Friday 25 September 2015


Scientific research is showing an alarming increase in the problem of myopia, or short-sightedness, in people across the globe. In the US and Europe 50% of all young adults are now classified short-sighted, while in China just 10% of teenagers today can see clearly for any distance, a rise from 10-20% in the 50s and 60s. It is predicted that by 2020 at this rate one third of the world's population will be short-sighted. 
The defect starts mostly in the growing eyes of young and teenage children, and although it can be helped, there is no absolute cure. At least half of those affected can also expect to suffer from detached retinas, cataracts, glaucoma, acute vision loss, or total blindness.

Myopia was long-believed to be genetic, until its global spread turned the finger-pointing to longer study hours, computers, video games and mobile phones. However, prolonged research by the Australian National University shows that while technology assists the condition, it is not in itself the cause. The main catalyst is reduced exposure to light.

So, with an increasing disconnect from the natural world, without light to stimulate a release of natural chemicals for healthy growth, humans are losing their ability to see. 
In Australia, with recreation still largely outside and most kids outdoors for at least 3 hours a day,  only 30% have myopia. In most other countries under one hour of natural light is normal for most children.

Simply moving some school classes outside is proving to slow the rate of childhood myopia. But sun-blocked offices; windowless plazas; artificially lit classrooms; enormous yardless homes and thousands of hours in sunless city cars, and yes, that looking downwards instead of up, continue to contribute to the epidemic

Daylight is freely delivered by nature, ensuring healthy growth of all animal and plant-life on Earth. It makes no sense at all for humans to continue to block it out. Reconnecting our kids with nature has to be an obvious choice for parents, and governments, to make, over allowing them to lose their ability to see.

-          Patricia Edwards

 This post was originally published in the "Voices for the Earth" column in The Daily Examiner on 14 September, 2015

Saturday 19 September 2015


Enova Renewable Community Energy, Australia’s first community-owned renewable energy retailer, was launched recently.

Enova plans to offer a wide range of services, including “best available energy offers” to the Northern Rivers community from the Clarence Valley to the Queensland border.

Enova has stated that its vision is to progressively:
  • reduce our carbon footprint
  • produce locally the energy that we consume
  • accelerate the move to a more energy efficient system, implementing new technologies as they become available
  • provide benefit to all socio-economic groups
  • deliver excellent customer service
  • create employment in the community
Representatives from Enova have been holding meetings throughout the region in the leadup to the launch of the company.  In the Clarence they addressed the Clarence Valley Council’s Climate Change Community Advisory Committee earlier in the year and several months later a U3A Jabberfest (the Grafton U3A’s monthly meeting) in Grafton. 

Following the release of the prospectus the group has been holding information meetings throughout the Northern Rivers region.

For further information  - Enova website

Thursday 17 September 2015

EARTH MATTERS September 21 - Volunteering for the Wombats

Grafton residents Joan O’Shea and husband Rick have worked as caretakers in Epping Forest National Park for a month or more each year since 2008.  This scientific National Park, north-west of Clermont in central Queensland is the stronghold for the critically endangered Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat. The entire population of these wombats is estimated at about 220.

In her presentation Joan will talk about the caretakers’ role in looking after the wombats in this isolated area as well the other wildlife that they see as they do their daily check of watering and feeding stations in this fenced wombat refuge.

Earth Matters is a session on environmental issues which is conducted every two months by the Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition in conjunction with the Clarence Environment Centre.

Time: 5.30 pm, Monday September 21.  Venue: Staffroom, Grafton Primary School, Queen St, Grafton.

All welcome.

For further information on this event contact the CVCC at:

Tuesday 1 September 2015


The historic Forest Agreements were signed in 1999, but has the Integrated Forest Operations Approval (IFOA) achieved its stated objective of meeting the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Forest Management (ESFM)? The official evidence shows it has not.

The Auditor General's “2009 Performance Audit”  stated “native forest managed by Forests NSW (FNSW) is being cut faster than it is growing back”, and current yield from native forests is not sustainable in the long term”.

Over-logging has seriously negative flow-on effects for biodiversity, conservation of which is pivotal to meeting ESFM principles.

By 2012, none of the required 5 yearly reviews of the IFOA had been undertaken. The 2009 Final Report on “Progress with Implementation of NSW RFAs” found FNSW's performance in delivering biodiversity outcomes in logged forests, could not be measured. That report identified  an, “absence of any real comparative data on this issue”, adding this “makes it virtually impossible to determine whether there is improvement or not”.

Boral's failure to obtain Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) accreditation in 2013, shows the FSC believed logging processes carried out by FNSW harmed high conservation values, i.e. endangered species and communities.

One glaring example of FNSW’s duty of care failure, is their continued release of harvest plans calling for high intensity logging rates, which they know triggers the devastating Bell Miner Associated Dieback (BMAD), which threatens eucalypt forests across NSW. (FNSW was represented on the BMAD Scientific Working Group which nominated the disease as a Key Threatening Process.)
The Final Report acknowledged that the EPA's compliance monitoring and enforcement had “attracted considerable and largely adverse comment from submitters”, recommending the need “to give priority to audit and compliance activity, and that auditing be closely scrutinised as part of the NSW Review”.

A 2014 inquiry into the EPA's (Environment Protection Authority) performance found the agency had repeatedly failed in this regard.  It has been rewarded by the Government with a significant boost to its operating budget. However, the EPA is currently working on an IFOA “remake” which will eliminate many of the biodiversity protections they were previously supposed to enforce. Threatened species are the big losers.
-          J Edwards

 This post was originally published in the "Voices for the Earth" column in The Daily Examiner on 31 August, 2015