Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hot Springs

Last year I wrote that 2013 was Australia's Hottest Spring. Now, 2014 has broken that record.


Possibly not surprising considering we had the warmest September ever, Australia's Hottest October Day, and a November heatwave.

This is getting serious. We really need to act.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

The Ready-made Gift

At this time of year it can be stressful - searching shops for something special for friends and family.

But perhaps their gift is already in your home. There are plenty of items of yours that you can give as gifts.

Bernadette created this gift tag, to show the recipient why the gift is special - that you are caring for them, and also the planet.

We hope you don’t mind. We hope you understand. While your gift’s been carefully chosen, it does come second hand. By doing this we are trying, to be conscious of our buying. Becoming more sustainable, so a better future is obtainable

It's an idea that makes so much sense. Books and DVDs that I've read/seen once are still effectively new. Why not give them to someone who can enjoy them for the first time. There are many other items that also make great gifts.

You're giving a gift you know is good quality. As a side-benefit, you reduce your own clutter and prevent another item from ending up in landfill. You also save money and reduce needless consumption.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Who is Katharine Hayhoe?

This is Katharine Hayhoe. A Texan. A Christian. A Climate Scientist. Star of the documentary Years of Living Dangerously. One of TIME magazine's 100 Most Influential People

Katharine Hayhoe picture

She is also an author. Her and her husband, evangelical pastor Andrew Farley, have authored the book A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions.

Book Cover. A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions

Could be an interesting read. It's currently out of print, but a new version is coming out in 2015.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Living Dangerously in Australia

Remember when I wrote about the US documentary series Years of Living Dangerously? It stars Matt Damon, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarznegger, Jessica Alba, Don Cheadle and James Cameron.



Now it's being shown in Australia. I caught tonight's episode on SBS.

You can see it too. Each Tuesday at 9.30pm on SBS.

Or watch it online, through SBS On-Demand.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Should I Buy This?

Especially at this time of year, advertisers tell us to buy, buy, buy. Whatever our question - even if we didn't have one - the answer is to buy something.

Some things are good. Some things are just "landfill waiting to happen".

So I enjoyed this tongue-in-cheek yes/no guide for whether you should buy.

Should I Buy This - top of flowchart

It's simple to use. Just go to the full chart, start at the top, answer each question, and it will lead you to the answer.

Spoiler alert: The majority of paths point to NO, because most of the stuff we buy, we don't need.

Should I Buy This - end of flowchart

Of course as well as saving money and having less clutter around the house, there is also a planet benefit.

If we don't buy those pointless items, factories will waste less energy, and produce fewer emissions, making junk that we don't actually need or want.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Energy Freedom

Want to reduce your energy bills and your greenhouse emissions?

Energy Freedom is a program helping Australians make their homes high-performing, comfortable and zero emissions. With technology available now, home owners can be highly-efficient - cutting energy consumption to a much smaller amount - and then generating that amount from solar.

Energy reductions households can make

There are example Success Stories - a family in Victoria is now saving $4700 a year. A Brisbane family has halved their energy costs despite the addition of two children - and still has further savings to make.

House that has achieved Energy Freedom

One of the strategies they suggest is to switch from gas to electric - as there are more efficient electric products. A new report by ATA - Are we still Cooking with Gas? - has determined that for a new homes it is not even worth connecting to gas. Also, warmer states (like mine) have the best economics for converting to electric.

PS. Another benefit of being energy neutral is that (as batteries become cheaper) you could disconnect from the grid and stop paying electricity bills.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Consuming Creation

Christians must see climate change as a spiritual and not just a scientific problem. It's not just a material problem. It goes into the heart of the human spirit - what it means to be a human being.

It seems to me that what we have to do is face a fact that at the heart our refusal to engage with the issue of climate change is our consumption economy.

Our refusal to listen to the signs of change in the atmosphere in the oceans and the weather and in the earth's system more generally is a reflection of a spiritual problem of what the prophets would call an idolatry, not just of materialism.
These are the words of Scottish theologian Michael Northcott, in a talk entitled 'consuming creation', given to a conference of evangelical Christians. In Encounter's podcast, Steve Bradbury, had this to add:

Why is it so many people in the church don't catch this - and don't understand why we should be so concerned about climate change. Part of the answer lies in the cultural captivity of the church.

In the 18th century, the Anglican Missionary Society inherited two slave plantations. They did two things - gave the slave a little bit more time off each week - and rebranded the slaves with the initials of the mission society.

We react in a shocked manner. How could they do that? But they were captives of the culture of their time....

I think we're looking at a situation where we are captive to a particular worldview. It's tied to this idea that we have to have economic growth, we must keep trying to get more and more in order to satisfy our needs and aspirations.

The strong teaching in the new testament that we have a choice between serving God or mammon (money) is a choice we don't give enough thought to.

Michael Northcott also mentioned Jesus' parable about a rich man, who dreamt of building more barns to store his enormous surplus of corn. In this parable the man dies before ever eating or selling the corn.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Mother Nature's sense of irony

Australia is a large country, but our heatwave (like the world's leaders) has honed in on Brisbane this weekend.

Map of Brisbane's heatwave 14-16 November 2014

The irony is that G20 hosts Australia have refused to put global warming and climate change on the agenda. This has provided lots of material for cartoonists.

Cartoon: Australian Prime minister ignoring heatwave and US-China Climate deal at G20 meeting

Meanwhile, down in Sydney, a group of 400 people have paid tribute to the Australian government's attitude to climate change by sticking their heads in the sand.

400 people at Syndey's Bondi Beach poking fun at the Australian government's ignorance of climate change

Related G20 links:
USA and Chine lead the way - the game-changing agreement
Should Merkel shirtfront Abbott - a farmer's plea
Climate Change at the G20 - satire video
The Banned Ads - and the conflict of interest
G20 or G19? - cartoon

Thursday, November 13, 2014

USA and China lead the way

The USA and China have announced their biggest climate change deal.

This agreement reduces carbon pollution by the equivalent of the entire world's emissions from 1990-2013.

Australia's position, coming into the G20 meeting is best summed up by this cartoon.

David Pope's cartoon showing China and the US working on climate change solutions with Australia represented as a child playing off to one side.

Or maybe this cartoon of the G20.

And while the future commitments are great, China is already doing some amazing things. The Climate Council posted this summary before the announcement.

Infographic of China's carbon reduction achievements

It's an impressive set of statistics:
  • 1st in renewable energy capacity and investment
  • 2.6 million jobs in renewable energy
  • in 5 years have shut down more coal power than exists in Australia

Friday, November 07, 2014

Should Merkel shirtfront Abbott?

I love this "Go Solar" message - made with a plough by a Queensland farmer.


Obviously with extra "2" is a reference to the upcoming G20 meeting. When asked, the farmer said "I hope Angela Merkel shirtfronts Tony Abbott and asks him, if Germany can go solar then why on earth can’t Australia?".

(For non-Australian readers, the word 'shirtfront' is a reference to a bizarre comment recently made by Abbott.)

The farmer also summed up the issue quite well:

Farmers are at the pointy end of climate change. Last year was our hottest on record, this one’s shaping up to be even worse, and we’ve got a raging drought over a vast area. In spite of the overwhelming scientific evidence, our idiotic politicians are hooked on coal and gas, which is the cause of the problem.

We have huge reserves of sunshine, so making use of it is simply a matter of common sense. Our government’s reluctance to do so is an international embarrassment."

And if the farmer's word about the drought wasn't enough, the overhead shot certainly shows just how dry the land is.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Climate Change at the G20

Australia decided to avoid talking about climate change at next week's G20. As usual, the Roast summed this up brilliantly, describing other nation's attitude as:
At a forum to discuss the economy it's a good idea to mention the planet that economy happens on.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Here are the Banned Ads

Australia hosts the G20 next week, and has tried to exclude climate change talks from this year's meeting.

Some non-profit groups got together to put these messages on billboards around the airport. But the airport (whose chairman is also a coal company board member) said no.

Fireman: action on climate change is on my agenda

This man, Dean McNulty, represents the firefighters who put their life on the line more frequently as bushfires become more severe with increased heat.

Farmer: action on climate change is on my agenda

This man, David Bruer, lost $25,000 worth of grapes when a 46°C day hit his vineyard.

The On My Agenda website encourages people to tweet the world leaders to encourage them to talk about climate change even if the Australian government wants to avoid the topic.

Of course, you can also share the images above. Brisbane Airport can't censor your internet.

PS. The hypocrisy of Brisbane Airport has been exposed, as they have allowed mining and oil companies to display political ads, but deem the climate change ones inappropriate, because they are 'political'.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Australia's Hottest October Day

Monday wasn't just a hot day. It was Australia's hottest ever October day - with an average maximum of 36.39°C (97.5F). And it's not even summer yet!

Australia's hottest ever October Day - the weather map

Some places even passed 42°C!

Of course, last October we had spring bushfire - so I guess we can at least be grateful that hasn't happened again. But it's frightening to think that this is only the start of what climate change will bring unless we act to stop it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Getting Satisfaction at the Bank Branch

Two things happen when you take your money out of a bank that finances fossil fuels. First, the good feeling from knowing that your money is no longer being used by the bank to ruin our planet - and that you've done something to improve life for yourself - and people everywhere.

The second is that you get a chance to tell off your old bank.

Move to a non-coal bank - that's the description on my statement of why i'm withdrawing my money.

As I transferred my money, I entered the description "Move to a non-coal bank". I don't know if anyone reads that, but I feel good when I read it on the statement.

I also took the time to write the bank a short note to say that
  • I'd learnt they were funding fossil fuels,
  • I didn't think that was a responsible use of money, and so
  • I'm taking my money elsewhere.
PS. See whether your bank deserves the same treatment, and perhaps switch banks.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tell the Government to Keep Renewable Energy

This is your chance to influence the future of Australia's energy.

Yesterday the government said it wants to reduce the Renewable Energy Target. Now it's negotiating with the opposition to settle on a position. So now is a great time to contact any of the men in the negotiation.

Negotiators of the Renewable Energy Target - MacFarlane, Hunt, Hockey, Butler, Gray and Bowen

Here are their contact details:
Ian MacFarlane - facebook or (02) 6277 7070
Greg Hunt - facebook or (02) 6277 7920
Joe Hockey - facebook or (02) 6277 7340
Mark Butler - facebook or (02) 6277 4089
Gary Gray - facebook or (02) 6277 4913
Chris Bowen - facebook or (02) 6277 4822

This suggested policy, described as a free kick for fossil fuels (which would also increase the price of electricity) would be a 64% cut in future investment, according to the Clean Energy Council.

Already, just a day after this announcement, one wind turbine manufacturer has had to let go of 100 jobs.