In the past twelve months, we have organised meetings with guest speakers and documentary films covering the topics of renewable energy, caring for people and planet in our health system, ways to make rental properties more energy efficient, the importance of trees in a changing climate, electric vehicles, battery storage systems, and the remarkable story of the Indian eco-activist, Vandana Shiva, in her battles to overcome the monopolies of the agricultural giant Monsanto.
Our action groups have continued to evolve, and I thank all who have been involved in each of these groups for their enthusiasm and dedication to trying to educate and involve the community. There have been many articles during the past year in the Ensign dealing with the issue of waste management, and I know that these articles will continue to materialise.
It is a testament to the fact that there are many people in our community who feel very strongly about these issues, that we have had marvellous attendances at most of the events we have organised. A highlight for me personally was listening to Dr Greg Moore's talk on trees in our urban landscape, and their importance in a changing climate, with an enthralled audience of around 130 totally engaged for almost 2 hours with his talk and answers to questions. I just hope that our recording of that presentation has since been viewed by Councillors and officers at Benalla who were unfortunately unable to attend the meeting, as it is information such as that given by Dr Moore that is critical to shaping policies that will help us mitigate and cope with climate change effects.
Occasionally, I revisit the transcripts of the presentations that the four student leaders of Benalla P-12 College made in 2021, when we urged Council to declare a climate emergency. I do this because it helps to remind me of why we are fighting to create a better and safer future. Each year, there are many young people who stand out in our community as potential future leaders, by their actions, and we hope that they continue to utilise those gifts of leadership, wherever they choose to live. We as the older members must encourage them to take up those leadership roles.
I have been challenged by my four years as President, as I have needed to try to be informed across a wide array of sustainability topics, some of which I will readily admit that I am no expert in! However, the one thing that I have been certain about is the need for the world community to urgently halt the advance of climate change, and the profligate use of the Earth's resources. Someone recently asked me why I write letters to the paper - did I get some sort of self-satisfaction from doing so? Well no - I write when I hear or read about an issue or action that needs more serious attention than it was being given, and usually on behalf of the youth who don't read the newspaper, but directed to the older folk who do.
Finally, my sincere gratitude to the committee and all others who have given so much of their time to the causes espoused by BSFG over the past year, and a special mention to Peter and Bev for their work on our websites, and Ian for his Newsletter production, each of them over many years.
Peter Holmes - May 2023