Friday, April 30, 2010

Thursday, April 29, 2010


"Political cowardice" is how the PM described any delay of action on climate change. Then he decided to delay action on climate change.

The people at GetUp have launched an online vote of no confidence in Kevin Rudd's leadership on climate change.

Meanwhile, most Australians aren't cowards. 70% still want a tax on pollution, and 72% think Australia should reduce greenhouse gases before a world agreement is made.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Choosing Our Future

I mentioned Stuart's cartoons before, but i thought this one hit the nail on the head.

While some short-sighted companies and politicians put off action, things do have to change. The sooner we start, the easier it will be - rather than acting like the uni student attempting a 4000-word assignment the night before it's due.

Or as George Monbiot describes it (on SBS's Dateline):
The party is going to end one way or another. So, we either recognise that and try to forestall the tremendous disruption that will be caused, by engineering a soft landing, or we wait like rabbits in the headlight for the truck to run us over.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Climate Diet

Jonathan Harrington takes the approach of a person trying to lose weight, with his book The Climate Diet. He starts off by giving us some motivation, and helping us set some goals. Then each chapter provides helpful tips on reducing carbon emissions from the various activities in our life.

Like a serious dieter, he is measuring his achievement. During the course of his climate diet, he managed to reduce his emissions by 40% and his energy costs by 46%.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Solar Panel Prices

On Saturday I was at a sustainability event, and picked up a brochure from a solar panel company. They quoted the net price (after rebate credits) for various system sizes.
1.5 kW - $2,899
2 kW - $4,199
3 kW - $8,199
4 kW - $10,999
There may even be better deals out there, but this should give you a fair idea of what you can expect to pay at the moment - if you're thinking of getting some. Most people go for the 1.5kW system these days (because that's when the government assistance cuts out). But some go for the bigger systems so they can take advantage of Queensland's Solar Bonus Scheme (or its equivalent in other states) where you get paid a higher rate for the excess electricity you put back into the grid.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Concensus Among Scientists

A friend suggested i write some posts exposing the "there's no global warming" junk that floats around the internet. So i'll start with the Petition Project - a petition allegedly signed by 31,000 'scientists' opposing efforts to combat climate change.

Ignoring the loose definition of 'scientist' (link), Exxon's involvement and a deceptive petition method (link) there's another point - best made by the people at Information is Beautiful.

31,000 sounds like a lot until you find that the US alone contains 12,944,000 scientists. Then 31,000 becomes 0.24% (or 1 in 400). For me that's close enough to concensus. Or at least as close as humans will ever get.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Geothermal Power

One clean energy source that doesn't get too much attention is geothermal power. Recently I was at a presentation by Geodynamics - one of the companies exploring this option here in Australia - in particular in the Cooper Basin around the border of South Australia and Queensland.

As shown above, it works by pumping water underground where temperatures are around 270°C. The resulting steam returns to the surface and is used to generate electricity.

Here's the really good bit. Based on 50MW modules, Geodynamics estimate that with 1000 square kilometres they could set up 250 stations, generating 12,500MW - which is half of Australia's power needs. And the economics is cheaper than nuclear and almost as cheap as gas and coal (but without the carbon emissions).

Monday, April 19, 2010

2009 Aussie Solar Boom

Sometimes it's very easy to get depressed about how slowly things are moving. However, there are some rare moments of hope - such as last year's Australian solar installations.

Solar (PV) power in Australia grew 366%, according to Renewable Energy World. The graph is a bit hard to read but the 2009 figure is almost 60 MW, and seems to be greater than all the previous years combined. Now that's some progress!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Funnies - Butterflies

This is inkcinct's take on the recent butterfly research.

Not sure if they're having a go at politicians or business - but either way it's funny.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Solar Hot Water - New Extra Rebate

Here in Queensland, the state government has just announced a $600 dollar rebate if you change your electric hot water system to solar. If you're a pensioner or low-income earner it's $1000.

Better still, this rebate can be used together with the federal government's $1000 rebate, for a total of $1600 ($2000 for pensioners/low-income earners). It's very enticing when the governments are willing to give you half the cash for it.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

100% Renewables In 10 Years

Back in February i wrote about the Zero Carbon Australia project - an idea that would power our nation on 100% renewable energy by 2020.

Below is a presentation about the plan, which involves 60% solar thermal and 40% wind. It goes for 9 minutes (and is a bit techy) but i liked the bit where he says
"solar thermal plants and coal plants are very similar. They both boil water to create steam to run turbines which generate electricity. It's just that one of them gives up a whole lot of coal and burns it to boil that water, and the other one concentrates the sun's energy with mirrors... For every square metre of mirror we put in, we negate the need to burn 20 tonnes of brown coal."

T10 Launch - Mark Ogge from Transition Decade on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Warning Sign

Saw this brilliant little pic, created by the people at ACF - appropriately designed as a warning sign.

Scarily it looks very similar to the actual graph of CO2 in the atmosphere (from

CO2 is now at 391! It's normal range (through human history) has been 180-280.

Monday, April 12, 2010

As If Climate Change Wasn't Enough

Tonight I watched 4 Corners, and their report A Dirty Business. It wasn't about climate change specifically, but was about the coal mining that occurs in the Hunter Valley.

It was about the constant dust emissions from the coal mines, the transformation of a picturesque valley into wall-to-wall open pits, and residents developing respiratory diseases and cancer. Perhaps the scariest thing was the apparent lack of interest from the government.

Combining all these issues with climate change, surely renewable energy is the most 'convenient solution'.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Increasing Value

Recently i went through my old bills to see how the price has changed in the last few years. The result was even larger than I expected. From 3 years ago, it has increased by 36%. And it's predicted that this July 1st will bring another 13.8%

So why am i mentioning this? In short, energy efficiency. Actions that save you energy are now even more financially attractive (36% more) than they were 3 years ago. Perhaps it's time to have another look at solar hot water, energy efficient lights, and fans (to reduce the need for aircon). Or even just to take a real hard look at the energy stars on that next appliance.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Fossil Fools

Here's a new Pew report out: Who's Winning The Clean Energy Race? It's a comparison of the investment by each of the G-20 nations.

This graph ranks the nations by clean energy investment. If you're looking for Australia, it's down there at number 14. Just below Turkey. (you may need to click the image to enlarge). Well, at least we're ahead of Argentina.