10 March 2015


Scientists have long been concerned about the changes in oceans caused by the burning of fossil fuels and the subsequent absorption of the CO2 by the oceans.  Ocean chemistry changes, oceans get warmer, sea levels rise, glaciers melt and flow into the oceans, fertiliser runoff causes algae blooms at deltas and leads to "dead zones"  due to lack of oxygen, while acidity bleaches out coral reefs and impacts the ocean food chain, to name some of the more significant effects.

A recent study has highlighted another practice having an adverse impact on oceans - the dumping of waste material from plastics.  The report from a team at the University  of Georgia, (USA)  estimates that people added 8 thousand million (8,000,000,000) kilograms of plastic to the ocean in 2010.” 

This is equivalent to the amount of tuna fished from the ocean in a year.  In other words we are taking out tuna, and putting in plastic.

One simple step we can all take to begin to address this problem is to cease the completely unnecessary (at least in the developed world) purchasing of water in plastic bottles. Currently 50 billion water bottles are produced each year with the production process to manufacture one bottle consuming three times the volume of water needed to fill it, and 17 million barrels of oil - enough to fuel one million cars each year! Click here for a video highlighting this problem.

Thanks to Br Kevin Cawley for the information for this article. Read his latest  Carbon Rangers newsletter for a more comprehensive discussion of this topic.

http://www.earthhour.org/You can also celebrate your commitment to the planet with your friends, family, community or at work - in your own way. A simple event can be to mark Earth Hour 2015 by just turning off all non-essential lights from 8.30pm-9:30 pm.

For one hour, focus on your commitment to our planet for the rest of this year. To celebrate, you can have a candle lit dinner, talk to your neighbours, stargaze, go camping, play board games, have a concert, screen an environmental documentary post the hour, create or join a community event - the possibilities are endless.


The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture has expressed concern about the mandatory, indefinite detention of asylum seekers, especially children, in the harsh conditions prevailing in offshore processing centres which are characterised by overcrowding, inadequate health care, and allegations of sexual abuse and ill-treatment. Concern was also expressed that the combination of the harsh conditions, protracted periods of closed detention and the uncertainty about the future, causes serious physical and mental pain and suffering.

The report follows the recent report from the Australian Human Rights Commission which drew on evidence from internationally-recognised medical experts, education professionals, non-government organisations and service providers working with asylum seekers, as well as interviews with more than 1000 children and their parents in Australian detention facilities, detailed incidents of assault and self-harm involving children. These included 207 cases of actual self-harm, in which 128 children were involved, and further incidents where 171 children threatened self-harm. A total of 27 children engaged in voluntary starvation or a hunger strike, while 233 assaults involving children were reported, including 33 incidents of reported sexual assault, with the vast majority involving children.

Appallingly, rather than address these concerns, the response of the government, lead by the Prime Minister, has been to attack the report as being politically motivated and in response to the Special Rapporteur’s report, complain that “Australia is sick of being lectured by the United Nations”

In the wake of the Australian Human Rights Commission Report, the President of the Refugee Council of Australia, Phil Glendenning, has called for the allegations of child sexual abuse in Australian-funded detention centres to be referred to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Currently the  Royal Commission is enquiring into past instances of sexual abuse in which institutions including the Catholic Church have been (rightly) criticised for their handling of abuse allegations. At least in contrast to the present situation, those past failings have been acknowledged and apologies and compensation offered. It can also be noted that the abuse that occurred was never the result of official policy.


Easter is a time of year when a huge amount of chocolate is sold and eaten all around the world. The shocking truth is that children as young as 10 are still trafficked and exploited to create chocolate. West Africa produces an estimated 70% of the cocoa used to make chocolate with perhaps 1.8 children in West Africa at risk of being exploited in working and harvesting cocoa on the farms of West Africa.

Much of the chocolate that finds its way into our shops and homes is made with cocoa from Cote d’Ivoire plantations that use trafficked children. They are kidnapped or their families are tricked, forced to work in the cocoa
plantations from an early age, for long hours, in dangerous working conditions, without any possibility of attending school.

A global movement has begun to change this. The movement tackles poverty and empowers producers who are doing the right thing. Farmers operating with Fairtrade Certification, Rainforest Alliance or UTZ Certified are engaging in good labour practices.

This year Coles and Woolworths supermarkets are being asked to double their product range for 2016 (they order shortly after Easter 2015) and we are thanking those stores such as Aldi and Haigh’s for giving us an excellent selection.

Some actions you can take are to check out the daily Traffik-Free chocolate actions, download the Good Egg Guide, take it shopping with you and visit the ACRATH website to keep up to date with anti-trafficking news.


In 2015, International Women’s Day, celebrated globally on 8th March, highlighted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action,  an historic roadmap signed by 189 governments 20 years ago that sets the agenda for realising women’s rights. While there have been many achievements since then, many serious gaps remain.

 The Beijing Platform for Action focuses on 12 critical areas of concern, and envisions a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination.

Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality" asks governments to make national commitments to address the challenges that are holding women and girls back from reaching their full potential within the next 15 years. ‘Step It Up’ will showcase specific commitments that governments make, leading up to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015. The initiative comes at a critical moment in time as a new development agenda is taking shape to replace the Millennium Development Goals.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?