Border Mail article: Power of the pen in Albury-Wodonga fight over climate change

Border Mail article - click to view online

Border Mail article – click to view online

Almost a decade of fierce debate around climate change has led to a total of 339 passionate letters published in The Border Mail.No one followed this more closely than Wodonga Albury Toward Climate Health committee member Lizette Salmon, who has compiled all the letters since 2007 in a scrapbook.

Her goal was to track public sentiment, and therefore learn how to break down barriers to get people on board to address the issue.

The scrapbook showed debate was at its highest in 2011 with 68 letters – 56 per cent which accepted the impact of climate change on the environment and 44 per cent from skeptics.

Ms Salmon said she was pleased to discover a trend of falling letters from skeptics.

Only three of 24 letters published in 2015 doubted the existence of climate change, the lowest percentage since her counting began.

“Most likely the drop in letters by climate deniers was because they were less motivated to write, given the carbon tax and many other mitigation measures have been scrapped,” Ms Salmon said.

“In a bit of wishful thinking on my behalf, I’m hoping a few have stopped writing because they’re revising their beliefs.”

WATCH chairman Lauriston Muirhead said he hoped the letters were a shift towards accepting the science.

“It’s good to see the attitude’s changing, but it’s happening much too slowly,” he said.

“The politicians are following public opinion – we would like politicians to lead public opinion.”

WATCH considered itself a non-partisan group, but felt meetings with MPs on climate change were not leading to change.

Mr Muirhead said the climate influenced other key political issues such as education, health issues from pollution and the potential for job sin the renewable energy field.

The group has thrown its support behind Climate Action Network Australia, which was focused on shutting down coal-fired power stations.

Ms Salmon said although there were no such stations on the Border, residents still received their power from burning fossil fuels.

She also backed initiatives such as creating a “Totally Renewable Yackandandah” by 2022.

“We’re really proud of what they’re doing,” she said.

“They’re showing leadership and making a difference for people in Albury-Wodonga.”

WATCH members were still committed to fighting for action on climate change.

“We would continue regardless of what was printed in the letters pages,” Ms Salmon said.

“We have a really strong resolve.”

The above article was published in The Border Mail newspaper on Monday 28 March 2016. See:

http://www.bordermail.com.au/story/3813876/power-of-the-pen-in-fight-over-climate

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