Sunday, 23 November 2014

Dates for the Diary

  • Coal Point Progress Committee Meeting 
    Mon 8th Dec, Progress Hall 5-6:30pm. No meeting in Jan 2015
  • Carols By The Lake: Toronto Foreshore: Tues 9th December 6-9pm. Carols, choirs, fireworks, Santa & market stalls
  • Toronto Area Sustainable Neighbourhood Group : Wed 10th Dec  5-6.30pm @ 23A Amelia St. No meeting in Jan 2015
  • Local Landcare in December:
    Carey Bay Wetlands 4th, 11th Threlkeld 4/12/14 with TIN
    No Landcare on 25/12/14 or 1/1/15. Back in the Bush on 8/1/14
  • Toronto Greenway Landcare: Every Saturday of the month 7:30am-9:30am between Carey and Cook Streets. Contact Joan for more info 4959 1472
  • Seasons Greetings at Gurranba:Thursday 18th Dec 11am-1pm. Like-minded Locals enjoying  lunch. RSVP please to Suzanne, contact details ...yo ho ho 

Seasons Greetings at Gurranba

An invitation is extended to Progress members, newsletter distributors, interested locals and landcarers to gather together at Gurranba Reserve on Thursday 18th December from 11am-1pm and share some festive food.

The open air event is an opportunity to sit back and relax and enjoy one of our reserves in the company of like minded locals doing their bit in their own way.

If you’re interested in finding out about what the Threatened Species project has been up to and offer some suggestions for 2015 we’d love to catch up too.

So we can cater sustainably RSVPs are greatly appreciated to Suzanne at or by phone/sms 0438596741 or on CPPA’s young Facebook page

‘tis the Season to be Jolly

…especially if you’ve recently been recognised for your amazing efforts.

Some extraordinary locals have been receiving accolades for ‘a job well done’ both regionally and statewide.

Locals, Mark & Leanne Shields, of Shields Auto Repairs took out the Automotive Services category of the 2014 Hunter Local Business Awards. The tirelessly working dynamic duo managed to mobilise enough of their 2000 business supporters to get more nominations submitted in one week than it took most to get in the eleven week nomination period. An indication of the strength and loyalty of their customer base that has grown from word of mouth due to their mechanical expertise, enthusiasm, friendliness and honesty.

The Tidy Towns crew, Kelly Hoare and Lyn Pacoe pulled together another overall win for Toronto in the Tidy Towns Population Category D (4,001 – 10,000). Congratulations to all the drivers of the projects and the passengers that support them.

There was a Tidy Town triumph in the Environmental Education section for the Toronto Fire Station’s Model Fire Retardant Native Garden thanks to the amazing efforts of Fire Station Commander Tim Brown and Landcaring legend Lois Simpson. 

There was also a win in Litter Reduction Award for the Tossers Can be Binners program spearheaded by Steve Dewar and supported by all the converted tossers in town. The Lake Macquarie Light Rail received a Highly Commended award so here’s to you Choo.  

The combined efforts of enthusiastic locals implementing great ideas is what makes our neck of the woods such a great place to be. Yeah team Toronto!

Climate Change Report Findings

What did the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have to say when they released their most recent report on 1st November?

The environmental news blog Grist provides a compact 10 point summary

1. We humans really, truly are responsible for climate change… and ignoring that fact doesn’t make it less true. “Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history,” the report states. The atmospheric concentration of key greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide — is “unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years,” the report warns, and our fossil-fuel driven economies and ever-increasing population are to blame.

2. Climate change is already happening. Each of the past three decades has been warmer than the last, and warmer than any decade since we started keeping records. Sea levels are rising. Arctic ice cover is shrinking. Crop yields are changing — more often than not, getting smaller. It has been getting wetter, and storms and heat waves are getting more intense.

3. … and it is going to get far worse: “Heat waves will occur more often and last longer … extreme precipitation events will become more intense and frequent in many regions. The ocean will continue to warm and acidify, and global mean sea level to rise,” the report states. If we stick to our current path, we could see 3.7 to 4.8 degrees Celsius of warming — or even more — by the end of the century.

4. Much of recent warming has been in the ocean. About 90 per cent of the energy that has gone into the climate system since 1971 went into the ocean. That means a warmer, expanding ocean, which fuels stronger storms. It also means rising sea levels and eroding coastlines.

5. The ocean is also becoming more acidic. By taking in so much of the carbon dioxide that humans have been spitting out since the industrial revolution, the ocean has become 26 per cent more acidic and its pH level is falling. Scientists think this could have widespread and severe effects on marine life — increasingly, ocean acidification is being referred to as the “other CO2 problem.”

6. Climate change will hit developing nations particularly hard, but we are all vulnerable. Climate change will make food systems more volatile, exacerbate health problems, displace people, weaken countries’ infrastructures, and fuel conflict. It will touch every area of life. Economic growth will slow as temperatures warm, new poverty traps will be created, and we’ll find that poverty cannot be eliminated without first tackling climate change.
7. Plants and animals are even more vulnerable than we are. As climates shift, entire ecosystems will be forced to move, colliding with one another. Many plants and small animals won’t be able to move quickly enough to keep up, if global warming marches forward unabated, and will go extinct.

8. We must switch mostly to renewables by 2050, and phase out fossil fuels by 2100. To avoid the most damaging and potentially irreversible impacts of climate change (e.g., from the report: “substantial species extinction, global and regional food insecurity, consequential constraints on common human activities, and limited potential for adaptation”), we’ll need to make sure our greenhouse gas emissions are cut severely by the middle of this century. We should aim for “near zero emissions of CO2 and other long-lived GHGs by the end of the century.”

9. We already have the answers we need to tackle climate change. We have the necessary technologies available, and economic growth will not be strongly affected if we take action, the report argues. As the cliché goes, all it takes is the will to act. But we must act in unison, the report states: “Effective mitigation will not be achieved if individual agents advance their own interests independently. Cooperative responses, including international cooperation, are therefore required to effectively mitigate Green house gas emissions and address other climate change issues.”

10. This dire report is decidedly conservative. So the actual effects of climate change could be even more severe, and even stranger, than what the IPCC describes.

Conversations about the CZMP

At a recent Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) workshop the participants were informed that Lake Macquarie will be one of the most impacted cities in NSW by climate change through extreme storm flooding, permanent inundation and coastal erosion & recession. The plan covers the Coastline, the Channel and The Estuary which includes the catchment and is where we live.

The CZMP outlines a ‘No regrets’ approach aimed at building resilience and improving knowledge and preparedness for other actions.

For existing developments the strategy is PAR
Protect: seawalls, beach nourishment, dune stabilisation, vegetation, groynes and offshore breakwaters
Accommodate: retrofit. redesign. rebuild, evacuation planning, acquire and re-lease
Retreat: sacrifice land, relocate, buy back/leaseback, acquisition

For future development an AAA strategy is proposed
Avoid: prohibit/refuse, fill to raise land
Accommodate: siting requirements, design standards, evacuation planning
Accept: business as usual, sacrifice/abandon

At the community workshop participants were given the opportunity to put forward and discuss issues they felt needed attention in the Coastal Zone Management Plan and an opportunity to prioritise some of the 122 proposed actions.

Council has a Have Your Say website to garner community input and the guiding documents are also available on LMCC’s website and for viewing at the library.

Our narrow peninsula community has relatively high proportion of foreshore compared to many areas in the City. It would be worthwhile taking a bit of time over summer to make your priorities heard on the Coastal Zone Management Plan, this document will be guiding the development of foreshore lands into the future.

Have you got a Bush Fire Survival Plan in place?

Summer is definitely here and things are heating up.

If a bushfire threatened your home would you and your family leave early or stay and defend your well prepared home? This is the first of many things to consider as detailed in the RFS Bush Fire Survival Plan which guides you through some key decisions that may need to be made
1. How will you PREPARE. ACT. SURVIVE?
2. Will you Leave Early or will you Stay and Defend?
3. What will your triggers be to act?
4. What will your back-up plan be?

The Survival Plan has lots of useful information like :
Equipment that is handy to have on hand: such as ladders, spades/shovels, mops & buckets, hoses long enough to reach every part of your house, 

Things to do to prepare your home
  • Cut back overhanging trees
  • Check the condition of the roof and replace damaged tiles
  • Clean leaves from the roof and gutters
  • Plant a fire retardant garden that can act as an ember curtain
  • Consider installing a static Water Supply sign if you have a water tank or swimming pool
  • Enclose underfloor areas
  • Store wood well away from the house
  • Check the condition of external wall and seal gaps
  • Have a non-combustible door mat
  • Remove and store any flammable items away from the house
  • Make sure the pressure relief valve on LPG cylinders face outwards so flame is not directed at the house
  • Keep mulch away from the house and grass short

The Toronto Fire Station on Ridge Road has lots of brochures about various aspects of keeping you and your property safe. There is also the award winning fire retardant garden, showcasing ideas for planting your very own ember curtain of dense, moisture-retaining foliage, as well as a selection of plants that have less volatile oils, do not drop large amounts of debris and have smooth bark, highlighting that we can have a garden and live safely in a bushland suburb.

Waste Not Want Not

Steve Dewar recently ventured oversees and couldn’t help but notice how waste is being treated, he provided the following summary.

Most South American countries are way ahead of Australia when it comes to waste and recycling. You can return bottles to point-of-sale for refunds, they are phasing out plastic bags and waste containers are common alongside containers for recycling and organic waste, even in the poorest country, Bolivia. 

Here is the plastic bag phase-out for Argentina: Limit 3 bags till March 2015; 2 bags till June; 1 bag till August and Sept 1 2015 no more bags will be given out!
In a publicity pamphlet for Argentina-they explained how long it takes things to degrade in the environment: Paper-6 months; cigarette butts-1 to 2 years; chewing gum-5 years; wine cartons-5 years; tin cans-10 years; plastic bags-10 to 20 years; leather-25 to 40 years; plastic bottles-100 years; aluminium cans-60 to 100 years; plastic foam-never; glass-never; batteries-highly contaminating over years. 

Something we can all do is sort our waste and remember to take our reusable bags shopping…leave some in the boot and you’ll never be without one.