Archive for the 'Environment & Sustainability' Category

Lifeboat earth.

October 15th, 2009

 For those of us that still question the issue of climate change and our human impact on our home planet I found this description about carrying capacity a simple but useful explanation. It is part of the Sunshine Coast Regional Councils new Climate Change Strategy and I recommend it to you.

I am very pleased to say that our Fraser Coast Regional Council has now appointed our Sustainability Officer and I expect that he will commence working towards a similar strategy for our region. Luckily in this day and age of easy communication we don’t need to reinvent the wheel and can share and learn from our regional neighbouring Councils.

 I still find it hard to believe that some of our most senior pollies question the need for Australia to address the issues of climate change. While I am confident that in my lifetime I won’t witness any very obvious impacts of climate change I worry that my children will. An even worse worry is what type of planet are we leaving for our grand children? When will we start to seriously examine the way in which we are greedily gulping up the worlds natural resources including coal? I hope that the community continues to ask our leaders to plan for the long term and not simply plan for continual economic growth. A sustainable world economy must be developed and the sooner we all realise this the happier I will be.

From the Sunny Coast strategy….

‘Carrying Capacity:the population that can be supported indefinitely by its supporting systems. In ecological terms, the carrying capacity of an ecosystem is the size of the population that can be supported indefinitely upon the available resources and services of that ecosystem. Living within the limits of an ecosystem depends on three factors: 

  • the amount of resources available in the ecosystem,

  • the size of the population, and

  • the amount of resources each individual is consuming.

A simple example of carrying capacity is the number of people who could survive in a lifeboat after a shipwreck. Their survival depends on how much food and water they have, how much each person eats and drinks each day, and how many days they are afloat. If the lifeboat made it to an island, how long the people survived would depend upon the food and water supply on the island and how wisely they used it. A small desert island will support far fewer people than a large continent with abundant water and good soil for growing crops.

In this example, food and water are the natural capital of the island. Living within the carrying capacity means using those supplies no faster than they are replenished by the island’s environment: using the ‘interest’ income of the natural capital. A community that is living off the interest of its community capital is living within the carrying capacity. A community that is degrading or destroying the ecosystem on which it depends is using up its community capital and is living unsustainably.

Equally important to community sustainability is living within the carrying capacity of the community’s human, social and built capital. Carrying capacity is much harder to measure for these types of capital, but the basic concept is the same — are the different types of capital being used up faster than they are being replenished? For example:

  • A community that allows its children to be poorly educated, undernourished, and poorly housed is eroding its human capital.
  • A community that allows the quality of its social interactions to decline through lack of trust, respect, and tolerance is eroding its social capital.
  • A community that allows its buildings, roads, parks, power facilities, water facilities, and waste processing capability to decay is eroding its built capital.

Additionally, a community that is creating built capital without considering the future maintenance of that capital is setting itself up for eventual decay.

So, in the context of sustainability, carrying capacity is the size of the population that can be supported indefinitely upon the available resources and services of supporting natural, social, human, and built capital’.


And lastly look what we found on the beach yesterday……… So what does the US defense force do with its litter?

USA defending our seas?

USA defending our seas?












Traveston Travesty

September 23rd, 2009

Here is the media release of the FCRC released this morning. Councillors are very concerned about the planned dam and are unanimously opposed to it. We are very concerned about the impacts that any large dam on the Mary River would have on the local fisheries and RAMSAR wetland not to mention the impacts on endangered species and the loss of valuable rural producing lands.


22 September 2009

Fraser Coast Regional Council continues to oppose Traveston Crossing Dam

 The Fraser Coast Regional Council has re-iterated its opposition to proposals to build a dam on the Mary River at Traveston Crossing, near Gympie. 

At its meeting last week the Council moved again to state its opposition in light of reports that the Queensland Co-ordinator General had approved a list of conditions that would need to be met for the dam to be approved and state government moves to push ahead with the project.

 The Queensland Government submission is being investigated by the Federal Minister 


 for Environment, Heritage and the Arts , Peter Garrett.




“This is not the first time Fraser Coast Councils have opposed the dam,” Fraser Coast Regional Council Mayor Mick Kruger said.

 “The former Councils helped fund a $120,000 independent study to find alternatives to the dam. The South East Queensland Water Optimisation Study was undertaken by Dr Stuart White of the University of Technology, Sydney. It was funded by the nine local governments that made up the Mary River Council of Mayors.”

 The mayors initiated the study after being told by then Premier Peter Beattie that if they wanted to look at alternative sites for a proposed Mary River dam they would have to fund the investigations.

 The study examined the social, environmental and economic impact of the proposed dam.

 In May, 2008, the Fraser Coast Regional Council endorsed the actions of the previous Councils and challenged the Environmental Impact Statement prepared for the project.

 The Council directed the following concerns to the Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and the Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure Paul Lucas, the Project managers and the Federal Minister Peter Garrett and Federal Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Penny Wong.

 The concerns included:

 1. Water supply security for the Fraser Coast Region is not adequately considered;

2. Justification for the dam is made on the basis of flawed and / or inadequate economic analysis;

3. The effects of downstream changes on social and economic factors have not been adequately considered;

4. Hydrological analysis probably underestimates the downstream flow impacts to a considerable degree;

5. Hydrological modelling is not linked with aquatic ecology and water quality; there is no predictive analysis of water quality or biota in the impoundment or downstream and the discussion on impacts is necessarily speculative;

6. In some cases, the evidence from research, case studies and even studies within the EIS are contrary to the conclusions in the executive summary;

7. The Mary River Water Resource Plan (WRP) is not considered to have sufficient scientific basis to provide reliable flow targets; most of the targets are expert panel derived, and there is an acknowledged lack of scientific understanding of the flow requirements of several of the iconic species;

8. Inconsistent and sometimes misleading treatment of Stage 2 and other related projects that will have cumulative impact on the Mary River (Northern Pipeline and Borumba Dam raising); these are included in the water supply benefits, but not in the costs or impacts;

9. No allowance for climate change in the modelling, which is likely to further reduce the frequency and volume of flushing flows;

10. Inconsistency about mitigation measures – many of the measures recommended in the chapters are not included in the executive summary and even fewer are included in the cost assessment; and

11. In consideration of points 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and 9 particularly, the downstream impacts on the Mary estuary and the Great Sandy Straits are inadequately predicted and the optimistic assessment has no evidentiary basis.

 When the Council re-iterates its opposition to the dam it will send another copy of its concerns to the state and federal governments and ask for the points it raised be answered and considered during any investigation into the proposed dam.

 “The Council also will write to the Premier to ask that the Co-ordinator General’s report be released to the public,” Cr Kruger said.


 I attended the Greater Mary Association meeting last night and was pleased to see so many dedicated people volunteering their time to keep fighting against this dam. We all need to write to Minister Peter Garrett and to the National papers. I fear that unless we gain public support nationally we will lose our battle.

Backyard koala

August 19th, 2009

I was very pleased to receive a call yesterday from some caring and excited residents, Elaine and Gary, about their backyard visitor. A koala had decided to visit a large gum tree in their backyard. Now this backyard is not ‘out in the bush’. It is right here in Hervey Bay in Doolong South Road near the Fraser Coast Anglican College.

With regular reports about the reduction in Koala numbers throughout Australia I really do hope that this koala and all the others still found in our region survives the pressures that development brings. While we often here the saying ‘you can’t stop progress’ hopefully we can steer progress to better protect existing habitat and create new habitat where needed. The destruction of our existing local fauna and flora is not my idea of responsible ‘progress’.

So if you are travelling down Doolong South Road please don’t speed and keep a look out for our furry friends. Thanks Elaine and Gary for sharing your photos with us.

Koala in town

Koala in town

Koala with a view

Koala with a view

Population – more or less?

April 8th, 2009

I received a well written email recently and think it worth posting. Makes a change from me rattling on….

Dear Cr Sue Brooks,
Do you think that the residents of Hervey Bay are looking forward to the doubling of their town’s population in 17 years’ time. The panic that ensued when Hamish threatened the town recently when it was realised that 10,000 people might have to be suddenly transported away from the danger of tidal surge, illustrates the limitations already imposed by the dual effects of ‘Mother Nature’ combined with the gross planning errors of the recent past. Imagine the chaos which would have ensued with just a couple of collisions on the Maryborough Road with 250 coach journeys each with 40 people and their baggage.

The pundits are telling us that sea levels are to rise by a metre by 2100 (A report in The Australian earlier this month). Even with current sea levels, maps published on the web show storm surge of a mere metre would inundate the whole of Eli Waters. (Some storm surges reach 5 metres.) Yet residential subdivisions and house construction continue to be approved in places which are just as vulnerable. Not only that amazes me but what puzzles me is where do such flood-prone residents now obtain flood insurance. Do they, like Victoria’s bush-fire victims, expect to be bailed out by charity?

Of course, most residents will not be aware of the DoHA population plans and projections, still less will they have signed the petition against the Draft South East Queensland Regional Plan and its aim to bring SE Queensland’s population to equal the sprawl of Sydney. Have you?  While the State and Federal Governments bang on about man-made climate change, they intend to create yet more heat sinks with more roofs and more black-top roads. Madness? No, apparently just the ‘normal’ planning procedures!

The demographers say we have to have continuous population increases to provide an enlarged tax base to support retirees. The logic escapes me. We all become retirees eventually; so what is so special today? Longer life span? In that case raise retirement age to 70. I worked and paid income tax till I was 70 and I’m nothing special. If I could get a part-time job even now at nearly 76, I’d take it. A start could be made to raise retirement age to 70 with public servants at all 3 levels of Government. Why not?

But with free trade and our wage costs legislated to be far above those of the rest of this part of the world, what jobs are going to replace those lost in the almost daily exit of industries to China, Indonesia, Thailand etc. Professor Ian Lowe talks about thousands of jobs to be created here by the new ‘Green Industries’. In his stunted economic philosophy, such jobs will not, apparently like others before them, be exported or need huge tax subsidies to be retained here. The only industry left free from Chinese competition is construction leaving Australia with the ridiculous scenario of having to build ever more houses and sub-divisions for ever increasing immigrants. This is Alice in Wonderland stuff!

I hope you are digging in your heels and refusing to go along with this madness, at least on the Fraser Coast.

Regards, Geoff

Water, water everywhere but….

February 18th, 2009

Andrew McNamara – Water Plan.

On reading the plan I must acknowledge firstly that it is good to see our Local Member, Andrew McNamara, raising the issue of our long term water supply. I would however hope that he pays equal attention to the need to discuss population size.

The plan focuses on removing the Barrage on the Mary River, piping water between existing and new storages and creating new off stream storages. The costings are in the order of $300million.

My initial reaction is that removing the barrage is an excellent win for the river but does not compensate for the building of the proposed Traveston Dam. Any wall built to block a river will have negative impacts on that river as does pumping water out of a fresh water supply or from ground water.

Building offstream storages is a good idea and better than building a dam or barrage but the size of the storages required is very large and I am interested in where exactly they would go. They have to be lined and they too will be subject to great evaporation losses. Would more but smaller sized storages be preferred?

Not taking water from Fraser Island is an excellent aspect of the plan but desalination is not an option for our Great Sandy Strait as our waters are already hyper saline. In other words we have a rising salt level in our ocean which is not a good thing.

There are neither references nor acknowledgements so the plan is at this stage a set of personal ideas and it is worthy of discussion. I commend Andrew for having a keen interest in our ongoing needs and sincerely hope that our community take the time to read the plan and provide comment. It is a discussion that we ‘have to have’. Recycling and piping water instead of open channels are excellent and ‘must have’ ideas.

But no matter how much storage is supplied and how many pumps we have pumping from rivers and from ground water, what do we do if it simply does not rain? If we are still planning to take as much or more water from the environment than we do now, we are still demanding a lot from a resource that may not have much more to give us. I cannot see the wisdom in piping water over very long distances. One kilolitre of water = 1 ton I am told. Lenthalls Dam cannot supply enough water to meet future population projections for Hervey Bay so I don’t agree with taking water from there and piping it far away.

Population growth is the key. We simply cannot keep growing our population especially in places with a limited water supply. The earth will sooner rather than later run out of resources for us all. Better to build good sized communities that can rely on a sustainable economy that provides job security for everyone forever and that has an adequate water supply close by to sustain it..  This would include everyone collecting water in water tanks also.

Creating sustainable cities (maybe with a pop of between 75-100 thousand) that assist and reward farmers to grow our food, supports innovative and creative business and cultural pursuits and  retail and commercial sectors that can service the needs of its peoples, is my vision for the future. Construction and infrastructure services will be focussed on replacing and renovating existing infrastructure and adapting our buildings where needed. Employment won’t be subject to unending cycles of boom and bust. Innovation will be rewarded and tourists will want to visit because we will have vibrant cities and towns full of  happy people who care for and value our beautiful natural environment. The tourism dollar is largely earned by utilising our natural resources ie Whale Watching etc.

Andrew is looking to the future but is he looking far enough into the future? We need to plan for 50 years for 100 years for 500 years. We do know, now more than any time in our past, what impact we are having on our planet and short term planning has to stop now. The thinking that says ‘let tomorrow look after itself’ is destructive and erroneous. We are amazingly lucky to be living in the manner in which we do, but I care about how my children’s children will think of me in the years to come. I don’t want to be part of an era that spoiled a planet so that my descendants can’t enjoy its riches like I can.

Snorkellers celebrate – coral in the spotlight.

February 4th, 2009

Wonderful news recently received and warmly welcomed by all of us concerned about the health of our local corals, is the granting of nearly nine thousand dollars to conduct coral bleaching monitoring in Hervey Bay. Our media release follows but a big personal thank you to everyone who helped put together the grant application. Let me know if you are interested in helping as there is always room for some more snorkellers.

SNORKELLERS CELEBRATE FUNDING SUCCESS – $8900 to study our local coral

The snorkellers of Hervey Bay are celebrating receiving a grant of $8900  from the federal Community Coastcare Program for a project of coral bleach monitoring. Not many cities can boast coral reefs only 100 metres from the shore – but at Hervey Bay there is 15km of coral reefs conveniently within walking or snorkelling distance from the shore. 

The Great Barrier Reef receives such overwhelming attention that the 600 hectares of coral reef in Hervey Bay is not well known.  Ardent snorkellers Sandy and Lloyd McKay are totally wrapt in the coral reefs of Hervey Bay.  Lloyd says “Our coral is just an underwater garden of paradise. Every time we snorkel there is something different to see”

While Hervey Bay doesn’t have the legions of brightly coloured fish seen on the Great Barrier Reef, you can see dozens of colourful hard corals including subtropical or rare species not normally seen on the GBR. Cr Sue Brooks was amazed the first time she donned her snorkel and flippers. “I have snorkelled in many, many places from the Cook Islands to North Queensland but simply didn’t realise what wonders lie beneath the waves within a short walk and paddle off our city beaches. Our coral must be preserved and I hope that we can make our coral a prominent tourist attraction”.

Carol Bussey from Wildlife says “The stress of city life can prove too much for a coral community already suffering from the increasingly hot waters produced by climate change. The result is bleaching, which has already happened in 1996”.

Fraser Coast Wildlife Preservation Society’s Coral Care project has been funded by the Australian Government to monitor coral bleaching and recovery along our coast. The project will also look at factors to increase the reef’s resilience to stress such as improving water quality. 

A free training workshop will be held at Bundaberg by GBRMPA in February to train snorkellers in Bleachwatch monitoring followed by practical training in monitoring coral and taking GPS readings at Torquay Beach on Feb 21. If you are interested in attending the training or joining our volunteer coral monitoring group please contact Carol Bussey 4129 5979 or email To be successful we need as many volunteers as possible.

local coral

local coral


Mary River celebrations tonight and tomorrow.

December 7th, 2008

Steve Posselt speaking tour and Love, Mary book Launch

Hear the story of Steve’s three journeys along our Rivers. Includes wine and cheese (at Fraser Coast events), musical entertainment by Jon Vea Vea, comedy, campaign update and a free Love, Mary book to all adults. Entry $10 adults (includes copy of the book) , free for children.  Let’s show support for Steve by having a big turn out at these events.

Monday, 8 December – 6:30pm, Urangan Community Centre, Elizabeth St, 
Tuesday, 9 December – 6:30pm, Maryborough Town Hall
Wednesday, 10 December – 6:30pm Kandanga Hall

Sugar Gliders as pets in the UK!

September 14th, 2008

A concerned resident has sent me this information that I quote. I can’t believe that our native animals are being bred and sold as pets in the UK.

“I have just followed the latest news link to something that was on the front page of the Ninemsn home page this morning, and I am sickened by what I have just read re the sugar gliders”.
I didn’t think this would be allowed. It concerns me that these delicate animals are being kept as pets. I have them living in my backyard naturally and hope that we can preserve plenty of habitat so that gliders and other native animals can stay happily wild.

The climate torch anti Traveston Rally at Dayman Park

September 7th, 2008

The afternoon was very successful. We met the Get Up torch and I was lucky enough to carry it a little way. We made a huge sign on the beach to voice our opinion about the dam. I still think that Lindsays run was the best thing to happen though. What a brave effort from a man doing his utmost to protest against a stupid decision to dam the Mary river! Well done Lindsay.

John listening intently
John listening intentlyDayman Park hosts anti dam rally

Natural Capitalism

August 24th, 2008

Maybe we should all take the time to read this book? It is called Natural Capitalism.

 I have been saying for quite some time now that we need to build a sustainable economy. Why? Because everything we do seems to revolve around the making of money and this has come at great cost to our natural environment. We need to stop and rest and take a long slow breath and realise that without our environment to sustain us the money we may make or earn is worthless. A strong economy based on zero waste and a sustainable clientele is my dream. This book seems to be going where I think we need to go. I haven’t read it yet but the reviews sound promising. What follows is a review from the web site.

 For decades, environmentalists have been warning that human economic activity is exceeding the planet’s limits. Of course we keep pushing those limits back with clever new technologies; yet living systems are undeniably in decline.

These trends need not be in conflict-in fact, there are fortunes to be made in reconciling them.

Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins, is the first book to explore the lucrative opportunities for businesses in an era of approaching environmental limits.

In this groundbreaking blueprint for a new economy, three leading business visionaries explain how the world is on the verge of a new industrial revolution-one that promises to transform our fundamental notions about commerce and its role in shaping our future. Natural Capitalism describes a future in which business and environmental interests increasingly overlap, and in which businesses can better satisfy their customers’ needs, increase profits, and help solve environmental problems all at the same time.

Natural capital refers to the natural resources and ecosystem services that make possible all economic activity, indeed all life. These services are of immense economic value; some are literally priceless, since they have no known substitutes. Yet current business practices typically fail to take into account the value of these assets-which is rising with their scarcity. As a result, natural capital is being degraded and liquidated by the wasteful use of such resources as energy, materials, water, fiber, and topsoil.

The first of natural capitalism’s four interlinked principles, therefore, is radically increased resource productivity. Implementing just this first principle can significantly improve a firm’s bottom line, and can also help finance the other three. They are: redesigning industry on biological models with closed loops and zero waste; shifting from the sale of goods (for example, light bulbs) to the provision of services (illumination); and reinvesting in the natural capital that is the basis of future prosperity.

Citing hundreds of compelling stories from a wide array of sectors, Natural Capitalism shows how these four changes will enable businesses to act as if natural capital were being properly valued, without waiting for consensus on what that value should be. Even today, when natural capital is hardly accounted for on corporate balance sheets, these four principles are so profitable that firms adopting them can gain striking competitive advantage-as early adopters are already doing. These innovators are also discovering that by downsizing their unproductive tons, gallons, and kilowatt-hours they can keep more people, who will foster the innovation that drives future improvement.

Natural Capitalism‘s preface states: “Although [this] is a book abounding in solutions, it is not about ‘fixes.’ Nor is it a how-to manual. It is a portrayal of opportunities that if captured will lead to no less than a transformation of commerce and of all societal institutions. Natural capitalism maps the general direction of a journey that requires overturning long-held assumptions, even questioning what we value and how we are to live.

The next Industrial Revolution has already started. Natural Capitalism will prepare you to be a part of it.

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