Category Archives: Editor’s pick

The fall on an environmental leader: Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed

Who is Mohamed Nasheed and why does he matter?

Until last week Nasheed was President of The Maldives – a string of 1200 tiny islands in the Indian Ocean where the average elevation is just 5 feet above sea level.

After Nasheed came to office in 2008, he made world headlines when he declared the Maldives was in the market for a new homeland for its doomed population – given predictions of sea level rise due to global warming.

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International Bicycle Film Festival rolls into town

Bicycle Film Festival 2008 logo

Fresh from its gig in Paris, the Bicycle Film Festival is about to start the Australian leg of its world tour. First stop Sydney this Friday and Saturday night, 14 and 15 November. Then onto Melbourne from 21 to 23 November.

Video: Have a sneak peek at ‘Perfect Circle’ – featuring Matthew Modine. (Many of the films in the festival are shorts.)

Audio: Listen to a clip from the Bicycle Film Festival movie – Perfect Circle.

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Garnaut lashes out at climate change sceptics (in his own gentile way)

The good professor has a message for the sceptics who still don’t believe in climate change and the scaremongers who would have us believe the sky will fall in if we re-gear our economy to lower our carbon emissions. Listen to the podcast interview with Ross Garnaut on climate change.

FuelWatch ad: the future is f***ing expensive

This commercial takes the p**s out of the government’s FuelWatch scheme. Made by GetUp to make the point that we need long term planning for a sustainable transport system.

Watch the FuelWatch commercial.

‘Sharkwater’ will change how you think of sharks

Sharks have had a pretty bad rap for a long time. Now a new film, busts the myths about sharks and highlights the dire situation for shark populations around the world.

Rob Stewart, an underwater photographer, set out to show the beauty of sharks in his film ‘Sharkwater’, but stumbled instead onto the billion dollar shark fin industry. He found sharks having their fins cut off and their bodies thrown back in the ocean on a large scale. All to supply the demand for shark fin soup in Asia.

I went to see the film, then tracked down the director – who was in Paris on his way to Cannes – to flesh out the story. Click here to listen to the interview with the PR Manager for sharks, Rob Stewart.

Check out the trailer and the making of the Sharkwater film.

And if you want to help, you can adopt a shark through the Nature Conservation Council. They’re one of the few organisations campaigning to protect sharks in Australia.

The ‘urban planning rock star’ changing city environments around the world

Wall to wall vehicles. Thats how Jan Gehl describes Sydney’s CBD. He says Sydney has squandered its beauty and it’s time something was done about it.

Professor Gehl was commissioned by the City of Sydney to re-think its centre. He’s proposed to divert cars and give streets back to the people. Sound radical? His plans have been implemented in other cities like Copenhagen and Melbourne, and surprise, they’ve made life heaps better. And, interestingly, not just for people. Businesses have thrived too.

Check this interview out – Jan’s quite a character. No wonder he’s been called an ‘urban planning rock star’.

His next commission, by the way, is to develop a plan for New York City.

Howard ignored climate change and lost: election day vox pops

The previous conservative government in Australia may well have been the first in the world to have lost office because it ignored climate change (and refused to sign the Kyoto protocol.)

The day of the election at the end of 2007, I went to a polling both to gauge the mood of the people – for change generally and to check the importance of the environment in their decision making. Listen here to what they had to say: election day vox pops.

The booth was at Sydney’s Bondi Beach in the contentious seat of Wentworth. Wentworth was held by Malcolm Turnbull – who was at that stage Environment Minister.

‘Into the Wild’ film review and interview with author Jon Krakauer

This is a review of the Sean Penn film Into the Wild. You may be interested in this one if you’ve ever had the itch to ditch your hum-drum routine and see the world. The real world. It includes an interview with author Jon Krakauer who wrote the original book.

Listen to the ‘Into the Wild’ film review.

Why are the Japanese so hell-bent on killing whales?

Another year begins and whaling is in the news again, with two activist groups disrupting the activities of Japanese whaling vessels.

Both Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd argue the Japanese whalers are carrying out commercial operations in what has been designated by Australia as a whale sanctuary. But the Japanese don’t recognise Australia’s territorial claim or the sanctuary and continue to argue strongly their culling of whales is for scientific purposes, a line that’s hotly contested by the green groups.

I’ve been following the whaling story for awhile and have been intrigued by the sheer determination of the Japanese fishing fleet to continue whaling despite strong opposition from many quarters, including Australia, a nation that would normally be an ally of Japan.

I spoke to Junichi Sato, Oceans Project Leader for Greenpeace Japan, to get a better understanding of why these Japanese are so hell-bent on whaling.

Whaling interview – with Junichi Sato Greenpeace Japan

Paul Watson: eco-terrorist or eco-hero?

Sea Shepherd tangle with Japanese Whalers in the Antarctic

Paul Watson is a man on a mission. He has played a leading role in alerting the world to what he calls the illegal actvities of Japanese whalers. In 2007 I spoke by satellite phone to Paul in the Antarctic, the day after his ship the Farley Mowatt had chased down and collided with a Japanese whaling vessel. Click on the link above to play this podcast.

Following is a link to an emotive video posted by Watson’s organisation Sea Shepherd on YouTube. It explains where he’s coming from:

Paul Watson

Wikipedia sums up some opposing views on Watson:

“Paul Watson has been denounced as an ecoterrorist. Some former colleagues in Greenpeace have distanced themselves from him. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Jim Bohlen, one of the founders of Greenpeace, said: ‘I’ve known the guy for 15 years, and he’s absolutely insane’.”

“Thus far, all attempts at prosecuting Watson have failed. Watson defends his actions as falling within international law and Sea Shepherd’s right to enforce maritime regulations against illegal whalers.”

What’s the latest? Well, the new Rudd government in Australia appears to be taking Watson’s outcries more seriously, recently sending a large Australian Customs vessel to monitor the Japanese whalers and gather evidence which may be used in international courts against them.

There’s more on the new Australian government’s stance in this ABC story just prior to Christmas. Click here.

Expect to see Paul’s ship tangling again with the Japanese on a TV screen near you. They’re down there now. How he finds them, I don’t know. Next interview.