PlanetFix opinion piece featured in The Advertiser – Sasha Saulwick

Our world faces major environmental challenges.

Congratulations to Sasha Saulwick first runner up in the PlanetFix competition. We asked high school students for their climate change solution. Here is her opinion piece.

We are seeing increases in severe weather events and natural disasters such as drought, flash floods and fires. Communities are suffering from record levels of pollution, while mass deforestation and depletion of natural resources is destroying biodiversity.

Yet, in Australia, political power rests with those who neither accept the facts on climate change, nor demonstrate clear leadership on environmental protection.

In the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 2019 Environmental Performance Review Australia ranked as one of the most resource and carbon-intensive OECD countries with a worsening biodiversity rate. There is little to suggest the Federal Government is addressing this.

It is actively encouraging the coal industry, as seen in its final environmental approval of the Adani coal mine in central Queensland last June. It has also set a target for greenhouse gas emission reduction of 26-28 per cent by 2030. This is underwhelming compared with more ambitious targets of other developed nations including the UK (zero net emissions by 2050).

The Government continues to dismiss scientific evidence about human impact on the environment and is ignoring legitimate concerns expressed by scientists and others, including many young people, calling for change. Now is the time to present solutions to overcome this leadership vacuum. We need to find ways to sidestep our political leaders and become change makers ourselves.

Take, for example, innovations such as Angelina Arora’s biodegradable plastic bag made from prawn shells. Using a material which would have been destined for landfill, she has created a product that fully decomposes within 33 days and releases nitrogen into the soil, promoting plant growth. Her invention won the BHP Science and Engineering Award in 2017, leading to a partnership with the CSIRO to refine her design. Manufacturers from several countries have expressed interest.

Who knows about Ananas Anam’s pineapple-fibre leather or Lindsay McCormick’s zero-plastic toothpaste? These amazing inventions are made using sustainable materials and practices in ways that don’t contribute to landfill or carbon emissions. We need a universally known, overarching platform to showcase these type of emerging technologies, inventions and discoveries.

An online space that promotes innovations which have been tried and tested in the lab. A space that enables innovators and investors to get together with the aim of driving the development and large-scale commercialisation of sustainable projects.

Let’s bring all these elements together on a shared network called GloballyGreen. Rather than waiting for politicians to take action, change makers will have a streamlined and efficient way of sharing cutting-edge solutions and putting them into practice.

Ultimately, by opening doors to new green inventions, GloballyGreen will help remediate, repair and restore our natural world.

See the full page writeup in The Advertiser.

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