Monday, February 16, 2015

Breaking up with fossil fuels

Over 450 events were held in 60 countries, to mark Global Divestment Day. The idea is to withdraw our business from banks that invest in fossil fuels.

Of course the weekend was also Valentine's Day, so a British group put together this witty video of people realising it was time to end their relationship.

On the day, there were a lots of people divesting, and a couple of 'remade' songs. A group in Adelaide, dressed as Tina Turner to sing "Simply Divest", while a big group in Sydney enjoyed "Stop in the name of love (before you wreck the reef)". That song made it onto SBS News (at the 3 minute mark).

Breaking up with fossil fuels

Australians, see if your bank invests in fossil fuels.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Global Divestment Day

With Global Divestment Day happening this weekend around the world, this video does some explaining, on what divestment is all about.

"Fossil fuels companies only care about one thing - money. Who can stand up against them and steer the world towards a safe future? You can."

"We'll close our accounts with banks and funds who continue to invest in climate chaos."

"Divestment is deliberately moving your money away from companies you're not happy with. It's helped to stop some of history's worst offenders including Apartheid South Africa."

"Each act of divestment takes back power from fossil fuel companies and helps create a mandate for our leaders to take real action."

Australians, see if your bank is funding fossil fuels.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Solar Scorecard 2015

This is a non-partisan blog, but near election time I do pass on some voter information. My home state of Queensland goes to the ballot box this weekend, and Solar Citizens has scored the parties on their solar-friendliness.

Solar Citizens' Election Scorecard Queensland 2015

For the full scorecard, and the detailed responses of the parties, see The sunnier the ratings, the better the policy for solar.

This information is meant as a guide. If solar energy matters to you - this scorecard allows you to assess which parties are more likely to support solar energy.

Monday, January 19, 2015

2014 - Hottest Year on Record

It's Official. 2014 is the world's warmest year in recorded history - and the 38th year in a row of above average temperatures.

Bloomberg did a clever animation showing how the years just keep getting hotter and hotter.

And the New York Times had this informative graphic showing both a heat map of 2014 and a chart of all the years up to now.

record of 2014 - the hottest year ever - and all the years leading up to it

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Disbelieving Pastor

As a Christian, Anna-Jane believes that we are stewards of God's creation - and should be acting on climate change.

But it's difficult when some powerful pastors don't even acknowledge the existence of climate change. It's even harder when one of these pastors is her own dad.

Anna Jane and her dad - who refuses to accept climate change science

This is the background for Episode 4 of Years of Living Dangerously. See what happened - the episode is free online until Feb 2.

It's quite interesting to see how a person's mind works when confronted with something it doesn't want to accept - an "inconvenient truth" if you like. He demands hard indisputable evidence (despite devoting his life to God without such evidence). When such information is presented, he seems not to believe it - for reasons which aren't entirely clear.

I'd be interested to hear your impression.

Here's the trailer for the episode:

Friday, January 02, 2015

Top 5 of 2014

Here are 2014's most-read articles from Convenient Solutions:

5. Money was a big theme of 2014, particularly divestment - removing money from institutions that fund fossil fuels. My summary of the May Divestment Day, including tips for how to do it, was the most read of my divestment theme.

4. When a friend asked me who I recommend for solar panels, I put my answer on the blog. Turned that my friend was one of many who wanted the answer to that question.

3. Satire and comedy can be a big relief when times are bad. I shared the cartoon Australia's New Coat of Arms and the humour was well appreciated. (See more funnies)

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

2. My Good News Tuesday piece about sales of electric and hybrid cars in the USA being greater than total car sales in Australia was good news to many.

1. Humour featured again in the most popular item The Penny-Farthing of Energy. One of many great pieces by The Roast - it was a statement of great common sense, delivered in a witty and clever style.

The Roast 1 September 2014

Thanks again for reading in 2014. I've enjoyed writing for you.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

That's So Kind

Have you ever struggled to find a gift for someone? Have you ever received a gift you didn't really like?

Why do we feel forced to buy physical stuff from stores, when people would much prefer other gifts? Ones that don't end up in landfill. Often it's because we don't know what people want. So Kind fixes that problem.

So Kind gift registry

It's like a wedding gift registry, but for any occasion - and also for non-tangible gifts.

You list gifts you would like - the kind of gifts that would make you say "That's so kind". They might be vouchers, homemade gifts, or a second-hand item you would like (if one of your friends has one and doesn't need it). Maybe even a donation to your favourite charity. There are plenty of ideas for your list, and other lists to get ideas from. Then tell your friends and family about your list.

For the gift buyer, just look at the list and pick something from it. You'll know for sure that it's something they'll like - and won't be in landfill next week.

It may be too late for this Christmas, but a good time to start one for your next special occasion.

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