Do You Think Climate Change Influences Property Purchases?

Almost twenty years ago, I inspected a property for sale on the Northern Beaches of Sydney.  It was beautifully located right on the water – at sea level.

The real estate agent rang me afterwards to follow up.  “It’s a lovely home but I would be worried about climate change and rising sea levels”, was my response.  Today you may consider that a reasonable concern but twenty years ago, it probably was ‘out there’ and hence the agent unashamedly laughed at my feedback.

Not so long ago I had the opportunity to revisit that same property.  I stood and stared at the back yard which now has approximately five metres less garden than twenty years ago – it has simply eroded away.  I wonder if that real estate agent still laughs at climate change concerns from potential buyers?

This got me thinking to our home purchase almost two years ago.  Eventhough the house was located kilometers from the ocean, we still had a list of ‘must have’ features that were motivated by climate change and our desire to live more sustainably.

* Large north facing roof line for solar PV
* Ample north facing garden space for growing vegetables
* Area for below and above ground, rain water tanks
* A large undercover clothes drying area

Though not on the original list, having mature fruit and nut trees would also be on our list today.

I sense there are many other people today, who’s home must have feature list, has changed over the last twenty years.  Or am I still the strange ‘out there’ minority, that real estate agents laugh at?

I’m really interested to hear from real estate agents on this one – have you noticed any change to buyer’s needs due to climate change or the environment?


Our large undercover clothes drying area - enough space for four large washing loads.


A special thankyou, shout out to my Mum, who yesterday extended our undercover clothes drying area. Now the space dries even more clothes! Brilliant with all this rain we have had!

Divestment – The Movement Challenging & Impacting the Fossil Fuel Industry


I believe most people are concerned about rising power bills, the impact of coal seam gas and our current dependence on fossil fuels.

I also believe most people have a ‘head in sand’ strategy when dealing with these concerns – not because they don’t care but because they feel powerless to do anything about it.

If I have respectively described you, then the good news is that you are wrong about being powerless.  There is a rapidly growing movement that is having a powerful impact globally.

Individuals, families and businesses are moving their money away from supporting the fossil fuel industry. The movement is ‘divestment’.

Allow me to explain by sharing what my family and I have done to divest.

* I have moved my Sarhn McArthur Photography business bank accounts to Bendigo Bank.  Their policy is to not invest or support coal seam gas and the fossil fuel industry. 

* We have chosen a sustainable energy supplier company – moved our home energy away from the big providers.  We are now with Red Energy who own the Snowy Mountain scheme and hence all their energy is from sustainable sources (no fossil fuels). Red Energy where also cheaper than our previous big energy supplier.

* I have no superannuation being invested in the fossil fuel industry.

Australians to date, have divested 450 million dollars away from the fossil fuel industry. 

The latest global, big business company to have reportedly divest from fossil fuels is the Guardian Media Group – 
the second $1US billion business divestment commitment.

“What was a trickle is becoming a river and will, I suspect, become a flood.” Alan Rusbridger – Guardian’s Editor-in-Chief

If you wish to join the divestment movement – to add your money to the river of funds leaving the support of the fossil fuel industry:

* Consider moving your savings away from any bank and superannuation scheme that supports fossil fuels.

* Buy your home energy from a supplier not supporting the fossil fuel industry.

* Let companies know why you will no longer be a customer.

Check out @Sarhn’s Tweet:

I Refuse to do ‘My Part’ for the Environment

For days I have been reflecting on the post written at Sustainable Holdfastbay.

It was the first time I had heard of the CSIRO’s annual survey on Australian’s attitudes to climate change.

It didn’t surprise me that the survey revealed 4 out of 5 Australians believed in climate change and that it was likely caused my human activity.

However, the finding that did struck me as profound, was that ‘most people tend to overestimate the amount of actions they’re taking to respond to climate change’.

We have all heard and perhaps even said “I’m doing my bit for the environment” or “I’m better than most”.

It is this ‘better than average’ comparison to others, regarding the environment that fascinates me.  For the record, this post has not been written from a position of guilt or judgment – I’m just wanting to inspire conversation and reflection.  

If however my finger is pointed, I am fully aware that in doing so, three of my fingers are directed back towards myself. And that is my point – taking personal responsibility for the impact our choices and behaviour is having on the environment.

Being ‘better than your neighbour’ is nothing to be proud of, nor an excuse to hault personal improvement.

I don’t want to just do my part for the environment – settling on being mediocre. I don’t want to be good but great!  Great at owning my environmental responsibility and great at continually lessening my environmental impact and great at inspiring others to do the same.

May I find myself at the beginning of 2016, more environmentally aware than what I am currently.   After all, self comparison is the only true indication of improvement and greatness.

Interested in your thoughts and reflections on the subject?


Did You Attend the Climate Change Rally in Sydney?

Today was World Environment Day (happy World Environment Day to you!).

With camera in hand,  I caught a bus into Sydney’s Prince Alfred Park to attend the Climate Change Rally in Sydney.

To be totally honest, the climate change, carbon tax debate has been confusing (yes even to people who are committed to research it).  With Sydney’s Climate Change Rally approaching, I thought it was time to blog exactly what it was that I believed:

*  I believe climate change is occurring.

*  I believe that humans are contributing to our climate change.

*  I believe cleaning up pollution on Earth is beneficial to all (regardless of climate change beliefs).

* I believe we all need to make changes, not only personally but Nationally and Globally.

* I believe our current Government’s planned carbon tax is not perfect.

* I believe for most people, change doesn’t occur unless their back pocket is challenged.

* I believe any Australia carbon tax revenue, needs to be invested in environmental, sustainable projects and helping low income earners to ensure their well being.

* I believe a world with less carbon pollution, is a better world for our children.

Click here to read Greening of Gavin’s post on the climate change rally in Melbourne.  Leave a comment on Gav’s post and say hi from me.

Thinking of February

Just a quick post so you don’t think I have run away.  Some pre warning that February is going to be HHhhhuuuugggeee for me with work – I’ll be in Perth, Brisbane and perhaps Melbourne too.

Regardless I am committed to continually finding balance and hence this quick post.  Though I may not have as much time to write, I always find the time to think.

Currently on my mind is:

* Earth Hour is on the 27th of March and my 20 year high school reunion is also on the 27th of March.  Thinking it might be really interesting to do some quick video interviews on the night.  What our generation thinks about climate change, sustainability etc and has our thinking changed in 20 years?

* Sydney’s Live Green House  will be at Belmore Park (near Central Station) from 12-14 February.  I missed the last one and I don’t want to miss this one.  I just believe there will be so much information that I have been looking for at the one place at the one time  i.e. growing our own food, saving water, solar electricity.

* I have purchased (well given – but I will explain this more in an upcoming post) more environmentally friendly down lights.  Using our electricity meter I want to measure the before and after installation watts and of course write a post about it.

* A million other things running through my mind.


What corporations should know (if they don’t already)

My husband Brett works in the Marketing/Advertising industry.  He brought home an industry magazine entitled ‘The Issue’ which was all about ‘what you need to know about sustainability in marketing’.  I found it a very good read.

Here are some extracts that I thought was worth mentioning – words by Kevin Johns:

“Whether you’re a brand, an agency or a media business, it’s important not to look at carbon offsetting as a silver bullet.  The first steps to take are reducing your energy use as much as possible through examining your power saving options, such as turning off all office hardware and lights at night as well as buying the energy your business uses from renewable resources (wind or solar).  After that, carbon offsetting should be used to lessen the remaining impact of your energy use.”

“If you advertise carbon offsets that sequester carbon through tree planting, but fail to disclose the planting of those trees will not occur for several years, this could constitute misleading by omission, warns the ACCC.”

“There is mounting concern that business  and the individuals working within them,  are using carbon offsetting as an excuse to delay making changes to the way things have always been done.  Even if the world’s total energy consumption was offset by renewable sources, current levels of consumption are still unsustainable.  The conventional wisdom among environmentalists seems to be that business and individuals need to take direct action.  They urge us to join pressure groups that push for political change, and alter our consumption patterns and behaviour.  A far-reaching global framework to make sense of emissions cuts is what is needed, they say….”

“To most people looking at the total sustainability picture – climate change, all of the natural systems in the world, fisheries, water stocks, and so on – it’s clear that human activity is causing stress on the environment.  This raises a fundamental problem for brands, corporations and the very notion of consumerism.”  Words by Ben Wheaton of Beer Wheation “With current per annum global growth the global economy doubles every 24 years, and that means that in the next 24 years we will consume the equivalent amount of resources that we have already consumed in the entire history of humanity up to this point.  You might think ‘OK maybe we can do that’ but then in the next 24 years after that, we’d have to do the same again, so there comes a point when it all runs out of steam.  A lot of companies are fearful when they start looking at the big sustainability picture as they realise this stuff, and then the questions is, ‘well, what we are really saying globally is we have to actually use much less resource’.  And for economies to continue to grow we have to find a way for resource consumption and energy use to be separated from growing the economy”.



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More help needed than I can give

Relaxing in bed reading, while listening to the sound of rain finally wash the red dust away from Sydney’s streets.  Feeling grateful for the water that was falling and for being snuggled up under my blankets.

The red light on my Blackberry phone flashed, indicating that once again I have a new email.  My husband knows that I can’t help myself and thus I picked up my mobile to read who the email was from. 

“Are you alright”, my husband asked as he watched my face.  “No I don’t think so” was my reply.

It was only the night before I watched on the news, the floods that was happening in the Philippines and now I was reading a first hand account of the disaster from old and dear friends.  Feelings of peacefulness soon turned to guilt as I knew my good friends Rick and Maria Bell worked as missionaries in the Philippines but it didn’t occur to me until this very moment that they could have been affected. 

My thoughts scatter but I quickly realised this was too big for me to handle.  What do I do when friends need more help than I can offer?

I want to share an extract of Rick’s email to me:

“Today while spending the first three hours cleaning at home for the sixth day and seeming to get nowhere,  I then performed the funeral for a twelve year old girl from our school, Rizza  who died in the flood.  It was a sad sad moment in my life.

Sarhn this situation is so big here we may not recover for 6 months.  The stench is unbelievable. The garbage and people’s belongings are piled in huge piles everywhere.   It truly looks like a war zone and the traffic is overwhelming.  I have never seen such grief and loss, the hopelessness is often too much to deal with and sickness is now quickly following .  We are over exhausted but trust we can continue.

 As you saw in our photos we ourselves have lost our lower household of stuff from downstairs including two cars not even 3 years old.  They were insured but not when it is  an act of God!  To find the cash for cars, a fridge, washing machine, stove everything we had in our kitchen, and furniture, plus everything in our office is something I don’t think I am equipped to deal with yet if ever.  So we have moved out not only due to having nothing to use but also we have no water, no electricity, no phone and a house full of diesel oil.”

I am wondering if you are thinking the same thing as me?  Is it ironic that missionaries lose almost everything they own to what the insurance company calls ‘an act of God’?  Rick and Maria Bell have really dedicated their lives to serving others less fortunate than themselves and now I just want to wrap their family & community in my arms and rescue them but I know this is bigger than I can fix on my own.

Can I be totally honest with you?  With the floods  in the Philippines, earth quake in Indonesia and tsunami in Samoa I am feeling ‘disaster fatigued’.  With all that has happened recently I think many Australians are becoming or have become desensitised.  Personally I have discovered it is easy to dismiss these ongoing horrors we witness regularly on the evening news.

I share Rick & Maria Bell’s story with you not to make you the reader feel guilty or overwhelmed with hopelessness but to remind myself and you that every disaster is personal. 

I have donated money to Rick & Maria before when a cyclone ripped through their community years ago and I will donate to help again.  Whatever I give will be needed but  it won’t be enough.  With that I end asking again “what do I do when friends need more than I can give?”   Their children and community need more than I can offer and hence I write this story to share with you.


I will be donating through the World Relief Australia (donations are tax deductible) via the following fund:

Project name and number is ‘0923 Philippines Floods’

Any branch of the Commonwealth Bank or electronically to:

Account name  ‘CAMA Services Overseas Aid Fund’


Here are photographs that Rick and Maria took of  their home.  The Youtube video below has some amazing photographs of the disaster.

Rick's Car destroyed in the Philippines flood View from Rick and Maria's Manila house