Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Reducing the Heat

Here in Brisbane summer is officially upon us (though non-locals will say that it's been summer for months). Anyway, as per the email joke "You know it's summer in Australia when..." this is the time of year when hot water comes out of both taps! So i decided to ease off with the amount of energy i use to heat my water.

After all, when it's hot enough to melt a library card left in the car, there's no earthly reason why i need 140 litres of screaming hot water. And in reducing the energy i use, i reduce the production of greenhouses gases. Cool the water, cool the globe.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

One million

Regular readers will know about Energex's earth's choice programme, where customers can choose to purchase electricity from renewable sources, rather than from coal. Judging by these recent ads on the sides of busses - it is having a significant effect.

The other half of the ad (on the bus) is less informative, but does has a cool picture of frogs ;)

Meanwhile, i recently read that if all Australians switched over to renewable energy, Australia's greenhouse emissions would drop by 30%. Wow!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Global Warming - the book

If you're looking to find out more about global warming - and what you can do about it - I recommend "Global Warming" by Chris Spence.

It's American, so expect things to be in pounds, miles etc - and it will focus highly on the USA. But other than that it's pretty good. There should be a copy at your library, or at your local bookstore.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Cool the Globe

You may remember in an earlier post i higlighted the solar cell petition hosted by channel seven's Sunrise programme. While the petition has been retired after having the desired effect (the government announcing that the rebate would remain intact) the Sunrise programme continues it's great support of the greenhouse issue.

They have now launched a Cool the Globe website. With news, tips and information it is well worth visiting.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Jumping In

This was the advertisement that energex sent out to encourage people to sign up for earth's choice - the program that allows you to purchase renewable energy rather than coal-based power.

I had already decided to sign up for earth's choice - but this ad prompted me into action (I think it was the cool picture of the frog). Anyhow, it turns out to be quite simple. If you're an energex customer, just call 13 12 53 and have your account number ready (it's written on the top of your bill).

By purchasing solar and wind power (and by not wasting power) we can reduce the amount of coal we burn, and hence the amount of carbon dioxide we put into the air.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Vote Power

There are some people who are in a great position to reduce greenhouse emissions. I call them politicians. Fortunately, here in Australia, we have a federal election next year, and so politicians' interest in our opinions is pretty much at its peak.

If we let our politicians know that global warming is an important issue to us, they will eventually get the message ... Either do something about greenhouse emissions, or cancel that order of business cards with "Member of Parliament" printed on them.

My local member (for federal parliament) is Michael Johnson. His email is Michael.Johnson.MP@aph.gov.au and his website (where he has a survey) is www.michaeljohnsonmp.com

So if you live in the seat of Ryan, why not drop him a line of encouragement for him and the government to take action on greenhouse emissions. In fact, even if you don't live near me, drop him a line anyway - I'm sure he'll appreciate it.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Dr Karl

Each week Triple J radio has a segment with "Dr Karl". The other week, he had David Suzuki as his special guest.

It was a great discussion - very informative and entertaining. The episode is still available at the Dr Karl website

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Government Good News

It was announced today that the Australian government has allocated $500m to a global warming fund. Part of this money will help fund a Solar Power Station in Victoria. The station - producing enough energy to power 45,000 homes - will apparently be the largest in the world.

So this seems to be a good start - but clearly still more can be done. Saturday November 4 is the national Walk Against Warming. With events in various cities around Australia, the aim of the day is to encourage the government to (a) sign the Kyoto Protocol, and (b) be more proactive about reducing greenhouse gases.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Earth's Choice

Here in Queensland, the most popular energy provider is Energex. Currently they are running an earth's choice programme, where consumers can choose to buy some (or all) of their energy from renewable sources.

Naturally, energy from renewable sources (solar, wind, hydro etc) costs a little more. But if ordinary people like you and me, are willing to pay this small cost (as little as $10 per quarter) then energex will use the extra money to purchase the energy from alternative sources, rather than from coal-burning.

Apparently, just $10 per quarter can purchase 330kWh of renewable energy. $40 per quarter (for one year) would save the equivalent of one car's emissions for a year. So far this programme has saved over 85,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases - the equivalent of planting 3 million trees, or taking 200,000 cars off the road for a year.

Oh, and in the spirit of fairness, i should also mention that Ergon Energy (sponsor of the Brisbane Broncos) offer a similar programme called Clean Energy.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Get on the Map

Another one of the things you can do (in terms of campaigning for major change) is to put yourself on the map ... literally.

The GetUp organisation redrawing the map of Australia to make the climate crisis personal. With more than 15 million Australians of voting age, they have set an initial target of 250,000 to create a groundswell for change that cannot be dismissed, trivialised or ignored.

You can also put yourself on the Climate Action Map now, and ask your friends, family, colleagues and neighbours to join you at www.getup.org.au/campaign/ClimateActionNow. Only takes a minute. Go for it.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Doing the Math

I'm a person who enjoys my maths. Rather than think "What are the chances of that?" i'm more likely to work out the answer. Sometimes in supermarket queues i'll decide to calculate just how much difference is there between 16 for $9.98 and 11 for $7.

So everyone knows that these new-style light bulbs save power ... and therefore save their owners money. But i wondered how much that is.

Reading on the pack that these things last 6000 hours (six times the old-style bulbs) i decided to base my calculations on that. So for both styles, i totalled the bulb cost and the electricity cost (as shown below).

As you can see, it is a significant saving, at close to $40. Of course this assumes a lifetime of 6000 hours (some brands claim 10,000). Also it assumes a constant price of electricity. Obviously, a longer lifetime / higher power price would increase the saving even further.

Buy the way, i did a calculation on how long it would take the new-style bulb to 'pay itself off'. The answer is less than 800 hours. For a bulb in common use, this is less than 5 months. After that, it's pure savings!

UPDATE: Now in 2012/13, the $40 saving is now over $70 at current electricity prices.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Seeing the Light

This week i made my first foray into the market of energy efficient bulbs. I don't know why i haven't done it before. In every other area we rush to the latest technology, and yet we still use light bulbs developed in the 19th century - which actually produce more heat than light.

As you can see, i picked up an 11 watt bulb which produces the same amount of light as a 60 watt old-style bulb (but uses 49 less watts). So as well as conserving energy, and producing less greenhouse gases, i'm also reducing my electricity bill.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Petition the Australian Government

I heard recently that the Australian government is looking to scrap the rebates given to people who go to the expense of installing solar panels on their home.

As you can imagine, i was not impressed. The government does little enough to encourage 'clean' energy. Now they're trying to do even less!

Fortunately, channel seven's Sunrise programme have a petition going to protest this. Naturally, i signed it - and i hope you can too. It is at www.yahoo7.com.au/sunrise ... spread the word!!!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Big Companies

There is a popular belief that big companies prefer to remain ignorant about global warming. Partially because it's an uncomfortable thought that they are major 'globe warmers' - but also because it confuses corporations to think that about more than profits.

Anyway, at my company someone sent an email message (anonymously) to encourage everyone to visit the website www.climatecrisis.net - the official website for the movie "An Inconvenient Truth". Surprisingly, it wasn't me! But then i do work with other scientists...

Anyway, the reaction from management was huge. Though the email would have taken about 30 seconds to send, it was described as a waste of company time. A meeting was called (ironically a bigger waste of time) and although the 'culprit' is unknown - we were let know in no uncertain terms that this was not on.

Meanwhile, everyone still receives emails about raffle tickets for the local school, the occassional bozo who has lost his/her glasses case, and equally earth-shattering news...

Somehow, i think someone hit a nerve!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

What's this all about?

I am constantly amazed at how bad the global warming situation is. But I am also relieved that there is a way out. There are things we can all do to save ourselves and save the planet. I call them "Convenient Solutions".

As mentioned in the documentary movie "An Inconvenient Truth", the saddest thing is not the massive amounts of carbon dioxide we are pumping into the atmosphere; but the fact that we have the ability (and technology) to do something about it ... but haven't.

To quote Bernie Hobbs (ABC Science) "there's no need to quit your job & drag the family off to some mud hut to live on cold water and baked beans".

There are simple things that governments, companies, community groups, and individuals can all do to help cut greenhouse gases. Many of them are once-off decisions that have long term benefits. That's what makes them Convenient Solutions.

So come back often, for ideas and tips on how we can help save the planet.