Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Environmentality, 28th August 2013

Hello Environmentality listeners,

We were excited to have Selma, Daniel and Kristy from Aitken College and Kim, Dylan, Sama, Zarine, Nadine and Evan from Roxburgh Rise Primary School to talk about their environmental programs.

Aitken College is a 5 star ResourceSmart Sustainable School. Aitken, one of the first to receive 5 stars, is renowned for their environmental programs across both primary and secondary sectors. From composting, vegie gardens, recycling bins, solar panels and wetlands, all classes are involved in some form of sustainability at Aitken. The student green team help to run and coordinate the environmental actions around the school with year 12 environmental captains elected each year.

It was clear that the students were very proud of Aitken’s environmental achievements, the rejuvenation of the wetland with native plants in particular; it was evident that a lot of research, time and effort had been placed on the wetlands. Aitken’s environmental programs and achievements have become a part of their identity, something which the students and school embraces. The benefits of these environmental programs are that students not only have a greater understanding of their environmental impacts, but also knowledge that there are environmental considerations in all fields. More significantly, students have learnt about living at home with greater environmental consciousness and passing this knowledge onto their families.  

Aitken’s environmental week, an expo of their environmental programs is from 16th to 20th of Septembers. Tuesday the 17th will also be a working bee for parents, families and community members in the afternoon.

We then played a prerecording of Jaime and Amy’s interview at Roxburgh Rise Primary School.

Roxburgh Rise is a 4 star ResourceSmart school and are currently in the process of obtaining their 5th star. Kim (visual arts teacher and one of the environmental leaders) explains that it is an ongoing process of embedding environmental sustainability into the school culture. The school looks to engage the whole school community, the students taking what they have learnt home to their families. There has been a better appreciation for environment, awareness of the impacts of landfill, and awareness that we all need to do our parts. The program has helped to unify the culturally diverse school as “we all understand what it means to look after the environment”.

Sustainability action team: Dylan, Sama, Zarine, Nadine and Evan, helps other students to be more environmentally friendly by encouraging everyone to pick up the rubbish, turn off the lights and to compost. Roxburgh Rise environmental programs are diverse, from use of natural lighting, thermostats in classrooms, collecting water from drinking taps to be used in the gardens, to planting indigenous plants and rubbish free lunches every Wednesday.   

Upcoming projects: rainwater garden and becoming a 5 star school

To listen to the show and hear more about Aitken College and Roxburgh Rise Primary School, listen to the podcast.

Thanks to all out guest today!

Find us on Twitter: @enviro_pod
Tracks played today:
Quantic- dog with a rope
Black eye peas- where is the love

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Environmentality, 21st August 2013

Hello Environmentality listeners,

We spoke to Ruchira Talukdar, Healthy Ecosystems Campaigner from the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and our resident gardening expert, Jodie.

The ACF is a well respected environmental NGO, acknowledged for their work on national environmental matters. The ACF and other similar organisations have been critical in helping establishing national environmental actions and policies such as the sustainable plan for the Murray Darling Basin and the marine parks networks.

Courtesy of

Australia has the world’s largest network of marine parks. Marine parks are vital as they offer protection of ocean treasures such as beaches, reefs, diving sites and ocean floors. Marine parks gives the marine ecosystem rest and respite, they allow for the ecosystems to recover from stressors and pollutions such as oil and gas exploration, over fishing, climate change and pollution from land. It is important that we protect the marine ecosystem as it not only provides a place of recreation (clean healthy beaches), but also a food source for us and other marine life. Supported by the major parties, the marine parks was finally passed in the federal parliament in June 2013, now becoming law.

Sustainable seafood is another way we can protect our oceans. Our current love of seafood has meant that many of the world’s fish stocks are increasingly diminishing. Using sustainable seafood program such as that of the ACF has created in partnership with the University of Technology Sydney, we can now be more aware of the seafood we consume and where it comes from. The sustainable seafood program works with local small scale commercial fishery to identify what part of their practices are sustainable, thus letting people know what fishes are sustainable and what to buy. General rule of thumb to buying seafood: ask where the seafood comes from, buy local and smaller is generally better.

Is there a need to reduce green tape (environmental regulation)? Ruchira explains that the move to reduce green tape has been directed by business in hopes to weaken national environmental law that protect places that we love. Weakening environmental laws, more specifically allowing states for final approval of developmental projects, may possibility lead to further environmental degradation; governments have proven incapable making decisions based on the protection environment and in the national interest. Rather Ruchira highlights that there is a need to strengthen environmental laws and that final approval of projects needs to remain with the federal government.

Jodie delighted us with preserves, as promised, Jodie treated with some things she has made at home. Although you can make preserves with any fruit or vegetable you like, Jodie recommends rhubarb as it contains its tartness when preserved.

Smokey sampling some of Jodie's produce at the studio

For Jodie’s rhubarb recipe, cut 1 kg of rhubarb into 2 cm pieces, place in a food grade bucket with 1 kg of sugar and leave overnight. This will allow the sugar to draw out the juice. Slice 1 lemon, add 1 cut of apple cider vinegar and 2 litres of water, cover and leave it for 2-4 days. Using an old soft drink bottle, store for 2 weeks after which you can start drinking. The screw top will allow you to release any excess carbon dioxide.

Jodie’s recipes for mother of vinegar: add cider vintager to wine, bacteria will then form a chain that will look like an opaque white jelly. Bacteria will consume the sugar in the wine. Jaime’s recipe: add the vinegar to red wine, keep in the dark but allow air for a few weeks.  Put the red wine vinegar into second container so you can start all over again.

But on an important note when preserving, we need to be mindful of food contamination thus always clean bottles and jars before storing your preserves. A good way to sterile jars and bottles is to heat them in the oven.

What about Jams? Use equal parts of fruit to sugar. Jodie usually makes 3 kg batches, adding 1 lemon or 2 limes. Jam Vs. marmalade, there is no real difference except that marmalade is made with citrus and the rind, making it a little bitter.   

Don't forget to listen to the show!

Tracks played:
Michelle Shocked– Anchorage
Boy and Bear- Southern Sun

Josh Pike- You don’t scare me

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Environmentality, 14th August 2013

Hello Environmentality listeners,

Today Mr Kelvin Thomson MP joined us in our continuation of the 2013 federal election coverage. Kelvin is the federal member for Wills and the parliamentary secretary for schools.
Courtesy of

What are some of the main environmental challenges for Wills? Kelvin highlights the proposed East West Link and potential damage to the Moonee Ponds Creek and residents of Royal Park as a significant concern. Opposed to the project since 2007/08, Kelvin suggest that rather than spending money on transport infrastructure, we should be spending money on unmet public transport needs such as the rail line along the eastern freeway, rail link to Monash University and Melbourne airport, the Epping corridor and public transport connections.

Another area of concern are public open spaces. There have been significant good work that has been done by friend’s groups in some of the parkways, these parkways can be used (if not already being used) as wildlife corridors. Planning so private open spaces do not disappear is also a concern. Smokey highlights an important aspect, does sustainability require higher density living? Not necessarily due to high eco footprint and lifestyles of those whom live in high-rises. Rather than focus on the lifestyle choices of high-rise dwellers compared to their suburban counterparts, Kelvin moves toward higher energy self-sufficiency in households.

Are we switching to a carbon trading scheme too soon? Kelvin doesn’t think so as being part of a scheme will mean that we have a greater capacity to reduce carbon and become more effective in cutting electricity consumption. Switching sooner will also provide better assistance to people in households and reduce the pressure of high energy prices. Smokey doesn’t necessarily agree Kelvin, highlighting the high cost of infrastructure as a major contributor to rising energy cost. What do you think?

What about the manufacturing future in Australia? Kelvin highlights that there needs to be a future in Australia for manufacturing, manufacturing provides steady and reliable jobs for the middle class. Manufacturing also brings about research and development, however there needs to be a shift in how we conduct our manufacturing business. We need to find new sources for their products or transiting to other areas of manufacturing with a strong local focus.

Despite the lack of environmental focus from both parties during this election, Kelvin highlights that there are still strong public interest in environmental issues and that climate change and renewable energy continues to be important issues. Kelvin notes that some of Labor’s environmental achievements to be carbon pricing, the renewable energy target, clean energy finance corporation, plans for water for the Murray Darling Basin, Marine national parks, blocking of the super trawler MV Margiris, and ongoing work with Tasmanian forest. 

Recently Abbott referred to the election as a referendum on the carbon tax, do you agree with this statement? Whether or not you agree, we at Environmentality share Kelvin’s sentiments that the results of this election will have serious consequences to not only whether Australia will continue to be one of the global players in climate change mitigation, but also existing environmental policies such as the marine sanctuaries.

It was a jam packed show with lots of topics discussed, we unfortunately could not cover it all in the blog but to hear more about Labor’s environmental policies including what we’ve blogged today, the national deposit scheme, high speed rail, planning and population growth, tune into the podcast.
Thanks to Kelvin for agreeing to come on the show!

Tracks player today:
Sam Buckingham- Shackled
Better than the Wizards- Coming back your way
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds- Into my arms

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Environmentality, 7th August 2013

Hello Environmentality listeners,

Dr. Tim Read, Greens candidate for the seat of Wills, manage to find time between finalising his PhD and campaigning to speak to us. Tim is a physician, specialising in infections with a focus on sexually transmitted diseases. Health related issues initially drew Tim’s attention towards the Greens party.  
Courtesy of

Tim’s advocacy for climate change action was first sparked 8 years ago when he saw Al Gore’s movie an inconvenient truth. The melting of the permafrost has further driven the need for action, evidenced that the changes to climate predicted in an inconvenient truth are occurring. The impacts of climate change can not only be observed environmentally, but also for our health. Tim highlights that the rare hot days are getting hotter; we don’t need to look too far back to remember the heat wave of 2009 where more people died from the heat wave than the bush fires. People with heart and kidney failure are particularly vulnerable to the effects of extreme heat. Due to the lack of parkways and vegetation in Wills, the high temperatures are evident in cities due to the heat island effect, heat is retained overnight hence the higher temperatures remain overnight.     

What are the Green’s climate policy, stop fossil fuel subsidies and spend the money saved on job creation. The Greens would like to raise revenue for the renewable energy fund, the Greens want a $30 billion fund compared to Labor’s $10 billion. Renewable energy projects employs more people than gas power station hence we need to be investing in renewable technologies. The Greens would prefer for the carbon price to remain and for the carbon tax not be changed to the European Trading Scheme in order to maintain the fall in carbon emissions. It is important to keep the carbon price to not only reduce our own emissions, but also demonstrate global leadership in climate change as the world’s highest carbon emission polluter per capita.

Why hasn’t environmental issues featured in the election? Tim cheekily suggest that perhaps it’s because the election occurs in late winter, early spring instead of February or March when the temperatures would be higher. Despite the lack of political coverage of environmental issues, the environment is still a concern for many people. A few years ago people were going to the Great Barrier Reef to see its natural beauty, people are now going to see it before it disappears. Tim highlights that the Greens are sneaking it into the agenda with their assessment of high speed rail.

The Greens are opposed to the east-west tunnel because will divert too much money from public transport to roads, furthermore encouraging the subsiding of cars and fossil fuel use. Rather than using the $9 billion to build the tunnel, it can be used instead for the Doncaster rail and Melbourne airport rail with change for extra trains. The pro-car lobby economically doesn’t stack up, rather than reducing the bottle neck going into the city by linking the to the city link, Smokey highlights that we will be just creating more bottlenecks in the tunnel. The bottom line: improving public transport improves congestion, improving roads moves congestion.

In our urban lifestyles, we are no longer connecting with the environment, we are no longer spending time exploring the bush or our forest and ecosystems. The bush and farms are evermore dependent on the climate and we need to develop love for the biodiversity that we have in order to connect with it and understand this dependency on climate; childhood experiences are critical for this development.

So if there’s one thing to take away from the show, no matter who you decide to vote for on Saturday the 7th, is that the balance of power in the senate is critical to the not only the environmental actions, but future policies.  

To hear more from Tim, listen to the show.

You can also follow us on twitter @enviro_pod

Tracks played:
Stereo Love- super electric
Boy and Bear- Southern Suns

Josh Pyke- Just noise 
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