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We are all vulnerable

We are all vulnerable to the impacts of global warming.

On 26th March 2014 the British Medical Journal published an article about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on the impacts of global warming.   It is hard reading, but something we all need to be aware of if we want to leave a world that is habitable for our grandchildren.

To not abuse copyright I have lifted some of their points. The whole article can be read at – http://www.bmj.com/content/348/bmj.g2351  It is well worth reading.

  • “….the IPCC’s new report should leave the world in no doubt about the scale and immediacy of the threat to human survival, health, and wellbeing.” 
  • The IPCC believes that it is “virtually certain that human influence has warmed the global climate system…”
  • The future threats of further global warming are –

–       increased scarcity of food and fresh water;

–       extreme weather events;

–       rise in sea level;

–       loss of biodiversity;

–       areas becoming uninhabitable;

–       mass human migration, conflict and violence.”

  • “The release of just another 275 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide would probably commit us to a temperature rise of at least 2°C—an amount that could be emitted in less than eight years.”
  • “Business as usual” will increase carbon dioxide concentrations from the current level of 400 parts per million (ppm)…… to 936 ppm by 2100, with a 50:50 chance that this will deliver global mean temperature rises of more than 4°C. It is now widely understood that such a rise is “incompatible with an organised global community.”
  • “This is an emergency.  Immediate and transformative action is needed at every level: individual, local, and national; personal, political, and financial.  Countries must set aside differences and work together as a global community for the common good, and in a way that is equitable and sensitive to particular challenges of the poorest countries and most vulnerable communities.”
  • “What we all do matters, not least in how it influences others.”

On a per capita basis, Australia is one of the world’s largest carbon dioxide polluters coming behind Bahrain, Bolivia, Brunei, Kuwait & Qatar.

Australians have the dubious honour of producing nearly twice the OECD average for CO2 emissions & more than 4 times the world average.   It is time to plant more trees & make the necessary changes to our lifestyle that supports the planet.  We only have one planet & CO2 has no borders.

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New Canterbury Road Dulwich Hill - wide footpaths & no overhead power lines.

New Canterbury Road Dulwich Hill – wide footpaths & no overhead power lines.

New Canterbury Road on the side of the powerlines.  Hot!

New Canterbury Road on the side of the powerlines. Hot!

Today is International Day of Forests. 

Forests occupy one third of the Earth’s land area.  13-million-hectares of forest are destroyed annually accounting for 12-20% of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.  Half of the world’s forests have been lost in less than 100-years, which is quite shocking in my opinion.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry says, “Australia has 149 million hectares of forest. Of this, 147 million hectares is native forest, dominated by eucalypt (79%) and acacia (7%) forest types, and 1.82 million hectares is plantations. With an estimated 4% of the world’s forests, Australia has the world’s sixth-largest forest estate and the fourth-largest area of forest in nature conservation reserves.

“As much land has been cleared in the last 50 years in Australia as was cleared in the previous 150 years. For the year of 1990, land clearing in Australia totaled more than half of that which was cleared in Brazilian Amazonia. Land cleared in Australia in 1994 was equal to that which was cleared in the previous five years. (This included 640,000 hectares of virgin bushland.)”  http://bit.ly/1dfpfZ3

Here are some of the points covered in United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s statement for 2014.

  • “Forests are the lungs of our planet.  They cover one third of all land area and are home to 80 per cent of terrestrial biodiversity. 
  • It is estimated that 1.6 billion people depend on forests for food, fuel, shelter and income. 
  • The World Health Organization estimates that between 65 and 80 per cent of people rely on medicines derived from forests as their primary form of health care. [Again, a quite shocking statistic].
  • Forested catchments supply three quarters of freshwater, which is essential for agriculture, industry, energy supply and domestic use.
  • The International Day of Forests is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of all types of forests and trees to our economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being.  However, awareness must be coupled with concrete action.”  For the full speech see –

http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2014/sgsm15706.doc.htm

‘The Conversation’ has just published an interesting article on the Federal Government’s plan to delist around 74,000 hectares from Tasmania’s World Heritage.  It seems appropriate to include in this post. – http://bit.ly/1dsykbD

An earlier article from this month says, “a key advisor to the World Heritage Committee has flagged concerns with the Federal Government’s plan to delist 74,000 hectares of Tasmania’s World Heritage Area.”  This is worth reading too. – http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-13/heritage-area-reduction-plan-concerns-world-heritage-committee/5318182

I can find no mention of the urban forest or of any planting events across Australia, though there must be at least some schools participating somewhere.  To me this is a missed opportunity to educate & enthuse the community regarding the importance, as well as the benefits of urban trees.  Even one tree planted with celebration would be better than ignoring the day completely.

Last week someone on Twitter shared with me that 8-10 newly planted street trees had been planted on one day in Newtown – then poisoned overnight.

While this kind of behaviour is not the norm, tree vandalism happens frequently enough to be of concern.  Not only does it waste significant amounts of rate-payers money, it also often prevents replacement trees being planted as quite understandably, Councils do not want to waste more money planting replacement trees when there is a high chance they will be poisoned again.  They also have a budget for street tree planting & when the money runs out, no more trees can be planted until the following year.  The vandal wins & the community loses.

I speak to many people when they see me photographing street trees.  An alarming number have negative opinions of the tree outside their home or the trees in their street.  The most common complaint is leaf litter or litter from dropping seeds.  When I try to discuss the benefits this tree brings them, including the increased value to their property, I usually get greeted with sneers & a dismissal of the tree.  Most would happily lose the tree if they could.

To me this is a kind of emergency in Marrickville municipality.  It means that trees get poisoned or undermined in a range of ways & this is likely to prevent Council successfully increasing the urban forest.  If our urban forest does not increase significantly, I believe we will be in real trouble in the years ahead.

Australia is breaking weather records like crazy over recent years & the temperature is increasing.  Without a decent urban forest we are going to have problems with heat, heat stress & the health impacts from heat stress.

In 2009, 374 Victorians died as a result of a heatwave.  http://bit.ly/1l6B2eN

The death rate from heatwaves is higher than our worst bushfires & every year they cause more deaths in Australia than any other type of natural disaster.  Extreme heat events are responsible for more deaths annually than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined.http://bit.ly/1g47YBt   An astounding 52,000 people died as a result of the 2003 European heatwave.

A Climate Council report called ‘Australian Heatwaves: Hotter, Longer, Earlier and More Often,’ released in February 2014 found the following –

  1.    “Hot days, hot nights and heatwaves are one of the most direct consequences of climate change.
  2.   Heatwaves have increased across Australia.
  3.    Climate change is making many extreme events worse in terms of their impacts on people, property, communities and the environment. This highlights the need to take rapid, effective action on climate change.
  4.  Record hot days and heatwaves are expected to increase in the future.”

All those hard surfaces will retain the day’s heat & radiate it back out at night keeping the nighttime temperature high.  This impacts on how we sleep & for some, if they can sleep.  Air-conditioning will need to be used more just to be comfortable, resulting in more carbon output.  There are many in our community who cannot afford to have air-conditioning installed.

Trees keep the streets & our homes cool for free if they have a decent sized canopy & are planted in the right places around our homes.  All we need to do is plant them, water them & nurture them.  The rewards for us are manifold & I am not even considering the wildlife, who I believe have an equal stake in the environment as we do.

If Councils do not start to seriously educate the community on the value of trees we may find ourselves in a situation trying to increase the urban forest in times when it is much harder & more costly to keep a tree alive.

World days like the International Day of Forests are a perfect opportunity to educate in a way that is non-threatening & can include an element of community building, pride building & fun.  The question in my mind is why is this not happening?  Even the UN has relegated the day to an awareness-raising event.  It will fly by on social media supported by ‘shares’ by people who like trees, but how many trees will be planted as part of this event?

While I love that a resident  planted this space, someone vandalised the tree.  This is not uncommon to see around Marrickville municipality.

While I love that a resident planted this space, someone vandalised the tree. This is not uncommon to see around Marrickville municipality.

You can tell by the aged stakes & canvas ties that this tree is at least a year old.  It takes years for a tree to reach a decent size & start providing real benefits to the environment.

You can tell by the aged stakes & canvas ties that this tree is at least a year old. It takes years for a tree to reach a decent size & start providing real benefits to the environment.

This is a very common sight across Marrickville LGA.  I think trees are amazing to survive these conditions.

This is a very common sight across Marrickville LGA. I think trees are amazing to survive these conditions.

 

 

One set of rainwater tanks tucked into the side of the house. They stand on permeable pavers

Last weekend w went on a Water Sensitive Urban Design tour held by Marrickville Council.  I have written about ‘house number 1’ in a previous post.

House number 2 was also in Lewisham.  This was a large 2-storey terrace & garden owned by Jeni & Alan.  They had a Grevillea growing in the front garden & are able to take advantage of the show of many visiting birds to a tall Grevillea robusta in the garden next door.

Surrounded by trees, this house has been renovated extensively & takes full advantage of the sun. Facing north it was filled with light when we visited. No need for curtains because of natural privacy, but also that the design has made use of the winter sun.  The hot summer sun affects only one window & that is the only window with a blind.  All the windows are double glazed glass which keeps heat out, but also keeps heat in during winter.

They have installed a gas-boosted solar hot water system & a PV solar system for energy.   3 rainwater tanks hold 3,000 litres.  The rain water is used for the washing machine, to flush 2 toilets & to water the garden.

While house number 1 had a more country feel, this house is modern, streamlined & open plan.  They have surrendered nothing in terms of style to make this house sustainable.

They have no air-conditioning system, nor the need or desire for one.  Small louvered windows have been placed in strategic spots to create flow-through breezes while ceiling fans push hot air down in winter & cool the air in summer.  The design of the house makes it cool in summer & warm in winter & is very sensible building in my opinion.

This is another couple with no power bills. The solar panels put them in credit & cancel out their gas bill.  With electricity prices going through the roof, it makes great sense to make the financial outlay if you can because apart from having a miniscule carbon footprint, there are no bills. Well, there are bills, but they say Jeni & Alan are in credit & the power companies owe them money. What a great place to be!

I made a short YouTube video here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OohY8MSYT-g

To read Part 1 see –https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/water-sensitive-urban-design-tour-–-part-1/

This was a house of windows & light. Louvered windows of varying sizes were all over the house catching flow-though breezes & releasing hot air

Last Monday, ‘The Critical Decade,’ a report on climate change was published by the Australian Climate Commission Secretariat of the Department of Climate Change & Energy Efficiency.

‘The Critical Decade’ is a comprehensive report about global climate change & particularly the significant risks that are associated with a changing climate in Australia.  It is easy to read, but nonetheless, very sobering. The following points come from the report as a taste –

  • What we can say with certainty is that rainfall patterns will change as a result of climate change & often in unpredictable ways, creating large risks for water availability.
  • About 15-20% of net CO2 emissions globally have originated from land ecosystems, primarily from deforestation.
  • We know beyond reasonable doubt that the world is warming & that human emissions of greenhouse gases are the primary cause. The impacts of climate change are already being felt in Australia & around the world with less than 1 degree of warming globally. The risks of future climate change – to our economy, society & environment – are serious, & grow rapidly with each degree of further temperature rise.

If you have ever wanted to understand climate change I highly recommend reading this report.  The report is 8MB & can be downloaded here – http://climatecommission.govspace.gov.au/files/2011/05/4108-CC-Science-Update-PRINT-CHANGES.pdf

"For coastal areas around Australia’s largest cities – Sydney & Melbourne – a rise of 0.5 m leads to very large increases in the incidence of extreme events, by factors of 1,000 or 10,000 for some locations. A multiplying factor of 100 means that an extreme event with a current probability of occurrence of 1-in-100 – the so-called one-in-a-hundred-year event – would occur every year. A multiplication factor of 1,000 implies that the one-in-a-hundred-year inundation event would occur almost every month." ~ The Critical Decade

I came across something rather wonderful today called Tree Tape invented by Thai designer Nitipak Samsen.

Tree Tape is a downloadable tape measure that you print, cut out & stick together so that it becomes a tape measure.  With this tape measure you measure the girth of the tree in question & it will tell you how much CO2 this tree sequesters in comparison with air travel, pints of lager, cheese burgers & oxygen production.

Tree Tape is an excellent resource for teachers.  Apart from being free! it also allows the kids to actively learn by getting outside & measuring the trees themselves.  Instead of measuring a number denoting the CO2 sequestered, it measures the CO2 in terms of activities.  How many cheese burgers have to be cooked, how many pints of lager poured, how much breathing is returned to a person.  Tree Tape will make the impact of CO2 sequestration far more understandable.  You can download Tree Tape here –   http://www.dotmancando.info/index.php?/ongoing/tree-tape-for-kids/

Nitipak Samsen’s website is an interesting place showcasing a few of his projects. One I particularly like is Natural Fuse. It’s a system of plants that sequester CO2 for an area. Those that live in the designated area can only use power to the amount of the CO2 sequestered by their plants.  Reach the limit & all power cuts off until the plants have sequestered more CO2.  Brilliant! His website explains the concept better than I do.  http://www.dotmancando.info/index.php?/ongoing/natural-fuse/

Tree Tape download for measuring air travel for 4 different kinds of trees

A small section of the crowd around the stage

Today I learnt that there were 2 climate rallies happening in Sydney today, one supporting a price on carbon at Belmore Park & another against the Carbon Tax at Hyde Park.  We went to the Belmore Park Rally.

Leaving Central Railway Station at 11am was like being caught up in a sea of people walking to Belmore Park.  Official estimates say that 8,000 people attended the Belmore Park Rally.  I believe this because the park was packed with people of all ages.

The speeches were good, so was the mood of the people.  One speaker said something like, “This is the last generation that can do something to stop runaway climate change.” Words like this always seem surreal to me because the idea that Planet Earth can reach a point where it won’t support human life makes me think of the unspeakable suffering necessary on the journey to reach this point.  To me it seems stupid to ignore the climate scientists. I’d love it if they were wrong. Everyone would.

I’m with Felix Finkbeiner. He may only be 12-years-old, but to me he speaks perfect sense.  If we follow the scientists that tell us there is a crisis & if we act & in 20 years we find out that they were wrong, then we didn’t do any mistake. But if we follow the skeptics & don’t do anything & in 20 years we will find out that they were wrong it is too late for us to save our future.” https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/it-takes-a-child-to-tell-us-how-it-really-is/

I made a 3-minute YouTube video of today’s Climate Rally – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPD4n-c0wqk

Another view of the crowd

“We don’t trust your words anymore. You’re destroying our future!” These words were spoken by Felix Finkbeiner, a 12-year-old boy from Paehl, in Bavaria, Germany who established Plant for the Planet, a global climate protection network for school-age children when he was 9-years-old.  You can read about Plant for the Planet here – http://www.plant-for-the-planet.org/about-us/plant-for-the-planet-foundation

On 2nd February 2011 Felix Finkbeiner addressed the UN for the Inauguration of the International Year of Forests.  I have highlighted parts of his speech as I think it is good for adults to know what children think about the future we are leaving them.

  • …. for us children forests are not only the livelihoods of billions, but for us children forests are our future.

  • …. 30,000 children dying of starvation every single day in an incredible rich world.

  • …. one small part, the rich part of the world exhausting the most of the CO2 & the poor part of the world, the one’s that already suffer, will suffer even more in the future.

  • We children understand that the adults know everything about these crises. But we children don’t understand why there is so little action.

  • For most adults future seems to mean 20, 30 or even 40 years. But for us children 2100 is still in our lifetime.

  • For adults it’s an academic question if the sea level will rise for 1, 2 or 3 metres or 7 meters until the end of this century. But for many of us children it is a question of survival.

  • Many adults seem to hide behind the climate skeptics, the ones that say there is no climate crisis.

  • If we follow the scientists that tell us there is a crisis & if we act & in 20 years we find out that they were wrong, then we didn’t do any mistake. But if we follow the skeptics & don’t do anything & in 20 years we will find out that they were wrong it is too late for us to save our future.

  • …. we cannot trust that the adults alone will save our future. We have to take our future in our own hands.

  • We have to protect the already existing forest. … to keep the rainforests from disappearing.

  • …. we have to plant trees.  We children think that we can manage to plant a trillion trees in 10 years.

  • …. a trillion trees is only 150 trees per person. We can manage.

  • Stop talking. Start planting.

  • We children are the majority on this world.

  • One mosquito cannot do anything against a rhino, but a thousand mosquitoes can make a rhino to change its direction.

You can download the whole speech here – http://plant-for-the-planet.org/sites/plant-for-the-planet.org/files/press/speech_felix_ny_20110202.pdf

Strathfield Council has created bush habitat along the Cooks River at Strathfield. The pathway is just visible on the bottom left of the photo

I find Dr David Suzuki to always be a fascinating speaker & have been lucky enough to listen to him live.   I found this 28-minute interview on YouTube about his book ‘Tree: A Life Story.’

As is usual for Dr Suzuki, he can speak about a range of interlacing topics without the need for notes.  During this interview he covers a wide range of topics relating to trees from truffles to male pig sex hormones, fungi, roots, surface area of soil, soil nutrients, growth of big trees, marine nitrogen, salmon fertilizing trees, nitrogen 15 & tree rings, benefits of trees, sustainable forestry practices, the economy & biodiversity, topsoil, the biosphere, old-growth rainforests, watersheds, climate change & lifestyle satisfaction.

Some points I include for interest –

  • The University of Vermont came up with a dollar value of 33 trillion US dollars for humans to take on the job of replicating nature.  At that time all the economies of the world were producing 18 trillion US dollars, half of what nature has been doing for free.
  • When asked how he felt about the world’s situation now, he said he felt “we were in a giant car heading towards a brick wall at 100 mph with everyone arguing.”
  • He said we were “Living in a fool’s paradise, not living sustainability & using up the rightful legacy of our children & grandchildren.”
  • 90% of the large fish in the oceans are gone.
  • We have put 32% more Co2 in the atmosphere than existed 150 years ago.
  • 5% of the world’s population is the USA & they produce 25% of the greenhouse gases of the world.

It’s a terrific interview if you are interested in these kinds of things. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFB5d8Foblk

PS. David Suzuki turns 75-years-old this month.  Happy Birthday.

Sydney Park lake - filled with waterbirds

4 of the 7 large trees photographed here are recommended for removal & will not be replaced. Crepe myrtle trees will be planted in the grassed area. The Crepe myrtle here is indicated by the red dot at the base of its trunk.

Marrickville Council is planning an overhaul of historic Petersham Park in Petersham.  I’ve done my best to translate the plans. There is a Legend on the side of the plans offering a range of symbols in various shades of green & one has to scroll around the map trying to find the symbols.  It would be so much easier if there was list of what will be removed, replaced etc & any trees to be removed coloured red.  Perhaps that would look too imposing, especially on this map.  I apologize in advance if I have made a mistake translating the plans.

The Petersham Park Masterplan recommends –

  • removing 8 of the 26 large Camphor laurel trees from the magnificent memorial avenue of trees that make the Brighton Street entrance.
  • removing 4 of the 10 large Camphor laurels along Wentworth Street.
  • removing 5 of the 7 large trees near the entry to the Fanny Durak Pool & the playground.  That will mean another shadecloth structure. Council are removing these trees because the soil is compacted. Soil compaction can be treated without removing trees. Axing these trees is simply the most expedient option.
  • removing 4 of the 12 large trees along Station Street.
  • removing  2 other large trees inside the park.
  • removing  7 of the 14 large trees from the boundary of West Street.  Apart from

    In January 2011 the last of 31 trees were removed from the St Vincent de Paul Society complex. For many decades these trees matched the trees across the road at Petersham Park on the right of this photo. Now Council wants to remove 7 of the 14 trees along here

    1 tree with significant dieback, I cannot see why these trees need to be removed.  They have been badly pruned, but so have the majority of the trees in the park.  Most look like champagne glasses because of Council’s long-standing policy of pruning all side branches.  The plans recommend not replacing trees along West Street to offer unrestricted visual access into the park. Unrestricted for who? The third storey across the road?  Whether on foot or in a car you can easily see into Petersham Park.  No substantial trees will also ensure that the traffic noise from ultra-busy West Street would fully infiltrate the park.

  • If I understand the Legend correctly, the ultimate recommendation is to remove all the trees along West Street. If that is correct, the remaining side of the once glorious avenue of trees will be lost.  (Last January 2011 St Vincent de Paul Society completed the removal of 31 trees that formed the other side of the avenue of trees. See – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/the-lost-trees-of-lewisham/ )
  • All up 30 very large trees are to be removed.
  • 38 new trees are to be planted. Sounds great, except they will be small stature ornamental Crepe myrtle & Cape Chestnut trees.  Many new tree plantings fail so even whether these 38 trees survive remains to be seen.  Figs & large Eucalypts have been suggested for the Brighton & Wentworth Street as replacement for the trees removed in these sections.
  • Cape Chestnuts & Crepe Myrtles are to be planted in the space between West Street & the oval to offer colour.  I am rather horrified that Crepe myrtle trees are popping up across Marrickville LGA when there are many better choices of small native trees that offer colour as well as food for wildlife.
  • Very small spaces will be planted with groundcover for Bandicoot habitat where trees have been removed on West Street. Although habitat for the critically endangered Long-nosed Bandicoot is of paramount importance, especially now that their habitat across the road at St Vincent de Paul Society has been destroyed, the size of the proposed habitat is tokenistic at best & keeps the Bandicoots near the very busy road.
  • Council also plans to upgrade the playground, repair the stonework, repair the paths, add some lighting, add some garden beds, replant the existing garden beds & add a decorative picket fence to part of the Brighton Street entry – all good.

Magnificent trees are recommended for removal, yet this & others like it will stay

There are many wonderful things about Petersham Park.  It is remarkably different from most parks in Marrickville LGA in that it has many very large trees as well as large shade-producing trees throughout the park itself, not just around the perimeter.  Removing so many large trees at one time would be devastating. To remove half of the trees on West Street only to replace with groundcover & add some Crepe myrtles further in would to my mind, reduce this side of the park to ‘ordinary.’

I know parks have to be maintained & Petersham Park, even for its beauty is showing signs of neglect, but in my opinion, the bulk of the large mature trees are doing well.  The paths, the playground & the garden beds are what needs work & yes, some trees need to be removed, but I wonder about the choices of trees.  The Prunus looks scraggly & a couple of Fig trees look quite weird & unhealthy.  I could have removed 20 trees, however, only 1 of those trees matched the trees Council is recommending for removal.

4 out of 10 trees here are recommended for removal

It’s obvious that some trees are to be removed simply because they are mature or that removing the trees will allow for the new fashion of having clear unobstructed views deep into parks.  To me, that’s not a good enough reason to remove healthy mature trees which are doing great work in sequestering large amounts of CO2, removing particulate matter, improving air quality as well as providing shade & beauty to the area.  Mature doesn’t mean dying.

There are dead street trees all over Marrickville LGA, some that have been sitting there for 18 months or more.  Then there is the borer infestation of Mahoney Reserve & the 6 dead

8 out of the 26 trees along the avenue are recommended for removal

Poplar trees that are still standing.  These things make me wonder why so much money will be spent removing so many trees in Petersham Park when very few of them are showing obvious signs of deterioration.  They are mature trees & for that very reason, quite spectacular.  I’d rather the dead & dying trees elsewhere be removed than 30 mature beautiful trees from the one park. Council needs to start to grow replacement trees (further in the park if they are to be Fig trees to allow for the canopy) & when they have grown to a decent size, only then do a graduated removal of the other trees.

I recognize that Marrickville Council wants to do the best thing for the park & it is good that community consultation was offered. However, the plans for Petersham Park remind me of the intention in the draft tree strategy policy that was so poorly received by Councillors in early 2010 & which has been redrafted. That report spoke negatively about mature trees & proposed cutting down 1,000 trees per year for 5 years. Is Council still pursuing this kind of goal?

Any written feedback to Marrickville Council from the community is due by 28th February 2011.  The plan can be downloaded here (5MB) – http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/getinvolved/consultations/petershamparkmasterplan.html?s=2122293019

I made a video of Petersham Park here –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIKH59R7BnE

The red dots indicate several Prunus & 1 Fig that looks sick. These insubstantial, scraggly 'trees' are to remain while 30 large mature trees are to be removed.

 

It’s interesting where my research takes me. Yesterday the Reverend Jeffrey Spencer of Niles Congregational Church, United Church of Christ Fremont in the US gave a sermon to his congregation called ‘Choosing Life in the Heat Wave.’

His sermon was about global warming & climate change & is possibly the best, most accessible description of the history & the issues surrounding climate change for human beings I have come across.  Here is a short excerpt –

And it’s worth doing because real danger of climate change boils down to this:  water & food.  As warmer air makes our dry habitats drier, deserts will expand.  Some regions that, with their old climate, got enough water each year not to be deserts, will become deserts.  I think about the dry-land farms in eastern Washington & wonder how much longer they will be able to produce wheat from their rich soils.  As warmer air dumps the greater moisture it holds, regions that used to experience catastrophic floods every one hundred or five hundred years will start experiencing catastrophic floods as the norm.  Mountain glaciers that provided year-round drinking & irrigation water to the plains & valleys below, will shrink & eventually disappear.  How will farmers grow food?  What will people drink?

When a region either has too little or too much water, the people will have to move.  If water shortages get severe enough, they will fight wars over it.

When a region can no longer produce food for people to eat, they will move.  And if food shortages get severe enough, they will fight wars over it.

Climate change will cause starvation.  Climate change will cause mass migrations of people across international borders.  And climate change will almost certainly cause war.  Starvation, mass exoduses, war – these are moral issues.”

You can read Reverend Spencer’s full sermon here.  http://nccucc.org/sermons/sermon20110213.html

This Silky Oak in Marrickville provides masses of food for birds when in flower

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