Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sounds for the Reef

Artists such as James Butler, Missy Higgins, The Cat Empire, Hiatus Kaiyote and Remi have come together to make the album Sounds for the Reef to support the Great Barrier Reef - one of the world's great treasures that is under threat from climate change.

sounds for the reef album

You can buy a song for $1 or the whole album for $10, and support a good cause.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

LEDs at Aldi

Once again, Aldi have some low-price LEDs for sale. For $7.99 there are halogen-style replacements, and 'mini-bulbs' with the smaller base. For $10.99, there are the normal bulb-style replacements.

The two great things about this is (1) They are dimmable, for those who have had troubles with CFLs on dimmer switches, and (2) they now go up to 1055 lumens - which is about 75W in the old language (as per Aldi's conversion chart below). The other two pictured appear to be about 40 and 60W, so they've covered a fair range of brightnesses.

As per usual with Aldi, these are 'while stocks last', so you'll probably want to get in on Saturday before they're all gone.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Time to Un-invest from Fossil Fuels

May 3 is Divestment Day. People around Australia will be taking their money out of the banks that fund carbon pollution - and putting it into banks that are fossil fuel free.

Divestment day 3 May 2014

Many people have signed up, and it is expected that over $100 million will be moved away from fossil fuels on that day. Check the national guide for where your local event will be. Some locations hold an event on Friday if banks don't open there on the Saturday.

The events are designed to make the banks notice the reason people are taking their money back. After all, the best outcome would be if these banks also stopped funding pollution. Even if you can't make an event, you can still move your money, and let your bank know why.

To help you switch, I've made a list of banks and their current rates. There is also a 5-step guide to switching banks, and template letters to send to your old bank and your new bank.

PS. In making my list of banks and their rates, I also found that switching to a 'cleaner' bank typically also means getting a better interest rate. That's what I call a 'Convenient Solution'. :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Recycle at Easter

With Australians eating an average of 20 Easter eggs, that's almost half a billion wrappers. Planet Ark reminds us that (just like an aluminium can) this aluminium can be recycled.

Ball of Easter egg wrappers

Apparently the best way is to collect them up into a ball, and toss that in the recycling after Easter. If you're really keen, make a huge one by adding your family's wrappers - or by keeping it going all year round.

PS. Coincidentally, as I write this, the recycling truck is making its way up my street.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Who do I suggest?

Recently a number of people have been telling me they are looking at solar and asking things like "Any suggestions as to which companies to look at?" So here's what I've been saying.

Ingenero do solar panel leasing. As the up-front cost of panels is a psychological barrier to people, they lease solar panels to you. They design it so the savings you make are more than the lease payments. They are also the people behind the EveryRooftop initiative.

The Solar Guys seem to be at the leading edge. They have started promoting solar-battery combinations, so that the excess power you produce during the day can be stored for your use that night (saving you 30c/kWh) rather than getting fed into the grid for something around 8c/kWh (depending on your energy company).

Energy Matters seem to really have their heart in it. Their newsletter features renewable energy news from around the world, and a forum for people to discuss energy topics. For the tech-lovers, part of their process is to do an instant initial assessment by checking out your roof on Google Maps (for roof space, orientation etc). They have also featured on my blog with How Sunny Is Your City? and Solar Increases Home Value.

Local Power are, not surprisingly, Brisbane people. I personally know one of their main guys (Rob) and respect his integrity and energy knowledge. He also owns a Nissan Leaf which I have had a ride in. The contact details are 3009 0615 / info@localpower.net.au - until the new website is up. (Ah, the challenges of running a small business.)

PS. This is not an exhaustive list. If you are looking at someone else, they might also be great. These are just the ones that I feel I know enough about to put them on my suggestion list. One of my friends who asked me for suggestions, ended up going with another company recommended by his Dad.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Years of Living Dangerously

Matt Damon, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarznegger, Jessica Alba, Don Cheadle and James Cameron are just some of the stars in Years of Living Dangerously.

years of living dangerously

Don Cheadle says that "as actors we can't get out of the light - and a lot of these issues can't get into the light. So it's trying to bring the attention we get to those issues."

The series starts this weekend on US channel Showtime. Hopefully it will come to Australia at some point. Meanwhile, we can see episode 1 online.

See more videos on the Years of Living Dangerously youtube channel.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Earth Hour Video Highlights

Eath Hour Australia put together this video of highlights from here and around the world. It was the biggest ever Earth Hour in Australia - with over 1000 Earth Hour events around the country.

They're also going to let people know about other opportunities to take our commitment "beyond the hour" and make an even bigger impact for our earth.

Of course, I'll be posting them here as they happen, so stay tuned.

PS: This photo is from russia, where they held an earth hour bike race :)

the lights of the bikes in the Earth hour bike race in Russia

Previous Earth Hour photos: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

A New Leaf

One of the great things about electric cars is that they're continually getting better. This comes from the Green Vehicle Guide:

The second generation of the Nissan Leaf is 15% more energy efficient than the previous year's model, and can go 11% further on a charge. I'm sure it will get even better as the years go by.

Monday, March 31, 2014

No Advantage in Fossil Fuels

Sometimes we get told that investing in fossil fuels has some economic benefit. But does it?

The Climate Proofing your Investments report finds that it's no more profitable than investing in non fossil fuel companies.

No benefit to fossil fuel investment

The difference with fossil fuel investments is risk of what finance people call "stranded assets". Basically it means that as the world moves away from fossil fuels the value of those companies drops. After all, a coal mine isn't worth as much if people aren't buying coal.

Anyway, it's a risk you don't have to worry about - unless you, you bank or your superannuation fund is investing in fossil fuels - which they probably are.

PS. Ben Caldecott, from Oxford University is speaking at Southbank, Brisbane this Thursday night, for those interested in the finance aspect. (Or hear his interview on ABC's Radio National.)

Monday, March 24, 2014

If the invisible was visible

If we could see greenhouse emissions, there would be a lot more action on climate change. That's the theory of David Holmes. So here's what Australia's daily carbon emissions would look like (if CO2 wasn't invisible).

Daily carbon emissions in Australia

A few years ago Eastern Australia experienced a dust storm - and the sky went orange. It was all anyone was talking about. Perhaps if carbon dioxide was purple, we'd see more action on climate change.

This graphic was done by Carbon Visuals, the same people who did the Carbon Quilt.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Earth Hour - I will if you will

Saturday is Earth Hour - now celebrated by over 7000 cities in over 150 countries - each turning off there lights for one hour at 8.30pm.

Earth Hour Lights out for the Reef

Here in Australia the theme is "lights out for the reef", recognising the damage climate change can do to one of Australia's most enjoyable destinations. There will be a special Great Barrier Reef documentary on Channel 10 at 4.30pm, in the lead up to Earth Hour at 8.30pm.

You can host your own event, or attend one of the public gatherings. To do a bit more, visit the I will if you will site to accept the challenge of someone else - or to create your own.

example of Earth Hour's I will if you will pledge

If you're outside Australia, check Earth Hour around the world for your local Earth Hour site and information.

Friday, March 21, 2014

I voted for Lappeenranta

At We Love Cities, I voted for Lappeenranta (Finland). Denmark's Copenhagen was also good, but I couldn't resist Lappeenranta's 90% renewable energy, heading towards 100%.

Cities are important for sustainability. Even though 70% of energy-related carbon emissions come from cities, they have the potential to do so much good, including public transport, and bicycle facilities, recycling programs, and efficient use of energy.

You can vote for your favourite sustainable city (up until March 27) at welovecities.org

PS. Obviously there are no Australian cities :(

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How hot will you get?

The Guardian's new interactive guide shows you what temperature increases you (or your child) can expect to see in your (or their) lifetime.

how hot will it get in my lifetime

Adding these kind of temps to last summer is a sobering exercise, but that's not the whole story.

4°C of warming brought the planet an ice age to what we have today. That's a lot of energy, and that's what causes climate change. Drought and bushfires become harsher, extra energy fuels hurricanes and cyclones, and polar ice melts to cause sea level rise.

Often people talk about taking environmental action to leave a better world for our grandchildren. Having seen this data, we can probably now remove "grand" from that sentence. If we don't get serious about this soon, it's our own children who will face the consequences.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Spain almost halfway there

In 2009, I wrote about Spain predicting 25% renewable energy by year's end. They've now reached 42.4%. That 18% in 5 years!

Wind power (21.1%) and hydro electricity (14.4%) made up the bulk of it, and solar capacity is growing rapidly. With all this renewable energy, the amount of coal power has shrunk to less than 15%.

Meanwhile in Australia, we get excited when coal gets below 75%. And our small 20% (by 2020) renewable target is under review - with the potential to be reduced.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Landfill Harmonic - Recycled Music

This video is music to the ears of recycling fans, to music lovers, and to those inspired by the poor.

I normally just talk about recycling from the view of reducing waste and saving energy. But these kids show that recycling can do even more than that.

kid and their recycled musical instruments in the landfill harmonic orchestra

If, like me, you are inspired by these kids from Paraguay, you can follow the landfillharmonic facebook page.