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Today the Climate Commission released its report The Critical Decade looking at the evidence for climate change and what we need to do in response.

For those still debating whether climate change is for real, the report answers questions such as

Are we confident enough about:
(i) our understanding of the climate system,
(ii) the human influence on climate, and
(iii) the consequences of contemporary climate change for societies and ecosystems to provide a reliable knowledge base on which to base policy and economic responses?

One of the report’s main messages is that

This is the critical decade. Decisions we make from now to 2020 will determine the severity of climate change our children and grandchildren experience.

It refers to a 2 degrees Celsius ‘guardrail’ and identifies that once we go over this temperature increase we are in the territory of “dangerous” climate change. Currently we are well on track to striking and tipping over this ‘guardrail’.

In response it suggests a ‘budget’ approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For example, if we wish to have a 75% chance of observing the 2 °C guardrail, we can emit no more than 1000 Gt (one trillion tonnes) of CO2 in the period from 2000 to 2050.

Finally it states that if the 2 degree guardrail is to be achieved then there is no time for delay in investing in low and no-carbon technologies for energy generation, built infrastructure and transport.

So what is our response going to be in this ‘critical decade’ and do we really care enough about future generations to get into gear and meaningfully respond?

For more information on the report and the Climate Commission see http://climatecommission.govspace.gov.au/2011/05/23/the-critical-decade/

This weekend I was excited to have a chance encounter with Costa (from Costa’s Gardening Odyssey on SBS) at the Weekend of Ideas held at the National Museum of Australia. Costa was one of the panel speakers on the topic ‘Life in the ‘burbs – is it much maligned?

What an enthusiast on all things to do with gardening, the environment and healthy eating!

I was lucky enough to have a chat with him at lunchtime and came away fired up, ready to embark on a community garden, healthy eating adventure. It made me realise how little attention I pay to what I am consuming and my lack of knowledge about where my food comes from and whether it is worth buying or putting in my body.

If you are interested in hearing more on Costa’s thoughts on sustainability – starting in our own backyards, have a look at The Backyard Revolution – The Revolution Philosophy.

 
Freedigitalphotos.net

The recent plethora of natural disasters in Australia has reminded of the sensitivity of Australia to climate change.

A recent article by Crispin Hull in the Canberra Times collected some of my thoughts, although I believe it was printed with a much less controversial title than the on-line version!

See ‘Cyclone not God-made freak but man-made warming’

Whether we like it or not, the forecast is for a potential increase in the frequency and severity of natural disasters such as cyclones, bushfires and drought.

How are we going to respond? Fatalistic complacency or thoughtful action?

I hope this makes you think!

find the possum

My kids love being outside: exploring, playing, having fun and just hanging out. Even better, is when there are opportunities for them to learn in the process.

During our most recent visit to the south coast of NSW we discovered the Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Gardens where there is a fantastic children’s walk.

taking a bushwalk

We  followed the trail and discovered little animals (pretend ones!) hiding in the bush. Signs explained what the animals were, what they eat and where they are normally found.

We all had fun, learnt a bit, stayed busy, interested and active. Lots of fun and the day was topped off by this do-it-yourself water feature!

water feature

water pump 

Further Reading

Map of the Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Gardens

Mud Pies and Daisy Chains: connecting young children and nature

Last Child in the Woods: overview

 
 

 

 the boardwalk

I have just had a wonderful holiday with my family at a place called Merimbula in New South Wales.

There are many reasons we love this destination, in particular the natural beauty; being located in a stunning position on a riverine estuary, with surf beaches, National Parks and natural lake all within a short distance.

On top of that, the town is smack bang in the middle, within easy walking distance of holiday accommodation. There are also great children’s parks located conveniently next to swimming and fishing spots, beaches and cafes – providing what every caffeine-loving parent desires; a fresh latte, while watching the kids at play, combined with water views!

Mmm, I think I can spy that coffee shoppark and cafewalking merimbula
I love a decent path with views!

But what is my point? What price can you put on a beautiful natural environment combined with an accessible and useable built environment?

So many places I visit have it all wrong. There is nowhere for people to walk, particularly those with strollers and walking sticks. Paths don’t connect to other paths, there is no natural shade (i.e. trees) or interesting views for pedestrians. There are no activities for kids combined with facilities for adults, unless it is a commercial indoor playground where you get charged a considerable fee just for the pleasure of walking in the door!

Why can’t we look after our natural environments better and why can’t we design man-made (or even woman-made) environments that suit people better, and not just the cars we drive and big business interests (I am  particularly thinking of big shopping malls with no character and no relationship to anything surrounding them).

Surely we can do better?

In the meantime I will bask in the small delights, and memories of bell birds calling, white sand underfoot, crabs scuttling and silvery fish glimmering in the sun-lit water.

footprint in the sand

Tread lightly.