climate change

Victoria plans to protect biodiversity

i May 11th 2016

Protecting our environment is crucial. None of our activism or struggle for social justice could take place were it not for the physical environment in which we live and work. The Victorian government has recently issued a plan to protect biodiversity in our State. You can read more about this or make your own submission here:

The endangered Spotted Pardalote

Spotted Pardalote – photo courtesy of James Mustafa. Source:

The following is the introduction to the plan:

Victoria’s natural environment is rich, diverse, unique and precious. We treasure the environment not just for its own sake, but for its indispensable value to us as humans. But unfortunately, it is in decline. To continue to enjoy the social, physical and economic benefits of a healthy natural environment we must accept the massive challenge of turning around this decline.

The Victorian Government’s draft biodiversity plan, Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2036, describes a new vision, in which Victoria’s biodiversity is healthy, valued and actively cared for. This will be achieved by fulfilling two goals:

  1. To encourage more Victorians to value nature, by increasing the number of Victorians spending time enjoying nature, increasing the percentage of Victorian organisations reporting on and managing their performance to support the natural environment, and increasing the number of Victorians who act to protect nature; and
  2. To ensure that Victoria’s natural environment is healthy, by halting the decline of threatened species and securing the greatest possible number of species in the face of climate change, improving the extent and condition of native habitats, and improving ecological regimes.

The draft plan’s approach to setting targets is to focus on the actions and places in the state where the best, most cost-effective results for biodiversity can be achieved.

The draft plan also has eleven key principles, which have guided its development and will guide its implementation into the future.

To answer the consultation questions in these chapters click here.

Read more about the AJDS’ environmental campaign.

Jews for Climate Action at the People’s Climate March

i Dec 2nd 2015

Thank you to the dozen who walked under the Jews for Climate Action banners at the People’s Climate March in Melbourne on Friday (25/11/2015). The rally drew an estimated 60,000 people in an unprecedented call to action from the government. AJDS executive member Sivan Barak described it as ‘Gathering the wondering Jews in Melbourne CBD, uniting across various divisions, crying dayenu about the mess our planet is in.’

At the same time many people joined the vigil against the forced closure of remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia and other places. Watch Les Thomas from sosblakaustralia and Millie Telford of Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network on NITV news.

Check out the photo album and read our recent statement on the environment. We’ll be discussing it at our upcoming annual general meeting.


Back to the home page.

AJDS Environment Policy

i Nov 13th 2015



We are living at a time of unprecedented biophysical crisis. Human civilisation is facing a perfect storm of problems driven by climate change, environmental destruction and pollution, biodiversity loss and resource depletion, all of which are intensifying global socio-economic and regional problems.

Two centuries of exploitation of readily accessible energy resources have facilitated a population explosion and driven ongoing land clearing and exploitation to satisfy ever-growing human consumption. Land and water resources, including waterways and marine environments have been degraded and polluted. Biodiversity loss, both terrestrial and marine, has accelerated due to over-harvesting and loss of natural habitat compounded by climate change. This loss is threatening to collapse the very ecosystem services on which all life depends.

Entrenched inequalities worldwide are rising, feeding social alienation, political upheavals, the growth of fundamentalism and an escalating refugee crisis. Climate change is hitting the have-nots hardest and will amplify social and political unrest.

Climate change and population movements are also producing new threats of global epidemics. Threats of war over increasingly scarce, sought-after resources, are likely to intensify.

The ruling political philosophy is built on the erroneous belief in infinite growth on a finite planet. This blind belief, which underpins neo-liberal globalisation, is at the core of the biophysical crisis that confronts us. The challenge besetting all progressive movements today is to find a common path to confront this global crisis.*


Guiding Principles

The Australian Jewish Democratic Society places itself amongst progressive voices globally, striving for peace and social justice for all of humanity. Today, the progressive vision has inevitably become entwined with environmentalism. A holistic progressive vision recognises that social goals cannot be achieved in a world threatened by climate catastrophe and environmental destruction.

The need to restore the health of the biosphere and the stability of the climate system has become an integral part of the progressive struggle. Furthermore, the struggle to attain vital environmental goals can only be realised through the adoption of new economic and social paradigms based on ecological sustainability.

The proposition that nuclear energy is a clean and safe alternative to coal must be rejected outright as a false claim leading to a myriad of problems along the nuclear fuel cycle.

Climate change and environmental degradation disproportionately impact already disadvantaged peoples and those whose lives are directly tied to the land.

A viable future for humanity is predicated on building sustainable systems that respect the natural world and exist within its bounds but crosses borders.




What we do

  1. We are committed to reducing our environmental impact. We are guided by the principle of ecological sustainability throughout our operational activities.
  2. Staff and members are called upon to reduce their consumption of energy and materials and to recycle where possible. We minimise printing and use recycled paper with 100% recycled content with post consumer fibre.
  3. We evaluate the environmental impact of any new products and office supplies we intend to purchase.
  4. We use Serversaurus, a carbon neutral web host.
  5. We encourage our members and supporters to consider the environment in their day-to-day lives.
  6. We engage with other organisations in order to address the issue of ecological sustainability.
  7. We support moves by environmental movements globally to recognise the social justice aspects of environmental conservation.
  8. We support the work of various environmental organisations and join them in organising events and campaigns.
  9. We support Indigenous led campaigns to protect areas of significance and to be able to manage their lands sustainably, recognising that Aboriginal people have developed intricate and complex land management practices over millennia, suited to their countries.
  10. We draw attention to the ecological degradation and disregard for indigenous rights caused by the JNF’s afforestation programs and promote alternatives.


* This Background is drawn from the paper, Environment and development challenges:  The imperative to act. Bruntland and Ehrlich et al (2012). International Institute of Environment and Development, and International Union for the Conservation of Nature,Conservation International

Debunking the Climate Change Sceptics

i Dec 4th 2013

By Yaron Berkowitz

I was always puzzled by the climate change debate. In the early 1990s, it was becoming apparent that increasing amounts of evidence indicated that human activity was rapidly changing the earth’s atmosphere and climate. It seemed the world was determined to respond and willing to make dramatic changes to the way in which we produce and consume energy.

However, after the Kyoto Agreement was signed in 1997 something changed and the climate change sceptic was born. Though scientists could prove human-induced climate change was occurring, with potentially catastrophic consequences, the media began to report that climate science might not be absolute and scientists may be exaggerating the real facts. Certain climate conspiracy theories became more popular. Perhaps climate change is just a way for the government to create new taxes. Maybe it is environmentalist movement hogwash. Many started to believe the entire scientific community was part of a climate conspiracy and cannot be trusted. ‘Sceptic scientists’ suddenly emerged and demanded more balanced coverage in the media.

These claims always seemed odd to me. The giant fossil fuel corporations that provided the world’s energy output always held all of the money and power. They had access to politicians and decision makers, not the environmentalists. I could never understand the reason for governments to promote problems that require a massive amount of money and resources to remedy and would involve unpopular changes to our lifestyle. Fifteen years ago, the majority of the public believed that climate change was real and we have to take immediate action. Today, the public is divided. Why, despite even more convincing science, is humanity so fragmented?

I decided to read more in order to try to understand the issue better and found two interesting books that explained in a concise and intelligent way what was happening:

I found that yes; there is a conspiracy. But not one created by the environmentalists. Rather one that is produced and funded by the fossil fuel industries and their partners, the free market libertarians. Reading these facts made me very angry. How, in the name of self-interest, were these rich companies willing to risk the future of our entire planet and humanity? This disregard for our concerns is not new, as apparent in the tobacco industry’s campaign to deny all evidence of the harm caused by smoking. But haven’t we learned anything? How are we so easily manipulated that we ignore the blatantly obvious?

I believe that the first thing anyone should do before looking at the climate change debate is to understand the politics behind the matter and understand the qualifications and the methods of information dissemination used by each party. There are not two scientific views here – there is the scientific view and the climate sceptics’ view, which is based on clear political agenda – to avoid government regulations in any cost. And if the climate sceptics need to fight the facts, they will do whatever is required to make sure that the public remains in a state of confusion.

The strategy is very similar to certain religious groups that deny evolution by writing their own version of history presented by ‘experts’ and then demanding ‘balance’ from the media and education system. In both cases, there are irrefutable scientific facts versus non-scientific, ideological deniers’ version of the situation. In both cases, people who tend to believe in the group ideology – God or the Free Market – are a very easy catch.

Reading the following books helped me not only to understand the politics of climate change but also to become a more intelligent reader of similar debates in the future. We must understand that it is important to check the credentials of people who make incredible claims and give themselves titles they have note earned and do not deserve.

To make it easier for the reader, here is a list of excellent resources about climate change:

Headline photo by Tavis Ford, Itsaniceday.