permanent, even on a geological time-scale. Scientists are now considering whether to officially designate a new geological epoch to reflect the changes that Homo sapiens have wrought: the Anthropocene. For what it’s worth, in “The ABC of Carbon” Ken Hickson suggests we should declare this era “The Carbon Age”.

By Elizabeth Kolbert on ABC Environment (7 Jun 2010):

Is human activity altering the planet on a scale comparable to major geological events of the past? Scientists are now considering whether to officially designate a new geological epoch to reflect the changes that Homo sapiens have wrought: the Anthropocene.

THE HOLOCENE — or “wholly recent” epoch — is what geologists call the 11,000 years or so since the end of the last ice age. As epochs go, the Holocene is barely out of diapers; its immediate predecessor, the Pleistocene, lasted more than two million years, while many earlier epochs, like the Eocene, went on for more than 20 million years. Still, the Holocene may be done for.

People have become such a driving force on the planet that many geologists argue a new epoch — informally dubbed the Anthropocene — has begun. In a recent paper titled “The New World of the Anthropocene,” which appeared in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, a group of geologists listed more than a half dozen human-driven processes that are likely to leave a lasting mark on the planet — lasting here understood to mean likely to leave traces that will last tens of millions of years. These include: habitat destruction and the introduction of invasive species, which are causing widespread extinctions; ocean acidification, which is changing the chemical makeup of the seas; and urbanisation, which is vastly increasing rates of sedimentation and erosion.

Human activity, the group wrote, is altering the planet “on a scale comparable with some of the major events of the ancient past. Some of these changes are now seen as permanent, even on a geological time-scale.” Prompted by the group’s paper, the Independent of London recently conducted a straw poll of the members of the International Commission on Stratigraphy, the official keeper of the geological time scale.

Half the commission members surveyed said they thought the case for a new epoch was already strong enough to consider a formal designation. “Human activities, particularly since the onset of the industrial revolution, are clearly having a major impact on the Earth,” Barry Richards of the Geological Survey of Canada told the newspaper.

“We are leaving a clear and unique record.” The term “Anthropocene” was coined a decade ago by Paul Crutzen, one of the three chemists who shared the 1995 Nobel Prize for discovering the effects of ozone-depleting compounds. In a paper published in 2000, Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer, a professor at the University of Michigan, noted that many forms of human activity now dwarf their natural counterparts; for instance, more nitrogen today is fixed synthetically than is fixed by all the world’s plants, on land and in the ocean.

Considering this, the pair wrote in the newsletter of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, “it seems to us more than appropriate to emphasise the central role of mankind in geology and ecology by proposing to use the term ‘anthropocene’ for the current geological epoch.” Two years later, Crutzen restated the argument in an article in Nature titled “Geology of Mankind.” The Anthropocene, Crutzen wrote, “could be said to have started in the latter part of the eighteenth century, when analyses of air trapped in polar ice showed the beginning of growing global concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane.” Soon, the term began popping up in other scientific publications.

“Riverine quality of the Anthropocene” was the title of a 2002 paper in the journal Aquatic Sciences. “Soils and sediments in the anthropocene,” read the title of a 2004 editorial in the Journal of Soils and Sediments. A spreading idea Jan Zalasiewicz, a geologist at the Britain’s University of Leicester, found the spread of the concept intriguing. “I noticed that Paul Crutzen’s term was appearing in the serious literature, in papers in Science and such like, without inverted commas and without a sense of irony,” he recalled in a recent interview.

At the time, Zalasiewicz was the head of the stratigraphic commission of the Geological Society of London. At a luncheon meeting of the commission, he asked his fellow stratigraphers what they thought of the idea. “We simply discussed it,” he said. “And to my surprise, because these are technical geologists, a majority of us thought that there was something to this term.”

In 2008, Zalasiewicz and 20 other British geologists published an article in GSA Today, the magazine of the Geological Society of America, that asked: “Are we now living in the Anthropocene?” The answer, the group concluded, was probably yes: “Sufficient evidence has emerged of stratigraphically significant change (both elapsed and imminent) for recognition of the Anthropocene… as a new geological epoch to be considered for formalisation.” (An epoch, in geological terms, is a relatively short span of time; a period, like the Cretaceous, can last for tens of millions of years, and an era, like the Mesozoic, for hundreds of millions.)

The group pointed to changes in sedimentation rates, in ocean chemistry, in the climate, and in the global distribution of plants and animals as phenomena that would all leave lasting traces. Increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, the group wrote, are predicted to lead to “global temperatures not encountered since the Tertiary,” the period that ended 2.6 million years ago. Zalasiewicz now heads of the Anthropocene Working Group of the International Commission on Stratigraphy, which is looking into whether a new epoch should be officially designated, and if so, how.

Traditionally, the boundaries between geological time periods have been established on the basis of changes in the fossil record — by, for example, the appearance of one type of commonly preserved organism or the disappearance of another. The process of naming the various periods and their various subsets is often quite contentious; for years, geologists have debated whether the Quaternary — the geological period that includes both the Holocene and its predecessor, the Pleistocene — ought to exist, or if the term ought to be abolished, in which case the Holocene and Pleistocene would become epochs of the Neogene, which began some 23 million years ago. (Just last year, the International Commission on Stratigraphy decided to keep the Quaternary, but to push back its boundary by almost a million years.)

Standardisation In recent decades, the ICS has been trying to standardise the geological time scale by choosing a rock sequence in a particular place to serve as a marker. Thus, for example, the marker for the Calabrian stage of the Pleistocene can be found at 39.0385°N 17.1348°E, which is in the toe of the boot of Italy. Since there is no rock record yet of the Anthropocene, its boundary would obviously have to be marked in a different way.

The epoch could be said simply to have begun at a certain date, say 1800. Or its onset could be correlated to the first atomic tests, in the 1940s, which left behind a permanent record in the form of radioactive isotopes. One argument against the idea that a new human-dominated epoch has recently begun is that humans have been changing the planet for a long time already, indeed practically since the start of the Holocene.

People have been farming for 8,000 or 9,000 years, and some scientists — most notably William Ruddiman, of the University of Virginia — have proposed that this development already represents an impact on a geological scale. Alternatively, it could be argued that the Anthropocene has not yet arrived because human impacts on the planet are destined to be even greater 50 or a hundred years from now. “We’re still now debating whether we’ve actually got to the event horizon, because potentially what’s going to happen in the 21st century could be even more significant,” observed Mark Williams, a member of the Anthropocene Working Group who is also a geologist at the University of Leicester.

In general, Williams said, the reaction that the working group had received to its efforts so far has been positive. “Most of the geologists and stratigraphers that we’ve spoken with think it’s a very good idea in that they agree that the degree of change is very significant.” Zalasiewicz said that even if new epoch is not formally designated, the exercise of considering it was still useful. “Really it’s a piece of science,” he said. “We’re trying to get some handle on the scale of contemporary change in its very largest context.” This article first appeared at Yale Environment 360


Lucky Last – Here’s the ABC Carbon 50 for 2010

Posted by admin on June 10, 2010
Posted under Express 112

Lucky Last – Here’s the ABC Carbon 50 for 2010

Outspoken and daring climate change activists young and old – including a Nobel award winning scientist and international movie star – feature in this year’s ABC Carbon 50. This is the list, like no other, of Australia’s most notable and influential people, recognised for their contribution to climate change action and awareness, the environment, conservation, green issues and opportunities, energy efficiency and/or renewable energy.

We received more 150 nominations from readers and supporters around the country and while there may well be additional worthy recipients, we decided to draw the line at 50. Preference was given to people who had achieved national recognition, even though there are some who have been particularly active in one state or community. Many of those selected also have influence way beyond Australia.

The decision on the final 50 was made by Ken Hickson, Director of ABC Carbon, who was ably assisted in the selection process by Graeme Philipson of Connection Research and Graham Readfearn, environmental journalist & green blogger.

We should point out, as we have said before, that politicians and journalists have been excluded from the final list, even though some had been nominated. We do feel it is important to acknowledge the important role that journalists and communicators are playing in Australia and globally to influence the debate and action for the planet’s sake. We are currently developing a list – most likely a TOP 20 – to serve this purpose.

This year, it was also decided that there would not be a ranking or order from 1 to 50, as just securing a place in the final 50 was enough. So names are listed in alphabetical order – just to be different – based on first names not last!

We congratulate all those who made it. Keep up the good work.

ABC CARBON 50 for 2010:

Andrew Grant, CEO, CO2 Australia

Andrew Lawson, CEO, MBD Energy

Andrew Petersen, PWC Partner & professional advocate on Climate Change

Andy Pittman, Climate Change Researcher, University of NSW

Anna Keenan, Climate change Campaigner & organiser Climate Justice Fast

Anna Rose, Founder of Australian Youth Climate Coalition

Anne-Maree Huxley, CEO, Models of Success and Sustainabilty (MOSS)

Barry Brook, University of Adelaide climate scientist

Ben McNeil, University of NSW climate scientist & author

Cate Blanchett, Sydney Theatre Company Director & speaker World Business Summit at Copenhagen, international film star, actress and green activist

Clive Hamilton, author & climate change campaigner

Dave Sag, Founder, Carbon Planet

David Baggs, Founder, Ecospecifier and new Green Tag certification for building products

David Hood, Chairman, Australia Green Infrastructure Council

David Karoly, University of Melbourne climate scientist

Dick Smith, businessman, outspoken on climate change & population issues

Fiona Wain, CEO, Environment Business Australia

Ian Lowe, President, Australian Conservation Foundation

Janis Birkeland, QUT Built Environment Lecturer & author of “Positive Development”

Jean Palutikof, Head of National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility

Jeff Angel, Founder, Total Environment Centre & Green Capital

Jeff Harding, Director Carnegie Corporation & Chairman, Ceramic Fuel Cells

John Buchanan, Director Workplace Research Centre & Climate Change @ Work conferences

John Connor, Director, The Climate Institute

Jon Dee, Founder, Planet Ark, Do Something Campaign and National Tree Day

Ken Bellamy, Founder, Prime Carbon & VRM Biologic

Linda Selvey, CEO, Greenpeace

Mara Bun, CEO, Green Cross

Martijn Wilder, Baker & McKenzie Global CC Director  & Director, Carbon Trust

Matthew Warren, CEO, Clean Energy Council

Matthew Wright, Director,  Beyond Zero Emissions

Michael Ottaviano, CEO, Carnegie Corporation (wave energy project)

Michael Raupach, Global Carbon Project & CSIRO

Natalie Isaacs, Founder, One Million Women Campaign

Ngaire McGaw, Sustainable Jamboree & climate activist

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Director, Global Change Institute & University of Queensland Professor

Pep Canadell, Global Carbon Project

Peter Cosier, Wentworth Group of Scientists

Peter Doherty, author & Nobel Prize winning scientist

Richard Cassels, Director Climate Leadership

Rob Cawthorne, CEO, Carbon Reduction Institute

Robert Pekin, Founder, Food Connect

Rupert Posner, The Climate Group

Robert Quirk, World Sugar to Ethanol project

Ross Garnaut, economist & Government advisor

Sam Mostyn, Institute for Sustainable Solutions, University of Sydney

Sara Gipton, CEO, Greenfleet

Sidonie Carpenter, President, Greenroofs Australia

Tim Flannery, Chairman, Copenhagen Climate Council, plus author & scientist

Will Steffen, ANU Climate Change Institute at Australian National University