#STOPADANI: Environmental Impacts of the Carmichael Coal Mine

#STOPADANI.

Following years of controversy, the proposed Carmichael coal mine funded by Indian industrialist Guatam Adani is set to start operations before Christmas.

It’s not going to be the mega-mine that was initially proposed, however the mine in North Queensland’s Galilee Basin will still have dire and irreversible environmental consequences.

It’s no secret that coal-burning is one of the biggest drivers of climate change. Many believe that Australia one of the ‘better’ countries when it comes to the fight against global warming. But in fact, Australia is the largest coal exporter in the world; 36.6% of total coal exports to be exact.

The initial mine will be quite small. But Adani claims it will “ramp up” coal output to 27.5 million tonnes a year. It also paves the way for other Galilee Basin projects, including the China Stone Project and the Alpha North; both of which would greatly surpass the size of the Adani mine.

Why has the proposed Adani coal mine become such a contentious issue?

Due to the enormous scale of the proposed mine and its impacts on the environment, it has been opposed with the largest environmental campaign in Australia since the Franklin Dam controversy in the 80s.

It also comes at a time when the world’s climate scientists are warning that catastrophic climate change can only be avoided if the world limits its use of coal. Furthermore, with the extremely urgent challenge in transitioning to a low-carbon society, it’s hard to justify a new coal mine that would contribute to the worsening effects of climate change.

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#STOPADANI protestors outside Parliament House – image via SBS.

If the smaller Adani coal mine goes ahead, will it still have negative environmental impacts?

Despite being approved for the development of a mine roughly half the size of the initial proposal, there’s still a strong chance the mine will increase in size and have terrible consequences for our climate, local water sources and threatened species.

CLIMATE: The Adani coal mine is set to produce 2.3 billion tonnes of thermal coal in its 60 year project lifetime; generating an estimated 4.7 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. This goes directly against the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that said global emissions of greenhouse gas pollution must reach zero by about 2050 in order to stop global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

GREAT BARRIER REEF: The shipping of the coal is dependent upon the shipping port at Abbot Point, which requires dredging the seabed. Dredging also releases fine sediments, which would reduce water quality and smother nearby coral reefs. Not to mention the long-term damage to the climate; the GBR is expected to decline by around 70-90 percent under the 1.5C change, but that may rise to 99 percent reef loss if the temperature hits 2C. ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies director Terry Hughes contributes the eradication of the GBR to the continued use of fossil fuels – full interview here.

“But the federal government of Australia, like the federal government of the United States, still very much favors the continued development of the fossil-fuel² industry, and that, to me, is a complete policy failure for the Great Barrier Reef,” Hughes said.

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Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching – image via Climate Council.

DEPLETION OF WATER SOURCES: Adani was granted unlimited access to precious groundwater by the Queensland government for the next 60 years. According to #STOPADANI, the proposed Adani mine will drain at least 270 billion litres of groundwater over the lifetime of the mine. Furthermore, it will dump polluted wastewater into the Carmichael river and threaten local ancient springs that are sacred to the Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners. These springs are also paramount in times of severe drought.

It’s clear that while the rest of the modern world is attempting to move forward to a cleaner, more sustainable future, Australia still places the profit of a finite source over the welfare of future generations. It’s obvious that the Adani coal mine is symbolic of the precipice in which Australia now stands upon; do we continue to spiral down into a world where profit is more important than our precious ecosystems and future generations? Or, do we take a stand and become a leading example of sustainable practices for the rest of the world to emulate?

Thanks for reading,

Liv x

‘No fear, no pain’: What really happens to livestock when they leave Australian shores?

Feature Article by Olivia Nankivell

‘No fear, no pain’ is the mantra used by the Australian Livestock Exporters Council (ALEC). Yet the 60 Minutes investigation into live export negligence in early April shocked the nation, prompting calls for the brutal trade to be banned completely.

More than two thousand sheep died onboard the Awassi Express last August during an intense heat wave en route to the Middle East. Footage of livestock covered in filth, gasping for air and fighting for space will be forever etched into the mind of every Australian viewer – view here.

Many of us don’t often think about the plight of livestock onboard live export ships. In fact, many of us don’t really know what happens to them at all.

We would prefer to imagine them frolicking freely onboard the ships, smelling the fresh ocean air, and being blissfully unaware of what’s to come.

That idealistic image couldn’t be further from the truth. So, what really happens to livestock when they leave Australian shores?

Aimee Weir, spokesperson for Adelaide Against Live Export (AALE), has in-depth knowledge on the issue. Armed with a growing group of volunteers, AALE work tirelessly to create public awareness of the negligence of the live export industry.

Since 2014, AALE have monitored the process of live export: from the farm, the feedlot, and then the trucks to the ships – taking countless hours of video footage to report to the authorities.

Mrs Weir said the ships that depart Port Adelaide are extremely old and were initially designed as car carriers.

“They’re simply not equipped to have livestock onboard. The animals are housed in really cramped conditions; they have to stand for the entire journey, and there’s certainly not enough room to lay down or move around,” Weir said.

With one ship being able to carry up to 75,000 animals, many are unable to access an adequate supply of food and water. On a journey of up to five weeks, the weak livestock will inevitably die.

“The weak ones will die a slow, prolonged, cruel death. They’re not going to have a humane death,” Weir said.

Weir also commented on the lack of ventilation and the severe heat stress inflicted upon both livestock and crewmembers.

“Coming into winter, we watched the Bader III load in Port Adelaide. It arrived in Israel in 45 degree temperatures. It puts so much stress on their bodies.”.

Supporting this claim is PETA’s Media Officer, Emma Hurst; she says the livestock suffer from cramped conditions, poor ventilation, and heat stress.

“The animals are prodded, kicked, and herded onto crowded, filthy, multi-tiered, open-deck ships and forced to stand for long periods of time – in a sickening slurry of water, urine, and faeces.” Hurst said.

“A mortality rate of up to two per cent of the many thousands of sheep and one per cent of cattle during each journey is considered ‘acceptable’ by the Australian government.”

What happens to livestock when they reach their destination country?

Many Australians don’t know where our livestock is exported or what type of treatment they receive from the importing countries.

According to the Australian Livestock Exporters Council (ALEC), as an island nation, Australia utilises air and sea transport to move livestock to destination markets.

Kuwait, Qatar, Indonesia and Vietnam are the largest live export markets, valued at a total of $1.4 billion, despite suffering a forty percent drop of live exports in the last decade.

ALEC claims to accept the responsibility of ensuring the welfare of slaughter/feeder livestock through to the point of slaughter.

“That means Australian exporters, even after animals are discharged and sold, continue to trace animals, train staff and upgrade facilities along supply chains to the point of slaughter,” ALEC says on their website.

Despite these claims, the live export industry has endured severe controversy and countless scandals over the past decade.

According to Emma from World Animal Protection Australia, Since the Department of Agriculture created the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) in 2012, there have been nearly 150 complaints of non-compliance.

“Many of those that survive the journey are handled roughly at their destination and  killed while fully conscious. Too many suffer outright brutality,” she said.

The reputation of the industry has diminished due to media reports of breaches of animal welfare, both in Australia and overseas, including a 2011 Four Corners investigation into the treatment of Australian cattle, and a 2006 Animals Australia investigation into Egyptian slaughterhouse malpractice.

PETA’s Emma Hurst says that the Australian government has had ample opportunity to create meaningful action.

“A 2011 exposé by Four Corners revealed that the eyes of Australian cows exported to Indonesia were gouged out, and their limbs were cut open while they were still conscious. A joint investigation in 2006 by PETA and Animals Australia documented that workers in an Egyptian slaughterhouse stabbed Australian cows, gouged their eyes out, and disabled them by slashing their leg tendons,” Hurst said.

“After every high-profile incident politicians have expressed concern and then taken no meaningful action at all”.

Does the industry has any control over slaughterhouse malpractice in foreign importing countries?

AALE’s Aimee Weir certainly doesn’t think so: “There’s no way we can have eyes on what’s happening to our animals once they reach their destination country,” she said.

“No matter what the Australian government says, we have absolutely no control over what other countries do. We simply don’t have the legal jurisdiction”.

It’s reasonable to say that Australians are out of touch with the live export process.

“The live export industry operates on a lack of transparency; it’s completely hidden from the public,” said Mrs Weir.

“In terms of factory farming and live export, the common person thinks Australia has high welfare standards for animals – it couldn’t be further from the truth,” she concluded.

Looking to the future, Emma from World Animal Protection believes the live export trade isn’t the only option for the Australian meat industry.

“We’re calling on the government to grow the more humane chilled and frozen meat industry in place of live export,” Emma said.

“Transitioning to the chilled meat trade would ensure that animals are slaughtered and processed in Australia under our regulations, and protected from arduous sea voyages and inhumane slaughter overseas”.

Thanks for reading,

Liv x

Eco-Friendly Living: Reducing Waste

The average Australian produces nearly 650kg of waste per year. In order to reduce this amount, we need to think about specific ways to combat mindless wastage. I started to cut down on unnecessary plastic around a year ago; I realised that my laziness and ignorance was excruciatingly damaging to the environment.

So, who generates the most waste?

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Not surprisingly, highly developed nations account for 44% of the Earth’s waste. The United States, China, Brazil, Japan and Germany are the leading trash generators.

Thankfully, Australia isn’t in trouble. The U.S, however, produced about 228 million tonnes of waste in 2006; a figure that climbed to 254 tons by 2013. China (with a population around four times larger than that of the U.S.) is close behind, with 190 million tonnes of waste per year.

It comes down to the awareness of the individual and the small changes that can make the biggest difference. Here are some tips that you can implement into your daily life:

Number One – Reduce your daily waste.

One of the easiest ways to reduce waste is to use reusable bagswater bottles and coffee cups. This step requires little to no effort.

  • Reusable Bags: Woolworths is currently giving out 3.2 billion lightweight plastic bags per year. Keeping reusable bags in the back of your car can ultimately reduce a massive amount of waste in the form of plastic bags. These reusable produce bags are also super convenient for fruits and veggies.
  • Reusable Drink Bottles: Worldwide, nearly 3 million tonnes of plastic are used to bottle water every year. Simply buying a stainless steel drink bottle allows you to refill and wash your bottle regularly – think of all the plastic bottles you’re saving from going to landfill!
  • Reusable Coffee Cups: Believe it or not, paper coffee cups can’t be recycled properly. 500 billion disposable coffee cups are produced globally each year. Australia uses 1 billion of these, and 90% end up in landfill. These KeepCups are the best way to reduce the waste from your morning coffee.
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@sustainabilityoverselfies – Onya Reusable Produce Bags

Number Two – Avoid buying for convenience.

According to Food Wise, Australians discard up to TWENTY PERCENT of the food they purchase. Crazy, right? On a slightly larger scale, Australians waste FOUR MILLION tonnes of food per year.

  • Cooking at home: Our food waste is rising at a rapid rate. One of the best ways to reduce waste is by sourcing whole, local ingredients to make your daily meals. Wherever possible, buy in large quantities to avoid excess waste.
  • Avoiding single-use items: Disposable utensils, individually wrapped items and single-serve containers are simply crafted for a quick fix or convenience. Take five extra minutes in the morning to pre-pack your lunch – you’ll save money in the long run.

Number Three – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

We’ve all heard it. Sometimes we forget, and that’s okay.

  • Reduce: Avoid unnecessary purchases! Buy only what you need.
  • Reuse: My pantry has changed drastically since I started reusing glass jars. Start with pasta, grains, nuts etc. – over time you’ll put anything and everything into cute jars. Trust me.
  • Recycle: The big one – and by far the easiest to follow. Recycling is an important factor in conserving natural resources and greatly contributes towards improving the environment.  Many materials can be recycled, such as paper, plastic, metal and glass. Did you know that around 66 percent of energy can be saved by producing plastic products from recycled plastics instead of virgin materials? Think twice before you throw out that tub of yoghurt.

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The reality is that we, as individuals, truly have the power to make a change. Through being mindful of what we consume/purchase, each one of us can play a part in saving our planet.

Thanks for reading,

Liv x

For The Love Of Meat?

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“I had no idea that there were any environmental factors that were damaging in meat production”

“It’s disturbing”

“No one thinks about that sort of thing”

“That picture is far from the supermarket”

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These were some of the responses after witnessing the extent of land clearing for cattle farming in central Queensland, Australia. Approximately 40 football fields worth of land are cleared for cattle grazing, every single hour.

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Matthew takes to the street to ask people some questions. Were you aware of land clearing? “Somewhat. But not to that extent.”

Food critic and gourmet farmer Matthew Evans takes a fresh look at Australia’s insatiable appetite for meat, and what it is doing to the environment, our health, and the animals themselves.

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Watch Here – SBS On Demand.

SBS’s For The Love Of Meat (episode 3) follows a single cow through the process of grazing, rapidly growing and being carved up for cuts of meat. Along the way, Evans finds out some shocking facts about how damaging beef production is to the environment.

Worldwide, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the average person consumes 34 kilograms of meat per year.

This following stat shocked me.

In Australia, the average person consumes 90 kilograms of meat per year, thus crowning Australia as the second largest meat consuming nation on the planet (behind the USA).

So what exactly is our love for beef doing to the environment? Well, it isn’t good. Firstly, more than half of Australia’s land is used for grazing livestock. That’s an insane amount of land being used for our lazy day BBQ’s and weekly dose of spaghetti bolognese.

Most of the debris from land clearing is burnt, which has consequently doubled Queensland’s greenhouse gas emissions since 2011. Not good. Furthermore, 600 Aussie animal species are suffering as a result of extensive land clearing. Okay, still not good. Lastly, due to the spread of cattle grazing, polluted streams of Queensland are leading to the demise of our oceans, but more specifically, our already suffering Great Barrier Reef. Definitely not good.

However, there are some viable solutions to the growing concern of animal agriculture sustainability within Australia. It all comes down to simple education and a willingness to change our habits.

Solution One. Lead a more plant based diet.

You’ll notice that I put ‘more’ in italics. This is because for many people, cutting out meat entirely isn’t an option. But, there is no excuse not to try. It’s not about cutting it out entirely, it’s about being aware of the process and reducing our overall intake (at least to match the average of the rest of the world, come on guys).

Here are some quick stats from the CSIRO Animal, Food and Health Sciences Research Centre.

Lentils and bread produce 1kg of greenhouse gases (GHG’s) for every 1kg of product.

Chicken, 3kg of GHG’s for every 1kg. Pork, 6kg for every 1kg.

Lastly, Beef produces a whopping 25kg of GHG’s for every 1kg produced.

This takes into consideration all parts of the process. So, you can see that cutting out weekly portions of meat will make a difference.

Solution Two. Nose to tail philosophy.

Ever heard of it? The nose to tail philosophy basically encourages the utilisation of the whole animal. It urges us to respect the deceased animal’s life, which echoes the Native American practice of hunting buffalo in a sacred manner to feed a whole tribe, while wasting little of the animal in the process.

Some of the most in demand cuts of beef are also the smallest parts, such as rib eye and scotch fillet. From a 500kg cow, roughly 4kg’s of rib eye is produced. That’s a crazy amount of waste when the majority of the other parts are ignored, such as the liver and kidneys, or offal. Interestingly, Nutritionist Karen Inge believes that offal contains a higher amount of iron, zinc and essential vitamins compared to the actual flesh.

Again, it’s about eating smart and eating for the planet. I believe that as a society, we are quite disconnected from where our food comes from, especially meat. If we all took some time to educate ourselves and consider the long term implications, we may be able to reverse some of the incredibly damaging effects of animal agriculture.

Please watch Matthew Evan’s For The Love Of Meat. You won’t regret it!

Thanks for reading,

Liv x

Climate Change. Where To Begin?

Ah, climate change. The topic that many Australian politicians can’t seem to grasp.

Last September, Liberal National Party senator Ian Macdonald told the federal parliament that Australia’s children have been “brainwashed” about human-induced climate change, which he described as “a fad or a farce or a hoax” and “farcical and fanciful”.

Don’t even get me started on One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts.

Just for fun, I’ll include a quick video. It features Professor Brian Cox and Malcolm Roberts on a Q&A episode focussed on climate change.

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I remember watching this particular episode one night with my sister. I was completely shocked and somewhat furious. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, it’s hard to accept one’s opinion when it blindly contradicts a mountain of research led by esteemed scientists and activists.

I personally believe that it is the responsibility of any Earth dweller to be educated on ways we can help to improve our home. This involves coming to terms with some harsh realities, and even some consequences.

Collectively, we are beginning to acknowledge that our dependence on fossil fuels – that has been harming our economy and environment for decades – must come to an end. The question today is no longer why, but how.

Therefore, for this blog post, I’ll be sharing with you a few of my favourite documentaries, talks and YouTube videos that will give you a better understanding of the topic.

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret.

How could I not include Cowspiracy? It’s quite easily the most life changing piece of work I’ve ever witnessed. Directors Kip Andersen and Keeghan Khun investigate the alarming rate at which animal agriculture is destroying our planet. The best thing about this documentary is that Kip Andersen, the leading man, is just an ordinary guy.

Determined to find the truth, he followed his curiosity. It led to the project gaining worldwide success, as well as the help of executive producer and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio. Available on Netflix.

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Kip Andersen – Sacred Space Project.

Chasing Ice.

Chasing Ice is visually stunning. The documentary follows James Balog and his team on the Extreme Ice Survey installing cameras within the world’s rapidly melting ice glaciers. The best thing about this documentary is seeing the team’s whole process; the struggles, the disappointment, and the achievements.

It’s inspiring to witness the team overcome so many technical problems and malfunctions to produce one of the most renowned climate change documentaries of all time. Watch trailer here.

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Chasing Ice.

Johnathan Foley: The Other Inconvenient Truth.

Fact: Animal agriculture covers 40 percent of Earth’s land. This TED talk explores the complex relationship between global environmental systems and human civilization. Dr. Foley analyses devastating changes in land use, ecosystems and resources around the world. This TED talk is rich in facts, diagrams and detailed maps to show how animal agriculture will destroy the planet as our population rises.

It’s an eye opening view of how our insatiable (and growing) love for meat is quickly becoming an unsustainable practice that ultimately needs to change. Watch here.

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Jonathan Foley at TEDxTC, 2010.

In another blog post I’ll show my favourite documentaries and YouTubers who inspired me to go vegan. Because, essentially, leading a plant based lifestyle will help curb the growing consequences of animal agriculture, thus mitigating the effects of climate change and reducing our carbon footprint!

Thanks for reading,

Liv x