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It's never too late to make an impact on Climate Change

“We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it.”

Barack Obama

It was midnight in the UK and my partner was frantically scrolling through the feed in the WhatsApp group for updates. His free-standing house was in Blackheath in the Blue Mountains in NSW and it was reported that the fire was raging two streets away.

Australia was experiencing one of its worse bushfire seasons in decades and we were visiting my family for Christmas. Understandably he was distracted, anxiously wondering if his precious possessions would be safe.

That was the first time that I began to think seriously about climate change and its impact on our lives. Like most people, I got overwhelmed when news feeds flashed images of catastrophic floods across the ocean and screaming people rushing out of burning buildings. It all felt surreal, too big, and I couldn't see how my small actions would make a difference. Deep down I hoped that someone else would do something.

It blows my mind that we have people who still deny the impact of climate change.

Climate change continues to cause changes in weather patterns, which leads to hotter and drier conditions in many regions. These conditions create the perfect conditions for wildfires to ignite and spread rapidly.

In the case of the recent fires in Maui, the combination of dry vegetation, strong winds and high temperatures created the perfect environment for the fires to start and spread quickly.

On our return from the UK, my partner and I drove through the charred remains of the bush around his home, and I was moved to tears. I vowed that day that instead of waiting for others to take action, I would make a difference no matter how small.

I set the intention to reduce my carbon footprint as much as possible.

I began by declaring that I would not buy any new clothes for 12 months effective immediately.

At the Redefining Ageing event that year, I wore the same outfit I had worn at the 2018 event. I love fashion and having worked in the industry for over 30 years I know firsthand about the unethical practices of the rag trade.

I then embarked on a deep dive into the so-called ethical banks and found that most paid lip service to being ethical but on closer investigation most lacked congruency. I closed my account with the Commonwealth Bank and Westpac, and I opened three accounts with Bank Australia. I chose Bank Australia because they do not lend to coal, gas or oil extraction, or fossil fuel electricity generation. Nor fund firearms or tobacco companies.

My attention then turned to my superfund and again after hundreds of hours of research, I settled on Verve Super, which is an ethically focused super founded by women, for women. Verve promises that over $230 million of its members' super will not be invested in fossil fuels and other harmful industries.

I also wanted to embed these values in the Silver Sirens' guiding principle.

Silver Sirens seeks to lead by example on environmental issues, making decisions and taking actions that reduce our carbon footprint at all events.

This is why we do not provide printed programs at our events, and we encourage attendees not to print out their tickets but to always use the digital options.

This summer is forecast to be another big year of bushfires in Australia, and the recent fires in Maui serve as a reminder of the urgent need to address climate change and for each of us to take proactive measures however small, to protect our communities and natural resources.

By working together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and implement sustainable practices, we can mitigate the impacts of climate change and create a safer and more resilient future.

From Hollywood to haybales

"Eaters will be the ultimate arbiter of where and how food is grown and how the land is cared for...We all have a stake in the future of food and farming"

Gabrielle Chan - Why you should give a f*ck about farming (Penguin books)

Who among us does not remember the iconic mini-series ‘The Thorn Birds’, watching the almost ethereal Rachel Ward in the arms of Australia’s own Bryan Brown and wanting them to find a way to their ‘happily ever after’?

Although it didn’t work out for their characters, it did work out for Rachel and Bryan, who have been happily married and living on a farm in Northern NSW for many years.

The stunning actress turned away from acting but has recently released a documentary called ‘Rachel’s Farm’, detailing her commitment to regenerative farming practices and their potential to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

As a vocal supporter of sustainable agriculture, she has played a pivotal role in raising awareness about the importance of transitioning from conventional farming methods to regenerative approaches.

Regenerative farming encompasses a set of holistic practices that aim to restore and enhance the health of the soil, biodiversity, and overall ecosystem.

Unlike conventional agriculture, which often relies heavily on synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, regenerative farming emphasises principles such as cover cropping, rotational grazing, minimal soil disturbance, and the use of compost and organic matter to improve soil structure and fertility.

Rachel Ward's work centres on promoting these methods as a means to combat climate change while ensuring food security for future generations.

The effects of regenerative farming on climate change are profound and multi-faceted. Healthy soils enriched with organic matter not only hold more water, reducing the risk of erosion and drought, but they also act as reservoirs for carbon dioxide. By adopting regenerative practices, farmers can increase soil carbon content, effectively drawing down atmospheric CO2 and mitigating its impact on global warming.

Additionally, regenerative farming can contribute to reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Traditional agricultural practices, such as tilling and overuse of chemical inputs, release significant amounts of carbon dioxide and other potent greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. By minimising these activities and focusing on sustainable techniques, regenerative farming helps decrease the overall carbon footprint of agriculture.

Regenerative farming promotes biodiversity by creating habitats for beneficial insects, birds, and other wildlife. This, in turn, fosters natural pest control, reducing the need for synthetic pesticides that can have detrimental effects on both the environment and human health.

Rachel Ward's efforts in advocating for regenerative farming highlight the interconnectedness of agriculture and climate change. By championing these practices, she has contributed to a growing movement that recognises the potential of sustainable farming to not only address food security but also play a crucial role in the fight against climate change. As more farmers and communities embrace regenerative farming principles, there is a promising opportunity to build a more resilient, carbon-neutral agricultural system that supports both the planet and its inhabitants.

Her documentary ‘Rachel’s Farm’ was released to cinemas on August 9.

Jody Webster

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