Monday, February 28, 2011

Is There Doubt Among Scientists?

One of the excuses you'll hear for lack of action on climate change is waiting until "the science is settled". But is there any real doubt? This is a classic slide from Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth.

It summarises a research project which examined 928 studies from a decade of scientific journals (1993-2003). Not a single scientific study disagreed with global warming being a problem humans are causing. 0 out of 928! I'm not sure how much more settled you can get.

But for some strange reason, 53% of media reports express doubt. I'm not sure whether it's in the media's interest to stir up fake controversy, or whether there are vested interests at play, but 53% is much more than 0 out of 928.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Putting A Price On Pollution

Today the Prime Minister announced that the government will finally act - and put a price on carbon from July 2012. There was some good stuff said both at the multi-party press conference and in the parliament. I only hope that the strength of her words are matched by the strength of the action.

For too long pollution has been free. Companies have chosen the cheap, high-pollution, option - even if it's only a few bucks cheaper. Putting a price on pollution makes the cleaner option more attractive. Now the planet-friendly option is also the profit-friendly option. Everybody wins. (I think Stuart showed this well). Also, the money raised can be used to help us make the change to a cleaner future.

Prime Minister Gillard:
I'm determined to price carbon ... History teaches us that the countries and the economies who prosper at times of historic change are those who get in and shape and manage the changes. The time is right and the time is now.
There are some people that will say we can't afford to move to a clean energy future, I disagree with that, we can't afford not to move to a clean energy future.

Senator Brown (Greens):
This agreement is the Greens in action, delivering certainty to the Australian economy, community, investors and the environment after productive negotiations with the Government.

(Gillard also had a great line about Bill Gates not waiting around for others to move into the computer age. The moral being that the rewards go to the people who take the initiative.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Scotland Ups Their Target

As part of my series on how far ahead the rest of the world is getting, today i talk about Scotland's new renewable energy target.

Earlier Scotland had a 50% target. Having done more research since then, the government has set a new target of 80% renewables by 2020.

Ironically in 2007 the 50% target was dismissed as "unachievable and unworkable", but with the growth of renewable energy, it now seems the target will be met ahead of schedule, bringing "massive environmental, economic and social gains".

If only other countries had such vision. Here in Australia, our 2020 target is a mere 20% renewables. Meanwhile, Scotland aims to reduce carbon emissions by 42% by 2020, while Australia offers just 5%.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Changing Climate Changing Times

Reading through the scientific reports of the UN's climate scientists (the IPCC) can be a tough read. So a few film companies got together and made a movie version - Changing Climate Changing Times.

Based on the IPCC reports, and using some film-making creativity, this docu-drama (mostly drama, a bit documentary) follows the lives of characters in Europe, Africa and North America as they struggle with the predicted effects of climate change in the year 2075.

You can find it online, but i found a copy in my local library.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Coal And Nuclear On The Nose

In an article titled The energy [r]evolution has begun i found this great little graphic. For all the different energy types, it shows the amount installed and the amount dismantled.

In the article, they highlighted the shift away from coal - with more stations being closed than opened. I also noticed that further along, the same things is happening with nuclear. Nuclear people like to say how much nuclear energy there is in Europe, but they don't often mention that it's from decades ago, and being phased out.

Also, it's great to see that wind and solar PV in the top 3 for energy being installed. Let's just hope that the non-European countries begin to see the light. (That wasn't meant to be a solar pun)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Picking A Better Car (2004-)

Last week I gave links for the finding the fuel efficiency of cars made up to 2003. But for cars made since 2004, there is the Green Vehicle Guide.

Using either the search function, or the drop-down menus, you can compare the fuel efficiency and greenhouse emissions of various cars. And there's an all-in-one calculator that works out your annual fuel cost and greenhouse emissions.

It's a great way to make sure you find the best car you can get. Even finding a car that consumes one quarter less fuel, is like getting a 25% discount every time you fill up.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

USA v Germany

Last week i posted a map of the USA's solar resource. Now i'm having a look at how that compares to other countries.
Germany's sunshine is comparable to Alaska, and maybe the northwest tip of mainland USA - about half that of mainland USA. Also, Germany has only a quarter of the USA's population.

Despite all this, Germany employs twice as many people in the solar industry, and installs 6 times more solar than the USA. America has such a great resource - and it's going to waste.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Earth Hour Dots Clip

Earth Hour is coming up on March 26. This creative little promo clip must have taken ages to make - but i think it's worth it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Eco-Drive Game

As part of the website for the new hybrid car, the Honda Insight, Honda have made up an eco-drive game.

The objective is to drive in a fuel-efficient way, but also to achieve the required speeds. You score eco-points for smooth and efficient acceleration, and bonus points for how quickly you complete the challenge. But you do have the eco-assist at the bottom of screen for guidance. Good luck!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Solar Map - USA

Found this great map showing the tremendous amount of solar energy available in the USA - especially in the southwest - Arizona, New Mexico and places like that.

On the same site you can also click different titles to show the amount of windpower, and where the various states get their energy from.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Reindeer Island

Another month with a great cartoon from Stuart:

This one is about an island full of reindeer - and the story of what happened to them. A bit of a lesson for us all, i think.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Picking A Better Car (1986-2003)

A friend of mine recently made a second-hand vehicle purchase. It reminded me to write about the Fuel Consumption Guide Database. For vehicles made between 1986 and 2003, this guide lists the fuel consumption for both city and highway driving.

It also has a Fuel Cost Calculator, where you can calculate and compare the yearly fuel costs of different cars, and an Emissions Calculator where you can estimate the greenhouse impact of a vehicle.

After all, this is an important decision. Apart from helping the planet, there's no point getting a car that's $1000 cheaper only to end up paying an extra $500 in petrol each and every year.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Find Flood Funds From Fossil Fuels

Last week, i linked to the Safeguard Our Future petition. Today i see that community action group GetUp is going a step further and raising money to put this cartoon in the paper.

The full poster also points out that more than enough money for large-scale solar power could be raised simply by closing the $600 million tax loophole for crude oil.

Monday, February 07, 2011

SuperBowl XLV - Good For The Planet

Watching this year's Superbowl, i like knowing that it's a climate friendly event. For every unit of energy consumed, the NFL funds the generation of a unit of wind energy, thereby negating their carbon footprint.

Apart from being a great symbolic move, it makes a real difference. The energy used for the Superbowl could power 1500 homes for a year. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles have upgraded their stadium to produce all of its own energy.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Betting On Clean Energy

Found this graphic at New Energy News demonstrating the investment in clean energy by the US and China. The 'jackpot' refers to the global clean energy market, which is predicted to be worth $1.6-2.2 trillion by 2020.

Glad they didn't put Australia on the same diagram - with our measely 1 chip.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Safeguard Our Future

The Australian Government has decided to cut climate change programs in order to fund the flood relief. Community group GetUp has a petition to Safeguard Our Future. They suggest creating a permanent Climate Disaster Fund financed by reducing fossil fuel subsidies, which currently cost the taxpayer over $10 billion a year.

Other groups agree. "events like the recent floods are likely to become more severe and frequent with the impacts of climate change" said Matthew Warren of the Clean Energy Council. "Cutting funding for clean energy projects that will ultimately mitigate this impact is as bizarre as it is counterproductive."

"We do need to rebuild and recover swiftly after the floods, but cutting programs that reduce pollution is not the answer" said Tony Mohr of the ACF. "This summer’s floods are an example of the extreme weather events climate scientists have warned will be more frequent and more severe with climate change."

Don Henry added that funding should come from "cutting subsidies and tax breaks that promote fossil fuel use and greenhouse pollution". He suggested Australia should "take a leaf out of Obama’s book" by ending these polluting subsidies.

Senator Christine Milne was also astounded by the announcement. "It beggars belief that the government would choose to cut climate change programs like Solar Flagships, energy efficiency and the solar hot water rebate to fund disaster relief when such disasters will be made worse by climate change."

Sign the online petition here.