Wednesday, April 27, 2016

How coal gets to you

This advert from an American solar company is also a great little cartoon of the simplicity of solar compared to coal.



The series includes one about gas and one about oil. Great Stuff!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bye George - I've done it!

Today I took the last of my money out of St George Bank. St George is owned by Westpac which lends to fossil fuel companies. Part one was transferring the last of the money out of St George.


Part two was telling the bank to close the accounts. I also printed out a letter (get your template here) to let the bank know why I was taking my money out.


And I couldn't resist a little card cutting photo. Cutting my connection with fossil fuels. Oh and my T-shirt says "My bank chose fossil fuels. So I chose another bank."

See also: Sending my bank a message

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Sending the bank a message

I just sent my bank a message. They have lent billions of dollars to fossil fuel projects over the last few years. Obviously this increases pollution and increases climate change.


Also, with the world switching to clean energy, loans to fossil fuels are also financially risky. So I let the bank know how I felt about this.


It's quite easy to do. Find out where your bank stands in the bank comparison table. If they're investing in fossil fuels there's a "tell them to stop" link. There's a template letter. Edit it if you like (I did) and click 'send'.

PS. I've already moved 99% of my money from this bank to an ethical alternative. But this was a great chance to let them know why I'm about to close the account.

See also Bye George - I've done it!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Planet Stupid

John Clarke and Bryan Dawe take a satirical look at what's on the news while the human race destroys its own planet.


Again, it's one of those things that's quite funny, yet incredibly not funny at the same time.

Monday, April 18, 2016

David Attenborough's Great Barrier Reef

If you haven't seen this series yet, catch episode 3 this Sunday Night at 7.40 on ABC (for Australian readers) and catch the first two episodes on iview.


Alternatively, take an interactive journey through the his Great Barrier Reef website. The graphics and underwater video footage are simply amazing. But it doesn't end there. This is one of the most incredible things I've seen online.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Good Beer gives back

Today I read a news story about a great new social enterprise - the beer that helps save the reef.


The brand will be "Good Beer" and it aims to taste good and do good. Half the profits from this beer will support protecting the reef, through the Australian Marina Conservation Society.

I'm not a big beer drinker, but this is one brand I hope really takes off. Why not support it by helping with the crowdfunding?

Friday, October 30, 2015

Photon finish!

The University of NSW Solar Racing Team Sunswift came fourth in the cruiser class in the World Solar Challenge.


The team is now looking to get the car registered as road-legal. Hear the interview.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Our brains are holding us back

One of the things that fascinates me about our reaction to climate change is just how many things outweigh facts and rational decision making. I've recently read a couple of articles about our psychology in this area.


One is about gender socialisation. What that means is from childhood boys are taught that masculinity means "detachment, control and mastery" while girls are taught "attachment, empathy, and care". Researchers think this is partially why more women accept the reality of climate change. Essentially they are trained to care more about the dire consequences.

The other article was about temporal discounting, which means our struggle to give up a small thing now for more later. In experiments people choose $100 now instead of $120 in a month's time. Financially it makes no sense. The extra $20 represents an interest rate of 240% and is definitely worth the wait. But our brains "discount" (or devalue) the future when we make decisions.

In experiments it might cost us 20 bucks, but in climate change it could cost us a whole lot more.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Dodgy facebook news

Have you noticed those little "trending" news stories on the side of your facebook feed? I got this one tonight.


It might be only for Australian readers, but it represents everything that's wrong about climate science reporting.

It seems to suggest that we should reconsider the findings of an international team of experts in the area of climatology - because some bloke in Perth (with no relevant qualifications) has a different opinion.

This is on par with saying that the whole cigarettes-cancer connection has been exaggerated .... according to an Architect in Adelaide.

Related video: Which is bigger? 15 or 5?

Monday, September 14, 2015

A private conversation

Generally, politicians can seem semi-decent and competent. Dressed in the expensive suits, and told what lines to say by the marketing division of their party, it's almost like the job of an actor playing a role.

But sometimes, like on Friday, you get a little look behind the scenes.



3 errors. Making a tasteless and cruel joke. Laughing at it. Not calling it out. The third politician points out the microphone. He doesn't seem shocked by the remark. It's almost like he's saying 'Guys, we're in public. Hide who we really are. Play the role of a decent human being.'

Later the politician said it was a "private conversation" and had nothing to add. Two days later he apologised - not for the remark, just for getting caught.


Obviously the joke didn't go down well with the Pacific Islands Forum, who have already warned Australia may be asked to leave the forum for refusing to make serious greenhouse emissions cuts.

The president of Kiribati has previously labelled Australia's obsession with coal mines as "selfish and unjust" and referred to the joke as vulgar. while the Fijian prime minister said Australia had been "put to the test on climate change and been found wanting".

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister has asked if Mr Dutton would be laughing if it were his own family about to lose their home because of climate change.

PS. Believe or not, all three of these men are ministers in our nation's government. I still don't get how any of them could think that people being flooded out of their country is good material for cheap laugh.

PPS. The Hungry Tide is a great documentary about Kiribati and its vulnerability to rising seas from climate change.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The sceptics

I caught a rerun of the Insight episode "The sceptics". Professor Stephen Schneider took questions from an audience of so-called 'sceptics'.


The professor did some great explaining of science. I'm not sure how much success he had with assembled audience. Most were not really sceptics in the true sense (cautious people, but willing to accept evidence) but rather people determined to reject climate science.

Still, he did manage to convince one or two of the 50, and I suspect he was even more successful with the more reasonable viewers at home. That's what a good explanation of the science does.

Monday, August 24, 2015

New Zealand beats Australia again

New Zealand will shut down it's last two coal power stations.


Prime Minister John Key, noted that coal plants "aren't the most sensible plants to have", saying renewables will go from 80 to 90 per cent and beyond.

Way to go, New Zealand.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Australia aims to be the worst

The Australian government has belatedly announced its planned greenhouse emission targets for the United Nations negotiations in December. Australia will take a take of 26 per cent by 2030 to the conference.

For comparison, the Climate Change Authority suggested 45 to 65 per cent by 2030 would be Austalia's fair share.

Of 38 comparable countries only Japan and Norway's targets are weaker, but they've done a lot of work already. Of the 15 most polluting nations Australia is the highest per capita polluter. Based on these targets, that will still be the case 15 years from now.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Does Queensland really need coal?

Some governments claim we need fossil fuels if we "want decent hospitals, schools and police", implying that we couldn't have these things without fossil fuels. But is that really the case?

New Matilda looked at Queensland's budget papers, released this week. Turns out that Queensland receives 1.68 billion dollars a year in coal royalties. That sounds big, but it's just 3% of Queensland total income of 51.19 billion.

So even if we stopped digging up coal tomorrow, 97% of our income would still be there. To me that doesn't sound like we're dependent on coal.

In my opinion, the only ones dependent on coal companies are the politicians who receive campaign donations from them.



Thursday, June 18, 2015

The End of Coal?

ABC's Four Corners did a great episode on Australia's obsession with coal, asking whether we are putting all our eggs in one basket, and if that basket is about to break?

"The reality is: the transition is happening irrespective of what Australia does."
"The world is committing to a low-carbon future. Australia's challenge is not to be left dependent on coal if the rest of the world leaves it behind."



The report included 1960s footage of one of Australia's coal power stations when it was new. Odd to think we're still relying on that technology.

It was also stunning to see the unwavering dogmatic belief of coal executives regardless of all the economic data. With comments like "I simply don't accept that..." it's understandable that cartoonists draw the industry as ostriches with heads in the sand.

The overall message is clear. It doesn't matter how much of a resource we have. If nobody wants to buy it, then it's a waste of money to invest in digging it up. Or as one of the economist puts it:

"What happens to Australia and our national prosperity if coal becomes a less and less valuable commodity? In many ways the current Government and Australia as a whole is doubling down on coal. And we're doubling down on a technology which is 100 years old, and which is rapidly being out-competed in many parts of the world by new technologies that are cleaner and superior in many ways, that have outlook of just lower and lower costs through time."