Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Sometimes we hear about embodied energy - the energy used to make an item. Similarly, items also have embodied emissions. This is one reason recycling is so great - it takes a lot less energy to recycle something than to make a new one from scratch.

But today i'm talking about freecycle - an online community where people give away things they no longer need. It keeps stuff out of landfills, and provides people with usable items. At you can join your local freecycle group and start giving (or getting) items.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Earth Hour Winner

Ok, I know it's not a competition, but some of the before/after pics of Earth Hour are fantastic - so i decided to pick a winner. I was just about to award it to Las Vegas (such a stark difference to normal) but then i saw Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong (looks even better if you click for larger pics).

Honourable mentions go to Auckland, my home town Brisbane, Beijing's Olympic Stadium and Toronto (skyline and finance district).

Monday, March 29, 2010

Solar Panels - What's Your Angle?

A friend recently asked me about how well solar panels would work on her east-west roof.

The perfect direction (in the southern hemisphere) is north-facing. But some people (including my neighbour) do face panels west or east if that's the way their roof faces. So how much sunshine do these panels get?

The above diagram (for the UK) and this table (California) illustrate the difference. Here in the southern hemisphere, the same theory applies - just change south to north. So even facing dead-east, a panel still gets 85% of the sunshine that it would get facing north.

The diagram also shows the effect of "tilt angle". The ideal tilt is the same as the latitude of your town. Here in Brisbane it's about 27.5 degrees - not too different from the average roof. But as shown in the diagram, there's a lot of leeway before sunshine is affected much.

Hope that helps. Feel free to comment if anything is confusing.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Earth Hour

This Saturday night is Earth Hour. I'm having a 'party' at my place - and i've downloaded one of the impressive desktop background from the Earth Hour website.

All in all, it's a lot of excitement for turning out the lights for an hour. But it's more about the symbolism of the night. This year, over 100 countries are taking part.

Oh, and there are also some tips for reducing your footprint.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Filmclip - Earth Song

I was recently watching Number Ones - the compilation dvd of Michael Jackson. I've liked his music for some time, but have only recently discovered Earth Song.

(oh, and there's a bit of bite right at the end)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

World Temperatures (now with 2009)

I've previously shown some data about 2009 and the decade 2000-09, but here is the updated world temperature graph.

There's a bit of variation from one year to the next, but it's painfully obvious where the red line is going.

Monday, March 15, 2010

10 Commuting Tips

Burning our fuel money away while sitting in traffic jams isn't much fun. The people at SuperGreenMe put together 10 tips for saving fuel and reducing greenhouse emissions.

There's more detail in their article, but in summary the 10 tips were 1. Carpool 2. Walk or Bike to Work 3. Public Transport 4. Telecommute 5. Consider A Four Day Work Week 6. Maintain Your Car 7. Slow Down 8. Combine Errands 9. Stop Your Idle Engine 10. For Your Next Car, Think Fuel-Efficient

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Funnies - Olympic Podium

Being the season of Winter Olympics, i'm sharing this gem from Inkcinct

I do note, that the 'athletes' have been awarded NO medals. And rightly so.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Our Choice

I finally managed to find a library copy of Our Choice - Al Gore's 'sequel' to An Inconvenient Truth. And it was definitely worth the wait.

Somehow it manages to combine the information of an encyclopedia with the easy-reading style of a magazine, using plenty of full-page colour photos, and a few diagrams and charts to explain some things. [See Inside the Book]

While some read (or watched) An Inconvenient Truth and went away with a feeling of impending doom, Our Choice tells the next part of the story - that there is hope ... provided we have the will to take action. (Hence the title)

Friday, March 05, 2010

Friday Funnies - What if ... ?

I think this cartoon sums it up brilliantly:

Monday, March 01, 2010

The Clean Industrial Revolution

From time to time we hear some pish-posh about reducing greenhouse pollution damaging the economy. Generally, there are helpful people who show such claims to be clearly false. Ben McNeil goes one step further in his book The Clean Industrial Revolution, saying that it would harm the economy if we don't reduce pollution.

He puts forward a compelling and well-researched case - saying the question for Australia isn't 'can we cut emissions without hurting economic growth' but instead 'can we grow our economy without cutting emissions'. (His conclusion is 'no')

One example of economic benefit is the comparison of New South Wales and Denmark. Coal in NSW provides 90% of the energy, but only 11,000 jobs. Denmark has a slightly smaller population, and wind power is just 20% of the energy, yet it gives 20,000 people a job.