Powerful Owl (ninox strenua) Photograph by Gary Heery

    

ENDANGERED:  It is the United Nation’s International Year of Biodiversity, and this arresting image of a Powerful Owl by one of Australia’s best photographers Gary Heery, illustrated a recent article on endangered animals and  birds in the Sydney region. In the 200 years since colonisation we have recorded the biggest biodiversity decline of any continent. A recent report, Into Oblivion: The disappearing native mammals of northern Australia, says populations have dropped by an average of 75%! Causes include different fire patterns post Aboriginal dispossession, feral cats, and the destructive spread of the introduced cane toads.    

CARBON PRICE:  It took everone by surprise when the CEO of BHP Billiton, the world’s largest miner, unexpectedly warned that Australia should “look beyond coal” and towards other energy sources, and acknowledged the likelihood, and necessity, of a global price on carbon, and that we will be disadvantaged if we don’t act quickly. This coming from the business end of town is a “game changer” as they say. These comments and the “agreement” with the Greens, have galvanised the government to suddenly be more proactive on this issue, after going to the election saying they would not be putting a price on carbon in this term of parliament. This disappointed many people who probably then voted Green. Apparently 32 countries have already made considerable effort towards the setting and reaching of emission targets, and, importantly, even India and China have expressed the intention to act.    

Australia’s energy sector produces just more than half of Australia’s emissions and 90% of carbon emissions from our electricity sector come from coal-fired power stations. It was alarming to read that the World Bank is spending billions of dollars to build new coal-fired power stations. Our new Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd was at the United Nations recently criticising them for not keeping their promises, and urging them to work more effectively. Corruption and inertia are among other charges made against the UN over the years, which really needs brave and imaginative leadership if they are to provide concerted global action on issues such as climate change. 
 
STATISTIC:  73 million sharks are killed each year for shark fin soup, particularly in Asia, making them endangered. My old joke is I haven’t been in the water since I saw Jaws, and although I live near beautiful beaches, I just won’t swim. I don’t want them to be extinct however!
 
TONY THE TIGER: It has been so gratifying that many of you – or at least enough of you, signed the petition for Tony The Tiger for me to receive thanks on our behalf from Dee DeSantis leading this campaign. Tony could go to an accredited big cat sanctuary if the owner allowed him to, and I have asked her how we could keep up the pressure apart from adding more signatures.  
 
You may also want to sign this petition to support banning exotic animal circuses, and see other online petitions. 
Animals Australia—the voice for animals
Ban Exotic Animal Circuses from Ku-Ring-Gai Council

Please sign this petition to help reinstate the ban.   

Ban Exotic Animal Circuses from Ku-Ring-Gai Council   

Other Petitions 

READING: I loved The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai. She is a great story teller and the book was a preparation for me visiting Darjeeling next month – although I’m certainly hoping not to encounter any “insurgencies”. I’m looking forward to reading Hugh Mackay’s What Makes Us Tick; The 10 desires that drive us (Hachette). Apparently we long for “peace of mind”, but are energised by change. The busiest person in the world, environmentalist Tim Flannery has also written another book Here on Earth: An Argument for Hope (Text Publishing).  From a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald September 2010, I think he is optimistically suggesting that should we act soon, and in total unison globally, humans could manage the ecological and environmental challenges.   

    

Chanee Brule of 'Good Morning Kalimantan'

    

WILDLIFE MEN: Malcolm Douglas, who was one of the first to make wildlife documentaries in Australia (in the 1970s), died in an accident this week.  Like many others, including George Adamson, he was a hunter turned conservationist.  He was followed in Australia by Les Hiddens, the “Bush Tucker Man” and then Steve Irwin.  I haven’t been following the indomitable Bindi Irwin’s no doubt brilliant career.  But fortunately, except for “Bear” Grylls, there seems to be a new generation emerging of sophisticated animal and wildlife people not throwing themselves at crocodiles especially.  These include television’s ‘Bondi Vet’, handsome Chris Brown, and Chanee Brule in  ‘Good Morning Kalimantan’ on ABC 2.  Personable French born Chanee really loves  animals, especially gibbons, and he saves animals and their threatened habitats.  Many  listeners to his radio program ring him about animals in need of rescue, and he has an island sanctuary upriver for their recovery and rehabilitation, prior to release.  See Chanee’s Kalaweit Project  for further information.  Even the very sophisticated Stephen Fry has made a wildlife documentary Last Chance to See, coming to television here shortly.      

    

Australia Day, 2010 by Nicholas May - On a hot 35 degree Australia Day, people flocked to Ben Buckler rocks to cool down.

      

SYDNEY LIFE PHOTOGRAPHY PRIZE: With Sandy Edwards (photographer and curator) and Robert McFarlane (photographer, critic, blogger, http://www.ozphotoreview.blogspot.com/),  I judged the Sydney Life Photography Prize.  Months ago, we had the very difficult task of selecting 22 out of 500 entries.  There were many good photographs, and Sydney is so photogenic.  We chose Nicholas May’s Australia Day 2010 as the winner as it was a marvellous photograph, was so Australian, and had very interesting ambiguities and resonances.  The photographs are hung as large banners in Hyde Park, Sydney until 24th October, as part of the City of Sydney’s Art & About festival, and other entries can be viewed at http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/artandabout/.  

    

The Twins by Ian Darling - Alan and John are well known identities of Sydney's streets, and have spent much of their lives living rough together.

 
 
VISIT: OPRAH is to visit Australia  and do a show in the  Sydney Opera House in December. When we appeared on her program last year, we took her presents of Aboriginal art books, and I am very much hoping she connects with Aboriginal people and their art when she is here.
  
DON’T MISS:  The Open Weekend (2,3 & 4 October 2010) at the Art Gallery of NSW, a fascinating program celebrating Aboriginal Art and Culture. See http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/exhibitions/open-weekend/ .
These events are part of art & soul, a 3 part television documentary series on Aboriginal art, an exhibition and a publication, and for an interview with the presenter, curator and writer Hetti Perkins, see the SMH article.

       

Bondi Beach Local by Paris Spellson - Udo takes off in his tinny at North Bondi. He is part of the local fishing club.