Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Super Switch - find a better super fund

What if our retirement funds are delivering us a world unfit to retire into? That's the problem Super Switch is here to solve. It's helps you pick a superannuation account that matches your values.

Find the best superannuation for you

Use the site to check up your super fund. Find out how much of your money is invested in fossil fuel companies. I compared my current one (SunSuper) to Australian Ethical (on the right).

Comparison of super funds

It seems Super Switch had a hard time finding out where SunSuper invests my money. So have I - particularly when asking about their "ethical" option. Australian Ethical looks much better, with around 90% invested in fossil free companies.

The site also gives you the option to contact your current fund to ask them to offer a fossil free option - and the option to switch to a better one.

Improve your super or switch to a better one

There's also a ranking of super funds according to the amount of fossil free investment.

Comparison table of superannuation funds

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Uniting Church to disinvest from fossil fuels

"With national governments reluctant to take difficult decisions, it falls to us as members of the body of Christ to show leadership in taking action to reduce damaging pollution."
Those were the words of Uniting Church president Andrew Dutney, as the church resolved to divest from fossil fuels companies.

"As Christians we are called to respect and care for the whole of creation," said Rev. Prof. Dutney. "To avoid damaging climate change we must move quickly to a clean energy economy. The Uniting Church recognises that continued investment in fossil fuel industries does not support the change needed."

Perhaps because of the church's strong connection with Pacific island churches, there is a recognition of the effects of fossil fuels on other nations - and how starkly that contrasts with 'loving one's neighbour'. For the church, this is a matter of social, environmental, and intergenerational justice.

The president also recommended that other churches follow the Uniting church's lead.

More info:
Uniting Church website
Brisbane Times article

PS. The move also seems popular with church members. When the news was posted on the church facebook page, the article received more likes than the page has followers.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Weekend Project Inspiration

My friend made this planter box over the weekend. Made from a discarded pallet; painted white, and then sanded for the 'used look'. It's a great example of 'upcycling' - where an otherwise discarded item is given new life as a different object.

An upcycled planter box made from an old discarded pallet

Apart from having a unique and stylish planter box for the garden, he has saved a pallet from going into landfill, saved himself some money, and avoided the production of another needless item (and the pollution that comes from that). Well done, mate.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

The Penny-Farthing of Energy

When the report on the Renewable Energy Target was released this week, the Roast devoted most of that night's episode to it. One of the highlights was Jazz's look at outdated industries.

He describes coal as "For 5 millenia, the best idea we've had for energy is: Find rock. Burn rock."

While I've picked his segment as a highlight, it's worth seeing the whole episode. For a show that's meant to be comedy, it does a good job of explaining the news while keeping it entertaining.

The Roast 1 September 2014

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hope for Creation

Hope for Creation is a movement of Australian Christians, who commit to prayer and action on climate change.

If the world is God's creation, and climate change threatens that creation - particularly the world's poor - then it makes sense for Christians to be interested in action on climate change.

Hope for Creation Sunday 7 September 2014

One action is Hope for Creation Sunday, where churches make a special effort to reflect on climate change and pray for creation and the poor. There are prayers, presentations, and Sermon ideas available for download.

If you attend a church that doesn't get involved in Hope for Creation, there are resources that can help you individually learn, act, advocate and pray about this.

You can make a small start now, by taking the pledge.

The pledge - I am a disciple of Jesus, who is Lord of creation. I am a steward entrusted with care for all that God has made. I am a creature dependent on the grace of God and God's gifts in creation.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Australia's New Coat of Arms?

David Pope drew this new coat of arms to reflect the Australian government's abolition of carbon pricing.

Parody of the Australian coat of arms after Australian renegged on carbon pricing

It's not often a political cartoon becomes a t-shirt, but this one has.

While this might represent Australia's place in the world at the moment, hopefullly we can do better in the future.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Zero-cost Electricity

Well done Queenslanders. Last week the cost price of electricity got down to zero. And on other days it's been quite low.

In winter we have low daytime energy use - and lots of solar panels making electricity for free. Polluting power generators have to drop their prices to compete. It's another great thing about renewables, and inspired this cartoon.

Cartoon about solar helping the electricity price go negative

So thankyou fellow Queenslanders, for being energy efficient and making lots of clean energy from your roof.

Related video: Wind power makes energy cheaper - explains how renewable energy makes all electricity cheaper.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Hooray for Port Augusta!

Port Augusta is the community that's looking to replace it's dying coal power station with something else.

The took a town vote, and solar was the hand-down winner. Then they walked 300km from Port Augusta to Adelaide to let the politicians know.

They asked the company to consider building solar on the same site. And now it looks like the company also sees the benefits of solar-thermal technology, rather than burning coal or gas.

It's good news for the residents. For jobs, for health (previously the area had high lung cancer rates) and for clean energy for Australia.

This is one of the shareable graphics they made to spread the good news.

Solar Power for Port Augusta. A community voted. They walked for solar. They asked Alinta to make the right choice ... and they have.

Sorry for the extra-large graphic, but this is exciting news.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Palmer Party Details

Here are the contact details for the politicians from the Palmer United Party:

Clive Palmer: (07) 5479 2800,
Glenn Lazarus: (07) 3001 8940,
Jacqui Lambie: (03) 6431 2233,
Dio Wang: (08) 9221 2233,

Why would you need the contact details?

This group of Senators, sworn in today, now have the deciding votes in the Australian Senate.

They've been criticised in the media for changing their mind frequently and having no set policies. But this could also be a positive. These Senators may be open to the persuasion of the general public.

As important issues come before the Senate in coming days and weeks, it may be worth making a call or email to your nearest PUP representative.

PS. The extra person in the photo is Ricky Muir. Technically not in the Palmer Party, but you'd be forgiven for thinking he is.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Happy 2nd Brithday

As of July 1, Australia's carbon price has been operating for 2 years. In that time, electricity pollution has dropped 10% - and renewables are up 37%.

No wonder people are urging the government to not drop the ball on climate action.

Happy birthday carbon price. Don't drop the ball on climate action.

On moral grounds, a group of multi-faith leaders have already called for bipartisan support for carbon pricing - and a recent survey showed more people favour carbon pricing than oppose it.

To me it seems the obvious thing to do is to keep it.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Brazil's Solar Stadiums

The venue for the World Cup final is Estádio do Maracanã (Maracanã Stadium). It features 1,556 solar panels - enough to to power 240 homes.

Quite a few of the stadiums now have solar. It's reducing the carbon footprint of the world cup - and also offering a solution to Brazil's energy crisis.

Brazil's world cup stadiums will provide more than 5.4 megawatts of solar energy - more than any world cup before

5.4 megawatts means a total of about 21,000 solar panels. Enough to power thousands of homes. Go Brazil!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Happy New (financial) Year!

To help the banks and superannuation companies celebrate the new financial year, some people from popped in with cakes and cupcakes. cake celebrating financial new year

These wonderful cakes also had a message - that the majority of Australians would prefer their bank and superannuation to not be investing in fossil fuels.

Majority of Australians would choose a bank or super fund that doesn't invest in coal or gas

Of course, another way to give banks this message is to move our business to banks that don't invest in coal. Same goes for superannuation.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Get Rewards for Recycling

They are reverse vending machines. You put in a recyclable container - a can or plastic bottle - and then choose your reward.

Envirobank reverse vending machine

They've been overseas for a few years, and now the idea has reached Australia. The Envirobank Locator can find the machine closest you.

7-Eleven franchises seem to be the main locations so far, at least in my city. Perhaps I'll contact my local 7-Eleven to see if they are going to get one.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Changing Gears

Greg Foyster quits his job in advertising to explore alternatives to the 'normal' living of long hours in unfulfilling work to pay for a big house full of stuff.

Changing Gears is the diary of his journey from Melbourne to Cairns by bicycle with partner Sophie, searching for more sustainable and more enjoyable ways of living.

Changing Gears book cover

It's a fascinating read. A few people they met seemed quite extreme (I guess that makes for interesting reading). But the ideas can be translated into our own lives. As the author reflects on the experiences of the trip, the reader (or at least this reader) also starts to look at society in a new way - and wonder if there's a better way to live.

Greg meets a man who builds himself a 3m x 3m home for $4,000. I'm not going to do that, but perhaps our houses (and mortgages) are too big for what we really need. I'm amazed to read that nearly 45% of Australian homes have 2 spare bedrooms.

Nor will I copy the Buddhist monk, walking up and down Eastern Australia owning only what he carries. But I do think that perhaps we gather too many material possessions - and become way too attached to them.

So what did Greg learn from the trip?
1. Face hypocrisy. If our values and actions don't match, it's a chance to improve our actions.
2. Money is time, and time is life. Everything we buy represents time we spent at work. Life is short enough without wasting it to buy junk.
3. Stuff breeds stuff. As a former ad man, he knows that for every necessity, there's another bunch of things advertising tricks us into buying. It's not good for our wallet, and it's not good for the planet.

In summary, less junk means less waste, fewer greenhouse emissions, more money and more leisure time.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Video: Collaborative Consumption

Rachel Botsman, author of What's Mine is Yours, explains collaborative consumption - with the 'help' of Julian Morrow. Basically it's the concept that having access to something can be better than owning it.

The cordless drill is a classic case. On average it's used for only 12 minutes in its lifetime. It spends more times being made than it does being used. Yet it seems everyone has one. A better solution might be for a couple of people in the street to have one - and for other people to borrow it. Streetbank is a good site I've found for sharing a variety of things with your neighbours.

Added to the sites mentioned in the video, there is a directory of them on the Collaborative Consumption website - organised by topic.

All this sharing helps prevent wasteful production. Less energy consumed by factories and trucks - and less stuff eventually going to landfill. Aside from that, it's a great money saver. Now that's a Convenient Solution.