Melbourne: a green city?

There are a number of wonderful initiatives happening in the city of Melbourne. If you are wandering around the city keep your eyes peeled for sustainable actions – big and small.

A Melbourne fact: The now ubiquitous KeepCup was invented in Melbourne! (And a really good example of how thinking green can make you money! Read more at

While in the city keep a lookout for one of the many green buildings or features such as vertical gardens in the city. Here’s a list to get you started:

  • Green buildings
    • Council House 2
    • foyer of 60 Leicestershire Street
    • Pixel Building, 205 Queensberry Rd, Carlton
    • foyer of the EPA Building, Victoria Street
    • ANZ Building, Docklands (note wind turbines on roof)
    • Szencorp Building, 40 Albert Rd South Melbourne
  • the solar panels at Queen Victoria Market
  • vertical garden, Melbourne Central
  • beehives and vertical gardens, Alto Hotel Melbourne
  • Guildford Lane Gallery green wall

Worth reading and quoting

A lovely thing happened once when I was teaching Geography in Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs. Picture your typical 15yo surfie kid who doesn’t like school much because he just wants to be outside catching waves or playing footy. We had been studying urbanisation and Melbourne’s urban sprawl, and this kid offered, “Melbourne should grow up, not out“.

I’ve always thought I should it printed on a T-shirt.

Elizabeth Farelly’s article from ‘The Age’ “Food for thought: Carr by name, car by nature” raises some good points about our nation’s “sub-urban obsession”, with our miles and miles of roadways. In particular, “Who’d inhabit the concrete jungle when they could live with birds and trees? It’s so worth the two-hour drive … So wrong. The answer is not to escape cities, but to reclaim and transform them. To make them our luscious oases, dripping in greenery, with vine-shaded streets and rice-paddy clad office blocks. With our help, our cities can become sanctuaries of sumptuous delight.” What a beautiful image!

Read more:–carr-by-name-car-by-nature-in-office-20130116-2ctpb.html#ixzz2Ke0xgNRJ

Green_wall_Paris (Green wall, Paris – creative commons)

When can we accept climate change as fact?

bushfire tree‘Extreme weather events’ seem to be becoming the norm.

Brisbane is under water again – a once-in-100 year event that has happened twice in three years. Meanwhile the Australian bushfire threats seem to be worse than the worst only 3 years ago.

The news seems worse when put into a global context of global ice melting at frightening rates (‘Antarctic melt rate up and rising‘, 2012 and ‘Staggering Arctic ice loss smashes melt records‘, 2012), the worst droughts on record in USA (New York Times 2012) and Amazon droughts – 2 once-in-a-hundred-years events in 5 years (‘Alarming Amazon droughts may have global fallout’).

The question is of course – when will we stop listening to ‘climate change sceptics’ and start accepting that the vast bulk of evidence is pointing to unprecedented climate change correlating with unprecedented levels of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity?

Unfortunately perhaps the only time people will accept climate change is a reality will be when the devastation it has wrought will be incontrovertible, limitless, unescapable and – worst – unstoppable.

Meanwhile as Australia faces ‘worst-ever’ droughts, bushfires and floods every summer, climate change scepticism seems to be muted in Australian political debate.

Tony Abbott has promised again to repeal the carbon tax – but his earlier denials of climate change haven’t been heard in the first few hours of the marathon that will be the run-up to the next election.

To see Tony Abbott deny climate change and yet advocate a carbon tax watch this interview from 2009:

The historical vacillations of Abbott on the carbon tax make interesting reading, but perhaps are a good indication of the popular climate change around climate change, especially when ‘severe weather events’ happen.

More proof perhaps that humans are all Doubting Thomases – we only believe when we can see and feel the results for ourselves. It’s just that we can’t afford to wait to see and feel the results of climate change!

(Image courtesy of Alexis /

Grow Your Own

An interesting story about growing your own food: “Pushing the boundaries of self-sustenance” in The Age yesterday.

Ricky Somerville converted his back garden using aquaponics to produce an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. Chooks eat the vegie scraps, bees produce honey in the front garden and he even raises trout and silver perch in the water tanks.

There is something particularly mouth-watering about eating fresh food – and we can’t think of anything fresher about eating vegies and fish harvested from your back garden.

What raised discussions for us was the idea that growing your own wasn’t particularly easy or economical, what with the cost of setting up the complicated aquaponics system.

Often with sustainability we often emphasise the economical advantages of solutions such as energy saving solutions saving the consumer money too. However there are other benefits of making sustainable lifestyle choices – how many can you think of?

Perhaps we should stop thinking about sustainability in terms of how we can save a few dollars, and start thinking about how we can save the earth in a few easy steps!

You can also watch Ricky on his youtube channel

aquaponics copy Image from The Age