Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Alan Kohler and climate change

Usually the finance guy on the news shows charts of interest rates, inflation, company performance and sharemarket movements. So it was a little bit surprising to see this last night.

It comes from the latest IPCC report. You can read more about that here and here. But the basics are that we are likely to exceed 1.5 degrees of warming (considered the upper limit of what would be a "viable" society) by 2030.

For Australia this means "fires are projected to get worse and more frequent, and fire seasons will last longer. In eastern Australia, if warming exceeds 2C, then droughts are projected to increase. Across southern Australia drought has already increased, and projections suggest that will worsen."

So why is this on the finance report?

I did some digging and finance journalist Alan Kohler has doing a fair bit of research in this area.

He wrote an article about Australian businesses that are taking advantage of the move to electric vehicles, and the massive drop in the cost of renewable energy.

He's also written an article titled Australia's solar tsunami to trigger coal collapse - explaining how inflexible coal-fired power stations are on the brink of being unprofitable and closing. That's another business story, similar to the way Netflix made Blockbuster unviable.

Business is about managing risks

More recently Alan Kohler has written about how Australia manages risk. When a vaccine has a 0.0011% chance of a side effect we take steps to avoid that risk. But when a country faces a risk (climate change) that is hundreds of times more likely we seem to do nothing.

He says that a "4 degree rise in the average global temperature would make large parts of the planet uninhabitable and lead to the total collapse of the banking system."

Even if we avoid that, a mere 2 degrees of warming (which is still quite likely) would mean "the banking system barely survives".

It seems that climate change information should be very important to the finance community. And all of us.

PS. Zooming in on that graph (and the current steep slope) it looks like we need to get serious about putting the brakes on pretty soon - if we're going to have any chance of keeping under 1.5 or even 2 degrees.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Greener Vehicle Use

I was recently clearing out some paperwork and found this little list of tips for greener vehicle use. I'm assuming it they came from a seminar of some sort.

Anyway here they are, with my comments in brackets:

  • Minimise vehicle use 
  • Do multiple errands on one trip
  • Utilise nearby shops (as opposed to distant ones)
  • Avoid peak hour wherever possible (so much petrol consumed going at walking pace or standing still - fortunately electric cars are far better in this aspect)
  • Drive in high gear at about 1500-2500 rpm
  • Drive smoothly and avoid unnecessary acceleration
  • Minimise fuel wasted in idling
  • Speed kills (not just lives but petrol too) - a journey uses 5% more fuel if travelled 110kmh compared to 90km/h
  • Minimise drag - roof racks, spoilers, open windows can increase fuel consumption by 20%
  • Inflate tyres - also gives longer life and better handling
  • Air conditioning uses 10% extra fuel, but if you're travelling faster then 80km/h then it's better than leaving the windows open
  • Travel light (having the bag of golf clubs permanently in the boot weighs you down)
  • Service regularly

Hope that help you reduce your fuel bills and your emissions.

Of course, the biggest and maybe simplest thing you can do is (next time you get a new car) choose one with low fuel consumption. The Green Vehicle Guide is the place to go to compare cars available in Australia.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Future We Choose

The Future We Choose is unique in its format. Near the beginning the authors describe two worlds - one in which take no climate action and the other where we do everything right. It's a stark difference and if that's all that this book brought I would have been happy with that. But there's more.

There's a few chapters on mindset - often so much of how we respond is due to the way we think. Then there's a section on actions. But not the normal type of actions.

Often in books on climate change the list of actions will include things like turning off appliances when not using them, changing light bulbs, and using reusable shopping bags. Those are all good things, and are should be done. But there's more.

This book goes a bit deeper with the actions. Some are psychological - let go of the old world, face your grief. Others are about who we are - seeing ourselves as citizens not consumers engaging in politics. Others are practical actions - reforesting the earth, and investing in a clean economy.

Overall it's a great read - and helpful way to overcome the overwhelm and focus our attitudes and actions to make a difference.

Friday, November 29, 2019

State of Play: who's winning the clean energy race

In the absence of meaningful action at a federal level, it's mostly up to Australian states to do the heavy lifting in the renewable energy area.

Here's the Climate Council's assessment of how those states are going.


Since last year's list, South Australia has leapt to to the top of the list with most of their power coming from renewables and a 100% target for 2030.

The Australian Capital Territory has also overtaken Tasmania and looks set to hit 100% renewable energy in the new year.

At the other end

It's not just the time zones that sees Western Australian behind the other states. They've moved from last to second last place with an "aspirational" net-zero emissions target by 2050. That's nice but not much. I guess that's why they're still "at the starting blocks".

Here at home

My home state of Queensland wins the "most improved" with lots of solar being installed over the past year, but still not enough to reach the 2030 target of 50% renewable energy.

It's bizarre that the "sunshine state" has just 8.8% renewable energy (including hydropower) and only 5.6% from solar and wind.

Here's how each state does on renewable energy (light blue) and solar and win energy (darker shaded area).

Download the full report from the Climate Council.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Fires and how to ignore them: a politician's guide

Even if you're reading this outside Australia, you've probably heard about the enormous areas of bushfire through Eastern Australia.

Climate change and fires

Clearly this is related to climate change. This map shows the changes in forest fire danger over the last four decades.

Brown represents more danger, blue less. The more intense the colour bigger the change.

Something to talk about?

But leaders don't want to talk about it. You'd think leaders would be keen to address something that threatens the citizens. But apparently not.

They didn't want to talk about it in 2013 - or during any bushfire since - or on any other day. I think that's what prompts cartoons like this.

Not Today

My favourite bit of satire was this video by Mark Humphries and Jan Fran. (Aussies, look out for a clever cameo part way through the video)

News (satire) headlines

Some of my favourite satirical headlines are:

Why the laughs?

Aside from the map (Bureau of Meteorology) I've focussed a bit on the humour and satire side of this. It's mainly a situation where one has to laugh or one would cry (or get really frustrated).

It's simply astounding that governments not only have no interest in solving the problem, but also no interest in even discussing what is killing people and destroying homes.

This month it's bushfires. For ages it's been drought. Later it will be another climate-change-assisted disaster. The reaction seems to stay the same. :(

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Clean energy, cheap prices

Last night, Alan Kohler summed it up on ABC News:

Electricity prices are falling because of all the renewable energy being built.

It's common economic knowledge that when you increase supply of a product, the price goes down. But for some reason politicians continue to pretend it's the environment versus the economy. It's not.

If we build more clean energy, prices keep coming down and everyone can pay less for power. Sounds like a convenient solution!

Related posts

Powershop - switch and save - see how you can save by switching to a renewable-friendly electricity provider.

Are there jobs in renewable energy? - here's another way clean energy helps our economy.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Brisbane's 20 best signs (Global Climate March)

Today is a global climate "strike". Around the world people are gathering to support (perhaps even insist) on climate action.

The park was packed

In Brisbane today's event was the biggest the city has seen. So much so that the park could not hold all the people. Fortunately, the street had already been blocked off. People stood on the road and on the footpaths of adjacent blocks.

Let's get to the signs

I've always been a fan of people's creative signs for these events. Here are some of Brisbane's best.


With this being the last day of school term, there were lots of kids there (with their parent's permission) and a number of signs were about that.

Some signs featured the Dr Seuss character The Lorax.


Old people showed up for their kids grandkids ... and great grandkids.

Positive encouragement

Witty Signs

Some signs were quite clever, like this one from a university staff member (presumably the health faculty):

This one starts by saying "I like my planet the way I like my men..."


Some were just frustrated with the government's lack of action.

That last one is a reference to the current prime minister saying the schoolkids shouldn't be speaking up for the future (being "activist").

What a wonderful world

Some just wanted to say what a wonderful thing the earth is.

Want more?

See some highlights from previous events - Schoolkids strikeof 2018 - I want some action - Scientists

Monday, August 19, 2019

Australia sinks island hopes

At the recent Pacific Island Forum, Australia has appeared to prefer burning coal to saving lives

The leaders of the Small Island States had all agreed to a declaration for stronger action on climate change. Perhaps not surprising considering these nations' future existence is at stake. But then Australia stepped in.

Instead of giving them what they need (action on climate change) Australia gave them foreign aid money. Cartoonist Cath Wilcox illustrated how (not) useful that is.

And even worse, it's not extra money - it's been redirected away from other foreign aid orther worthy programs no have to go without.

So basically Australia, having heard that climate is the biggest issue for all these Pacific Island nations is not giving one extra dollar and not reducing pollution by one single gram.

Back in Australia, the Deputy (and acting) Prime Minister made some bizarre remarks about fruit-picking, and also,

“I also get a little bit annoyed when we have people in those sorts of countries pointing the finger at Australia and say we should be shutting down all our resources sector so that, you know, they will continue to survive,”

Two things here. First is the exaggeration/lie about what was being asked - it was only ever about coal. Second is the display of priorities where he seems to be saying that a polluting industry is more important than people's lives - that he wants to continue burning and exporting coal forever - even if it wipes out several nations along the way. Stunning.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Climate Change: The Facts - by David Attenborough

If you missed last night's ABC screening of Climate Change: The Facts here's the link to see it on iview.

David Attenborough's Climate Change: The Facts

There's an explanation of climate change, it's impacts and what we can do to reduce it. Being a David Attenborough documentary it also contains some amazing footage:

  • Australian bats littered on the ground after a heatwave, (perhaps turn away at that point if you're an animal lover)
  • Dashcam footage as a father and son driving through a bushfire to escape it - only to realise that was impossible, (their escape was quite miraculous)
  • Flames coming out of ice. This was a demonstration of the quantity of ice-trapped methane in the permafrost. When this permafrost melts (due to climate change) this methane will be released and cause even more climate change. This is what's called a tipping point.

There's also amazing stats:

  • British heatwaves are 30 times more likely than in the 70's.
  • Greenland is losing ice at 5 times the rate that it was just 25 years ago.
  • The US state of Louisiana is losing land the size of a football field every 45 mins - due to sea level rise - and already people have had to abandon their homes.

Sometimes our tendency is to avoid change even when it's necessary. It's important to remember that the "cost of action is dwarfed by the cost of inaction".

Some more David:
David Attenborough's Great Barrier Reef

Monday, July 29, 2019

The Earth can't keep up

If you spend your whole year's income in 7 months, that's not good. That's what we're doing to the Earth.

Today (29 July 2019) is Earth Overshoot Day. That's the earliest it's ever been. Already this year we've used up a year's worth of natural resources. To put it another way, what we use in a year takes 1.7 years for the earth to regenerate.

It hasn't always been this bad

In 1970 the date was at the end of the year. We were using the exact amount of resources that Earth could replenish. Yes, there's more people today, but with our advanced technology and better choices we can get our of ecological debt.

Australia hasn't improved

If everyone behaved like Australians, we would need 4 Earths to sustain us. Our overshoot date is March 31 (same as last year) and is one of the worst. (Yes, the USA is still a bit worse).

Is your country not here?

See if you can find your country on this calendar. (The later your country's overshoot date, the better).

Friday, July 26, 2019

Global warming really is global

Local ABC news doesn't normally give international weather reports but this was an exception.

Europe is going through a heatwave. England is set to record it's highest temperature EVER.

Forecast for England's hottest ever temperature

Here in Brisbane, Australia, July is our coldest month. This July it looks like every day of the month will reach 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit). That's happened only twice before - last year and once early in the 2000's. It never ever happened through all the 1900's.

Meanwhile the US has also been having heatwaves. Normally these affect the elderly quite badly, but this one claimed 32-year-old former SuperBowl player Mitch Petrus.

It's one thing to see a hot or cold day in one place, but when this is happening consistently all around the world we need to take action.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Coal barren - Mine vs Ours

This brilliant cartoon highlights the inequity of coal mining and climate change in general. While there are benefits to be gained by the billionaire, or company, that pollutes - the cost of that is felt by everyone else.

It can be more frequent extreme weather events, more severe droughts, or in this case a destroyed natural wonder. In any case, a few really rich people benefit while everyone else pays the price.

Cartooning credit to the brilliant Fiona Katauskas.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Yes, Australian voters want climate action

Since the Australian election some have been worried that Australian voters seem unconcerned about climate change. However, ABC's Vote Compass shows the opposite.

While not many people changed the party they vote for, they are ready for (and expect) more climate action.

How much should we do?

The proportion of people saying we should do more has reached an all-time high. Also, the number of undecideds has decreased each election.

How many Australians want more action on climate change

Cross-party support

Across the four biggest parties, each party's supporters want more action rather than less. The highest are Greens (99-0) and Labor (96-0) supporters. A bit further back are Coalition supporters (59-13) and One Nation supporters (40-34).

Whilst some parties seem opposed to more action, every party's supporters think we should be doing more.

Which party's supporters want more action climate change? All of them.

What about policies?

Renewable energy is immensely popular with 86% of people saying there should be more of it.

The price on carbon emissions was abandoned by the current government. Yet still 68% of people agree with the Greens policy to bring it back.

Electric cars are also a popular idea with 72% saying that the government should do more to increase the number of electric cars in Australia.

What actions Australians want on climate change.

What does it mean?

Despite the increasing desire for action on climate change, the votes of all the parties remained almost identical to the last election. Perhaps people are sticking with their preferred party, but expecting them to do more.

It's interesting that we seem to be in favour of policies that politicians seems less keen to introduce. Will this be something they notice and begin to act upon? Or could this possible be the effect of political donations by companies that profit from polluting?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Zero waste election day?

Sometimes elections can seem like a high-waste event. Here are some tips to minimise the environmental impact of the day.

Why the flyers?

The info on the flyers is important in a federal election. The Senate is a crucial part of our democracy and for a Senate vote to be valid we need to number at least 6 parties in our order of preference.

Who are these people?

There are so many parties on the Senate ballot paper. Many have ambiguous or strange names, so it's hard to know exactly who you are voting for, or giving your preferences to.

You can do your own research - the ABC has a Senate Guide. Click your state at the top and you'll get a page with links to all the parties that are running in your state. For example, here is the Queensland list. [Edit: Buzzfeed also have this informative (and humourous) guide.]

But with 25-30 parties running in most states, many people find that too hard and opt to follow their favourite party's how-to-vote card.

What can we do

While the papers are important we can still minimise our impact - and the impact of others. Depending on your enthusiasm, here are several levels of waste reduction you can do.

Level 1

Only take flyers from candidates or parties that you are interested in. I see people take flyers from every party. I guess it seems polite but it's just a waste.

Level 2

Put any flyers you take in the recycle bin supplied at the booth, or at home.

Level 3

Take care of the flyer(s) you take so it's in good condition to return it to the volunteers. They can use it again.

Level 4

After voting, casually take a bunch of used flyers out of the recycle bin at the booth and return them to the volunteers for reuse. The more leftovers they have at the end of the day, the more confident they can be in printing fewer copies next time.

Going online

Parties are starting to put this information online. The Greens one is the most user-friendly. Labor also do it, but it seems to require a fair bit of personal information to be entered.

The Liberal party one is semi-functional. It's hard to tell what parties it suggests to preference. The names of other parties are either removed or too small to read (at least on my screen). I'm hoping this is poor design rather than a deliberate attempt to hide the identity of the party they suggest you give your preferences to.

Again the ABC provides a great resource of all the how-to-vote cards for each state. Here's the Queensland list. For other states click your state at the top of the page. It's handy to see them because each party's suggested preferences give you an idea of what they stand for.

Take heart

The sight of all this paper can be disturbing to the eco-minded. Bear in mind that good parties are now printing on recycled material and most of the paper is recycled afterwards.

Whilst they are very visible, federal elections are only once every three years. The stuff that happens every day of the year (and often out-of-sight) adds up to a far bigger impact than election day. Once the election is over let's get back to fixing those issues.

Try to walk or cycle to the polling booth. It avoids parking problems and positive environmental impact is even greater than what you do regarding flyers.

Monday, May 13, 2019

See the "Accelerate" documentary for free

The "Accelerate" documentary is now available to view for free! It's just under an hour, has featured at special screenings around the country and is now online for free.

The Accelerate documentary shows why we need climate action, and how collectively we can work together for a safe climate future.