Past Meetings

2011 Meetings

January : Included the screening of a documentary about the pollution of our oceans with plastic detritus, our general addiction to plastic and some ways in which we can adopt more sustainable measures. This was followed by a round table discussion chaired by Dr Phil Machanick.

February: "A scheme to get rid of the private motor car with a cheaper, more convenient and sustainable urban transport system in cities such as Brisbane" Dr Rock Boothroyd is a graduate of the Engineering Schools of Cambridge and Birmingham Universities in the U.K. He is the author of "Flowing Gas-Solids Suspensions", Chapman and Hall, 1971 and more than 50 scientific and engineering papers in various areas. A former nuclear engineer, he was a research scientist at CSIRO's Division of Environmental Mechanics and Foundation Head of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Central Queensland. He is now in 'active retirement' and mainly concerned with environmental issues. Our February talk is based on one of 3 research papers he presented at the 12th World Conference on Transport Research in Lisbon in July last year.

March: COP16 at Cancun, December 2010: are we making progress? Dr. Earl Saxon is an active participant in the climate change negotiations and an expert on climate adaptation strategies for ecosystems. He was deeply involved in protecting Australian rainforests, first as North Queensland Botanist and then as Heritage Conservation Manager with the Wet Tropics Management Authority. Earl has worked overseas on climate change and biodiversity conservation China, Burma, Indonesia, Micronesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Bolivia, and the USA. His Phd dissertation in 1975 from Cambridge University was on the impacts of post-glacial sea level rise on coastal Mediterranean economies. Dr Peter Dart of the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, University of Queensland, was chairman of this meeting.

April: CASSE - Steady State Economy. Richard Sanders, ecolological economist and founder of Quest 2025 is the newly appointed Queensland Director for the Centre for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE) He will be speaking to us at our 6 April meeting on the importance of transitioning to a Steady State Economy, how such an economy may function and how we may achieve such a transition. This meeting was chaired by Dr Ralph Cobcroft, physician.

May: Thorium Nuclear Power - what it can and cannot offer. Philip Bangerter is a practicing process engineer in the mining industry. He has held senior global positions with Hatch Associatesand is currently Global Director - Sustainability. In this role he is committed to the application of Sustainability principles to mining projects, especially in the design aspects. Philip has recently conducted a business review for Hatch and made a non-specialist's study of the Thorium cycle looking at it from a societal view-point and judging against uranium, coal and renewable energy options. There are many claims offered by Thorium advocates which make interesting discussion points for interested lay-persons and green energy proponents alike: zero proliferation risk, low engineering risk, low environmental damage, and low-carbon benefits with base-load capability. Philip has offered to present the Thorium cycle, outline its claims to sustainability credentials and offer a critique as a starting point for discussion. Dr Rock Boothroyd will chair this Meeting. Rock was a lecturer in Nuclear Engineering from 1961-1971 at the University of
Birmingham, U.K and taught Nuclear Engineering and Reactor Physics up to Master's degree level. He was part of a research group developing an advanced reactor using graphite dust suspended in pressurised CO2 coolant. The system had excellent performance characteristics but ultimately the project had to be abandoned because minimum safety requirements could not be attained. Rock will also comment on the Fukushima DaiIchi situation.

Slide presentation of this meeting

June: Climate change: the psychology of denial and business as usual. Ian Plowman* is an organisational psychologist, facilitator and social researcher who works with groups, associations, industries, communities and government agencies. He holds a Doctorate in Management (researching innovation), an Advanced Masters in Business Administration, a Masters in Organizational Psychology and an Honours Degree in Clinical Psychology. Ian helps clients to develop skills and awareness to remove blockages and raise their levels of creativity and innovation. The essence of his session is that the evolved characteristics of human beings, characteristics that have led to us being highly 'successful' in becoming a dominant species are the very characteristics that may lead to our demise. These characteristics are largely unconscious and reside within us all. It is only by making the unconscious conscious that we can begin to act in alternate ways.

This session will be chaired by Bob Dick, who is also a psychologist specialising in facilitation, community development, conflict management, research methodology, especially action research. He has held positions at both UQ and Griffith, and currently has an adjunct professorship at Southern Cross University

July: Challenges and opportunities of renewable energy integration to the Australian National electricity grid. Professor Tapan Saha, School of Information technology& Electrical Engineering, The University of Queensland. Australia currently produces almost 90% of its electricity from fossil fuel and have committed for 20% renewable energy target by 2020. Wind, Solar and other intermittent energy sources can play a significant role for future energy mix. On the other hand geothermal energy, being the base load source of electricity can alleviate major challenges of volatilities of wind and solar based energy production. However, long distance transmission connection is required for geothermal resources to be available to the Australian national electricity grid. This seminar will present some of these key challenges and research conducted at the University of Queensland.

Biography:Tapan was born in Bangladesh and immigrated to Australia in 1989. Tapan received his PhD from the University of Queensland in 1994. He has been with the University of Queensland since 1996 and is currently Professor of Electrical Engineering and leader of the power and energy systems research group. He is a Fellow and Chartered Professional Engineer of Engineers Australia and Senior Member of IEEE. He is currently the Chair of IEEE Power & Energy Society of Queensland Chapter and Vice Chair of Queensland Electrical Branch of Engineers Australia. He has successfully supervised 13 PhD students and currently supervising 10 PhD students. He has published more than 200 papers in internal journals and conferences. He received many competitive research grants from the Australian Research Council and electricity industry. Tapan was awarded prestigious Australian Learning and Teaching Council Citation in 2009 "For enhancing undergraduate and postgraduate power engineering education through leadership in industry engagement, in work-integrated learning and the collaborative development of innovative postgraduate programs".

August: Home for 9 Billion - ecological versus socioeconomic perspectives on how we may live. Sheryl Backhouse has recently travelled to China and will give us her impressions on the state of food production and food safety there. She will introduce our speakers:

Bringing Ecological Goods and Services to a Home Near You. Our understanding of ecological services affects the way in which we plan the spaces in which we live, even our own backyards. Peggy McIntyre, a retired biologist and educator who is passionate about gardening, hopes to encourage a philosophical as well as scientific discussion of how we (individuals as well as government) need to provide the ecological services which all organisms need for survival and which humans in particular need to be happy.

An agricultural scientist's view of permaculture and organic agriculture. Dr. Jane O'Sullivan of the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, University of Queensland is a strong contributor to our group well known to regular attendees.

Slide presentation.

September: Human fertiliser Dr Ralph Cobcroft will speak on the use of human fertiliser, exploring its value, safety and ecological benefits. His main career was as Director of Haematology at the Princess Alexandra Hospital for 25 years. Following retirement, he was actively involved with the conservation movement having been a council member of the Australian Conservation Foundation. For the past three years he has been a tutor with the School of Medicine, University of Queensland. A major interest has been in ecologically sustainable food production and diets that are good for maintaining health as well as being gentle on the environment. His web site, contains an extensive review of this subject with analysis from an expert medical point of view. He has investigated many aspects of urban sustainability and has, among other initiatives such as solar power and storm water harvesting, been using human urine to promote production in his garden.

Slide presentation

Population Crisis: Dr Peter Tod will give a short review of Dick Smith's recent book Population Crisis, which reviews why the growth of the Australian population needs to be contained. Peter has had a long interest in the need for limiting the growth of human population and has headed a group of doctors in Australia to promote this issue. See the web site

October: An Inconvenient Truth: an update. Sue Cooke is an Al Gore trained climate change educator. She is a Policy Adviser at Queensland Health who believes public health professionals will be at the front line in dealing with climate related health impacts. She wants to help build the groundswell of change needed to switch humanity off its current path and onto one leading towards healthy, just and sustainable futures. See her biographic details here.

This is a link to Climate Reality Project web site which outlines much of what Sue presented.

Why cc projections are not predictions and why cv predictions are. Dr Helen Fairweather will cover the following topics, time permitting:
Reconstructing the climate of the 20th Century and forecasting the future.
How end-users analyse projections and turn them into something that makes sense to the general public
Why rainfall projections are impossible to use for understanding flood risk - the use of temperature projections for this.
Climate variability predictions and their feedback
The UK Met Office plan's for AR5 projections.

Helen qualified as an engineer in Queensland and earned her Phd from the Departments of Environmental Engineering and Ecosystem Management, University of New England, NSW
Her awards and experience include:
UK Met Office, Hadley Centre Visiting Scientist Fellowship, Sep – Dec 2009
Canadian National Science and Engineering Research Council Post-doctoral Fellowship (1999 – 2001)
University of Southern Queensland Faculty of Engineering and Surveying Prize (1995)
University of Southern Queensland Alan Rixon Memorial Prize (1995)
Australian Society of Soil Science Graduate Award (1994)
Former Manager and Chief Scientist, Queensland Climate Change Centre of Excellence, Department of Environment and Resource Management. September 2008 – October 2010
Currently Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer, Coastal Engineering at the University of Sunshine Coast in the Faculty of Science, Health and Education;
Feb 2011 to present. Director of Fairweather Climate; an environmental engineering consultancy to facilitate the delivery of environmental and climate science for decision making and problem solving, particularly for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

November: Climate Change adaptation options for South East Queensland (one of Australia's most climate change vulnerable regions). Major General Darryl Low Choy commenced his military career as an Army cadet with the Innisfail State High School Cadet Unit. He enlisted in the Army Reserve as a Private in 1964 and rose to the rank of Major General before retiring in 2007 after 43 years of service. He is a qualified military engineer and he commanded the Queensland 7th Brigade from 1993 to 1996. From 1997 to 2004 he held the three most senior Reserve appointments in the Army and the Australian Defence Force including:
Assistant Chief of the Army – (responsible for Army Reserves Policy)
Assistant Chief of the Defence Force & Head of Reserve Policy
(inaugural) Director General, Australian Defence Force Cadets

In his civilian life Dr Darryl Low Choy is a Professor in the Environmental and Landscape Planning at Griffith University. His current research is focused on values led planning and indigenous landscape values; resilience and peri-urbanisation of the landscape; climate change adaptation for human settlements, planning for natural resource management, and the relationship between science and planning. He chairs the Queensland State Government’s Regional Landscape and Open Space Advisory Committee associated with the State Government’s SEQ regional planning initiative. He is a former Director and Chairman of the City Of Brisbane Arts and Environment Limited. He advises the NSW Natural Resources Commission. He is the National President for Toc H Australia. He uses his limited spare time to pursue his interests in cycling, bushwalking, camping, gardening and genealogy.

December: What future for our reefs? Dave Logan is Environmental Officer for Community Engagement and Projects at the Community and Environmental Services, Moreton Bay Regional Council. In addition to outlining various maritime issues including reef preservation, he will also describe a proposal for renewable energy from wave power(he has co-authored a book on these matters).

Coastal hazards we face this new century: Paul Guard will outline the general physics of storm surges, wave run-up and (of particular interest to our audience) South East Queensland's vulnerability, citing some case studies e.g. Cyclone Larry, Yasi.
Paul is a Coastal Engineer with BMT WBM environmental consultants in Brisbane.
His main area of expertise is in computer modelling of coastal processes such as waves, tidal currents and storm surges. He holds a Bachelor of Civil Engineering and a PhD in sediment transport modelling, both from the University of Queensland. His recent work includes contributions to environmental impact statements for port expansion projects in Gladstone and Townsville, and his research interests include tsunami modelling and wave run-up on beaches.

Slide presentation

2010 Meetings

January: Microcredit, the alleviation of poverty and the provision of clean, renewable energy. Discussion chaired by Dr Geoffrey Chia.
The miserable failure of the recent Copenhagen climate change conference (chockfull of pious declarations but which achieved no binding agreements) reinforces the view that we cannot depend on Big Government (as the proxy of Big Business) to address the problems we face. The basic underlying problem is the delusion of endless economic growth driven by endless fossil fuels, which ignores (and externalises) adverse environmental consequences and ignores looming energy constraints. A house of cards on the verge of collapse.
This delusion is perpetrated by ideologically driven, morally bankrupt economists and bean counters who have no understanding of facts or evidence and who dispute well proven science. They capitalise on the ignorance and complacency of the general public and the venality and opportunism of politicians.
And yet, here and there we see rays of hope in unexpected corners of the world. There are some economists who “get it” and who are important leaders in our quest for a sustainable future. If greatness is determined by how many poor people one has helped and given hope for the future, then the economist Muhammad Yunus must surely rate as one of the greatest human beings of all time. This soft spoken founder of the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh has literally lifted millions of people out of poverty with his microcredit initiatives. More recently he has employed engineers to deliver modest renewable energy projects to poor villagers which have dramatically transformed their lives for the better.
We will be show a videoclip of his energy initiatives at our January meeting with perhaps another videoclip about the origins of microcredit, time permitting.

February: Engineers without borders. Mark McNee is an engineer and a past president of the local branch of "EWB" - engineers without borders, who are involved around the world in various projects such as delivering clean water, proper waste and sewage disposal and renewable energy to the rural poor.

March: Enhanced Geothermal Systems: the answer to Australia's requirement for large scale base load clean power. Dr Doone Wyborn, Chief scientific officer, Geodynamics Limited is a research specialist in the geological fields of igneous and metamorphic petrology and ore genesis, particularly in relation to economic aspects of granite magmatism. He has worked on the potential of Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) geothermal energy since 1992 and is recognised as the leading Australian authority on this subject. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the International Energy Agency Geothermal Implementing Agreement and has studied EGS projects in Japan, Europe and the USA.

He was founding Director and Executive Director of Geodynamics Limited and is currently its Chief Scientific officer. Geodynamics is a company listed on the Australian stock exchange specifically focused on large scale EGS production. Its main project is in granite beneath the Cooper Basin near Innamincka in northern South Australia.

Summary of talk: EGS has been researched for several decades but it looks like Australia has the optimal conditions to perfect the technology and open up the potential to economically generate base-load electricity on a large scale. The conditions that make this so will be described and the world scene for EGS will also be discussed. There is considerable new money now forthcoming from the US DOE for EGS and the US Secretary for Energy (and physics Nobel Laurate) Steven Chu is an advocate.

Slide presentation of the meeting

April: Interactive session to exchange ideas between the various community sustainability groups
This meeting was chaired by Mr. Chris Palmer, Director of Envirotech Treatment Systems. Chris’ background is that of a civil engineer with post-graduate qualifications in Environmental Engineering.

Suggested topics for discussion:
• General principles of sustainability – common values shared by us all.
• First interactive round – a representative from each community group will take turns to inform us how their group was established, their previous activities, current projects and future goals.
• Second interactive round – each representative, having heard from the other groups, can make specific or general suggestions which may be useful to others.
• Uniting the groups in common purpose – suggestions for regular meetings (eg. once every 3 months) for representatives of all the
Brisbane groups under a single banner eg. the newly established CCNQ or Rolf Kuelsen's Transition Decade. Especially important if city or state wide initiatives are to be considered.

See the PFD presentation of the aims of the sustainability movement.

May: "If I had my 'druthers'." One man's vision of a sustainable built environment. Professor David Hood is a chartered professional engineer, registered on NPER to practice in civil and environmental engineering. He has extensive experience in business, engineering, education, project management and senior executive positions in both the public and private sectors. David is chairman of his own consulting engineering practice specialising in the areas of sustainability in the built environment, "green projects", energy efficiency policy, engineering education and global engineering infrastructure. As a board member and chairman of Australia's College of Environmental Engineers (2008/2009), David has been driving change to inculcate a sustainability culture across education in engineering and the built environment disciplines.

David is the inaugural Chairman of the Australian Green Infrastructure Council (AIGC). David sits on a number of industry, community and university advisory boards where his extensive engineering background and considerable involvement at a senior level in the built environment sector is influencing change in the "energy culture" of Australia. David is an accredited presenter on Al Gore's Climate Project and an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Built Environment and Engineeringat QUT.

June: Peak Oil. Wally Wight from the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO) speaks about the issue of peak oil.

Slide presentation of the meeting.

July: Have your say about electric car policy in Queensland

Now we are past the peak of global conventional oil production, what options do we have? Right wingnut slogans of “drill baby drill” ring hollow and absurd in the face of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster. We must wean ourselves off petroleum. Electric cars may be one prospect among the “silver buckshot” collection of solutions, with some reservations:

1. Changing conventional cars to electric cars will not alleviate road congestion. Building more roads and tunnels has been likened to a fat man loosening his belt. Only by increasing pedestrian, bicycle and public transportation will we solve road congestion.

2. Powering electric cars from a coal fired grid will still produce carbon emissions (albeit less than emissions from petroleum). Only by transforming our electricity sources to 100% renewable energy can we render electric cars truly green.

3. The only way to achieve a truly sustainable car industry will be to ensure that all car components are 100% recyclable.

Having said that, electric cars do represent an important stepping stone in the transition to a sustainable future. Our July meeting is not to be missed, with three outstanding speakers on a most timely issue.

Don Saxby
is an engineer and the chairman of the Brisbane branch of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association. He has just completed conversion of a conventional car to an electric system powered by Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries. He will explain how technology has now come of age to render the electric vehicle a viable, even superior, option for city and suburban commuting. Slide presentation

Ken Hickson
is a multidisciplinary sage and author of the book “The ABC of Carbon”. He will outline various electric car policie and initiatives from around the world, providing us with a global overview. Slide presentation

Alina Dini
is a policy coordinator at the Queensland Government Office of Climate Change, with specific expertise in electric car issues. She will explain the recently published “electric vehicle roadmap for Queensland” which invites public submissions by 19/7/10.
Slide presentation

August: Interactive session with Larissa Waters (Greens candidate for the Senate) and Dr. Sandra Bayley (Greens candidate for Ryan). The country is now in election mode. It is an opportune time to interact with a couple of candidates, to learn of their values and policies and to advance your own policy suggestions. If you feel you share common goals with them, it is also time to offer your support for their campaigns.

Larissa Waters is an environmental lawyer who has worked in the community sector for eight years advising people how to use the law to protect Queensland’s environment. She is the Greens candidate for the Senate. Here is a link to her webpage:

Dr. Sandra Bayley is well known to our group as a strong environmental advocate. She is a Northside general practitioner and is the Greens candidate for Ryan. Here is a link to her webpage:

The scope of this session can be as wide as the audience wishes. Topics of interest may include climate change, population issues, refugee policy, economic matters and traffic congestion (and transport policy) to name a few. Here is a link to Professor John Quiggin's opinion piece:

September: A systems perspective to addressing ecological problems. Two major environmental issues that threaten the survival of humanity today are ecosystem collapse and climate change. Both of these are a result of our unsustainable use of the environment. Indications of ecosystem collapse are loss of ecosystem services such as decreasing soil fertility, loss of pollination services, scarcity of freshwater etc. The evidence of runaway climate change is already manifest in the increasing intensity and frequency of extreme weather events globally, such as droughts, cyclones and storms. The challenge for both of these phenomena is to stop the system from spiraling into runaway change. Action in one part of the system will cause changes in another part of it. Ecosystems like other biological systems are organised as a nested hierarchy. Loss of biodiversity can lead to the unraveling of the connections between different species within the nested hierarchy which is the ecosystem. Some of the current loss of biodiversity occurs because climate change is occurring too fastfor species to track their habitat or adapt. Management of biological systems requires a systems or holistic approach. Individual species and individual organisms should be seen as parts of the whole and can be managed as such. Therefore, management of ecosystems is a viable alternative to managing individual populations of a given species. The use of flagship species to manage ecosystems is viable, if the flagship species is carefully chosen. Choose the appropriate flagship species and protecting it and its habitat will also protect the habitat of other species found in the ecosystem associated with the flagship species.
Dr Kees Hulsman is a Senior Lecturer in Ecology at School of Environment Griffith University. Originally trained as a population biologist, his research these days is on systems and how they behave. He applies the findings to develop a better understanding of how ecosystems behave and thus how to conserve them.
Slide Presentation

Personal observations of particular Canadian ecosystems: Megan Barnes trained as a behavioral ecologist, with a broad
taxonomic interest, having studied or worked on projects relating to lizards, birds of prey and turtles, but after working on the ground, she "evolved" into more of a protected areas ecologist, in an effort to have some effect at the science policy interface.
Her PhD topic is "Investigating Key Drivers of Biodiversity Outcomes in Protected Areas internationally and in Queensland"
Slide presentation

October: Hysteria about “boat people”: a reality check

Dr. Phil Machanick is a computer scientist at the institute of molecular bioscience, UQ, who believes that policy should be based on facts and not hysterical xenophobia. One example: the claim that refugees get more in benefits than pensioners turns out to be an email hoax that started in Canada and has been adapted with at least as much inaccuracy in its (bogus) claims to Australia. Phil will table statistics from the UN High Commission of Refugees and demonstrate how Australia's numbers compare with worldwide figures.
Slide presentation

Frederika Steen was Canberran of the Year in 1984 and Centenary Medal winner. She has been actively involved in community, refugee, multicultural and human rights activities for more than thirty years. She retired from the Department of Immigration in 2001 (where she was was the inaugural head of the Women's Desk between 1984-87) after a distinguished career in settlement
services and three years’ service as the Chief Migration Officer, in the Australian Embassy in Germany. She is a volunteer worker at the Romero Centre in Brisbane, a group of Australianssupporting refugees on temporary visas. Freddie will speak to us about the local reality. We hope to be able to speak with some real people who have experienced the politics of the situation.

November: Promoting electric bikes.

Dr Paul Martin is a Specialist Anaesthetist working in both public & private practice. For the past 12 months he has barely driven his car, choosing to use his bicycle instead for all his transport needs - it has been easier than he thought. Initially searching for a comfortable, sit-up dutch-style bike for transport use he stumbled upon an electrically assisted model and has not looked back. With Brisbane's hills and summer's heat & humidity the electric bicycle makes cycling for transport comfortable. He will also talk about other obstacles to bicycle use in Brisbane and where we should be looking for inspiration.
Slide presentation

Ben Wilson is the manager of Bicycle Queensland. Info from their website:* BQ is a non-profit community and advocacy group working to make cycling safer.
* They meet regularly with politicians and planners to persuade them to improve cycling facilities in Queensland, Australia.
* BQ also advises government engineers on suitable designs for cycling facilities.
* BQ supports programs that promote cycling and make cycling more accessible to potential cyclists.
* BQ encourages and supports local groups lobbying for better cycling conditions in their area.
Bicycle Queensland stands up for cycling in Government, media and community circles.

Rolf Kuelsen is well known to many of us as a major transition towns organiser. He has been a commuter cyclist and advocate for over 30 years. He is current secretary of EASTBUG (Bicycle Users Group) and member of CBDBUG.
He has recently done some cycle coaching training through Cycling Australia.
He has ridden extensively by bicycle through a number of countries in Western Europe. He is consulting with the BCC Active Transport section on a review of Brisbane's strategic cycle network plan and can also talk about:
- integrating cycling with public transport
- the city bike hire scheme
- pedestrian and cyclist interactions
- the issue of mandatory helmets
- infrastructure including parking facilities
- contraflow bike lanes

December: Zero carbon Australia. Luke Reade has broad energy and environmental credentials. He is currently a local government adviser on energy and greenhouse, and is leading a community project on sustainable energy as part of the Transition Town movement. He has Australian, European and International government, consultancy, community and research experience in sustainable energy, offshore renewable energy, environmental science, environmental impact assessment (including waste, contaminated land, water use and quality, air quality). His work and study have taken him from Brisbane to Ennis (Ireland) and Manchester (England) and Edinburgh (Scotland). Luke's international experience includes having twice attended the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP) on Climate Change with the Irish delegation. Luke is also currently undertaking Permaculture training in order to promote urban agriculture and reduce food miles!
Slide presentation

2009 Meetings

January : Post carbon resilient cities: General discussion chaired by Dr Geoffrey Chia. Megacities will inevitably collapse if no replacement is found for petroleum. Cities larger than say, 10 million, cannot be supported without cheap oil. As oil becomes scarcer, cities of even 5 million may collapse. Nevertheless, today more than half of the world‚s population are urbanised. We cannot ignore the attractions of living in a city: greater availability of goods and services, job and educational opportunities; concentrated centres of culture, innovation and research. Economies of scale may also apply, up to a limit. The most vulnerable areas are the distant suburbs poorly served by public transport. How can we preserve cities in the post carbon era? Changing to non-fossil fuel based energy systems and restructuring our transportation networks will be essential. Please listen to (or read the transcript of) Dr. Peter Newman‚s recent superb talk on resilient cities:
During our meeting we will view videoclips of some approaches adopted in Curitiba in Brazil, Bogota in Columbia and London, UK and as usual vigorous discussion is encouraged.

February: Ronan Lee was unexpectedly detained in Parliament and was thus unable to attend our February meeting, however we had the good fortune and privilege to engage in discussion with Drew Hutton, former university academic, veteran political campaigner for sustainability in Australia and founder of the Queensland Greens. Following ten minute presentations by Phil Little on solar powered houses and Neil Davidson on systems approaches to sustainability, Drew explained the history, current policies and future direction of the Greens with vigorous audience interaction therafter (some members pulling no punches!)

March: Polar Toxicology- Persistent Organic Pollutants in Antarctica Is Dr. Susan Bengtson Nash the Indiana Jones of biology? She certainly cuts an impressive figure when braced at the bow of a speeding boat, shooting humpback whales with a biopsy rifle (the harmless tethered ‘bullet’ enables sampling of tiny slivers of
subcutaneous fat). Such uber cool action adventure nothwithstanding, she is undertaking serious scientific investigation to help us understand the damage we may be causing the ecosystem of the Southern Ocean.

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), as their name suggests, can linger in the environment for many years. For example, much of the DDT released in the past persisted in the atmosphere for decades before eventually condensing down in the cold polar regions
- the Southern Ocean and Antarctica being of particular importance to us. DDT, being an insecticide, can adversely affect marine arthropods such as krill, a keystone species. POPs are lipophilic and accumulate in the body fat of the multitude of animals which feed on krill - and concentrate all the way up the food chain - from fish to penguins to seals to sharks.

The levels of POPs in humpback whale blubber reflect the levels of environmental POP exposure to the krill. The demise of krill would cause a cascade of extinctions in the Southern Ocean - an ecological catastrophe.

Dr. Nash leads the Southern Ocean Persistent Organic Pollutant framework at the University of Queensland. The program represents a new research direction aimed at understanding the significance of increasing levels of traditional and emerging POPs in the Antarctic marine ecosystem. Her team seeks to address major research gaps concerning the transfer of chemicals to the South Polar Region as well as their distribution, fate and impact at South Polar latitudes. The program incorporates investigation of species-specific toxicity within a risk assessment framework and operates in close collaboration with the Australian Government Antarctic Division.

April - Cuba: Back to the Future: A model of a resilient and sustainable society? Our April meeting will examine in greater detail two themes previously explored: the model of Cuba as a society which successfully overcame the challenges of Peak Oil and the principles of sustainable living as outlined by Dr. David Wyatt, a multidisciplinary scientist and successful entrepreneur who advised on the design of (and who lives in) the Currumbin Ecovillage (please see details of May and August 2008 meetings in the "past meetings" section of

Based on David‚s recent 5 week study tour of Cuba, this presentation will explore sustainability aspects of current Cuban society including agriculture, transport, education, energy, water, social change and politics. Cuba has withstood relentless pressure and trade boycotts from the USA since the Castro revolution 50 years ago. Cuba also survived a crisis when the Soviet bloc and related trade collapsed in the 1990s. This shock forced a dramatic rethink of agriculture and transport when Soviet oil imports dried up overnight. Is Cuba a useful model for a future world constrained by oil and resources?

May - Green housing at higher densities Professor Tony Hall, Griffith University

Moves to higher residential densities in Australia cause concern in some quarters. Although sustainable in some respects, they may be unsatisfactory in others. However, people are often unaware that, at any given density, it is possible to lay out housing in radically different ways, both sustainable and unsustainable. Unfortunately, Australia is in danger of getting the worst of all worlds. The newer low-density car-based suburbs have little space or greenery around the house. Medium and high densities are in the form of freestanding apartment blocks with high embodied and ongoing energy requirements.

It does not have to be like this. Current practice in many European countries, including Britain, provides family houses and gardens at densities between 30-60 dph. Tony will demonstrate how it is possible to combine such practice with the best of Australian traditions to create green houses and with significant gardens at over 30 dph.

Tony Hall is an Adjunct Professor within the Urban Research Program at Griffith University. Before taking early retirement in 2004, he was Professor of Town Planning at Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford, UK. Rather unusually, he was also a local councillor. He led the planning policy of Chelmsford Borough at the political level for 7 years culminating in a built environment quality award to the Council from the government. His specialism is urban design with notable publications in the field. He lives in a unit in the Brisbane city centre and does not own a car.

June -- Carbon trading and the CPRS: What's it all about, Penny? Dr Richard Sanders

Our speaker for June is Richard Sanders, an ecological economist, futurist, environmental scientist and change agent who has delved deeply into the concept of sustainability for over 20 years. He is a visionary systems thinker who has grappled with the questions of what the sustainable society would necessarily look like in principle (based on ecological and thermodynamic imperatives), the transitionary technical and social pathways necessary to get there, and the democratic political processes necessary to bring about such a transition. Richard has been actively networking nationally and internationally in the quest for sustainability, focusing on the 'big picture' level and on clarifying the sustainability concept as objectively as possible to ensure that people are working in common purpose and not at cross purposes. He founded Quest 2025, an Australian-based non-profit incorporated association on 1 January 2001.The aim of Quest 2025 is to transform our society through informed people power and the democratic process from its current state of ecological crisis into an ecologically sustainable society by the year 2025. Richard will explain to us the rationale for and genesis of carbon "cap and trade" systems.

Our group will then look at Australia's CPRS (Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme), citing excepts from Guy Pearse's Quarterly Essay Quarry Vision: coal, climate change and the end of the resources boom published earlier this year.
Slide presentation from this meeting.

July - Biofuels from algae. Evan Stephens

Our speaker for July is Evan Stephens, a research scientist at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, Hankamer Lab, The University of Queensland.
The development of carbon neutral fuels for the future is one of the most urgent challenges facing our society for three reasons – to minimise the effects of climate change, to protect against fuel price shocks and to provide a secure basis for the economy.
First generation biofuels (particularly ethanol from grain) have proven to be social, environmental and economic disasters. Second generation microalgal production facilities have the advantage that they can be located on non-arable land and use salt or waste-water sources, opening up new economic opportunities for arid, drought or salinity-affected regions. Microalgal systems are also reported to produce higher feedstock yields per hectare than conventional crops, supporting the production of a wide range of biofuels (e.g. biodiesel, methane, hydrogen, ethanol and biomass-to-liquid (BTL) fuels). Microalgal systems can also co-produce high value products (HVPs) (e.g. high quality protein meal and nutraceuticals) and assist with capture and storage of atmospheric and industrial CO2.

Your D3SJ convenor (Geoffrey Chia) has been advocating biofuels from algae for more than ten years:

September - The Politics of Sustainability 2009. Andrew McNamara

Andrew McNamara served three terms in the Queensland Parliament as Member for Hervey Bay between 2001 and 2009 and was Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation in the previous term of the Bligh Government.

He is one of Australia’s leading advocates on the likelihood of peaking world oil supplies and in 2005 came to national prominence as the first mainstream Australian politician to speak out on the issue. He is the Patron of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas in Australia.

During his political career, Andrew was a member of Australia’s delegation to the Bali Round of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Chair of the Queensland Government's Oil Vulnerability Taskforce and Deputy Chair of the Premier’s Climate Change Council which included a number of prominent environmentalists and business leaders including Dr Tim Flannery and Professor Ian Lowe.

During his time as Minister responsible for the then Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew was responsible for many environmental initiatives, including increasing Queensland’s National Park Target from 5% to 7.5% by 2020, the implementation of the Moreton Bay Marine Park which increased protected no-take areas from .5% to 16%, the move to regulate runoff onto the Great Barrier Reef and energy saving programs such as the Solar Homes Scheme and Climate Smart Homes.

October meeting - GM crops. Prof Ian Godwin.

Ian Godwin is the Professor in Plant Molecular Genetics, School of Land, Crop and Food Science, University of Queensland. He will spoke about the promise and peril of genetically modified crops. He has supervised 26 PhD and 8 Research Masters students to completion at UQ and has also supervised research postgraduate students at the University of the South Pacific, Fiji, and Queensland University of Technology. He has received numerous awards and is active in the public communication of scientific issues to the community. He is currently engaged in several research projects involving sorghum, wheat, canola, grasses and oil palm. He has authored or co-authored over 100 publications predominantly on cereal genetics in refereed international journals and books.

November meeting - Introducing Friends of the Earth

Every day, more community groups are being formed to express our shared concerns regarding resource depletion, climate change and environmental devastation. Isolated and divided we will remain ineffective. It is therefore imperative we come together to meet, talk, understand each other and ultimately speak with a united voice to the powers that be.

This month, Friends of the Earth or FoE will tell us about themselves. The plan is to have a 30 minute formal presentation to answer: What is FoE? How do they operate? Who do they work with? What is their vision? How do they intend to achieve their vision? This will also include an explanation of their two businesses - reverse garbage and bicycle revolution - which support their activities and provide ethical employment in sustainable resource use.

The next 15 minutes will be an activity to explore the different ways members of the audience view societal change occuring. This will be interactive where the audience is fully involved and will discuss the various ways to facilitate change. This will then lead on to greater discussion on change and how we can make it happen.
Slide presentation from this meeting.

December meeting - Dealing with global warming deniers - Dr Phillip Machanick

If we encounter individuals who, against all evidence, claim the Earth is flat or that the Sun revolves round the Earth, it may be best to avoid them and to dismiss them as deluded bufoons. Other untruths however can and do result in harm and death to vulnerable people and must be confronted. In the year 2000, the South African president Thabo Mbeki denied that AIDS was caused by the HIV virus and he sourced maverick scientific denialists to back him up, in order to avoid funding antiretroviral programs. Many thousands have undoubtedly died as a result. The tobacco companies selectively sought out and paid scientific prostitutes willing to testify that smoking does not lung cancer, again to the detriment of the public. Holocaust deniers continue to promote neoNazi racism in the service of their bigotry. The invasion of Iraq by the Bush, Blair and Howard axis was based on outright lies, which has directly and indirectly caused the death of more than a million Iraqis. Dr. David Kelly, the British scientist who contradicted Blair, was hounded to death.

The overwhelming weight of scientific evidence show that anthropogenic global warming is real and is dangerous, yet the deniers continue to repeat their lies to avoid changing an unsustainable profligate “first world” lifestyle. Last November, Professor B.N. Upreti from Nepal provided personal testimony to our group about the alarming retreat of the Himalayan glaciers. More than a billion people depend on that summer meltwater for crop irrigation. Global warming deniers can rightly be regarded as deluded and/or despicable psychopaths.

Dr. Phillip Machanick is our speaker for December. He is a computer scientist who works at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland. His work requires that he understands the scientific research of other fields. He does not claim to be a climate science expert but he has studied the climate science literature more deeply than most of us and he promotes the conclusions of the top climate scientists of the world. He has looked at the misconceptions commonly propogated by the media and the internet and presents factual counter-arguments and outlines how to find the resources to counter these arguments.

See for an earlier version of the talk.

Slide presentation of this meeting

2008 Meetings

February Who's afraid of an aging demographic? The need to broaden Australia's population debate speaker: Dr. Jane O’Sullivan, Agricultural Scientist, (School of Land Crop and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland) with a keen interest in
human ecology and a healthy scepticism about the "technofix" attitude to limits to growth.
Slide Presentation for February Meeting

March : Walking the walk: practical experiences in sustainable living: Mr. Michel Stasse is an accredited Building Energy Rating Scheme (BERS) certifier who built an award winning (2007 Glossies) 5 star energy efficient house in Noosa Shire with compost toilet, photovoltaic electricity, solar water heating, and greywater recycling. He is using permaculture methods to become self sufficient in food.

April : United Nations Association of Australia Virginia Balmain is National Vice President and Queensland President of the United Nations Association of Australia. Her major activities have included campaigning for the abolition of land mines through ICBL and refugee support through AUSTCARE. Currently she is focusing on human rights internationally through the United Nations Association.

May: Principles of Ecovillage living Dr. David Wyatt's qualifications and awards are far too extensive to be included in this brief flyer. In short: he is a multidisciplinary scientist and university lecturer with expertise in microbiology, immunology and biotechnology, he is a successful and innovative entrepreneur (he also holds an MBA) and he founded PanBio, an award winning biotechnology company. He is currently Chairman of Papyrus Australia Ltd, an ASX listed banana-fibre technology company. He is also chair of an ethical investment fund based in Perth which is focused on ecovillages <> From 2001-2006 David was Professor in BioBusiness at the Queensland University of Technology. Since 1999 he has been an Adjunct Professor in the University of Queensland Business School. David has a deep knowledge of sustainability issues and helped to build the sustainable living community at Currumbin Ecovillage and will be moving there in May/June <> David will share his ideas regarding the principles of ecovillage living and can broaden the discussion to many other aspects of sustainability and ethical investment, depending on audience interest.

June Adaptation of biological systems to climate change. Dr. Bob Sutherst is an Honorary Reader at the University of Queensland. He spent more than a decade researching the effects of climate change on insect pests, weeds and diseases in CSIRO. Bob was leader of the global pest activity within the International Geosphere Biosphere Program for five years. His main interest has been modelling geographical distributions of species to estimate risks from invasive species and to identify risk and opportunities for biological control. He is currently helping to lead the Stock Route Coalition of NGOs, which aims to have the stock route networks in Queensland and NSW give protected status as biodiversity corridors to facilitate adaptation to climate change. Bob's will review some of the most interesting effects of climate change on species, explain how they can adapt to climate change and suggest ways in which we can help endemic species to survive in the fragmented landscape that modern human society has created.
Slide presentation for June meeting

July: Transport infrastructure in a petroleum depleted world. Tristan Peach is spokesperson for Community Action for Sustainable Transport Inc. The outer areas of the Brisbane metropolitan area are economically and socially vulnerable to rising oil prices and lack quality public transport services. The "mega project" approach being used by current local, state and federal governments is not providing appropriate solutions to the range of transport issue facing the urban region. Approaches to planning and providing freight and passenger transport services need to change significantly to cope with peak oil and to achieve other positive outcomes such as improved social equity, reduced greenhouse emissions and reduced economic costs of transport. They will require different infrastructure investments, particularly in rail, cycling and walking infrastructure, but also different approaches to using existing infrastructure such as converting car space to public and active transport space.
Tristan is trained in town planning and has worked as a sustainable transport advocate for 4 years. He has been a researcher, organiser and public spokesperson for the Samford Transport Group, Communities Against the Tunnels and Community Action for Sustainable Transport. He is currently coordinating public transport users groups in Brisbane and Ipswich.
These issues are of critical importance and will affect all of us. Due to other commitments, Tristan will only be able to speak for 45 minutes and to take questions for 15 minutes, so make the most of this valuable meeting!
Slide presentation for July meeting

August: Documentary movie: "The Power of Community - How Cuba survived Peak Oil"

September: "Evolutions Edge - the coming collapse and transformation of our world" - Graeme Taylor has written a book with same the title of his talk and will be embarking on a speaking tour soon. He is the coordinator of BEST Futures, a project developing theories and tools that support sustainable solutions. Slide presentation for Graeme Taylor September meeting

A collapse and transformation in progress (Tuvalu and the 7C's Initiative) - Neil Davidson has a background in biology and geology. He is a transformative systems-thinker, trans-disciplinary change agent, and social entrepreneur. He is interested in complex systems-based collaborative responses to the compounding global issues of climate change, carrying capacity, resource scarcity and biodiversity loss. Also have a look at Neil's previous presentation on social entrepreneurship.

October: Dialogue with Kate Jones, State MP for Ashgrove. Kate Jones was elected to the Queensland Parliament in September 2006 and is the youngest member of the Bligh Government. Kate currently serves on the Scrutiny of Legislation Parliamentary Committee and is a member of several Ministerial Policy Committees. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Politics at Queensland University of Technology. She is currently studying for a Masters in Environmental Law. Before running for State Parliament, Kate was a Senior Media Advisor to the Queensland Minister for Public Works, Housing and Racing, Robert Schwarten. She previously worked as a Media Advisor to the Queensland Treasurer, David Hamill. Kate is a member of several community groups and also has a strong interest in environmental and housing policy areas. Kate is also a member of Amnesty International and The Fred Hollows Foundation. A few of our group will offer 10 minute presentations relevant to their field of expertise, specifically with regard to sustainable living in SE Queensland (see the "Gaia Village Project" in the downloads section of This will be followed by general discussion and Q&A.

Slide presentation by Dr Jane O'sullivan at this meeting: Why we need a paradigm shift.

November: Climate Change and its implications in the Himalayan Region. Prof. B.N. Upreti is a professor of Geology at Tribhuvan University, Nepal. Presently he is at the QUT, Brisbane for a short visit under the Australian Leadership Fellowship Program of AusAid. He is the Vice-President of Nepal Centre for Disaster Management, a non-profit, non-government organization in Nepal.The Himalayan region is one of the most sensitive regions in the world where the unmistakable positive signs of the climate change have started becoming visible. Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world," the IPCC warned last year. "If the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate. More than a billion people need the rivers supported by the Himalayan glaciers to survive. Across Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, More than 400 million people live off the Ganges River alone.

December: All you ever wanted to know about Food Miles. Robert Pekin is the Coordinating Director of Food Connect, a Brisbane based Non Profit Social and Environmental Enterprise that works in collaboration with approximately 150 local farmers (around Brisbane). The core business of Food connect is supplying a variety of fresh and value added produce to the Brisbane district using an innovative community distribution concept. The uniqueness of the service is the in the connection and commitment that the company provides and asks off its families (consumers). The Companies foundations are built on 7 years experience with driving the development of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model across Australia. The Company is developing a training and IT package for world wide access to the business systems.

Robert is the Australian representative on the world CSA organisation Urgensi and for two years was project manager of the Just Foods project an initiative of Friends of the Earth.

Meetings 2007:

February Solar Power - The viable solution speaker: Bill Brazier, B.E; Grad.Dip.A.C; M.E. Cert. Management, F.I.E.Aust; CPEng, President of Queensland Branch of the Australia & New Zealand Solar Energy Society

March Democracy in India: past, present and future speaker: Professor Sarva-Daman Singh, BA (Hons), MA, PhD (London), PhD (Queensland), FRAS.

April Sustainability as a model for water management speaker: Professor Chris Moran who is the Director of the Centre for Water in the Minerals Industry, Sustainable Minerals Institute, University of Queensland.

May More Ecologically Sustainable Living – the autonomous house speaker: Mr. Chris Palmer, Director of ENVIROTECH TREATMENT SYSTEMS Chris’ background is that of a civil engineer with post-graduate qualifications in Environmental

June Global warming myths & the promise of renewable energy discussion led by Dr. Ralph Cobcroft, physician and sustainability activist

July Reason, interests and ideology in the climate change debate speaker: Professor John Quiggin A(Hons),BEc(Hons),MEc (ANU), PhD (UNE), is an Australian Research Council Federation Fellow in Economics and Political Science at the University of Queensland.

August Water supply in SE Queensland - How real is the water crisis? speaker: Professor Jurg Keller is Director of the Advanced Water Management Centre at the University of Queensland and Professor in the School of Engineering. He has also an Australian Professorial Fellowship from ARC (Australian Research Council).

September Agriculture in the post fossil fuel era speaker: Dr. Jane O’Sullivan, Agricultural Scientist, School of Land Crop and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland

October Dead as a dodo – How serious is the current biodiversity crisis? speaker: Dr Judit Szabo, Biologist & Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Ecology Centre at the University of Queensland.

November : Zero Carbon Emissons now! Lessons from the Solar Decathlon Speaker: Phil Little has over fifty years extensive experience in construction, residential design and social planning and has been a pioneer leader in "Triple Bottom Line" "Sustainable Design" of new Urban forms since 1990.

December meeting: Past Peak Oil - What is your action plan?
Group discussion

Meetings 2006:

February: DVD presentations on Petroleum Depletion and Climate change (included interview with Sir David King, chief scientist of the UK) and discussion

March: The state of Aboriginal Health Dr Paul Prociv, retired physician and university lecturer

April: Holonic Rurban planning for post-petroleum sustainability Dr. Richard Mochelle, university lecturer, architect, futurist, philosopher and ethicist

May: Political correctness and its role as an intellectual contraceptive. Dr. Peter James, retired geologist, mathematician and author

June: The politics of sustainability Ms Rachel Nolan, Labor MP for Ipswich

July: Experiences in Sudan working for Medecins Sans Frontieres for a year Dr. Andrew Burke, infectious diseases dept of RBH:

September: Accountable Democracy Mr. Ricardo Johansson, investigative consultant & ex US Navy officer

October: The Mass Media: bouquets and brickbats Assoc Prof Terry Flew, Head of Postgraduate Studies, Creative Industries Faculty, QUT

November: Human Rights implications of Climate Change Mr. Ross Daniels, QUT lecturer and former international president of Amnesty International:

December: nil