Why we need to act fast on CO2 emissions.

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This is a chart showing the level of CO2 in the atmosphere over the last 800,000 years which spans all the time since humans have evolved. It is actually a short video which you can watch hereThe rate of rise in CO2 is showing no sign of slowing. Permafrost is melting which will add more and more methane, a potent greenhouse gas, to the atmosphere. Arctic ice cover is shrinking year on year. Greenland and Antarctic ice is steadily melting. Ocean acidity is rising. Weather patterns are changing and severe storms, bushfires and floods are more frequent. Corals are dying, sea grasses  are dying, habitat ranges are changing and biologists are stating we are in the midst of a huge extinction event.

It is not a pretty picture. How best to respond?

Baw Baw Emissions-Zero project

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What would it be like to live in a home that has no energy bills and is more comfortable? What if all your neighbours did the same? And imagine if all business and industry were accessing affordable, reliable renewable energy from their own roof or from a larger local generation facility? What kind of community scale renewable energy is best suited to our area? A core group of locals are pondering these and more questions and we’d love to hear from more people who are keen to get involved.

Baw Baw Sustainability Network based in Yarragon, Beyond Zero Emissions and Baw Baw Shire Council are collaborating on a project aimed at our region of Baw Baw reaching zero carbon emissions from our use of electricity and gas over the next 10 years. This will bring great benefits to the area with many jobs doing useful, beneficial work, reduced power bills, more comfortable buildings as well as showcasing Baw Baw as a leading community, taking action to address pollution.

Our initial steps will be to gather baseline data on the use of gas and electricity in the shire, engage the community in the process and draft an implementation plan for the on the ground works to happen over the coming decade. There’s a lot of work ahead of us and there’s no doubt plenty of hurdles to jump and pot holes to avoid. If you’d like to get involved please make contact with us:

Email bbsn@dcsi.net.au

 

A future for Baw Baw

screen-shot-2017-02-23-at-12-18-02-pmBaw Baw Shire Council are going through the process of developing another 4 year plan. There was some community engagement with a half day workshop with an opportunity to contribute afterwards. Here is the story BBSN contributed- I hope some of it comes to fruition. What do you think?

Alternative Baw Baw Future #2

The rapid transformation of technology, energy, transport and manufacturing that occurred since the end of the council plan in 2016 took many in in our community by surprise. As has the climate that has begun to change the look and feel of the countryside in Baw Baw with even further reductions in rainfall and more hot days than only 8 years ago. Frequent storms, bushfires and heavy rain events have necessitated more spending on damage to roads and other infrastructure at the same time as the rising cost of insurance coupled with decreased household incomes due to reduced employment have led more families to choose not to insure their homes.

In 2025, the need for strong community supports and volunteerism to help those in need has never been higher. Although we have not yet reached crisis time, the signs of stress after each natural disaster are showing. More and more people are aware that our community would be more resilient if there was a fairer way to distribute the wealth that has been created by more efficient manufacturing with robotics working 24hrs a day, self-driving cars, garbage trucks, street cleaners, taxis as well as robotic dairies and tractors managing our farms. Even retail and postal jobs have been further decimated with more online ordering and drone delivery of items. Inequality that began soaring about 50 years ago with the rise of neoliberalism has left many people disaffected, resentful and ready for change. 13

There are, however, some reasons for celebration in these tough times. One has been the widespread transformation of our energy system. Five years ago we finally stopped building poor quality homes and offices that required massive energy input to keep us comfortable. Since 2020 every new home must comply with the Passive House standard and because of the volume and improved designs since then, the cost of building a home has not increased at all. There is no need for any heating or cooling system and our all electric, highly energy efficient appliances coupled with almost universal uptake of solar PV on buildings means that all new buildings actually produce more energy than they use. From 2017 we began systematically retrofitting existing houses to bring them to as close to this new standard as practical. Boy did that take some doing- there are hundreds of people doing that work in Baw Baw alone and some of our local businesses have developed such a good reputation for their expertise, they are training Americans who were sadly left behind a few years ago.

Our larger, industrial users of energy are covered by a mixture of local production with solar, wind as well as from a large local biomass plant that produces heat and electricity which is fed with some of the waste streams that have not been diverted to recycling and also from the massive tree planting program we started 8 years ago. We also import some from the huge solar thermal plants now operating north of the divide who are also sending their power back to the Latrobe Valley via the same transmission lines that used to export the coal sourced power years ago. When Latrobe City realised they could become the natural home of heavy power using industry as Australia transforms into a 14

renewable energy superpower, they successfully attracted data hubs, more manufacturing businesses, education and research facilities and in contrast to expectations, they’re booming! Just like the previous era of coal power stations, many Baw Baw residents now also work in Latrobe.

In order to deal with the rising summer temperatures making living in Baw Baw unpleasant at times, our council planted a lot of leafy street trees which cool our towns by evaporation and providing excellent shade. What is left of our carparks, which are progressively being turned into public spaces since the trend to driverless cars and falling car ownership picked up, have been covered in community owned solar panels, providing more shade as well as power for the community owned electric bus network which has made access to services possible for all shire residents.

Possibly the best thing that happened in 2019 was the decision to stop any more of our agricultural land being developed. We made the decision to cope with increasing population by embracing apartment living in 3-4 storey blocks that now give Warragul, Drouin, Trafalgar and even Yarragon a more vibrant feel with more people using the public spaces, more nightlife and very popular community gardens at the same time as cementing our position as a reliable supplier of organic food locally, nationally and in overseas markets.