Creating people's geographies
If you wanted a taste of bizarre weather that might well be linked to climate change (that isn’t a hurricane, which have increased in severity and frequency), look no further than Sydney, Australia.
Just a week and a half ago, it was 40°C (104°F) on a fine but hot summer’s day, and the very next day, it dipped to 18 °C (65°F).
Except for the Blue Mountains to the outskirts of the city’s north west, Sydney hasn’t yet been hit by the bushfires that have been raging in four Australian states these past days, but a few weeks ago I could smell ash in the air and knew bushfire season was upon us in this country. You could literally smell it in the air.
Sydney is a great city; it’s sunny, lively, cosmopolitan, more exhibitionist than its southern sibling, Melbourne, with whom it has always had a rivalry, but despite being a Sydneysider born and bred, I would have to concur more and more with the view that Sydney is becoming increasingly beset by congestion, pollution, and urban sprawl problems, with not as much apparent foresight or planning with respect to infrastructure as you’d hope. It was in this vein that the Sydney Morning Herald recently ran with an article entitled ‘Sydney: nice place, but wouldn’t want to live there’ (SMH)
So it was encouraging to see a glimmer of hope, and it is but a glimmer but nonetheless a great start and innovative idea, in Sydney’s embracing of Earth Hour:
In a world first, the city will turn off its lights between 7.30-8.30pm on Saturday, March 31 to raise awareness about energy consumption and climate change. Details below as reported by the SMH (16 Dec):
Join the world in switching off your household lights … click here to sign up.
For one hour next March, Sydney will plunge itself into darkness in a bid to save power and reduce greenhouse gas pollution.
In a world first, the city will turn off its lights between 7.30-8.30pm on Saturday, March 31, in a campaign called Earth Hour.
The campaign encourages businesses, communities and individuals to cut their emissions by 5 per cent in 2007.
Earth Hour is supported by the City of Sydney, the NSW Government and The Sydney Morning Herald.
Simple changes such as businesses turning off their lights when their offices are empty, and households turning off appliances rather than leaving them on standby, can collectively make the 5 per cent difference.
“If we prove that together we can significantly cut our greenhouse gas pollution it will send a message to every city around the world that we have the power to take action against global warming,” said WWF Australia chief executive, Greg Bourne.
Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, said: “Australia’s commercial business sector is responsible for around 10 per cent of national greenhouse gas emissions and all commercial businesses and their workers should join the community in supporting Earth Hour, but also take concrete actions to reduce energy use.”
The Australian Medical Association said by 2100, up to 15,000 Australians could die every year from heat-related illnesses related to greenhouse gas emissions.
It is also worth adding (and perhaps more fully exploring at another time) that the nuclear debate is very much on the public agenda here and that Australia has the world’s largest reserves of uranium. With the Indian and the US governments having just signed up to a ‘Nuclear Cooperation’ deal that includes a nuclear trade agreement, the word is that Australia will come under pressure to sell uranium to India, a country which is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The US-Indian deal certainly has its vocal critics in India.
Meanwhile, to round things off, some creative North Americans have created this quirky video with a serious message (runtime 1 min: 49 secs):