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Sustainability and climate change

The new year has brought devastating floods to Australia, Brazil and Sri Lanka. It is easy to say these events are evidence of climate change but this may be too simple an explanation for very complex weather interactions. The La Nina phenomenon has been around since there were oceans. Although the latest rainfall has broken longstanding records, this by itself is not evidence of climate change influenced by humans. However, one significant statistic is that 11 of the hottest years ever have occurred in the last thirteen (ref: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration USA). There are indications that increasing temperatures are triggering more extreme weather events - droughts, floods, hot summers and freezing winters. Severe weather affects food production too, causing shortages and higher prices.

If new year's resolutions are still in fashion, we might do worse than review our sustainability actions in our own lives and immediate environment and make or revive some promises to ourselves about using less water and energy, minimising waste and working towards sustainable living. While more intergovernmental co-operation is needed to tackle global climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, we can at least look at coping with some of the effects. For example, if we have suitable space, growing our own fruit and vegetables is a rewarding pastime, even if we have to be imaginative to avoid inroads by possums and birds! The Permaculture Sydney North group is planning a demonstration of balcony garden, making effective use of limited space. I will obtain more information about this project as it develops, but it will hopefully show how people in apartments can maintain a garden.

Coping with and mitigating climate change is an enormous task and can look overwhelming. But as the ancient philosopher Lao Tzu noted: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." The magnitude of the task does not excuse us from avoiding it. Even small steps forward will move us along the way. The wellbeing of our community depends on each of us doing what we can to live sustainably.

The Artarmon Sustainability Street Group has suspended its regular Thursday monthly meetings. However the group is continuing to work on the sustainable garden outside the Artarmon Library on the fourth Sunday of each month. There will be plenty of time for sustainable discussion as we work! Please join us if you would like to help with gardening or with watering (a roster is in operation). Contact:

by Stuart Sexton

Courtesy of Gazette February 2011
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