Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thought for the day

{A disturbing reality}

Just a few days before Federal Parliament rose, the Gillard Government passed new Renewable Energy legislation that counts “waste” from woodchip mills as clean, green renewable energy. The Government refused to close this loophole that gives a huge subsidy to burn our forests for electricity. The Abbott Opposition was even worse; they tried to amend the legislation to make all forests available for power generation, bypassing even the woodchip mills.
Click to read more

In our trip around Aus, we went to these old growth forests that have been so hard hit by the logging companies. The tension between the workers in these towns, and the environmentalists that lobby to save the untouched beauty of south-western Tasmania is hard not to notice.

{Welcome sign to Maydena}

A year or so ago, the logging industry got it's cash from selling woodchips to the Japanese (among others) for very cheap. They didn't need to spend anything to plant or maintain these trees, they just bulldozed their way in and chopchopchopped it all down.

We managed to find trail maps leading us to some of the oldest and biggest trees in the world, that were saved from logging. We traveled along the roads built by the logging companies, freaking out when truckies in their massive semi-trailers overtook us along the narrow dirt roads. A few (very, very few) areas of the forest have been protected from the logging industry. We arrived at one, in the Styx valley, and found this amazingly well maintained trail that meanders past hundred year old ferns and eventually leads to the majestic tree that saved the little area from near destruction.

{Styx valley}

I find it so unbelieveable that the government doesn't protect more of these forests. For such a small amount of money, going to such few people, we are wasting a priceless part of Australia. Of the world. All I can think is that we are so fortunate we have these passionate people litterally putting their lives on the line to save such small areas of untouched, beautiful wilderness.

{the 'big tree' reserve}

{the 'chapel tree'}

The worst part of all is mapped out in the cartoon above. The problem is that more than 80% of all forests logged in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia go straight to the woodchip mill. Officially this is “waste” from sawlog operations but the truth is that the woodchip industry controls native forest logging in Australia. The industry sees a new market for woodchips as their salvation at a time when woodchip exports for paper making are in serious decline because finally the Japanese and other buyers are starting to refuse woodchips from native forests.

As a result of the fall in export woodchips, major companies such as Gunns in Tasmania are now considering whether to abandon forest logging and make the transfer to plantations with the assistance of industry restructure funding from the Federal and State Governments. To make this happen in Tasmania and to extend it to the other States we have to keep up the pressure on the industry and the politicians throughout this election period

8 out of 10 Australians want a stop to logging our forests (Galaxy Poll May 2010). A stop will reduce Australia’s CO2 emissions by nearly 10% (not to mention other benefits) yet our Labor and Liberal politicians tell us it is too hard to even cut 5% without paying billions of dollars of "compensation" to the coal, steel and aluminium industries.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Movement of the people

Our political situation is in a depressing state. Australia watches in amazement as the two major parties bicker and rip into each other about their choice of fashion (getting paid our tax dollars), while the largest issue our generation has ever seen gets pushed aside. Labor's new climate change policy is appaling, and the alternative is an economically-illiterate party whose leader doesn't believe in climate change at all - who insists on wasting $3b on the most expensive possible means of addressing it. Neither of the parties have our best interests at heart.

All we can do is read up on as much as we can. Keep informed and try to make the best choices when it comes time.

Here's something to get us started.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Quick and easy dinners (part 1): Morroccan lamb cutlets

I'm starting this series for my gorgeous friend T who has convinced herself she is domestically challenged from a few traumatic (fiery) kitchen experiences. These chops are easy to prepare when you have a distractingly cute dinner guest, or if you need a quick meal for one after a busy day.

Fresh Ingredients
4 cloves of garlic
6 lamb chops
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt

Cupboard Ingredients
olive oil
2 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoon ground coriander seeds
1 tablespoon chili powder
1.5 cups couscous
2 tsp vegetable stock powder
1/2 cup lemon juice
small handful each of pine nuts and sultanas (optional)

Chop the garlic finely, put into a bowl and mix with with a drizzle of olive oil and half the cumin and coriander seeds. Rub this mixture into the lamb cutlets on both sides. Line your grill tray or an oven tray with a large piece of foil (you want to be able to wrap all the cutlets up in this later). Heat to med-high and put the cutlets on to cook.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, put 1 cup of water with the lemon juice, stock powder, chili powder and the rest of the cumin and coriander seeds and bring to a boil. Check on the cutlets. Turn them when the first side has gotten nice and brown.

When boiling, turn off the heat add the couscous and cover. Leave for at least 3 minutes. Keep watching the lamb. When both sides are brown, turn off the heat and fold up the foil so the cutlets can stay warm and moist and absorb the roast garlic and the other flavors.

When the 3 minutes is up, take off the lid, drizzle a little olive oil and fluff up all the couscous, adding the sultanas and pine nuts. Put the lid back on to keep it warm.

To serve, spoon the couscous onto the plates, top with the cutlets (making sure you don't waste the juices) and finish with a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Bonn appetite! (or whatever they say in Morocco...)