Erupting Volcano


Click here to learn how to build an erupting volcano

Well, it’s the last day of the school holidays and, like our Premier Morris Iemma who also disappeared from duty to be with his family, I’m baaaaaaaaaaaack!

The boys and I decided to finish the holidays “with a bang not a whimper”. Last night we added to the world’s greenhouse emissions by building an erupting volcano – a sort of sendup of whether carbon dioxide is manmade or natural! After being in the ABC’s audience for “The Great Global Warming Swindle”, which denies that global warming is caused by CO2, I decided that the greatest political act I could do for the world was to encourage my boys to love, respect and understand “real” science! I still feel disappointed that the ABC stooped so low as to become part of “The Swindle” – a programme which I wrote about on my 24th May blog. Its discrepancies keep being edited out or changed as people draw attention to them – like Martin Durkin’s claim that volcanoes produce more CO2 than human activities. In fact, the lower limit for global subaerial volcanic degassing of carbon dioxide is 300 million tonnes per year. By comparison, scientists at the Carbon Dioxide Information Center, Oak Ridge laboratory, estimated that 26,778 million tonnes of carbon dioxide were emitted by human use of fossil fuels in 2003. Carbon dioxide emissions from volcanoes, therefore, amount to less than 2 per cent of the annual emissions of carbon dioxide from human use of fossil fuels.

I also feel disappointed that so many of the selected audience were members of the Citizens Electoral Council (I know, I was sitting in between them!) How could that even be remotely representative of our society? – so much for balanced journalism. Cam Smith, an anti-hate campaigner, wrote a review of this rent-a-crowd in Crikey:

One audience member went the climate change believers for relying on methodology “disproved 400 years ago” while three others accused them of running a secret Eugenics agenda. “This is Hitler’s Nazi race science!” yelled one.

The CEC was originally an electoral front for the Australian League of Rights (increasingly elderly “patriots” largely concerned with Holocaust denial and Jewish conspiracies), until it was stacked by local followers of Lyndon Larouche and disagreements over the status of the Queen (ALOR loved her, the Larouchites reckon she runs an international drug empire) forced a split.

Since then, the CEC has spent most of their time losing elections (badly) and raising money (and lots of it).

The CEC is especially dark on the idea of man-made climate change. It is, they say, a fraud perpetrated by agents of the British Crown who wish to kill off billions of people. Why? Because they’re the British, you fool! They’re evil — it’s what they do!

The Larouchites much prefer the theories put forward by Swindle, because it shifts the danger from the consequences of man-made global warming, which are difficult to fight, to the dangers of genocidal global warming proponents, who can be defeated with the stroke of a pen.

So why did it seem like the audience was loaded with Larouchites?

The ABC told Crikey that viewers who contacted the station to congratulate or complain in the lead-up to the airing of the documentary were invited to apply to participate in the studio audience. A balanced mix of believers and sceptics were then selected. The ABC estimates there were around five members of the CEC in the audience of 80.

According to the Larouchites, there were 18 — three of whom were kicked out prior to the show for being “potentially disruptive”. Four of the remaining members asked questions.

Blogs are an important way of countering the sort of rubbish that the ABC chose to screen.
My personal action last Thursday when I went down to the ABC, and one of the easiest ones I’ve done yet, was to choose to have dinner at the Agincourt Hotel – it markets itself as “the first truly carbon neutral hotel in Australia”.


And now to quickly catch up on all the actions I’ve taken in the last week.

Monday 9th – Instead of buying lollies for the boys as a treat I bought them some fresh sugarcanes at the Maleny Co-op – none of us had ever tasted natural sugar out of a cane before so we all enjoyed it – and we walked away cane in hand with no packaging; Celebrated NAIDOC week (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) by learning about the Bunya tree as a source of bushtucker (a talk at Maleny Library) and the boys spent time exploring a new library (instead of a MacDonalds!); Being in Queensland on holiday with limited access for political action I voted on every global warming poll I could find on the web.

Tuesday 10th – My mother asked me for help to remove one of those fold-down couch beds because its folding mechanism had broken. Although I’m not generally a fix-it type of person, I decided I couldn’t bear a whole couch becoming redundant so fiddled with the mechanism and surprisingly got it working (really impressed myself) – one less couch in landfill, and one less needing to be manufactured to replace it.

This was also the day we flew home from Queensland and, while I couldn’t reverse the fact that we were flying, we did at least keep and take back the ear plug headphones that we’d received on the way up; reused them on the homeward trip. I also acted on Josephine’s tip about serviettes and said no to them wherever I could – they came with absolutely everything on the plane. Decided that actively saying no to each waiter and shop assistant all day was a form of political action.

Wednesday 11th July – On the political front I was interviewed by a student from Lithgow High doing an assignment on Global Warming and What Young People Can Do. I also started researching composting toilets but came to the conclusion that it’s probably too difficult (mainly because it’s so cold in Blackheath) to install them here. The boys went to a birthday party and instead of buying wrapping paper we used some white paper I had on a roll from reverse garbage and they decorated it … much nicer and more personal. I’m going to try to never buy new

wrapping paper again if I can. You can wrap presents using all sorts of things like old maps, magazines & newspapers, old scarves ….

Thursday 12th – Great Global Warming Swindle; dinner at the Agincourt Hotel & met with local filmmakers to hatch ideas

Friday 13th – We held our comedy fundraiser “Conference for sole traders” at the Golf Club to raise funds for solar panels for the school. It was a great night. I also met with a Climate Action Now member to do some planning; made the next stage of my sour dough bread; met with the filmmakers again; and read on Grist that it’s better not to put a brick in your toilet because they disintegrate … a plastic bag is better

Saturday 14th – Talked to one of the people who came to the show last night and they wondered if they could offset their travel by donating money to the school for our solar panel. Liked the idea but will continue to research this as a possibility. On the personal front I decided that while I can I’ll stop buying tomatoes in cans and either use all the ones I’ve frozen or bottled or buy them fresh.

Sunday 15th – Continued the long saga of making the sourdough bread and made cupcakes for the boys. They were really keen to have hundreds & thousands on them so, given the choice at the local shop, I bought a very large container rather than small ones that cost more and used more wrapping.


Made and edited the video of the boys building their volcano. Thought about what an important political tool filmmaking can be – especially in an era when I can no longer even trust the ABC. Have begun to plan lots of short films that can be used to educate about global warming. My personal action was to make a pact to no longer buy from Woollies or Coles (except for emergencies) – apparently Woollies is currently trying to squeeze Coles out of the market – it may well be possible that in the future one single company could have control of the bulk of Australia’s fresh food distribution. Well they certainly won’t have control of my bread production.


This is my final loaf of sourdough … it was absolutely delicious. Today we finished and ate it and I spent the day hatching plans and trying to contact politicians about an initiative to get Blackheath to become even “greener”.

10 thoughts on “Erupting Volcano

  1. Patrick

    I actually came down in support of the ABC in the end because, backed up by the Lateline panel after screening the doco, it did more to emphasise the nature of denial in the community and what their tools are.
    Not that one will ever change the minds of the hard core, but it is useful information to have for the swinging denier.
    You are doing a great job and I congratulate you on it.
    The aeroplane thing is still a major impediment in western society. It is growing rapidly and the notion of buying appeasement in the form of offsets is just not true.
    At present there are two members of our Bathurst Community Climate Action Network taking or about to, take overseas air flights. They have family overseas and that is such a powerful pull, but family connections overseas is an exponentially growing phenomenon and if even a small percentage of people exercise their family connection rights then the growth of CO2 in the atmosphere is set to keep expanding.
    At this point, I don’t think many grasp what it means to reduce our output to the scale required, do you?
    I have been very busy lately and not always able to look up your daily briefs, oops unintentional pun on an earlier blog of yours, but am always heartened when I do.
    The bread looks excellent.

    kind regards,


  2. ClareSnow

    Re: using headphones on planes
    I don’t travel by plane very often (not because I care so much about all those emissions, but because I can’t afford it :P) but when I do I go on that cheapo airline that makes you pay for everything, including headphones. I never buy them (saving money, not resources), but they always say you can re-use them later or bring your own. So I’m guessing any headphones would work (all headphone devices have the same plug). I’d still rather use my own mp3 player so i can choose my own music or book.

    Cheers, Clare.

  3. Lis

    Hi Patrick – so nice to hear from you and I’m glad you like the bread – that’s a real compliment!
    My biggest worry about the ABC screening the programme, is that I’ve been bumping into people who didn’t watch the panel afterwards and the show’s persuasiveness revitalised the old illusion that scientists still haven’t agreed.
    I’m hoping that I’ll never fly again. While family visits can be an excuse, it is at least a better excuse than people who regularly holiday because of cheap flights, or business people who fly more often than I catch the train- when they could, just as easily, use video-conferencing.
    I think it’s almost impossible to grasp the scale of what we have to do. I think about it daily, as you know, and even I find it hard.
    .. oh no … you saw “that” blog … and you came back for more? great to hear from you and thank you for all the hard work you always do too

    Hi Clare – good point about taking your own headphones. This is the only flight my boys have ever been on (and quite feasibly their last) so I got sucked into allowing them the headphones because they were so excited about them. I was very lucky that they didn’t like flying so hopefully they have their own natural deterrent.

  4. susan

    Often I despair with my family. My 3 older children are in their 20’s and not living at home. So I can no longer order them to do as I say, not as I do. But I had a break-through this week-I think I have finally ‘nagged’ my husband into a few small feats of sustainable energy reuse. Possibly I caught him at a good moment when he was not mentally phased out and doing more than 2 things at once.
    Dear soul- he is my dishwasher; for ages he has washed up in a square basin in the kitchen sink so I can recycle the water into a polyhouse where I grow my seedlings. Being kitchen waste I can’t officially divert it as grey-water into my garden. Yes, it takes a while each winter to remind him if he is not going to reboil the water from the hot water bottles he needs to add that water to a bucket, also for recycling.
    Wonder of wonder, Miracles of miracles…today I found him using a jug to collect the cold water as the hot tap water heated up and then adding it to our water filter AND giving a drop or two to the cat and dog bowls.
    AND at night he is turning off all the appliances in his ‘home office’ with those little LED lights.
    How many times do you need to be told the time in just one room? And the clocks never say the same thing at the same time.
    My freezer is full of frozen tomatoes too Liz. I’ve given up drying them, cause none of us would eat them. Now I am dreaming of fresh tomatoes in winter so I bought a pre-fab assemble yourself green house to go on my North facing wall at the front of the house which should be delivered over the next fortnight.
    Ah well I’m going to need more recycled water to quench the thirst of them too!
    I wonder what else I can reuse…

  5. Lis

    I can’t wait to hear how you go with the tomatoes … wouldn’t it be fabulous to get them all year round.
    Congratulate your husband for me!

  6. Sue

    On balance I think the ABC took the right approach showing the GGWS with the panel discussion afterwards. If they hadn’t aired it then perhaps a commercial channel would have, with even less desirable consequences. I confess I haven’t watched the whole program yet (I taped it), but saw some of the debate afterwards and read a lot of the comments on the internet forum. It was disheartening to see how shockingly ignorant some of them were, but if nothing else at least it shows that a large cross-section of people are now aware of and engaged in discussing the issues. Unfortunately the more political the debate gets, the more entrenched in their positions people become. I guess all we can do is keep highlighting the agreed facts and refuting the worst of the myths, along with setting an example by our own personal actions.

    On the personal side, I’ve been taking small steps, e.g. removed my name from a surprisingly large number of mailing lists, installed weatherseal around the front door (which made a huge difference to the temperature inside!), walked or cycled to the local shops instead of using the car, turned off even more lights and recycled even more water, kept the gas heater on a lower temp. in Economy mode and rugged up instead. We’ve been watching the Carbon Cops on ABC and the kids are really getting into too – like me they are horrified at the incredible energy wastage in so many households and now take it in turns being “Greenhouse Gas Monitor”.

    Like many families, reducing our car useage is the biggest challenge. I drew the line when the boys wanted to walk >2km to soccer training late last Friday – I didn’t fancy walking back in the dark and freezing cold, with no dinner on the table when we got home! I’ve decided that will be my next political action: lobbying the soccer association in an effort to reduce the distances we all have to travel to weekend games (up to an hour away). Kids & parents alike complain about the time & cost of away games and recent media reports showed that car use for leisure/recreation activities is just as big an issue as commuting for work. I’d appreciate support from any other soccer mums out there!

  7. Sue

    I forgot to add, I’ve been recycling birthday & Xmas wrapping paper for years – sometimes the same wrapping gets passed back and forth amongst family members several times! I think cards for kids are also a dreadful waste of money & resources, so we make our own using the endless notes sent home from school on coloured paper. We glue two A4 pages together back-to-back, fold them in half and then the kids decorate them with their own drawings.

  8. Lis

    I’d love to help lobby the soccer association because it’s our biggest car usage during the soccer season too. We first thought of asking for a lift but then it means that we can’t go down to watch the boys (having twins takes up too many seats!)One of the biggest difficulties I face is that I can be really strict on myself about things (and enjoy it because I usually discover that I’m happier with less or with the changes I’m making) – but I angst more about my children. If it were me, for example, I simply wouldn’t go to soccer. Mind you I’d probably benefit from going!
    I worry about the boys’ future and the boys’ present in equal measure and sometimes it’s hard to know what to do.Lobbying the association is a great solution. How should we do it?

  9. Sue

    I have the same dilemma about kids’ sport. I’d really prefer to stay home but they do get a lot of benefit from it. With 3 boys I can’t easily car pool, but I do occasionally take another child with us so at least we’re saving someone else’s petrol! I’m gathering some info this weekend about the way our soccer comp is organised before I launch into the lobbying. I’ll be in touch with you next week to discuss where we go from here. I guess you travel west to Lithgow for games but we play anywhere from Wentworth Falls to Pitt Town (an hour away nr Windsor). I can’t understand why there isn’t just a local comp especially for the younger age groups.

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