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Category Archives: Environment

Metaphors of Belligerence: Wars by and against Nature

Metaphor consists in giving the thing a name that belongs to something else. Aristotle, Poetics (1457b)

It all seemed familiar. Anthropomorphised Mother Nature in vengeful mood; humans wondering if they might meet a frozen demise in trapped vehicles; the planners taking stock as to how best to cope with grim circumstances. The New York State governor Kathy Hochul was happy to stick her head out in declaring the latest lethal winter storm in Buffalo to be nothing less than a “war with Mother Nature, and she has been hitting us with everything she has.”

Having found her less than imaginative metaphor, the governor ran with it, suggesting that Mother Nature had laid waste to the region around Buffalo. “It is [like] going to a war zone, and the vehicles along the sides of the roads are shocking.”

Sappy media outlets have also taken up Hochul’s call from the parapets of battle, scouring the record for heartfelt accounts of the human spirit. The Guardian warmed to “stories of endurance, survival and rescue” – these are the sorts of things you expect when under attack from an omnipotent enemy. “Good Samaritans took stranded travellers into their homes; strangers worked together to help a snow-trapped expectant mother through some birth.”

Metaphors of war and the environment are rarely helpful. They conjure up false notions of battle, fictional platoons, ready reserves and resources marshalled against a retributive god or some sentient force of agency. Unfortunately, they are everywhere, and often conceptually shaky. “A solidified metaphor, a metaphor accepted unambiguously as truth,” writes Scarlet Marquette with accuracy, “is, in fact, a most pernicious force, inimical to truth.”

Officials have made it a habit to see war everywhere, often involving inanimate and abstract notions that do more to distort than clarify. They operate as enormous distractions in the service of not making policy. There are wars on sugar, salt, fat, poverty, homelessness and that colossally failed project known as the “War against Drugs.”

Such tendencies have seen a slew of publications, many of the specialised variety. One co-authored article in the dedicated journal Metaphor and Symbol argues that “war metaphors are omnipresent because (a) they draw on basic and widely shared schematic knowledge that efficiently structures our ability to reason and communicate about many different types of situations, and (b) they reliably express an urgent, negatively valenced emotional tone that captures attention and motivates action.”

That the action is necessarily well-directed or founded is another matter. Susan Sontag picked up on this point in examining illness and its various metaphors, writing that “military metaphors contribute to the stigmatizing of certain illnesses and, by extension, those who are ill.”

But the theme of Nature can also be taken from the other side: that humanity has brought wrath against itself for its plundering, fecund, and warring ways. Nature, in that sense, is the recipient of human bad behaviour, with humans refusing to come to the table and make peace.

The UN environment chief, Inger Andersen, sees much in that comparison. Unlike Hochul, her concern lies in the concern that human beings have been the unilateral aggressors, exploiters, and marauders. “As far as biodiversity is concerned, we are at war with nature. We need to make peace with nature. Because nature is what sustains everything on Earth … the science is unequivocal.”

Pausing to reflect on the birth of the 8 billionth human being was an occasion to celebrate, but “the more people there are, the more we put the Earth under heavy pressure.” That pressure came in the form of “the five horsemen of the biodiversity apocalypse,” namely, land-use, overexploitation, pollution, the broader climate crisis, and the spread of invasive species.

The same sentiment is expressed by the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, who shifts the focus to humanity as the warring problem on Planet Earth. He puts his hope in the children to save us from this dilemma, hoping the young will be far more sensible in making peace. “I am continuously inspired by their commitment & leadership in tackling the war against nature.”



If one starts off with the premise that human beings are prone to such innate war making tendencies – and this premise has been challenged – alternatives have been suggested. The philosopher William James proposed a re-channelling of such desires in his address, “The Moral Equivalent of War.” Instead of killing each other, humanity might go about other pursuits.

Unfortunately, such redirections bring environmental consequences James could scant see. “To the coal mines and iron mines, to freight trains … to road-building and tunnel-making, to foundries and stoke holes, and to the frames of skyscrapers, would our gilded youth be drafted off, according to their choice, to get the childishness knocked out of them, and to come back into society with healthier sympathies and soberer ideas.”

Another rechannelling is required, but it will not be found in the exhortations to survival suggested by Hochul. Her language is not that of humans bound to nature as collaborative ecological agents, but warriors besieged. In that analysis, nature itself is stigmatised. Like Medea, she will kill her children, and is accordingly to be feared.


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Country for Bad Dreams: Vandalism on the Nullarbor Plain

“This is quite shocking,” declared South Australia’s Attorney-General and Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Kyam Maher. “These caves are some of the earliest evidence of Aboriginal occupation of that part of the country.” That evidence was subtracted this month by acts of vandalism inflicted on artwork in Koonalda Cave on the Nullarbor Plain, claimed to be the world’s largest limestone karst landscape and covering over 200,000 square kilometres.

Edward John Eyre, the first European to cross the Plain in 1840-1841, wrote hauntingly of it as “a hideous anomaly, a blot on the face of Nature, the sort of place one gets into bad dreams.” In his case, personal circumstances soured the impressions: horses dying of dehydration; a case of mutiny resulting in the killing of his companion John Baxter; the theft of the party’s supplies; the slimmest chances of survival.

The work in question, carvings on chalk limestone, is said to be some 30,000 years old, considered sacred by the Mirning people. By the time news reached CNN of the incident, eight years had been shaved off the estimate, one more in line with the 1956 dating by archaeologist Alexander Gallus. In information available on the Commonwealth Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, the “finger markings and unique archaeological deposits found in Koonalda Cave provide a rare glimpse of Aboriginal life on the Nullarbor Plain during the Pleistocene.”

The rock art in question is now plastered by crude graffiti, featuring such messages as “don’t look now, but this is a death cave.” The verdict of archaeologist Keryn Walshe, whose encyclopaedic knowledge of the Koonalda Cave is unsurpassed, was gravely unequivocal. “The art is not recoverable.” To remove the graffiti from the soft surface would effectively do away with the art itself. “It’s a massive, tragic loss to have it defaced to this degree.”

Something of a consensus has been reached on how this took place. A steel case, installed in the 1980s, was breached by digging intruders. Astonishingly, the Mirning elders seemed to have been the last ones to know about it. Bunna Lawrie, for instance, only heard about the matter this month. (Access is usually restricted to a few male elders; the site is closed to tourists.) “We are the traditional custodians of Koonalda,” he declared in a statement, “and ask for this to be respected and for our Mirning elders to be consulted.”

Put it down to inadequate resources, and a lack of will, which has also seen previous acts of vandalism take place. “The failure to build an effective gate, or to make use of modern security services, such as wildlife monitoring cameras that operate 24/7, has in many ways allowed this vandalism to occur,” suggested Clare Buswell of the Australian Speleological Federation Conservation Commission in a submission to the Aboriginal lands parliamentary standing committee made earlier this year.

The statement by Lawrie reiterates the point. “Since 2018 we have been asking for support to secure the entrance as a priority and to offer appropriate Mirning signage. This support did not happen.” Other misfortunes had befallen the site since, including the collapse of the cave entrance, and access works that did not involve consultation and were “not approved.”

The destruction of such sites should shock, but each revelation seemingly inures the authorities to them. The pattern is clear: apologies follow; horror is expressed; and even offers of compensation made to cope with irreversible harm. But the business of trashing a legacy continues, digestible as the stuff of accident or indifference.

In many instances, laws sympathetic to development and mining also do much to doom such works to extinction. The rock shelters of the Jukaan Gorge site in Western Australia were remorselessly levelled by Rio Tinto in May 2020, an outcome that was ethically atrocious yet legally sanctioned by the legislation of the day.

Of note was the mining giant’s conduct towards local elders. The company’s legal team stomped on any protest, haughtily informing members of the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) that any emergency application to halt to the company’s works made to the federal government could only take place with the company’s blessing, and with 30 days-notice. Carol Meredith, the chief executive of the PKKP Aboriginal Corporation, recalled the sharp response from Rio’s lawyers, who stated that “we were not able to engage seeking out an emergency declaration that perhaps would have stopped proceedings, because of our claim-wide participation agreement.”

Within the wheels of the company, blissful ignorance reigned. Rio Tinto’s head of corporate relations, Simone Niven, was not only based in London but had little idea about the significance of the Juukan Gorge caves. Relations could hardly be counted as her strong suit.

Conforming to previous instances of such vandalism, penalties are being called for regarding the perpetrators of the graffiti. Under the legal regime, damaging such sites can carry a fine of $A10,000 or six months in prison. But the harm has been done; again, history has been left poorer, and the dreams worse than ever.


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Community gardens: Growing global citizens one child at a time

University of South Australia Media Release

It’s often said that ‘from little things, big things grow’. Now, research at the University of South Australia is showing that the simple act of gardening can deliver unique learning experiences for primary school children, helping them engage with their curriculum while also encouraging a sustainable future.

Partnering with teachers and primary school students in a weekly gardening project, researchers found that working in the garden had multiple learning benefits, from transdisciplinary learning, to fostering sustainability and global citizenship. In the Australian Curriculum, sustainability is described as a ‘cross curriculum priority’ indicative of the transdisciplinary nature of learning for sustainable and harmonious interaction with the environment.

Adjunct UniSA researcher, Dr David G. Lloyd, says it’s vital that children have opportunities to appreciate and connect with nature.

“Gardening can open a whole new world of interest and opportunity for children. Working in a community garden is not only about growing edible food; it’s also about connecting to place and nature, as well as grasping the importance of sustainability,” Dr Lloyd says.

“Community or school food gardens can help us to better understand the value of living locally and demonstrate how we can be more self-sufficient. They show us how to live with a lower carbon footprint, and how we can enjoy our connection to our natural world.

“In this project we found that primary-aged children can adopt sustainability principles simply by growing their own food, connecting with others, and respecting the environment. And at the same time, we showed that transdisciplinary learning can occur throughout the gardening experience.”

The project engaged Year 4 (aged 9-10 years) and Year 1 (aged 5-6 years) primary school students in a three-hour-a-week gardening activity, where they grew their own food in the Old School Community Garden in Stirling. Their gardening activities were also supplemented by school-based learning about the children’s ‘in-field’ experiences.

Co-researcher and UniSA Associate Professor Kathryn Paige, says the gardening project illustrates how out-of-the-box activities can incorporate the school curriculum.

“Finding different ways to engage students is an ongoing challenge for teachers. But when we find something that works on multiple levels – like gardening – it’s an activity that should be encouraged,” Assoc Prof Paige says.

“For example, in the community garden children learnt maths when they counted out plants and measured distances between seedlings; chemistry, when they tested the pH levels of soil and diluted liquid fertilisers; science and biology, when they discovered facts about plants and ecosystems; plus, literacy, when they read instructions and retold their experiences at school. They also improved their social skills as they engaged with their peers.

“The fundamental importance of this activity was holistic learning: connecting to the world around us, the community in which we live, and understanding how we all interact.

“We’re living in a time of globalisation, where we’re reaching social, environmental, and economic limits.

“By encouraging teachers to embrace immersive, whole-of-curriculum initiatives that connect education and sustainability principles, we’re positioning the younger generation up for success.”


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Virtual tourists can now teleport back 600 million years, exploring the Flinders Ranges’ ancient beginnings

University of South Australia Media Release

Fancy donning a VR headset and taking a journey through deep geological time? From today it’s possible, with the launch of a 360-degree virtual tour of the 600-million-year-old Flinders Ranges in South Australia.

One of Australia’s most captivating landscapes can now be explored virtually, thanks to a University of South Australia project that documents the geological and cultural significance of the Flinders Ranges.

Led by UniSA geologist Professor Tom Raimondo, the project is supporting the SA Government’s bid for World Heritage status of the region, expected to be submitted in 2024.

“The launch of this immersive virtual tour marks a significant step towards opening the Flinders Ranges to the international community,” Prof Raimondo says. “Ultimately, UNESCO World Heritage status will allow it to stand alongside icons like the Great Barrier Reef and Yosemite National Park.”

“The Flinders Ranges has a remarkable history, cultural heritage and scientific value. It is home to our earliest animal ancestors, the Ediacaran biota, and we’ve unlocked half a billion years of the story of life through the power of virtual reality. Now, anyone from across the globe can see why this landscape is so special and unique.”

The virtual tour takes viewers on a flight over rugged mountain ranges, discovering how Ikara (Wilpena Pound) was formed; transporting viewers underground through historic tunnels to experience the challenges of early copper miners; and including a virtual swim on the Ediacaran seabed, home to the first animals on Earth.

The Ediacaran fossils are unique to the Flinders Ranges and a key element of the World Heritage nomination.

From 2023, South Australia’s school children will become very familiar with their significance, learning about these incredible fossils as part of the Year 8 science curriculum.


Sacred Canyon, Wilpena Pound (Image from


“We have worked with the South Australian Science Teachers Association, the Department for Education and the Ediacara Foundation to produce content for this new resource that is drawn from the virtual tour.

“Students will be able to view 3D reconstructions of the ancient animals and virtually swim through their seafloor habitat. It will be the next best thing to bringing 600-million-year-old fossils back to life, and hopefully inspire a new generation of budding geologists to follow in the footsteps of Douglas Mawson and Reg Sprigg.”

The virtual tour has been created as part of UniSA STEM’s Project LIVE initiative. More details here: 360° Flinders Ranges.

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Mangroves: environmental guardians of our coastline

University of South Australia Media Release

They are the salt-tolerant shrubs that thrive in the toughest of conditions, but according to new UniSA research, mangroves are also avid coastal protectors, capable of surviving in heavy metal contaminated environments.

The researchers found that grey mangroves (Avicennia marina) can tolerate high lead, zinc, arsenic, cadmium and copper in contaminated sediment – without sustaining adverse health impacts themselves.

The study tested the health of grey mangroves living around the Port Pirie smelter. Using leaf chlorophyll content as a proxy to plant health, mangroves were found to be unaffected by metallic contaminants, despite lead and zinc levels being 60 and 151-fold higher than regulatory guidance values.

The findings highlight the vital role of mangroves in stabilising polluted regions, and the importance of protecting these ‘coastal guardians’ around the world.

The study also coincides with a $3 million federal government initiative to restore mangrove forests in Adelaide’s north.

Dr Farzana Kastury from UniSA’s Future Industries Institute says that ability of mangroves to withstand high metal concentrations make them invaluable in managing polluted environments.

“Mangroves are the ideal eco-defender: they protect our coastlines from erosion and sustain biodiversity, but they also have an incredible ability to trap toxic contaminants in their sediments,” Dr Farzana says.

“Grey mangroves are known for their tolerance of potentially toxic elements, but until now, little has been known about the health of these plants in the Upper Spencer Gulf.

“Our research found that grey mangroves were able to adapt and survive exposure to very high levels of lead and zinc – without adverse health effects in their chlorophyll content – demonstrating how valuable they are to coastal ecosystems.”

Other, ongoing work being done at Port Pirie by UniSA’s Associate Professor Craig Styan suggests there may be 4-7 times more metals stored in the sediments in mangroves than in adjacent unvegetated mudflats. Assoc Prof Styan said that, generally, a greater concentration of metals found in sediments means greater contamination risk for the animals and plants living on/in them.

“The levels of bioavailable metals we measured in the surface sediments in mangrove stands are the same as adjacent mudflats, meaning that although mangroves storing significantly more metals this doesn’t appear to increase the risk of contamination for the many animals that use mangrove habitats,” Prof Styan says.

“People should nonetheless still refer to the SA Department of Health’s advice if they are considering eating fish caught near the smelter.”

Mangroves (along with tidal marshes and seagrasses) are part of the blue carbon ecosystem; when protected or restored, they sequester and store carbon, but when degraded or destroyed, they emit stored carbon into the atmosphere as greenhouse gases.

Dr Kastury says understanding the role of mangrove forests in safely stabilising metallic contaminants in highly polluted areas is imperative – not only for South Australian communities, but also around the world.

“Globally, over a third of mangrove forests have disappeared, mostly due to human impact such as reclaiming land for agriculture and industrial development and infrastructure projects,” Dr Kastury says.

“We must protect our mangrove forests so that they can continue their job in protecting our environment.”



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Veggie waste offers green solution to single-use packaging

Victoria University Media Release

Australia’s mounting packaging stockpile could soon shrink with a little help from greener packaging made from vegetable waste.

With an Australian Government target for all packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, Victoria University researchers have been looking at how agricultural waste from vegetables such as zucchini, broccoli, celery and lettuce could be used to create affordable and easily compostable packaging.

Known as ‘biopackaging,’ the global environment-friendly food packaging market is expected to reach about $184 billion by 2026, according to Modor Intelligence as increasing bans on plastic and growing consumer awareness affect markets worldwide.

As a solution, polymer expert Dr Marlene Cran and her team have been working in the research labs at VU’s Werribee Campus with the unusable produce provided by a nearby Werribee South market-farm. Leaves, stems and rejected produce is normally used as animal feed, composted, or can be sent to landfill where it decomposes and produces methane gas.

Instead, the team has created a range of food packaging products using the waste vegetables.

VU Sustainable Packaging researchers found celery’s high cellulose content makes ideal food trays, whereas zucchini, broccoli and lettuce can be processed into thick films that could be suitable as a tray insert or produce separator.

Mycelium – the root structure of mushrooms – can be grown on the partially dried waste materials to make good replacement for styrofoam boxes.

The team’s goal is to use minimal interventions such as intensive drying or the use of excessive additives so that the processes are as natural and inexpensive as possible, and easier to scale-up in the future.

Pea starch has starring role in film-making

Away from the farm, the team is using starch waste material left over from the extraction of proteins from yellow peas to create a flexible film that could become the new plastic in a true circular economy.

“In future there could be protein powders or dried peas sold in a bag made from the leftover starch sourced from the vegetables… inside the bag,” said Dr Cran. “That’s the dream.”

Despite the lack of industry-grade testing facilities and the expense to test alternative packaging – meaning a possible long road ahead – Dr Cran says it just makes sense to replace throw-away packaging with sustainable natural products.

“Designing something that can compete on price and effectiveness with plastic and foam is the work of decades. But the investment needs to start now.”

VU’s sustainable packaging solutions project is funded by the Victorian government’s higher education state investment fund.


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Dirt-cheap solar evaporation could provide soil pollution solution

Media Release from the University of South Australia

A team led by University of South Australia researchers has pioneered a new soil remediation technique that is significantly faster, simpler, safer, and more cost-effective than currently available methods.

A recent report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization identifies soil pollution as a major threat to the global production of safe and sufficient food, and notes that removing pollutants from soil is currently “a technically complex and costly undertaking, [with costs] ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of millions of USD per year.”

A UniSA-led team including Associate Professor Haolan Xu and Dr Gary Owens has developed a new remediation technique that uses a super-efficient solar evaporation surface to draw water from the soil through a sponge-like filter that traps contaminants, mimicking the process of transpiration that occurs in natural plants, but at a greatly accelerated rate.

“Plants naturally draw mineral components out of the soil when they move water from their roots into their stems, leaves and flowers, where those mineral components are trapped,” Dr Owens says.

“This means plants can be used to extract contaminants from soil, but the process is very, very slow, often taking multiple growing seasons, particularly in heavily contaminated situations, where the soil toxicity means the plants struggle to grow and often die.

“We have created a system that mimics this process – a form of biomimetic plant – but one that does so at a much faster rate and without any of the problems caused by toxicity.”

Worldwide, more than 10 million sites are considered soil polluted, with more than half contaminated by heavy metals such as cadmium and lead, or metalloids such as arsenic.

The new system can remove such contaminants in as little as two weeks by using a super-efficient solar evaporation surface to rapidly draw water and contaminants from the soil into the biomimetic plant body.

“The solar evaporator used in this system is a variation of technology we are developing for many purposes, including desalination and wastewater purification,” Assoc Prof Xu says.

“We are achieving world-leading evaporation rates with this technology in many other areas, and as far as we know, this is the first time this approach has been applied to soil remediation.

“It is a very exciting adaptation of solar evaporation techniques, with huge potential for addressing a growing global problem.”

Both the evaporator and the contaminant-capture component are made from cheap, abundantly available materials with extremely long operational lives, and the system requires very little maintenance, with minimal setup and running costs.

“Installing this system is about as easy as driving some stakes into the ground,” Assoc Prof Xu says, “and unlike some existing soil washing techniques, it doesn’t disturb or destroy the soil composition.

“Also, the water that is added to the soil could be captured from the evaporator and recycled, meaning this could operate as a closed system, with almost no running costs.”

Further adding value to the technique, Dr Owens says it is a relatively simple process to remove the captured contaminants from the biomimetic plant body.

“This means those materials can be harvested for reuse, and the adsorption material, which has a very high saturation point, can be reused over and over again,” he says.

The remediation technique has currently been successfully tested on a range of heavy metals including lead, chromium, cadmium and zinc, and the research team believes it will also prove a viable approach to removing other major soil contaminants.

“By adjusting the properties of the adsorption material, we could use this to remove antibiotics or PFAS from soil, and to reduce soil salinity,” Assoc Prof Xu says.

“As it is so simple and adaptable, this really could be a complete game changer – a paradigm shift ­– for soil remediation,” Dr Owens says.

“And that could have a massive impact on millions of people around the world.”

Related journal articles:

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Science vs Lies – We have been Conned

By Keith Antonysen

Mr Dutton has stated that Australia should not help poor Nations which have done little to increase global warming, while Prime Minister Albanese has left the question open at present. Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of greenhouse gases; hence Australia is partially responsible for the plight of millions of people overseas. The LNP view of having “No Duty of Care” for young people falls into a similar belief as not caring for people when the emissions exported by Australian fossil fuels corporations is deadly for people especially in poorer countries, and to a lesser extent for Australians. The effect of greenhouse gases knows no borders.

In 2019 New York Times journalist David Wallace-Wells wrote a very long article titled “The Uninhabitable Earth” which was published twice in the New York Times magazine. When first published the article gained much criticism, the second presentation provided annotations providing references which supported his views.

A seemingly very frustrated Professor Ian Lowe speaking on Radio National’s Big Ideas drew attention to how science is hardly taken notice of by politicians, it is the economy that rates far higher. Major comment made by Professor Lowe are that we are dependent on the health of the environment and on biodiversity. The loss of one species has an impact on the food chain providing problems for other species. How much damage can Nations sustain from flooding, drought and wildfire before they can no longer cope, Bangladesh is said to be close to the edge.

Already in 1912, the problems of coal were discussed in a short article in a New Zealand paper, the article had been archived.

The Mining Congress Journal in 1966 also warned about the influence greenhouse gases emanating from coal have negative impacts on climate.

Since the 1960s more studies were displaying the damage greenhouse gases have on climate.

The concerns about greenhouse gases became more public when James Hansen testified to Congress in 1988 about greenhouse gases changing climate.

In his opening remarks Professor Hansen stated “I would like to draw three main conclusions. Number one, the earth is warmer in 1988 than at any time in the history of instrumental measurements. Number two, the global warming is now large enough that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause-and-effect relationship to the greenhouse effect. And number three, our computer climate simulations indicate that the greenhouse effect is already large enough to begin to effect the probability of extreme events such as summer heat waves.”

After Professor Hansen’s comments, greed was displayed by fossil fuel corporations seeking to scotch science through misinformation, lies and misrepresenting science studies through using third parties such as Heartlands. The fossil fuel corporations sadly have been very successful along with their political mates in pushing science to the sidelines. We are all now paying the price.

The question is, are governments responsible for providing financial support poorer nations for the problems created by climate change; or, is it a combination of rich countries and fossil fuel corporations? The products of fossil fuel corporations do all the damage!!

Keith Antonysen has been researching climate change for decades. Apart from reading about climate science, Keith also views pseudo-science presented by contrarians. It seems that the material referenced by contrarians is continually recycled. Immense problems will be created unless real efforts are made to thwart the worst climate can throw at us. Nature bats last.


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“Science based and credible”- what’s needed for an Australian sustainable finance taxonomy

Australian Sustainable Finance Institute Media Release

A new report outlines the key considerations that will inform the development of an Australian taxonomy to advance sustainable finance and drive investment in the transition to a net zero economy using credible, science-based definitions.

In November 2020 the Australian Sustainable Finance Roadmap called for a taxonomy to urgently shift new and existing capital into activities that create and better support sustainable and equitable outcomes for Australia. After its establishment in July 2021, the Australian Sustainable Finance Institute (ASFI) prioritised the development of Australia’s sustainable finance taxonomy, recognising the need to mobilise more capital towards the country’s energy shift away from fossil fuels.

Executive Officer Kristy Graham says “The strongest and most consistent messaging from our research and consultation is that the taxonomy must be science-based and credible. This is critically important for international interoperability, to ensure community confidence, and to give investors, banks and insurers confidence in their sustainability claims as they design products, make sustainability commitments and prepare their disclosures.” “There is also strong consensus that a transition category should be included to ensure a mechanism to guide capital in credible sectoral decarbonisation pathways in Australia, given the high carbon intensity of the Australian economy, which is at the early stages of the path to net zero.”

To provide technical input to the taxonomy project, ASFI brought together an expert group of 55 members and observers from across the finance sector including from banking, consulting, superannuation, asset management, private equity, ESG market specialists, academics, and international taxonomy experts, as well as key financial industry peaks and Australian governments and regulators.

ASFI has received strong engagement and support from the Federal Treasury and government regulators- Reserve Bank of Australia, ASIC, APRA, all of whom are observers in the process. “This report provides the basis for the development of a taxonomy which meets the needs of Australia, without replicating work done overseas.”

“We are confident we will be able to achieve international interoperability while considering Australia’s unique economy circumstances and starting position. ASFI is not looking to recreate the wheel but learn from what exists globally and build on it”, Graham says. ASFI are collaborating with jurisdictions across the region and in Europe and North America and are having open and ongoing conversations with them to share information, approaches and lessons learned. The Report outlines globally there are 12 taxonomies in place, and 15 currently under development– collectively representing more than 55 per cent of global GDP.

As part of the release of this paper ASFI will be surveying a broader range of finance sector stakeholders to further inform and validate the initial findings. The next deliverable, planned for release by the end of the year is a recommendations paper for an Australian taxonomy, which will set out the proposed framework and design elements of an Australian taxonomy and will be open for broad public comment and feedback.

Note: You can access the report and further information about the project here.

What is a taxonomy: A sustainable finance taxonomy is effectively a set of definitions of activities or assets that are considered sustainable, and which can be used to define sustainable investments credibly and transparently. Taxonomies help to make it easier to identify opportunities, to create sustainable assets and activities and guide capital to support the achievement of Australia’s climate, environmental and social objectives. They also provide the finance sector with confidence and assurance of sustainability claims, enabling comparability between investment products and portfolios and
reducing transaction costs.

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“Unbeatable impact”: Almost 66,000 Australians united for environment thanks to Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants

Landcarers across Australia are celebrating their outstanding achievements for bushfire affected environments and communities following the completion of the landmark $14 million Landcare Led Recovery Grants Program.

Managed in partnership between Landcare Australia, the National Landcare Network and the peak Landcare State and Territory organisations, the program saw almost 66,000 Australians- including over 10,000 volunteers, working together to deliver 111 community-driven projects in bushfire affected areas across the east coast and South Australia.

With project successes ranging from Upper Snowy Landcare discovering the best eucalyptus seed sources for future bushfire recovery efforts through climate testing, to the South Australian Museum’s research data leading to the Kangaroo Island Assassin Spider being listed as Critically Endangered under the EPBC Act, the program has had an overwhelmingly positive impact across some of Australia’s most heavily bushfire affected regions.

Landcare Australia CEO Dr Shane Norrish applauded the outstanding results, saying that it demonstrated the incredible power of landcare and its partners across the country.

“Forming effective partnerships is what landcare does best, and the Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants program really highlights our unbeatable impact when we unite to take action,” said Dr Norrish.

“By bringing together a diverse range of expertise and experience from multiple stakeholders, this program has delivered practical, innovative and science driven projects utilising cutting-edge technology including artificial intelligence, drone monitoring and DNA science.”

“This program has proved invaluable to bushfire recovery for countless species, environments and communities. I could not be more impressed and look forward to seeing what the partnerships established through this program continue to achieve in future.”

As part of the program, a joint study undertaken by University of Melbourne and Federation University into the social impacts of post-disaster environmental work indicated that landcare provided an opportunity to extend the reach of environmental recovery activities undertaken on public lands through their connections with landholders. Participants in the study identified the wide range of activities they had been involved in to support the recovery of the fire affected environment. This included monitoring fauna using motion sensor cameras and water sampling for eDNA, revegetating burnt areas, implementing pest control programs and providing appropriate supplementary food sources and shelter for native animals that had survived.

“Disaster recovery is often a long, complex and difficult process for those impacted. Our research found that community based environmentally focussed groups like landcare often embody evidence informed psychosocial support principles, such as helping people feel connected, hopeful and providing opportunities to actively participate in the recovery of the places they love,” said lead researcher Dr Kate Brady.

CEO of the National Landcare Network Jim Adams said that because of the positive community impact and scale of environmental recovery achieved, the program served as a testament of the strength of the community landcare movement.

“Our movement is driven the tens of thousands of landcarers across Australia who share their expertise and bring communities together to take action for their environments, and this program has really shown how effectively we can act at scale in disaster response and recovery,” said Mr Adams.

“The Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants program showcases just how integral local landcare groups and volunteers are in delivering large-scale, nationwide projects and what can be achieved with additional support and funding.”

“The overwhelming success of these landcare led projects shows the model is well placed to be scaled as required and tackle future disaster responses and deliver real action on the pressing climate and environmental challenges of our times,” said Mr Adams.

About the Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants Program
The Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants Program is a $14 million program funding community-driven projects across bushfire affected areas of Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and South Australia. Together the 111 projects funded by the Program benefitted over 100 federal and state listed threatened species and ecological communities, including 16 mammal species, 16 bird species, 9 frog species, 34 plant species and 16 threatened vegetation communities.

Supported by the Australian Government’s Bushfire Recovery Program for Wildlife and their Habitat, the Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants Program is managed by a partnership between the National Landcare Network, Landcare Australia and the Peak Landcare State and Territory Landcare organisations.

For further information, visit the Program Website:

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How Australia can generate a $52 billion windfall from science

Science & Technology Australia Media Release

Australia faces a ‘Sliding Doors’ moment when we can choose to supercharge our science and technology strengths and generate a $52 billion windfall for our economy – or consign ourselves to a future with our fate in the hands of others.

Heading into the Jobs and Skills Summit, new analysis by Science & Technology Australia shows how even a modest investment to train Australia’s first generation of bench-to-boardroom scientists could powerfully supercharge our national economic growth.

Science & Technology Australia wants to recruit and train Australia’s first generation of bench-to-boardroom scientists with the skills, networks and commercial knowledge to bridge the ‘valley of death’ in science commercialisation.

Science & Technology Australia President Professor Mark Hutchinson is one of Australia’s first generation of scientist-entrepreneurs. Under his leadership, the ARC Centre of Excellence in Nanoscale BioPhotonics has created 16 startups with a combined market capitalisation and market value of nearly $520 million.

“Imagine the potential of an Australian economy powered by up to 2000 more entrepreneurial bench-to-boardroom scientists,” said Science & Technology Australia CEO Misha Schubert.

“If just five per cent – a very conservative figure – of a new generation of bench-to-boardroom scientists achieve the level of success we’ve seen from some of our nation’s brightest commercialisation stars, it would generate a $52 billion return for the Australian economy.”

“That conservative level of success would not just create a wealth of new jobs for Australians, it would kickstart whole new industries and create an economy powered by science.”

Science & Technology Australia warns the nation’s economic competitors are rapidly scaling up their investments in science, technology, research and development.

If Australia keeps pace, the country can seize huge opportunities for the economy including new jobs, national income, intellectual property and sovereign capability.

“Right now, the world is in a fierce science and technology race to rapidly advance societies and economies,” Ms Schubert said.

“The stakes are high. If Australia doesn’t keep pace, we face the grave risk that the country will end up as a consumer, not a creator – eroding our sovereign capability and deepening our reliance on other countries.”

“But with bold strategic investments now, Australia can keep ourselves in play.”

“A few decisive steps now will get us on the train to a destination of an economy and society powered by science. Miss that opportunity, and we will be left stranded on the platform.”

This month the US passed the CHIPS and Science Act 2022 – a $52 billion boost for science and semiconductor research and development dubbed a “once-in-a-generation investment in America itself” by President Joe Biden.

The bold investment plan includes a $10 billion outlay in regional science and technology hubs and manufacturing, and vast new investment in STEM workforce development and STEM education from pre-school to university – with a focus on diverse communities.

“Australia should be every bit as ambitious for our science and technology ambitions.”

At the launch of National Science Week this month, Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said “the most important piece of micro-economic reform which faces the nation today is infusing our economy with science and technology.”

Science & Technology Australia participated in the science and commercialisation roundtable this month leading into the Jobs and Skills summit.

The bench-to-boardroom plan is one of five policy fixes proposed by Science & Technology Australia to advance the urgent imperative of creating the “future powered by science” outlined by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in his Science Vision Statement.

  • Setting a bold new ambition for Australia to become a global STEM superpower;
  • Training Australia’s first generation of ‘bench-to-boardroom’ scientists;
  • Fixing chronic job insecurity in science to end the brain drain;
  • Confirming the Budget funding for research commercialisation investments; and
  • An urgent boost for breakthroughs in Australia’s discovery research grant budgets.

About Science & Technology Australia
Science & Technology Australia is the nation’s peak body representing more than 90,000 scientists and technologists. We’re the leading policy voice on science and technology. Our flagship programs include Science meets Parliament, Superstars of STEM, and STA STEM Ambassadors.

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Hope for the future – is there any?

The election of the current Australian government provides a small increase in hope for the future, but it is only small.

I am as guilty as anyone of ignoring the messages of global warming while I was still employed, and did not have time to understand how the whole world was entering the exponential increases in climate change.

And – as a mathematician – I understand the concepts underlying the word ‘exponential’!

In my late 80s, with a compressed spine and having suffered a mild stroke in early 2021, I am unlikely to experience, personally, the full extent of the changes which are rapidly occurring.

My four great grandchildren will!!

Rivers in Europe are drying up – how much longer before our floods turn to droughts?

Helped by Putin’s mad moves to create a Russian place in history, more nations than usual are facing famine.

Too many governments are led by mainly older males who have yet to understand the main lessons of history.

Change is inevitable.

Power is no substitute for using the knowledge of experts.

A candidate for leadership should not think popularity is highly important.- whereas respect for a leader IS important.

We have already laid the foundations for a world wherein the greed of the ‘haves’ is destroying our chances of surviving and thriving.

In my lifetime, the wealth of the world, instead of being used for research and useful action, has been diverted into massive individual shares of wealth for an incredibly small proportion of the population.

Taxation is a means of enabling governments to have the ability to help all who need help – which is an incredibly large portion of the world’s population.

Instead, the ‘haves’ have enabled a view that small government and low taxes are to be preferred.


Examine the satisfaction levels of those in Northern Europe, where high taxes are providing high levels of government support, and extreme poverty is hard to find.

Anyway – I am not the first to try to point out the errors we are making and the paths we ought to follow.

None of us have succeeded in helping people to ignore the lies from the greedy.

Perhaps the extinction of humans might enable Earth to recover from the harm we have done and are continuing to do.


We could have achieved so much!


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Study paves way for widespread architectural use of end-of-life tyres

University of South Australia Media Release

A new study by The University of South Australia has tested and verified the structural integrity of walls constructed from tyres packed with earth, with the results potentially providing new opportunities for the reuse of end-of-life tyres in the construction industry.

Tyre waste represents a major sustainability challenge globally, with Australia alone generating an average of 55 million (450,000 tonnes) end-of-life tyres each year.

While earth-packed tyre walls have been used in niche construction scenarios for decades, there has previously been no strong empirical data available to support their use, a fact that has limited their wider uptake by architects and engineers.

Supported by Tyre Stewardship Australia, a UniSA team consisting of Yachong Xu, Martin Freney, Reza Hassanli, Yan Zhuge, Mizanur Rahman and Rajibul Karim, has rigorously assessed the structural integrity of a test tyre wall to examine how the structure performed under various stressors.

According to Dr Martin Freney, the wall proved to be as structurally sound as conventional walls used in residential applications.

“The wall we tested was the first of its kind to be scientifically tested in this fashion, and all the data indicates tyre walls can be extremely strong and safe structures,” Dr Freney says.

“While that structural integrity has been observed for many years in applications such as the retaining walls in earth-sheltered, Earthship homes, the lack of supporting data has prevented wider uptake of tyre walls by engineers and architects, and we’re hoping this study will change that and expand the range of projects in which these walls are used.”

In considering expanded uses for tyre walls, Dr Freney suggests several unique characteristics of the structures may offer benefits over some traditional building approaches, particularly for retaining walls.

“Not only are the tyre walls as structurally sound as concrete or wood sleeper retaining walls, they are also extremely resilient.

“Unlike a concrete wall, we found these walls have the ability to ‘bounce back into shape’ following impact, such as from an earthquake.”

“And if a drainage material such as recycled concrete rubble or crushed bricks is used to fill the tyres, they also offer excellent drainage, which can be a major consideration in many retaining wall scenarios. Furthermore, the use of recycled fill materials reduces the environmental impact of the wall.”

While the study only tested one real world wall as part of the project, UniSA PhD candidate Yachong Xu developed software models that allow the data obtained to be extrapolated to other designs, making the results applicable to a wide range of scenarios and stakeholders.

“We really believe this research provides a strong evidence base for the expanded use of tyre walls in housing and other applications, and the next step will be to engage with an industry partner to develop a range of real-world applications for tyre walls,” Dr Freney says.


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Pass the climate legislation and ‘name and fame’ transition leaders

Science & Technology Australia Media Release

Australia’s climate change legislation should be passed with an added commitment to ‘name and fame’ sectors leading the charge to reduce emissions, the peak body for Australia’s 90,000 scientists and technologists has urged.

In its submission to the Senate Inquiry on the Climate Change Bill, Science & Technology Australia strongly supports the passage of the legislation.

The peak body proposes the legislation be accompanied by a funding boost for climate science research to guide Australia’s emissions transition, climate adaptation and resilience building measures.

It also wants the annual climate change statement to Parliament to include updates on emissions reduction progress by each industry sector – and an update on key climate science developments since the last statement.

“Australia’s science and technology sector strongly urges Parliament to pass this climate legislation,” said Science & Technology CEO Misha Schubert.

“We welcome the commitment that the 43 per cent target by 2030 is a ‘floor’, not a ‘ceiling’, for emissions reductions – and we strongly support ambitions to bolster this target in coming years.”

“Climate change is an urgent threat. Australia must act concertedly in these crucial next few years to make our transition as smooth and successful as possible,” she said.

“A deeper investment in Australia’s outstanding climate scientists will ensure we continue to have the expertise we need to safeguard our economy, safety and prosperity.”

Under the proposed legislation, the Minister will deliver an annual climate change statement to Parliament on progress towards the target.

This statement should include an update sector-by-sector to identify those making significant progress – and speed the success of transition, Ms Schubert said.

“‘Naming and faming’ sectors making swift strides towards the target will highlight examples of industry leaders and spur momentum in Australia’s transition.”

“It will also send an important message that we are all working together to achieve a common goal, and making genuine progress.”

“The annual climate statement to Parliament should include an update on significant developments in climate science over the previous year, so Parliamentarians and the public can be assured policy decisions are informed by the latest science.”

Science & Technology Australia is the nation’s peak body representing more than 90,000 scientists and technologists. We’re the leading policy voice on science and technology with flagship programs including Science meets Parliament, Superstars of STEM, and STA STEM Ambassadors.

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Australia and the United States Finally Move Ahead on Climate

By Callen Sorensen Karklis

While Australia finally passes its 43% climate targets laws under the Albanese Labor Government with the help of the Australian Greens led by Adam Bandt and the Climate 200-backed Teals (10 seats), already the new federal government has strengthened the safeguard mechanism that the Coalition introduced after the repealing the original carbon price that Labor introduced while it was last in government for its final term a decade earlier during the Rudd/Gillard era (2010 – 2013). This scheme was replaced with the carbon credits scheme during the first term of the Coalition Abbott/Turnbull era (2014 – 2016). Already Climate and Energy Minister Chris Bowen has announced 6 offshore windfarms with more investments in renewables underway which should secure Australia’s future as a renewable energy superpower of the Pacific.

Meanwhile, in the United States (US) with the election of President Biden and re-election of the Democrats in the US Congress in 2020, it is looking more likely now to finally pass its 40% targets by 2030 after a year of tough negotiations with moderate US Senators. Biden’s and Chuck Schumer’s version of a Green New Deal that so many campaigned for the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), is a big deal considering the US is the 2nd biggest polluter globally. This includes $369 billion which is the single biggest investment in climate change in U.S. history. This includes the following:

  • $60 billion for a clean energy manufacturing tax credit
  • $30 billion for a production tax credit for wind and solar
  • $4,000 tax credit for the purchase of used electric vehicles
  • $7,500 for the purchase of new electric vehicles
  • $9 billion in rebates for Americans to buy or retrofit their homes with energy-efficient appliances.

It also includes a methane fee in the legislation while also funding revenue from the scheme to back significant social programs in health and social policies while also taxing corporates 15%.




So why is this a big deal?

As the Paris Agreement goals set in with nations setting 2030 climate reduction targets and 2050 net zero targets and places like the European Union (EU) considers introducing the carbon adjustment tariff internationally which will penalise nations that refuse to act on climate change economically. As time is running out to decrease the 2-degree increase predicted by a majority of the scientific community which would be a climate disaster given that climate-related natural disasters are on the increase.

The US already has carbon emissions and pricing schemes in several states the most notable being California, Washington (state), and RGGI (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative) in the US north-eastern states. Twelve US states currently have carbon pricing programs. That’s a 1/4th of the US population and 1/3 of US GDP (gross domestic product). The methane fee, while not perfect, widens goals and penalties for big polluters in the US. This is big news considering the lack of a national carbon price in the US which similarly saw two steps forward one step backwards progress on climate change action that mirrors our own in Australia as a consequence of conservative governments undermining progress by dismissing the science of climate change and corporate greed. It is little wonder why the Trump (GOP) administration withdrew the US from the international commitments via the Paris Agreement, the original US carbon pricing national plan died in the US Senate in 2009 and the Abbott LNP’s push for axing the so-called dreaded “carbon tax!?!” which he argued would be an attack on the very fabric of Australian life, based on pure speculation and misinformation… while it penalised only big polluters and compensated average taxpayers.

While everything looked upon Green New Deal initiatives and original proposals aren’t all in IRA legislative outcomes it is a good solid start for the coming years ahead and the future generations to work on. As it’s a floor, not a ceiling to work from as pointed out in Australia. More can be amended from each annual period forward to adjust economically forward. Both US Vermont Senator and former Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders and Australian Greens Leader Adam Bandt who both have been critical of new investments in the coal and oil fossil fuel industry, were both supportive of the changes.

The new direction could also new investments in lithium, copper, zinc, nickel, cobalt, graphite, manganese, vanadium natural resources that could fuel the next mining boom albeit one in order to save the planet. One thing for sure is this is just as critical as legislation as universal healthcare was as pointed out by former Climate Change and Energy Minister Greg Combet. Republicans and conservative Liberals in Australia may just well attempt to undermine the methane fee in the US in future or the stricter climate mechanisms just as they had to healthcare in recent decades. As the old 3 wise monkey saying goes “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” But given that “climate change is the greatest moral challenge of our time” as said by former Prime Minister Hon. Kevin Rudd, time is running out on action that could very well secure a better future for all, and one that avoids total disaster on a scale that we once considered a science fiction. The choice is ours.



“Personally, as the new Labor Government backed by the Greens and Teal Independents proceeds with the 43% climate target laws and invests heavily in renewables. I hold out hope that the new Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek who has just rejected a new mega coal mine proposal for Clive Palmer in North Qld that horrendous developments like the Toondah Harbour PDA will also be rejected as well. I for see a better horizon forward on environmental policy making.”


Check out the links for more info:

Callen Sorensen Karklis, Bachelor of Government and International Relations.

Callen is a Quandamooka Nunukul Aboriginal person from North Stradbroke Island. He has been the Secretary of the Qld Fabians in 2018, and the Assistant Secretary 2018 – 2019, 2016, and was more recently the Policy and Publications Officer 2020 – 2021. Callen previously was in Labor branch executives in the Oodgeroo (Cleveland areas), SEC and the Bowman FEC. He has also worked for Cr Peter Cumming, worked in market research, trade unions, media advertising, and worked in retail. He also ran for Redland City Council in 2020 on protecting the Toondah Ramsar wetlands. Callen is active in Redlands 2030, Labor LEAN, the Redlands Museum, and his local sports club at Victoria Pt Sharks Club. Callen also has a Diploma of Business and attained his tertiary education from Griffith University


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