Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Know The Number

In the heart of New York, a new electronic billboard has popped up. This one keeps track of the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere - which is a staggering task, considering that it's increasing by 800 tonnes per second.
Check out the live version at know-the-number.com but be ready to be stunned as you see the numbers whirring. As i've written this, it's gone up by 700,000 tonnes. Since the pic was taken, it has gone up almost 1,000,000,000 tonnes!

Monday, June 29, 2009


Later this year, there will be a meeting in Copenhagen. So what's it all about?

Back in 1997, the countries of the world got together in Kyoto and agreed on greenhouse reductions up to the year 2012. As that's only 3 years away, agreements need to be made on what the world does after that. (eg. by 2020) That's what will happen in Copenhagen.

Of course, Australia has (almost) committed to a mere 5% reduction. Hopefully, during the meeting in Copenhagen, our government can sign up to something more decent (such as the 25-40% recommended by the world's scientists).

By comparison, Europe has agreed to a minimum of 20%, Germany is going to double that with 40%, the UK's minimum is 26% and Scotland has announced 42%.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Great Prius Ads

A friend of mine might be getting the choice of a company car, so i did some in-depth research on the Toyota Prius. In the process, i found out that the Prius has the number 1 and 3 most popular ads on US TV (Coke is number 2).

You can see the ads online, including the ad for the 3rd generation Prius, which has the added feature of using solar power to keep you cool.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My Say In Parliament

You may remember me mentioning a feed-in-tariff petition i signed. Well yesterday it was presented to parliament by Greens Senator Christine Milne.

Senator Milne had a fair bit to say about the matter, including the following...
I'm thrilled to be tabling this petition today which shows the extraordinary level of public support for renewable energy and the best policy to bring it on.

The Government is bending over backwards to provide certainty to coal, but seems determined to undermine any certainty for renewable energy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Running on Sunshine

Found "Running on Sunshine" at my local library - it's a behind-the-scenes documentary made during the 2003 World Solar Challenge.

It was interesting to see how things unfolded over the 5 day race from Darwin to Adelaide. It also reminded me that this event (which is held every two years) is coming up again later this year.

I had a look through the WSC website and it seems that, as solar technology gets better and better, each race is being run under stricter conditions (smaller panel area, smaller batteries).

I guess it's also a safety thing. Even in the 2003 race, the German team reckoned their car could do 125 kph. With improvements in technology, the race could be over in three days if they didn't make the rules harder :)

Monday, June 22, 2009


I read the news that the ACF has asked the ACCC to investigate 6 corporations, and their statements about the effect of government action on climate change.

Rio Tinto, Woodside, Xstrata, Boral, Caltex and Bluescope Steel have alleged to have made contradictory statements to shareholders, and to the government and the public. Don Henry (ACF) summed it up..
Some of Australia’s biggest corporate polluters appear to be presenting the worst case to government and the public, in an effort to gain excessive free permits, while presenting the best case to investors, in order to keep their share prices up.

Friday, June 19, 2009

"Murder Mystery"

Saw this great DVD documentary last night. With all the recent talk about electric cars, it was interesting to see that they were fully operational in the 90's up until their sudden disappearance.

So, who killed the electric car? Well, I won't "spoil the ending" for you, but it was interesting to examine all of the potential suspects.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Time To Get Real

While the Australian parliament is still deciding whether or not to introduce the Renewable Energy Target, the Repower America people have put out this new clip:

I think it's message is also relevant to us here in Australia.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


At Greenfest, the council had a demo of the bicycles that will be available for use in their bike hire scheme, which i am told will start next year. The bikes will be located in the city, and out to Newfarm, West End, Toowong and St Lucia.

Brisbane City cycle bike
It's a good idea, which has worked well in European cities. Let's hope it works well here.

UPDATE: The scheme is now up and running, and details (including a map of locations) are available at citycycle.com.au.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Electric bikes in China

A few days back i wrote about electric bikes. I was going to mention their popularity overseas, but i only had the shop guy's word for that. Now, a Time Magazine article reports how electric bikes are 4 times more popular than cars, in China. Partially it's because of the lower cost, but also the convenience, safety and environmental benefits.

The boom has been assisted by bicycle friendly policies of the government, and now there is a large manufacturing industry as a result. Last year Chinese sales were about 90% of 23 million globally.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dodgy Holden Ad

Greenwashing 101 is to make a nice-sounding claim - doesn't need to be truthful, if it is vague enough. So when holden describe their Cruze as "fuel efficient" i had to check that out. Technically, anything can be fuel efficient (if you compare it to a semi-trailer for instance). So i did some research at the green vehicle guide. Figures are in L/100km

Toyota Prius - 4.4
Smart Fortwo - 4.4
Honda Civic Hybrid - 4.6
Suzuki Alto - 4.8
Toyota Yaris - 6.0
Hyundai Getz - 6.1
Ford Fiesta - 6.1
VW Golf - 6.2
Honda Jazz - 6.4
Kia Soul - 6.5
Holden Cruze - 7.0
Honda Civic - 7.2
Holden Astra - 7.2

Apart from consuming far more fuel than other models invented years ago, the Cruze still uses 97% as much fuel as the Astra. This hardly a leap forward in technology. The only way this could be argued to be fuel efficient is if it is compared to holden's (poor) track record.

Suzuki Alto

While at Greenfest, i saw the Suzuki people, promoting the upcoming Suzuki Alto. With an efficiency of 4.8L/100km, it's almost as efficient as a hybrid, but at a fraction of the cost.

The guy tells me that it's achieved my making the car lighter, and the engine (3 cyl, 1 litre) more efficient. He also tells me it will be 15,000 when released in August.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tesla Roadster

I was at Greenfest last weekend, and took these photos for a couple of friends who are Tesla Roadster enthusiasts - in contrast to my other friend who saw "Tesla Roadster" on the Greenfest programme and thought it was a band!

So there you go. The perfect car for someone who might normally buy a Ferarri, but doesn't want the massive emissions. Meanwhile, according to the Tesla website it does 0-60mph(about 100kph) in 3.9 seconds, with a range of around 350km - all on electric power.

Of course, we know that electric motors are highly energy efficient (i calculate about 4c/km for the Roadster) but i still find it ironic to advertise a car's low running costs, when the car itself sells for $US 100-grand.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Electric Bicycles

I may have already mentioned electric bikes - because i think they're a great idea. A new store just opened up in my neighbourhood, and i had a test ride of a few.

Intially, you might think that using electricity might increase your transport emissions (compared to traditional cycling). But these things have quite a range (20-30km) so they can be an alternative to a car, for those trips that are just a bit too far to pedal. And the electricity is just a few cents per charge.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Carbon Neutral Wales

I read on Energy Matters that Wales has decided that by 2025 they will produce as enough renewable energy to power the country. Meanwhile, Australia is considering maybe 20% by 2020.