Saturday, July 26, 2008

Monbiot's film on Lunar Rockism

Reposted from the Guardian.

A proposal to Hamish Mykura, head of documentaries, Channel 4

Dear Hamish,

Until I read your response to my article yesterday, I had decided not to make any more programmes for Channel 4: I did not want to work for people whose editorial standards were so lax that they were prepared to broadcast 90 minutes of total bollocks. But now that you have exonerated yourself of all charges of inaccuracy, I have changed my mind. I have a proposal that's just up your street.

The lunar conspiracy
1 x 90 minutes
Presenter: George Monbiot
Producer/director: Martin Durkin

They told you it was made of rock.
They faked a voyage to prove it.
They "lost" the samples they took.
And buried the real data.
They covered up the truth they don't want YOU to hear.
The whole thing stinks. Why? Because it is made of blue cheese.

Lunar rockism is no longer just a theory about the moon; it has become a belief system so rigid that it can no longer be challenged. Scientists say the time for debate is over, that any criticism of rockism, however rigorous, is illegitimate, even dangerous. But this film will show that the evidence does not support the theory that the moon is made of rock. The rock theory is dressed up as science. But it's not science. It's propaganda. You are being told lies, and I can redraw the graphs to prove it.

I can bring together a group of the world's leading astronomers who, through creative editing, will confirm that the moon is made of blue cheese, probably stilton or possibly gorgonzola. I have also lined up Piers Corbyn, Philip Stott, Nigel Calder and others who, though they know nothing about this subject, are prepared to talk about it. I hope they will say that lunar rockism is the result of scientific fraud cooked up by terrestrial cheese monopolists. Big Cheese has such a tight grip on science funding that astronomers who question the theory are terrified of stepping out of line, in case they have their stipends cut off.

Worst of all, the rockists are deliberately keeping people hungry. All we need to do to solve the global food crisis is to set up a number of lunar cheese mines, but Big Cheese and the astronomers it funds have been lobbying against it, and spreading lies and disinformation to create the impression that the mines would produce only rock.

I know that Channel 4 will love this idea, as it is edgy, noisy and provocative, and it will get right up the noses of the scientists trying to kill debate on a matter of vital public interest. I am sure that, like Martin and me, you have devoted a good deal of time to scrutinising Ofcom's guidelines, and have worked out that it cannot and will not rule against films like this, because it has no provision for assessing the accuracy of factual programmes. This, as you have pointed out, means that everything we say is correct, even though we have just made it up.

I look forward to hearing from you and hope that this can be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

With my best wishes, George

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Is Newcastle Council Selling Out Our Open Space?

It emerged this week that Newcastle City Council recently rezoned Enterprise Park, the Foreshore and the Convict Lumberyard in the City Centre Local Environment Plan 2008. In addition, areas of heritage significance such as the Convict Lumber Yard were classified as 'Operational' instead of 'Community' land as required under the NSW Local Government Act.

The people of Newcastle expect their Council to act in their best interests, and not be part and parcel of selling out the community's open space and public domain areas of cultural and heritage significance. Why do we pay our rates?

The Gerald hopes that this has been an error, rather than a concerted effort to undermine our community's public domain areas.

Councillor Keith Parsons yesterday requested Council for a detailed briefing outlining the reasons for:

1. The classification of the Convict Lumberyard site as Operational,
rather than Community Land, as required under the NSW Local Government Act
(1993) in c1994.

2. The classification of the Lynches Prawns site as operational in c1994.

3. The zoning as B4 (Mixed Use) in the City Centre LEP in February, 2008 of:
(a) The Foreshore
(b) The Convict Lumberyard
(c) Enterprise Park

Monday, July 14, 2008

Coal... and Costa

On Sunday 13 July community rally of some 500 in Newcastle halted coal shipments to the Port Waratah Coal Loader. See photos of the protest here.

Click here to view pics taken by The Newcastle Herald presented as fantastic slideshow .

Protestors marched from the Climate Camp in Wickham, along the railway track, to the entrance to the coal loader. A number of people were arrested when they entered the rail line, some locked themselves onto the coal wagons while others stood aloft the fully laden coal wagons. A huge banner, saying 'Danger Climate change ahead' was dopped onto the tracks. No trains moved during the protest.

Today Monday 14 July protestors rallied outside Michael Costa's office. The rally was jointly chaired by Zane Alcorn of Soclaist Alliance and Jasmine of Solidarity. With over 200 people attending there was a good representation of unionists and the broader community. The rally decided to march through Newcastle city centre. Later that afternoon the Climate Camp’s Resistance team banner got yet another drop, this time on Nobby’s beach. Photos here.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Climate change actions on Saturday, Sunday, Monday

On: Saturday, 12th July, 9.00 am
At: WickhamPark, Albert St, Wickham
As many people as possible are needed to help create a giant ticking clock, and the words:


... then ...
Sunday, 13th July, 10.00 am
Begin at IslingtonPark (off Maitland Rd, Islington) - and
March to Carrington Coal Terminal

The protest begins with a colourful rally and march, and you don't need to be willing to be arrested to come along. We will march to Carrington coal terminal where members of the community will walk onto the coal rail line to stop coal exports in their tracks.
This protest is your chance to take direct action against the reckless coal export industry and to call for Australia to move away from coal reliance and begin reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the next two years.

Monday July 14th at 1pm: protest at Costa's office!

Stop Electricity Privatisation Green Jobs Now Expand Renewables not Coal

Where: 26 Honeysuckle Drive Newcastle

Speakers include:
John Kaye, Greens MLC
Graeme McNeill, PSA anti-privatisation rep Liddell Power Station
Graham Brown, ex-coal miner and climate activist
Joan Dawson, Hunter Power to the people, Vice Pres. Ncsle ALP State Electorate Council
Michael Osborne, Newcastle City Council
Scott Ludlum, Greens Federal Senator (WA)
Representative from the Camp for Climate Action

Contact: Jasmine 0405317787 Simon 0438297552

Friday, July 4, 2008

Anti-coal forum held in Singleton

Over 150 people attended a public meeting organised by the Rivers SOS Alliance in Singleton yesterday to learn about the negative health and environmental effects of open-cut and longwall mining.
After a screening of the Rivers of Shame 2 DVD, which features ex-coal miner Graham Brown, the residents shared personal stories of asthma, heavy metal poisoning, thyroid diseases and cancers.
Two local doctors presented anecdotal evidence about the disproportionate number of health problems in the Region which could be attributed to the poisoning of rivers and soils from mining dust.
The residents expressed anger at the failed promises of the NSW Government to commence comprehensive health and environmental studies of the region, and indicated that they would be submitting their children to blood tests to determine whether they had been poisoned by lead and other heavy metals.
The doctors expressed their support for the proposal after several residents revealed that they had been victims of lead poisoning.
Graham Brown, who was arrested that morning at a Greenpeace action shutting down the Eraring power station, was not in attendance. Several councillors from Singleton and Maitland councils attended the event.
The meeting unanimously passed a motion calling for comprehensive health and environmental studies in the region.
The meeting came several days after a report from the University of Newcastle's Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE) revealed that thousands of jobs could be created by shifting to a renewable energy economy.
About a dozen Upper Hunter residents indicated that they would be attending next week's Camp for Climate Action.

Nobbys privatisation back on the cards

A local newspaper has revealed that developer Neil Slater's failed attempt to privatise Nobbys Lighthouse could be reconsidered after a meeting with the Department of Environment and Heritage.

The Gerald reported in May that Environment Minister Peter Garrett had decided to preserve the heritage icon after widespread community opposition to the development.

The local newspaper has been running front-page advertorials for the developer, with heavily emotive language, ever since the privatisation was proposed last year.

Nobbys supporter Doug Lithgow, from the Parks and Playgrounds Movement, was not available for comment today.

The local newspaper also included a biased reference to the Nobbys development in an article about a reconsideration of the controversial Anvil Hill coal mine.

After Garnaut, the big questions will remain unanswered

This is an extract from an opinion piece republished with permission of the author, David Spratt, and ABC online.

Read the full article here.

David Spratt is the co-author of Climate Code Red: the case for emergency action, published by Scribe in July.

The Garnaut Review's deliberations have been frustrated by an incapacity of the government's computer models to even deal with the sort of emission reductions Garnaut thinks are necessary, an indication of the bureaucratic timewarp in which climate policy in Australia is trapped. And constrained by frustratingly narrow terms of reference, the review has been asked to recommend only an appropriate market-based means of reducing emissions, but not on the broader questions of substance.

Garnaut knows that climate science is demanding emissions reduction much faster than the government appears willing to contemplate, noting "the diabolical nature of the policy challenge", and the "widespread view, based on the science, that the risks of 'dangerous' climate change and the risk of abrupt climate change, are already at unacceptably high levels at this point".

In contrast to Garnaut's acute observations that the issue may be "too hard for rational policy-making in Australia" because "the vested interests surrounding it [are] too numerous and intense, the relevant time-frames too long", the government is caught in a policy fog, unable to find its way out of a bureaucratic framework that is now out of date. The Rudd government's current policy target of a 3-degree rise would destroy the Barrier Reef, the tropical rainforests, cause widespread desertification, a mass extinction, and a sea-level rise of perhaps 25 metres, amongst many impacts. Most worrying, the government seems unaware that this would be the consequence of a 3-degree target.

There is little indication that governments understand what is now being said by the world's leading climate researchers: significant climate "tipping points" have already been crossed, and our world is already at the point of failing to cope. Sir John Holmes, the UN relief coordinator, warned that 12 of the 13 major relief operations in 2007 were climate related, and that this amounted to a climate-change "mega disaster".

Take the Arctic, for example. The north pole has until recently been covered by an area of sea-ice in summer as large as Australia. Now it is disappearing fast, likely to be gone entirely within five years. Scientists' well-founded fear is that rapid heating as a consequence of the sea-ice loss will trigger the unstoppable melting of most or all of the Greenland ice sheet, an event which would raise sea levels by five to seven metres, in as little as a century.

When he was a young man, Jay Zwally hauled coal for work. Now a NASA climate scientist, he told a gathering of fellow climate experts at the end of 2007: "The Arctic is often cited as the canary in the coalmine for climate warming ... and now as a sign of climate warming, the canary has died. It is time to start getting out of the coal mines."

Thursday, July 3, 2008

WIckham Park to host Climate Camp

Camp for Climate Action has announced that the site has now changed to Wickham Park, on the corner of Maitland Road and Albert Streets.

The Gerald reported last week that organisers had decided to select a site after delays from authorities.

Authorities have now allowed the Camp to take place at Wickham Park, from July 10-15.

Further information at

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Puppy rescuer jailed

Yesterday prolific British author and activist Sarah Whitehead was sentenced to two years jail for rescuing a puppy.
The beagle had been kept muzzled in a wooden cage and regularly beaten by its owner before being moved to a safe home by Ms. Whitehead.
The puppy is reportedly living happily in hiding from the police.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Mayfield East Public School win National Trust Competition

At a ceremony held on the 30 June at Ervin Gallery Sydney the Mayfield East Public School won the National Trust Schools Competition 2008.

With over 400 entrants including those from private and church schools, this award is quite an outstanding achievement for the children of Class 3/4 P and their teachers Ms Sue Pryor and aide Vicki Robertson.

The annual competition inspires students to celebrate their local heritage, along the theme of ‘Our Place’, and encourages students to explore their suburbs and towns, getting to know the people and places that make them unique.

Mayfield East Public School, who are celebrating their 150th anniversary of the birth of their school, invited local identities to be interviewed. The interviewees were each asked around 10-15 questions relating to the early history of the school and environs including Aboriginal history. Then the children drew their subjects as part of their drawing class. The guests included former student Mrs Vera Deacon and University Archivist Gionni Di Gravio.

The children created a replica of their original school house from the 1850s, and explored historical identities such as the late Daniel F. Cooksey, who reported on some finding of aboriginal artefacts on the site of the school in 1925. The University of Newcastle's website relating to the Cooksey Collection is located here:

The kids were very excited and chased down the original artefacts held in the Australian Museum and invited Dr Stan Florek to bring them along to their school for 'Show and Tell'.

They even tracked down two of his grandsons and invited one, Mr Ian Cooksey, to speak to them as well, along with a former academic in the French Department, Col Whitehead, who has a great interest in Aboriginal stone implements and had made copies of Cooksey's reports in the 1980s.

The web blog for the school's history is located here:

The Gerald congratulates Mayfield East Public School for this great success and in particular the staff and students of Class 3/4P for their great achievement.