SPC News March 2020.

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Backburning 2009. robdownunder. flickr,cc.

Editorial. The human cost of bushfires

Peter Whiting

Images of the devastating bushfires which ravaged the Eastern States over summer have been seared into the Australian consciousness. The spontaneous generosity of Australians not directly affected by the fires is testimony to the empathy evoked by the disaster. Millions of dollars in donations have been raised to help those who have lost so much. Governments have set up disaster recovery funds and mechanisms for distribution to those most in need. But dollars alone will not be sufficient. Much attention is being directed to how these funds should be dispensed.


Peruvian Amazon Rainforest. Anna & Michal. flickr cc.

Why Pope Francis’s letter, ‘Beloved Amazon’, resonates in Australia

Bruce Duncan

Many parts of Pope Francis’s response to the recent Amazon Synod could have been written for Australia, especially about European colonisation of the New World, the destruction of indigenous peoples and their cultures, the appropriation of their lands, and the despoilment of natural resources. The Amazon is ‘facing an ecological disaster’, which is also a social one, within which its inhabitants – including those of African descent and the river people – cannot be ignored. Many are experiencing ‘the worst forms of enslavement, subjection and poverty’. Francis insists that crimes and injustices against Amazonian inhabitants continue, as powerful economic interests occupy indigenous lands for timber or massive mines, and destroy ancient forests to raise cattle and crops for international markets. ‘The imbalance of power is enormous; the weak have no means of defending themselves, while the winners take it all.’

Mick Tsikas/AAP.

Carbon pricing: it’s a proven way to reduce emissions, but everyone’s too scared to mention it

Tony Wood

Australia’s emissions fell from 611 million tonnes of CO₂-equivalent in 2005 to 532 million tonnes in 2019, an average annual reduction of 5.6 million tonnes. But the government’s projections show this will slow to an average of only 2.4 million tonnes per year over the next 10 years. Achieving Labor’s target of net-zero by 2050 would require much faster emissions reduction than is currently taking place: about 25 million tonnes a year. Business groups and economists agree that putting a price on carbon is the best way to meet this objective in a low-cost way. But amid this climate policy hodgepodge, no one is talking about it any more.


Solar Plant New Norcia WA 2018. ESA/DO’Donnell.
flickr cc.

Australia already has a net zero emissions target, only the Morrison government denies it

Michael Mazengarb

Federal Labor’s renewed commitment to a net zero emissions target has ignited a new front in climate wars which have plagued Australian politics for more than a decade. But it has shown that the Morrison government now stands alone in opposing progress towards the decarbonisation of the Australian economy.

The Morrison government has quickly reverted to its pre-election stance of challenging Labor to reveal costings on its zero emissions target, and demands Labor produce a 30-year plan for the Australian economy. Meanwhile, the Coalition refuses to be challenged on the costs of failing to act.

Despite the Morrison government’s protestations, however, Australia has effectively already committed in a very tangible way to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.


Sam Mooy/AAP.

Australia’s housing system needs a big shake-up; here’s how we can crack this

Hal Pawson, Judith Yates, Vivienne Milligan

Despite two years of housing market cooling in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia stayed near the top of the global unaffordability league in 2019. And with prices rebounding in our two largest cities, that status is likely to be reinforced in 2020. Australia’s 30-year housing affordability decline has been among the worst.

This problem is fundamentally structural – not cyclical – in nature. Yes, periodic turbulence affects prices and rents. And, yes, market conditions vary greatly from place to place. Australia-wide, though, there is an underlying dynamic that – over the medium to long term – is driving housing affordability and rental stress in one general direction only: for the worse.


Memorial at Dachau. Duluoz cats. flickr cc.

The 75th anniversary of the deaths in Dachau of two founders of Young Christian Workers

Stefan Gigacz

On 27 January this year, the world commemorated the liberation by Soviet troops of the infamous camp at Auschwitz, where so many people perished during the Second World War.

Sadly, this was not the end for all camps. Many people would continue to die in other camps over the next few months.

Among those who perished in the Nazi death camp at Dachau in January and February 1945 were Fernand Tonnet and Paul Garcet (1901-1945), two members of the ‘founder trio’ of the Belgian JOC.


Tony Rinaudo, the forest maker.

Tony Rinaudo’s The Forest Maker

Reviewed by Augustine Doronilo

Up to 700 million people could be obliged to leave their homelands during the next three decades, because of increasing desertification in the landscapes where they live. In the opinion of many scientists, there is only one hope: to convince local farmers of ‘sustainable land management’. The first part of this book engages with Tony Rinaudo’s pioneering technique, Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration, or FMNR.

Now the Senior Climate Action Adviser at World Vision Australia, Rinaudo is known famously as the Forest Maker, a catalyst in transforming millions of hectares of barren dry land in the Niger Republic, West Africa. Through World Vision, this approach was introduced into 23 countries.


SPC video selection

Australian bushfire crisis

Dr Bruce Duncan CSsR discusses Australia’s bushfires.





On the 5th Anniversary of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis wants to share with us …






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