Wednesday, March 14, 2018

5% off power thanks to renewables

Powershop, the energy retailer that loves renewable energy, has just announced a 5% price-cut "all thanks to renewable energy".

CEO Ed McManus says it's because they've managed to get really good price deals with new wind and solar farms.

“The price that we get the energy from these new wind and solar farms is cheaper than the energy we can get from the normal wholesale market day to day.”

See the video for more information or read more details of the power stations.

At the moment this price-cut is for Victorian customers only, with NSW and Queensland customers to expect a lower price around mid-year.

Monday, March 12, 2018

An unprecedented 5 years

The last 5 years (2013-2017) is officially the hottest period on record. More details are in the Climate Council's report "2017: Record-breaking Year for Heat and Extreme Weather".

This heat graph really tells the story.

There's a bit of variation from year to year. Often are El Nino years are a bit hotter and La Nina years not so much. This next graph colours the El Nino and La Nina years differently. We can see that even La Nina years (blue) are getting hotter, as are the El Nino years and neutral years. Which ever way we look at it we are entering uncharted territory.

The report also found that
  • 2017 was the third hottest year ever recorded, and the hottest year in which temperatures have not been boosted by an El Niño event.
  • The world’s 10 hottest years on record have all occurred since 1998 and 17 of the 18 hottest years on record have occurred this century.
  • 2017 was Australia’s third hottest year on record.
  • Seven of the ten hottest years on record in Australia have happened since 2005. Five of the seven have occurred the past five years.
  • 2017 broke records for hot, dry conditions with more than 260 heat and low rainfall records broken throughout winter.
  • The increasing global heat, driven primarily by the burning of fossil fuels, exacerbated extreme weather events around the globe and in Australia in 2017.
Here's an infographic of the effects in Australia in 2017 alone.
impact of extreme heat in Australia 2017

Thursday, January 18, 2018

How hot will it get in my lifetime?

Want something scary? Type your year of birth (or your child's) into this website.

It's summer in Australia right now and that means heatwave forecasts on a regular basis. Sometimes it's scary to think how much hotter it will get.

Sydney hit 47.3°C (117 F) recently. That's not the kind of temperature you want to add more degrees to.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

The day I got into a racecar

This is the TeamArrow solar racecar. TeamArrow are based here in Brisbane and compete in the World Solar Challenge (2017 Challenge starts 8 October). They finished 8th in 2015 and I got to climb inside their racecar.

The car is 220 kg, cruises at around 85 kph and has a top speed of 126 kph. Surprisingly, it does all this on the same amount of power as your average toaster. Phenomenal.

Part of the reason is aerodynamics. After all, this is a racecar. Even the wheels are covered in an aerodynamic fin and the height of the car is quite low. I've had to squat down to be at the same height as a driver.

Of course I couldn't let the day go by without taking the opportunity to sit inside an actual racecar. After this photo was taken they put the aerodynamic lid on (you can see it in the first photo). It wasn't exactly spacious in there, but that's part of racing I guess.

On the day they were talking about their new car for this year's World Solar Challenge.

It will be in the "Cruiser" category, meaning it's a 2-person car and looks less like a racecar and more like something you might drive on the streets.

They hope to have them available for sale to the public soon after the race.

Friday, August 11, 2017

See Al Gore's new movie for free

Hard to believe it's more than 10 years since Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth hit cinemas.

Now his new movie An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power is showing.

See the trailer:

Intrepid travel is offering free tickets - at least in Australia.

There are some conditions, and technically it's a ticket reimbursement, and the offer closes on 10 September.

But still it's a very generous offer for what's sure to be a powerful movie.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Earth Overshoot Day - How did you do?

We're using up resources faster than Earth can replenish them. And we're creating waste faster than Earth can deal with.

With our current habits, we'd need 1.7 Earths (which we don't have).

In other words, we used up Earth's 2017 capacity by today, 2 August.

Some nations are even more wasteful. This graphic shows what the Overshoot Day would be if everyone lived like people from that country.

Australia is the third most wasteful in the world, using up a year's resources by 12 March.

You can find out your own personal footprint. How many Earths would we need if everyone lived like you?

If you'd like to reduce it, consider taking one of the pledges.

Monday, July 31, 2017

True Colours

Remember the series Years of Living Dangerously? (If not, see my earlier posts about the series and the episode on the disbelieving pastor).

I recently found it at my local library. It's also available to watch on youtube and vimeo (if you're in the USA) or purchase on itunes.

Today I saw the episode 5 True Colours - following two US state governors.

It was stunning what a difference party politics makes to their ability to serve their people.

One moves his state forward on renewable energy and the jobs of the future. The other, despite his state being terribly hit by Hurricane Sandy, ignores climate change science. The science says this area will be increasingly hit by extreme weather events as climate change worsens. But because of his party's stance he continues to pour billions of dollars into rebuilding in the same disaster-prone area.

PS. The cover photo for the series is from this episode. That's actually the damage to someone's house after Hurricane Sandy.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Get money back from a vending machine

In 2018 my home state of Queensland will get container refunds. We will get money for the used bottles and cans we return for recycling.

Right now there's a trial 'Reverse Vending Machine' operating at 400 George Street Brisbane in the food court.

It's called reverse vending because it's the opposite of a normal machine. Instead of paying for an item, you return a used item and it pays you.

Here's video of me giving it a go.

At the moment the payment is replaced by a donation to a charity. So I donated my refunds to Clean Up Australia.

When the program starts in July 2018, the refund can be in the form of discount coupons, vouchers or something you can use.

Hopefully, they allow you to add credit onto your transport card.

Friday, July 07, 2017

May the cup be with you

KeepCups are great. You can get a takeaway coffee without having to add wore waste to landfill.

It's even greater now that they have a Star Wars range.

It might be too late to save Alderaan, but it's not too late to save Earth.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Get a coffee discount

Here's another way to profit from your good actions. Keep Cups are reusable coffee cups specifically designed for takeaway coffees.

Many coffee shops give you a discount for using a reusable cup - even your own mug from home. After all, you're saving them money and helping the environment.

Responsible Cafes shows you where these shops are - so you can get your discount. Check the map for your closest option.

If your favourite coffee shop offers a discount for bringing your own cup, suggest they register on the website.

If they don't offer a discount, suggest they do. It's good for the planet but it also good for business to be listed on the site.

PS. The reason this is a big deal is because of the enormous waste of disposable coffee cups. This tram contains 50,00 coffee cups. Australia throws away a billion cups a year. That's 20,000 trams full. To put it another way, we would fill this tram every 30 minutes with our trashed coffee cups.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Bringing plastic back

In December 2012 I first blogged about the soft plastic recycling at Coles Supermarket (then a trial).

In all those years I've never seen it overflow so massively as today.

It's so exciting to see people recycling their soft plastics instead of sending them to landfill.

I'm guessing this was because of the publicity in the ABC series War on Waste.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Help the planet, help feed people

Sometimes I get feedback that doing things for "the environment" isn't really worth it. That human convenience is more important. But there are so many real human impacts of our high-emission high-waste low-efficiency living.

This is one example. Episode one of War on Waste showed the enormous food wastage that occurs before food even get to the shelves. For example millions of bananas get thrown out before a customer ever sees them. Meanwhile, Foodbank gives these stats on hunger - even if a wealthy country like Australia.

The last stat is probably the saddest.

Definitely food for thought (pun intended).

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Are there jobs in renewable energy?

Some people worry that changing to renewable energy will cost jobs. It's really nothing to worry about. Forbes in the USA did a comparison of the jobs in the various energy sectors and found that already the jobs in solar are double the jobs of all fossil fuels combined.

And that's when solar is only a small fraction of US energy and fossil fuels are about 80 per cent. Imagine what that will look like if solar is 10%, or even 20%.

The future definitely looks sunny for jobs.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

I made a super switch

The email title was subtle - "Confirmation of your transaction". But it meant much more. Now my retirement savings are being invested ethically. Not with companies that are damaging the planet I will retire on.

The "transaction" was moving my old superannuation money into my fund with Australian Ethical.

If you are wondering about your current super fund, check out Super Switch. There you can also find a better fund - like Australian Ethical or Future Super.

PS. This was really easy to do. I'd already joined Australian Ethical so I just filled in a form to get my old (not so ethical) company to switch my savings across. Then the two companies sort it out for us. I should have done this ages ago.

PPS. As I write this my new fund averages 8.1% growth per year over the past decade. My previous fund did only 5.0%. It's great when the ethical decision is also a very profitable decision.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Something great about Australia

Google often makes different versions of it's logo for logo for special events, including "Australia Day". This is what they created this year.

What an inspired choice. The Great Barrier Reef is something great about Australia - and something we should definitely celebrate and cherish.

Here is the search that the image linked to.

There was also a link to Explore Australia's Great Barrier Reef up close.

Definitely check out that link. It's like a streetview of the reef.