Sunday, November 30, 2008

Vatican Sees The Light

Having talked the talk, the Vatican is now walking the walk when it comes to energy.

The Pope has previously criticised "the unbalanced use of energy" in the world, and has commented that environmental damage is making "the lives of poor people on earth especially unbearable".

Now the vatican is covering the roof of its Nervi Hall with 2,400 photovoltaic panels. Producing 300 MWh of clean energy each year, the panels are virtually invisible from ground level, preserving the historic skyline.

Meanwhile, the Vatican is thinking of a system for the 300 hectares around its Vatican Radio transmission centre. Such a project is forecast to provide six times the power needed for transmission - providing clean energy to the surrounding communities.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cost of Coal

I read in the news today that Greenpeace has commissioned the report The True Cost of Coal (subtitled How the people and the planet are paying the price for the world's dirtiest fuel)

The market price of coal reflects only the cost of getting the stuff out of the ground - not the environmental and human costs to society. The report suggests that if the 'external costs' such as respiratory disease, mining accidents, acid rain, smog pollution, reduced agricultural yields and climate change were taken into account that the viability of coal would be vastly different.

While the report empasises the difficulty of estimating all the costs, some of the figures that it could calculate make recent economic bailouts look small.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Not Really a Backbone

Recently I was reading Guy Pearse's book High and Dry. It goes on (and on) about the Howard years and how government climate change policy was dictated by Australia's biggest polluters - the Greenhouse Mafia.

One piece of myth-busting late in the book, was that of coal allegedly being the "backbone" of our economy. Pearse's research shows that coal exports form just 2% of Australia's GDP - and the bulk of that goes to majority foreign-owned companies. In terms of jobs, coal employs just 1.3% of workers. (For comparison, tourism is 5%)

Now that I know this, it's quite strange to see industry people talk about 'massive damage' to the economy of a marginal reduction in emissions.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Uniting on Emissions Trading

Saw a report today that the Uniting Church has written a submission on the government's CPRS green paper. Not surprisingly, the church promotes the concern for future generations rather than the already-large profits of industry.

The church's submission also pointed out the need to take care of our Pacific island neighbours, and low-income households (who generally produce less greenhouse gas). Further information (including a download) is available at the Uniting Justice website.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Drinking Green

Our good friends at Cascade have launched Cascade Green - a carbon neutral beer. By calculating the carbon emissions involved in making and shipping the beer, and offsetting those emissions, the net effect is zero.

Now you can hurt your liver without doing the same to the planet :)
Oh, and (for the second time this week) i should mention this is not for kiddies - there are other ways you can save the planet. And for adults, remember that responsible drinking means more than just selecting carbon neutral beer.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Leaving the Islands

Yesterday, i mentioned the situation with potential climate change refugees from Tuvalu. Today i read the news that families are being evacuated from the Solomon Islands.

Current residents of the Malaita province are being relocated to Papua New Guinea. Their islands, already uninhabitable, are expected to be submerged by 2015.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Back-up Plan

You may have heard of Tuvalu. It's highest point is about 1m above high tide. It is expected to be among the first nations to be uninhabitable due to climate change.

Previously, the Australian government has refused point-blank to accept any of the Tuvaluan people, come the time their country disappears.

Now it seems that at the insistence of Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, the government has at least acknowledged that Ausralia would "play a part".

"We cannot deny Australia's complicity in this environmental crisis" said Senator Hanson-Young. "As the wealthiest country in the Pacific, Australia can lead the global community on this humanitarian issue."

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Electric Car Video

Previously, i metioned the electric car network that is coming to Australia. Well, thanks to Gav's blog, i've discovered this video of it.

The interesting part is that the intend to have 'battery-swap' stations for longer trips, as well as the charge-up point for daily commutes.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Chaser's War On Coal

Wondering what the guys from The Chaser have been up to recently? Well Andrew Hansen has been putting his comedy talent to work writing this catchy song for Greenpeace.

It's a rather blunt assessment of the proposed idea of giving free greenhouse pollution permits to coal-fired power stations. Oh, and i should probably put an adisory warning on the video clip. Ironically, it's probably not really suitable for kids.