Category Archives: ecology

Commission to Screen Queensland Documentary on World Environment Day


Friday 1 June 2012

 

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission will host a World Environment Day screening of a documentary film depicting the struggle of Central Queensland communities against coal and gas extraction in their region.

Directed by US-based filmmaker Michael O’Connell, the film, Bimblebox, follows the story of Paola Cassoni, a resident of Alpha, Queensland, and co-owner of the Bimblebox Nature Refuge.

Bimblebox Nature Refuge is an 8000 ha property north of Alpha and directly in the path of the proposed ‘China First’ coal mine, an operation that, if given the go ahead, will be the world’s largest coal mine.

The documentary features interviews with leading academics, scientists, and former miners, as well as members of the communities impacted by mining. , It builds a picture of the broader implications of Australia’s mining boom, while focussing on one woman’s fight to protect the land she loves.

“This documentary was born out of the necessity” Ms Cassoni said, “to let the broader public know that our bush, our communities, our farms and our waters are going through a radical transformation.”

“It shows the daily battles and frustrations of ordinary people in dealing with both mining corporations and indifferent Governments,” she said.

It’s more than a hint that we need a new direction in energy consumption both at home and globally,” she added.

Mr O’Connell is an experienced environmental documentary film maker, having previously made Mountain Top Removal, a documentary which focussed on the issue of coal mining in the US region of Appalachia and received numerous awards including the ‘Reel Current’ award, presented by Al Gore, at the Nashville Film Festival.

“After making my film Mountain Top Removal I wanted to look at the global issue of mining and also explore the alternatives to fossil fuels.  Australia was a perfect place to do that,” Mr O’Connell said.

The Justice and Peace Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the Commission was keen to promote the broadest possible discussion of the issues surrounding coal mining and gas extraction in Queensland.

“This film gives us the chance to hear the views and feelings of people living in the central west of Queensland whose lives and lands will be directly affected by very large mining developments,” Mr Arndt said.

“Christians have a responsibility to care for the earth and to defend the human dignity of all people now and in the future,” he said.

“It is not only the very powerful voices of Government Ministers and mining company executives which must be heard, but also those of graziers, workers and families living in areas affected by the decisions and actions of government and business,” he said.

Bimblebox will screen at the Aspinall Centre, St Bernard’s Parish, Klumpp Road, Upper Mt Gravatt, at 7 p.m. on World Environment Day, Tuesday 5 June.

A panel of speakers will discuss the film after its screening and light refreshments will be served.

Donations to help cover costs will be gratefully accepted.  Bookings to help with catering may be made by e-mailing em.fl@bne.catholic.net.au or by phoning Sandi on 3336 9174.

South Coast Catholic Environmental Network to Form

 Friday 8 July 2011

A gathering to form a Catholic sustainability network on the Gold Coast will take place at Marymount College, Burleigh Waters, at the end of July.

The gathering has been organised after several months of discussions and planning between the Archdiocesan Justice and Peace Commission and a small group of Gold Coast Catholics committed to environmentally responsible practices.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the Commission has placed a high priority on supporting Catholics to embrace ecological sustainability in their parishes, schools, homes, workplaces and the community.

“Pope John Paul II called for an ‘ecological conversion’ in 1990 and we are trying to help Catholics to respond to that call,” Mr Arndt said.

The gathering will take place on Sunday 31 July from 11 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. in the Doyle Centre at Marymount College, Burleigh Waters.

“It seems very appropriate for us to hold this first gathering at the place where the Commission launched our very successful environmental project, Cool Communities, in 2003,” Mr Arndt said.

“Over 400 Catholic households participated in that project which helped them to find ways to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

“In the current circumstances where the impact of climate change is already being felt, it is important for us as Catholics to take action to care for the earth so that future generations do not face great difficulties,” he said.

The Director of Catholic Earthcare Australia, Luke Edwards, will speak about the ASSISI sustainability program at the gathering and the Gold Coast City Council and local environmental groups will give a presentation on what resources, opportunities and support is available for Catholics interested in promoting ecologically sustainable practices.

Mr Arndt said that an important part of the day would be discussions about what local Catholics are already doing in their schools, parishes and the community, what they would like to do in the future and what they need to take further steps.

It is also hoped that a number of local environmental groups will have displays at the gathering.

“The Commission wants to ensure that an opportunity for on-going gatherings, support and collaboration is provided,” he said.

“The Commission will endeavour to be a resource to support the maintenance and growth of this local network and its actions,” he said.

“If we get a good response on the South Coast, we hope this can spread to other parts of the Archdiocese,” he said.

“We think we can do a better job if we work with Catholics collaboratively in the communities where they live their faith,” he said.

Lunch, morning and afternoon tea will be provided.  Participants are asked to make a small donation to help with costs.

Bookings are appreciated.  Bookings and enquiries may be made by contacting Peter Arndt at arndtp@bne.catholic.net.au or 3336 9173.

For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.

 

NB  This release is issued with the approval of the Commission or its Executive under the provision of its Mandate which enables it to speak in its own right.  The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.

Commission Expresses Concern over Queensland Nickel and West Papuan Environmental Damage


Monday 4 July 2011

 

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission expressed its concerns about the environmental impact of nickel ore mining on an immensely significant marine ecosystem in the Indonesian province of West Papua.  The ore is shipped by Australian company, Queensland Nickel, for refining in Australia.

Queensland mining billionaire, Clive Palmer, heads Queensland Nickel.

Reports in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age on the weekend suggested that the mining of the nickel laterite used by Queensland Nickel is threatening the health of Raja Ampat, an immensely significant marine ecosystem which is home to over 600 islands, expansive coral reefs and countless fish species.

The Justice and Peace Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that Queensland Nickel should urgently investigate the environmental impact of nickel mining in Raja Ampat and the Australian Government should encourage the company to do so.

“Raja Ampat is an extraordinarily beautiful and important ecosystem which the reports indicate is being seriously damaged by clay soil being washed into the sea and onto the reefs as the mining process strips ore from islands in the region,” Mr Arndt said.

“Australian companies ought not to be involved or benefit, either directly or indirectly, from overseas mining operations which cause environmental havoc,” he said.

“Queensland Nickel says that it is committed to sustainable development and minimising environmental damage and we hope this means they will look into these reports urgently to ensure that their nickel ore suppliers are doing the right thing for the sake of this precious ecosystem,” he said.

“The report also indicates there may be corruption involved in the granting of mining licences in the area and squabbles within the local community as a result of the competing bids of various mining companies,” he said.

West Papua is a troubled province which has been a concern for the Commission for some years,” he said.

“It is plagued by conflict, human rights abuses by the Indonesian security forces, corruption and exploitation of the local tribal groups and the environment,” he said.

“There is nothing wrong with Queensland Nickel making a profit, but it needs to ensure that the rights of the local people and the security of the important ecosystem of Raja Ampat are fully protected in the process,” he said.

“We would also urge the Australian Government to assist Queensland Nickel to ensure that its overseas suppliers are looking after the interests of the people of West Papua and of the local environment,” he said.

“We would encourage Catholics to take an interest in such matters not only because they involve the welfare of our fellow human beings, but because caring for the earth is an essential part of living our Christian faith,” he said.

For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.

NB  This release is issued with the approval of the Commission or its Executive under the provision of its Mandate which enables it to speak in its own right.  The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.

Commission Issues Call for Climate Action


Monday 6 June 2011

 

 Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission today issued a statement calling for urgent and effective action on climate change.

The statement also called on Catholics to get involved in promoting effective action by government, industry and the community to address the serious threats posed by climate change.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the Commission is concerned that too much time is being wasted by ill-informed debates about climate science and by self-interest.

“We think it is time for people in the community and the Church to stop wasting time debating whether climate change is happening and whether human beings are the cause,” Mr Arndt said.

“The reality is that the proposition that the earth is warming is supported by the vast majority of scientists who are prepared to publish their findings in scientific journals and subject themselves to the searching scrutiny of their fellow scientists,” he said.

“They also agree with almost total certainty that human activity has caused this,” he said.

“We cannot waste any more time because the consequences of delay will be dreadful for future generations,” he said.

The Commission’s statement refers to a recent report of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences which summarises information about the current evidence for climate change and recommends urgent action to reduce carbon emissions.

Mr Arndt said that the Commission did not feel it had the capacity to make judgments about the different mechanisms being proposed for bringing about a transition in the Australian economy in which carbon emissions are drastically reduced.

“We do, however, feel strongly that policies need to bring about significant reductions in carbon emissions and that this means a move away from burning of fossil fuels and towards the use of renewable energy as the Pontifical Academy of Sciences report recommends,” he said.

“The Commission also sees the need for an adequate response,” he said.

“Both sides of politics are currently committing to a 5% reduction in carbon emissions and this is not likely to be enough if we are to avoid massive problems down the track,” he said.

“The Commission also stresses that the plight of those already suffering the consequences of climate change such as those in Pacific island nations need to be remembered,” he said.

“Those who are poor and vulnerable in Australia also need to be protected from the economic consequences of a transition to renewable energy,” he said.

“The Commission calls on everyone to work together to come up with a plan which effectively addresses the threats of climate change,” he said.

“We want to see political and economic self-interest put aside in favour of protecting the long term interests of God’s creation, the whole human family and all the precious ecosystems which sustain us,” he said.

For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.

NB  This release is issued with the approval of the Commission or its Executive under the provision of its Mandate which enables it to speak in its own right.  The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.

West Papua Solidarity

The West Papua Solidarity Group Brisbane will hold a gathering  on Thursday 12 May at which it will screen the award-winning film Strange Birds in Paradise.

We also expect to have a guest speaker, Rosa Moiwend, a researcher for the Justice & Peace Office in Jayapura, West Papua.  Rosa will speak on the implications for tribal groups of MIFEE, the proposed large scale food security estate to be established in West Papua.

The event will take place at the BCC Brisbane Square Library community meeting room.  Refreshments will be served from 5.30 p.m.  The talk will start at 6.15 p.m. and the film will be shown from 7.15 p.m.

All are welcome.  Entry is free, but donations to cover costs and assist our campaign work would be greatly appreciated.

Please RSVP to  Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476..

Lenten Call for Ecological Conversion

Monday 14 March 2011

 

Brisbane in Flood 2011 Tony Robertson

Brisbane in Flood 2011 Tony Robertson

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has urged Catholics to be open to the possibility of ecological conversion during Lent.

Pope John Paul II called for an “ecological conversion” in 1990 when he reflected on the significant environmental challenges facing the world today

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that Pope Benedict has continued to call for Christians to respond to the environmental challenges threatening the world, especially climate change.

 

Lent is a time of repentance and it is a good time for us Christians to reflect on how we and our lifestyles have contributed to the ecological damage and threats the world faces today,” Mr Arndt said.p>

 

“As we make more time to pray and reflect on scripture, we can take the opportunity to consider to what extent we are wedded to the consumerist culture which dominates our society and contributes significantly to the ecological damage our earth has suffered,” he said.

 

“Our fasting, too, can take many forms,” he said.

 

“Not only can we give up some food during Lent, but we could also consider giving up some of the practices which release carbon into the atmosphere,” he said.

 

“Consciously reducing some of the activities and practices which use electricity or petrol can help us to find a path to spiritual renewal which embraces care for the earth,” he said.

 

“Lent can be an important opportunity for us to draw closer to God who created the world and to our sisters and brothers who are already facing the consequences of dangerous climate change,” he said.

 

“God is constantly inviting us to draw closer to our neighbours including Pacific Islanders whose homes are being threatened by rising sea levels and to support them in their time of need,” he said.

 

“Embracing the challenge to care for the earth certainly means changing the way we live,” he said.

 

“It also requires us to be prophets who challenge the dominant consumerist culture in our society and the political, business and community leaders who maintain it,” he said.

 

“If we care for the earth and our brothers and sisters in every part of it, we must not only change our own behaviour, but also challenge our leaders to change their behaviour too,” he said.

 

“In the face of the serious threat posed by dangerous climate change, we cannot stay silent while our political and business leaders engage in political games which do not have the best interests of the earth and its people in mind,” he said.

 

“Let’s turn away from our own destructive behaviours and have the courage to also call on our society to turn away from approaches which threaten our world with even greater damage,” he said.

 

For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476. 

 NB  This release is issued with the approval of the Commission or its Executive under the provision of its Mandate which enables it to speak in its own right.  The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane. 

The Church & Justice

The Church & Justice
ImageEvery day, staff in agencies like Catholic Care and Vinnies provide support to families struck by unemployment and the grind of poorly paid, insecure and intermittent work. They experience, first hand, the poverty caused by a market that has not provided worthwhile employment opportunities or training that would allow people to get into the workplace and bargain for pay above safety net wages.

They have also witnessed the impact of public policy that has sought to increase worker productivity by deregulating workplaces and to lift participation in the workforce by restrictions on social security. Broadly speaking, these changes may have benefited highly paid workers and unemployed people with skills. They have been of little benefit for workers and unemployed people who have minimal bargaining power and remain ‘unattractive’ to the market. The clearest indication of this is the declining value of minimum wages and income support.

ACSJC, Pastoral letter for the Feast of St Joseph the Worker 2010

Heed Pope’s Call in Wake of Copenhagen

Sunday 20 December 2009

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has called on Catholics to heed Pope Benedict’s call for a greater sense of ecological responsibility in his 2010 World Day of Peace Message.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that concerted efforts were now needed by all people of goodwill to encourage and support the Australian Government’s efforts to implement and strengthen commitments contained in the Copenhagen Accord on climate change.

He said that, while many people committed to strong and urgent global action on climate change were very disappointed by the Copenhagen outcome, the agreement is a positive first step in a long journey towards an effective response to climate change.

“We should welcome the acknowledgement that global temperatures should be kept to below two degrees to avoid the worst consequences of climate change,” Mr Arndt said.

“It is also important that wealthy, developed nations have agreed to work towards a $100 billion a year fund to assist poorer countries to deal with the impact of climate change,” he said.

“And it is also vital that highly developed nations like the USA and significant emerging economies like China fulfill their commitment to control their greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

“Despite these advances, we still have a long way to go if we are to have the ‘global solidarity’ for which Pope Benedict called in his World Day of Peace Message,” he said.

“Small island states like Tuvalu, low-lying Asian countries like Bangladesh and many poor countries in Africa are vulnerable to the damaging consequences of climate change and wealthy countries like Australia and the USA must not short change the people in these countries in their climate change action,” he said.

“The representatives of poorer countries expressed their exasperation with the unwillingness of the leaders of many wealthy countries to make a more wholehearted commitment to address climate change,” he said.

“If their concerns are not heard and addressed effectively, global tensions will mount and the peace we all long for will elude us, as the Pope indicates,” he said.

“Politicians around the world seem to be hampered in their response by the short term economic and political costs of an effective response to the threat of climate change,” he said.

“We must try to encourage our own leaders to embrace the ‘inter-generational solidarity’ which Pope benedict called for,” he said.

“We must not only encourage our leaders to take effective action for the sake of the many who will suffer serious consequences in the next couple of decades, but also commit ourselves to protecting the interests of future generations,” he said.

“Pope Benedict reminds us of the indivisible relationship between God, human beings and the created order,” he said.

“We must take care of the Earth if our relationship with God  is to be healthy,” he said.

For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.

NB  This release is issued with the approval of the Commission or its Executive under the provision of its Charter which enables it to speak in its own right.  The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.