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  Environment, psychology and health news
A monthly update of environment, psychology and health news

November 2016

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

More interesting news on the environment and psychology from a variety of sources.   Many thanks to Sam Keast for compiling this edition. 


Susie Burke

Public Interest, Environment and Disaster Response
twitter:  @BurkePsy.

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Turn It Off: An Action Research Study of Top Management Influence on Energy Conservation in the Workplace

By Sally V. Russell, Alice Evans, Kelly S. Fielding and Christopher Hill.

This paper report the results of an intervention study conducted at a large Australian hospital that used the influence of top management commitment and prompts to encourage energy conservation behaviour by office-based employees. Results showed significant changes in behaviour, perceptions and organisational culture over the course of the study, and demonstrated that the intervention was most successful for behaviours where employees have individual responsibility. 

Read full paper here 

Senate Inquiry to transition from coal-fired power

A Senate inquiry into the retirement of coal-fired power stations has recommended the Federal Government create a comprehensive energy transition plan to help with the ordered closure of the country's coal-powered plants.

The interim report from the Environment and Communications References Committee  was tabled in Parliament on 28th November.

•That the Federal Government adopts an energy transition plan and reforms the National Electricity Market rules
•Develop a mechanism for the orderly retirement of coal-fired power stations.
•Putting in place pollution-reduction objectives in line with the country's obligations under the Paris Agreement
•Create an energy transition authority to plan the sector's transition to renewable power generation

For the first time ever a Senate committee has said that Australia should have a plan for the orderly retirement of coal-fired power stations and their replacement with renewable energy.

Read the APS submission to the inquiry here.

Lancet Countdown tracking progress on health and climate change

Public health risk driving support to quit coal and go 100% renewable

The Lancet Countdown ultimately aims to report annually on a series of indicators across five thematic working groups: the health impacts of climate change; health resilience and adaptation; health co-benefits of mitigation; finance and economics associated with health and climate change; and political and broader engagement.

Read more

Book - Talking climate: from research to practice in public engagement

The book is both a definitive summary of the latest thinking on public engagement with climate change, and a statement of intent. It showcases the Climate Outreach philosophy, and makes the case for a fresh approach to climate change communication, based on widespread participatory engagement. You can find more information, and order the book, here

Thunderstorm asthma, is the missing link climate change?

A perfect storm of factors that triggered a mass asthma event and claimed at least six lives in Melbourne has perplexed health experts, who believe climate change may be the missing piece in the puzzle. 

Read more

Sustainable Healthcare News November 2016

This newsletter contains news from the sustainable healthcare sector, Global Green and Healthy Hospitals network updates, reports, resources and events.

Read more

Missy Higgins: how an obsession with apocalyptic climate fiction changed my life

"In my hand was my iPad, the device I read all my books on. My husband insists he can’t sleep with any lights on so I’ve reverted to reading in the dark on night vision. My obsession with post-apocalyptic literature, however, seems fitting for the dark"

Read more

Podcasts & Videos

Video: How do we know this climate change thing is even real?

Katherine Hayhoe atmospheric scientist and associate professor of political science at Texas Tech University, where she is director of the Climate Science Center, runs through some of the facts about how we know climate change is real. Her short video provides useful talking point when talking to people who deny the science of climate change. 

Watch here

Podcast: Beyond Apathy - Acting on Climate Change

An interstsing 2013 Wheeler Centre discussion, host Sally Warhaft is joined by Nobel laureate Professor Peter Doherty, Greenpeace Australia CEO David Ritter and award-winning writer Chloe Hooper to discuss environmental issues, activism and writing — and how best to communicate its importance in a changing climate.

Listen here

Video: Morocco - Two Scientists Upbeat on COP22

Glaciologist Jason Box PhD, of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, and Cara Augustenborg, PhD, of University College, Dublin, speak on what they've observed at this fall's Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Marrakech. Watch the video here

Podcast: Bread, Wine and Chocolate in a Warming World

Connecting the dots between the foods we love and our environment may be one way to engage people in the climate change fight – one cup of coffee at a time.

  • Jonathan Foley, Executive Director, California Academy of Sciences
  • Simran Sethi, Author, Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love
  • Helene York, Global Director, Responsible Business, Compass Group@Google

Listen here

Video: The 1.5C climate change goal, negative emissions and Donald Trump

Prof Jacqueline McGlade is chief scientist for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Carbon Brief interviewed her at the UN climate conference in Marrakech, Morocco.

Watch here

Good News Stories

Can’t get solar on your roof? Here’s how to invest in community solar instead

“So many people in the community want to see a faster transition towards renewable energy generation than is currently occurring,” said SRPC director Andy Cavanagh-Downs. “SRPC provides those individuals the opportunity to speed up this transition by allocating capital to the financing of such projects.” He said it had also been a great way for people outside of the renewables industry to make a contribution, including the directors and volunteers.

Read more

Powershop launches P2P solar product to Victorian customers

The idea of solar households being able to sell their rooftop PV generation to local friends and neighbours instead of back to the grid for a pittance is becoming increasingly popular, particularly among those who argue solar households are not adequately rewarded for the benefits their distributed clean energy bring to the networks, to non-solar consumers via reduced wholesale electricity costs, and to the broader environment.

Powershop’s newly public offer – which marks a first in Australia’s retail space – will work by taking the excess solar of Powershop customers and putting it back into their local energy distribution area.

Read more

First commercial flight powered by renewable energy takes to skies

Washington State University, which leads the Nara project, said although the 1,080 gallons of biofuel used during the flight would have minimal impact on Alaska’s greenhouse gas emissions, the success of the project bodes well for the future.

In said in a statement:  “If the airline were able to replace 20 percent of its entire fuel supply at Sea-Tac Airport, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 142,000 metric tons of CO2.

“This is equivalent to taking approximately 30,000 passenger vehicles off the road for one year.”

Read more

Video: The island of Ta'u runs on solar energy

The island of Ta’u in American Samoa now runs on nearly 100% solar energy thanks to 5,300+ solar panels and 60 Tesla Powerpacks

Watch here

Less meat less heat. The Climatarian Diet

1m women

Less Meat Less Heat (LMLH) is a grassroots, non-profit organisation dedicated to reducing the consumption of the kinds of meat products that are most damaging to the climate. Their work encompasses two central steps. The first is educating the public about the massive carbon footprint of beef and lamb. The second is providing people with a way in which to monitor and eventually diversify their diets so as to reduce their levels of meat consumption.

Take the climatarian challenge to reduce your carbon footprint. Download the APP onto your phone, and record the type of meat and serving size.  The app will calculate the carbon footprint of your meal. 


Climate Emergency Declaration


Call on the Australian Parliament to declare a climate emergency and initiate a society-wide mobilisation.

For more information or to sign the petition.

Coming soon....

Sustainable Living Festival

The Sustainable Living Festival aims to accelerate the uptake of sustainable living and seeks solutions to global warming that will return the planet to a safe climate as fast as humanly possible. The Festival raises awareness and provides tools for change by showcasing leading solutions to the ecological and social challenges we face.

The Festival’s three week program engages individuals and communities across Victoria to host and promote sustainability events. Celebrating the very best examples of ecological and social sustainability the event embraces interactive workshops, talks, demonstrations, artworks, exhibits, films and live performances. 

More information here

Why I sued the U.S. Government

Xiuhtezcatl feels compelled to stand up and speak out for his peers, whom he refers to as not just tomorrows leaders but leaders of today, strong enough to start a lawsuit against the Obama administration. 

Displaying a wisdom far beyond his years, Xiuhtezcatl (“Shu-tez-caht”) Martinez has been speaking on behalf of the planet since the tender age of six. Today still just a teenager, his extraordinary eloquence has moved audiences which include world leaders, Hollywood celebrities and other impassioned young people across continents who have joined his Earth Guardians activism movement.

Xiuhtezcatl will be here as a part of the Sustainable Living Festival. Book tickets here

Community-Based Social Marketing Workshops

For over three decades Dr. McKenzie-Mohr, an environmental psychologist, has been working to incorporate scientific knowledge on behaviour change into the design and delivery of community programs. He is the founder of community-based social marketing and the author of three books on the topic.

He has delivered workshops internationally for over 70,000 program managers and is coming back to Melbourne in March, 2017 to run a range of workshops. 

Register here

Online Course: Making Sense of Climate Science Denial

If you didn't have a chance to complete the course in the past or if you are just interested in continuing the conversation about climate science denial, we would love to see you in our new run of Denial101x. You can register for the course on the edX website by clicking this link.

Gratuitous Links

Fossil fuels – where does your bank stand?

Market Forces have created a table to help you find out which banks do and don’t have a record of funding fossil fuels. Using the table, you can compare the fossil fuel investment positions of over 120 banks, credit unions and building societies.

Find out where your bank stands here

How Ethical is Your Super?

Ethical superannuation accounts are not just a niche thing any more. Nowadays you can help out the planet by getting your money out of fossil fuels, or give the human race a break by divesting from weapons or tobacco, and still make a nice return.

With some superannuation options you'll do better investing ethically than not.

Compare superannuation funds and their ethical profiles influding investment in fossil fuels here

The Bureau of Linguistical Reality

The Bureau of Linguistical Reality was established 2014 for the purpose of collecting, translating and creating a new vocabulary for the Anthropocene. The site playfully, yet sincerely, generates new words (and invites others to create new words) that reflect our relationship to our rapidly changing environment vis a vis climate change and other Anthropocenic events.




1. When an otherwise Blissful experience in nature is wedded to or disrupted by the recognition that:

— One is having an adverse impact on that place they are enjoying by being there.

— The understanding of how the place will be negatively affected in the near future by: urbanization, climate change or other disrupting factors.