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John Englart receives Eureka Australia Medal (EAM) | by John Englart (Takver)
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John Englart receives Eureka Australia Medal (EAM)

I would like to acknowledge the Wada wurrung people as the indigenous custodians of this land we stand upon. Indigenous peoples the world over know the wisdom that we need to live in reasonable balance with our environment. We ignore this at our peril.


For the last 150 years human society has treated the atmosphere as a free dumping ground for pollution. But there is a price to pay: climate change and its impacts and the deaths that have been caused by that pollution. The British economist Nicholas Stern has called it the greatest market failure in history.


I have been involved in social activism over the last 30 years mainly in the background: as a founding member of Jura Books, Black Rose Books and Anarres Books. More recently, as a photographer, blogger and citizen journalist. I have been writing and reporting on human induced climate change on Indymedia since 2004. None of these are high profile activities, but over time they help social change by giving people the tools and information for campaigns.


I was part of the Friends of the Earth Rides Against Uranium in the 1970s. We demonstrated solar cookers and solar hot water on the lawns of parliament house. But the politicians were not listening then. They were prepared to fund the Lucas Heights Nuclear Reactor, but no money for renewable energy.


Even now the funding for so-called Clean Coal research far outstrips renewable energy funding. The company that was building a solar thermal power station near Mildura is currently in administration, with Federal and State Governments refusing to step in.


The Kyoto treaty said industrialised countries needed to cut emissions by 25-40% of 1990 levels by 2020 for a better than even chance of staying under 2 degrees of warming or 450ppm of CO2 and avoiding dangerous climate change. But even 2 degrees will see major loss of ice sheets, rising sea level, droughts, desertification, famines, up to 40% species extinction and loss of most of the Barrier Reef. Current CO2 is 387ppm with demands by island states, least developed countries and many individuals around the world that we need to backpeddle to at least 350ppm.


The Rudd Government promises cuts of 5 to 25% on 2000 levels. At the best a 25% cut only equates to a 10.8% cut on 1990 levels. But they fudge these figures further by including land use and forestry targets and financing the reduction in deforestation in third world countries to offset allowing our emissions to actually increase until 2030. The Emissions Trading scheme is actually a rort for the coal industry to continue business as usual, with the added incentive of lucrative profits to be made by the finanncial sector in trading permits. The Rudd Government has shown it is beholden to the Greenhouse Mafia.


We need a stronger more effective scheme to limit carbon emissions. Just this week the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) released a report detailing Antarctic climate change and the role of the ozone hole. Sea level rise is now estimated at 1.4metres by 2100.


As the Kevin Rudd Char Ladies Corporation, formerly known as the John Howard Ladies Auxiliary Funclub, said recently: The ALP stands for 'Also Loves Polluters' or the 'Arctic Loss Program'. The CPRS stands for 'Continue Polluting Regardless Scheme' or the 'Carbon Pollution Rewards Scam'


Two years ago Alan Parker was awarded an EAM for his work on sustainable transport. He stood here and warned about a climate emergency. The emergency is now on us.


I wont bore you with much more. Charles Doudiet was one of the Eureka diggers, a young Canadian with a flare for drawing who documented the events of the Eureka rebellion. You can see his work in the Fine Arts Gallery and on plaques around Ballarat. Through my photography, citizen journalism and commitment to social justice I walk directly in the footsteps of Doudiet in documenting the events of my time and by agitating for systemic change.

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Taken on December 3, 2009