Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Savings Of Solar

I put together a little page of Solar Maths to outline the financial benefits of solar power, but nothing puts it quite as simply as this diagram.

It's from the Story Of Solar, an interactive cartoon-based tutorial on solar power, and demonstrates the savings of going solar (shaded orange).

When you think about it, it's quite obvious. With electricity prices going up and up, it makes sense to switch to power that (once it's paid for) becomes free.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Say Yes Australia - TV Spot

Last week I mentioned the community initiative Say Yes Australia. This is the TV spot that will be on Australian TV's this week.

It features Australian actors Cate Blanchett and Michael Caton, who both donated their time and effort because they believe in the cause. Saying 'Yes' to less pollution, more jobs, better health, and more.

Michael Caton (known to Australians from 'The Castle' and 'Packed To the Rafters') was also interviewed on tv, talking about why he's taking a stand.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Window Of Opportunity

Inkcinct's humorous take on the not-so-humorous report released earlier this week.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Country People Switched On

I've said before how much country people love renewable energy - but it's not just in surveys. They put their money where their mouth is.

The Clean Energy Council recently reported the top solar postcodes - the places where home solar power is most common. The top 10 were:
Caloundra, Queensland : 11.98%
Alstonville region NSW : 11.91%
Hindmarsh Valley, SA : 10.83%
Samford/Mount Glorious : 9.98%
Dubbo, New South Wales : 9.97%
Brunswick Heads, NSW : 9.80%
Bega region, NSW : 9.76%
Jimboomba, Queensland : 9.03%
Burpengary, Queensland : 9.03%
Hindmarsh Island, SA : 9.03%

The names might not mean much to readers outside Australia, but the point is that they are all outside Australia's major cities. This shows 2 things:

1. Country people love renewable energy (or at least have done the maths, and realised the value of free electricity)

2. Governments who cut solar incentives because "the money just goes to rich city-dwellers" are talking through their hat. According to Sydney news, the corresponding percentages for some of Sydney's richer suburbs are just 0.5, 0.8 and 1%.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Saying "Yes"

A number of non-profit groups have got together to launch Say Yes Australia - a community campaign to support charging big polluters for their emissions. (Less than 1% of companies cause 75% of Australia's pollution)

Their website has bunch of resources - like a fact sheet and 7 reasons to say Yes - and some creative ways of getting involved. On June 5 (Environment Day) there will be Say Yes events around the country in support of pricing pollution and supporting renewable energy. (Have i mentioned that 87% of Australians want the revenue to be spent on renewable energy)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

UK Pledges 50%

Amongst all yesterday's action, was the 7.30 interview where Tim Flannery mentioned Britain pledging to reduce emissions by 50% by 2025.

Chris Huhne (Energy and Climate Change) remarked that Britain will "transformed for the better". By "competing with the world, the UK can prove that there need not be a tension between green and growth" added Prime Minister David Cameron.

Apart from being a great announcement for the planet, it once again shows that (i) reducing emissions can be great for the economy (Britain has already discovered this and wants more of the same), and (ii) Australia is by no means "leading the world" with it's paltry target of a 5% reduction by 2020.

(And yes, as an Australian sports fan, it also irks me to be beaten by Britain at anything ;)

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Critical Decade

That's the name of the Climate Commission's report on the science of climate change. In short, the report says
1. The climate is changing.
2. We are already seeing the impact
3. Human activity is the cause
4. From now to 2020 is vital

Points 1 to 3 are already well known. Point 4 is best illustrated by this diagram.

For a given amount of pollution, the earlier we start reducing emissions, the less dramatic the reductions need to be.

[Links: Full Report; 2 page summary; News report; Punch summary; ACF response; 7.30 report and interview]

Thursday, May 19, 2011

HungryBeast on Hazelwood

ABC's Hungrybeast did one of their 'Beast Files' summaries on Hazelwood coal-fired power station in Victoria - named the most polluting power station in the industrialised world.

It was supposed to close years ago but lives on - each year burning 18 million tonnes of brown coal (which is even worse than black coal). This means the pollution from this one station is higher than 120 of the world's countries.

[Hungrybeast's source info]

Related Link: Postcard from Hazelwood

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Climate Committee Contacts

Politicians often cop flack for doing stupid things, so i figure it's only fair that i should encourage them for doing good stuff - like putting a price on pollution. If you want to join me, here are the details for the Climate Change Committee:

Greg Combet, Climate Change Minister (02) 4954 2611 greg.combet.mp@aph.gov.au

Tony Windsor, Independent (02) 6761 3080 tony.windsor.mp@aph.gov.au

Rob Oakeshott, Independent (02) 6584 2911 robert.oakeshott.mp@aph.gov.au

Julia Gillard, Prime Minister (03) 9742 5800 contact form

Wayne Swan, Treasurer (07) 3266 8244 wayne.swan.mp@aph.gov.au

Christine Milne, Australian Greens (03) 6224 8899 senator.milne@aph.gov.au

Bob Brown, Australian Greens (03) 6224 3222 senator.bob.brown@aph.gov.au

I read that Tony Windsor wants the revenue spent on things like R&D and renewable energy and R&D (as do 87% of Australians). I'm going to send him a "good on ya" email, because i'm sure he'll be getting a lot of the opposite type from polluters who would like that money to line their own pockets.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Australia in Eurovision?

After yesterday's post about Eurovision, I wondered how my own country (Australia) might fare - up against the European countries. In a song contest, we'll never know. But if it was a pollution contest, there'd be a clear winner.

Australia would out-pollute any of the countries in the Eurovision final by at least 10 tonnes per person. The next highest is Ireland. To get to their level, Australia would have to reduce pollution by 38%.

The average of these European nations is about 9.2 (66% under Australia), the Eurovision winner, Azerbaijan, is at 5.6 (79% under) and the least polluting is Georgia at 2.0 - 93% less pollution than Australia. In other words, it would take 14 Georgians to produce the pollution of 1 Australian.

Australia's government does have (modest) reduction targets. On current policy, by 2050 we should catch up to where Ukraine is now. Kinda sad really. Fortunately, Eurovision cheers me up :)

[data source: here]

Monday, May 16, 2011

Eurovision And Climate Change

The annual Eurovision Song Contest was held over the weekend, with some very inspirational lyrics. From Romania's "Change"
I can’t change the world alone
I need you all, everybody,
Start dreamin’ of it
Take a step that’s gonna make a difference and change your world
and Denmark's "New Tomorrow"
Come on boys come on girls
In this crazy crazy world
Let's make a new tomorrow
Come on girls come on boys
It's your future it's your choice
Let's make a new tomorrow
But by far the best of the three was Finland's "Da Da Dam"

The full lyrics are here, but the bit that touched me the most was
Peter is young,
he tries to talk
but no one listens to him.
Everybody's busy living and dying,
not thinking about what they're doing.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Climate Scientist Rap

The people at Hungrybeast sometimes have a weird sense of humour. As such, when they decided to comment on the lack of action on climate change, and the lack of focus on actual science - they did it with a rap performance. (Warning: coarse language)

So why did they do it? Dan Ilic wrote the lyrics after talking to the scientists in the video.
They talked about how climate feedbacks ... when permafrost melts there’s a stack of methane that’s released which just adds exponentially to the problem

Dr Ailie Gallant (University of Melbourne) took part because it "highlighted the issue of unqualified opinions on climate science by politicians, economists etc. in the media".
I think the job of satirical humour is to make people laugh, but then to make people think. I hope Hungry Beast’s rap makes people think about the importance of considering who is presenting opinions on the science of climate change in the media.

Professor Roger Jones (the older scientist in the video) speaks about the scientific concern about why people believe certain things. "It is increasingly clear to the scientific community that the so-called rational form of decision making is only utilised by some people, some of the time."

He describes the two categories of denial. "Defensive" is where people deny the evidence because the consequences are "too hard for people to contemplate".
Offensive denial shows someone’s blind self interest where they’re willing to invest time and money as the tobacco industry has and certain people are now doing, to delay decision making and confuse the evidence.

He describes this kind of denial as far more offensive than the a bit of profanity in the video.
[More from the scientists here]

Thursday, May 12, 2011

2 Degrees Too High

2 Degrees Too High is an amazing liitle gem - a good blend of information and art. Topics are summed up in just one page, and each right-hand page is a stunning full-page photo illustration.

Overall, i'd recommend it for both its information (substantial yet easy to digest) and its photography (great to look at, but sometimes disturbing).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How Sunny Is Your City or Town

Energy Matters have put together this great map of solar energy. It works like a Google Map, but each city has a measure of how much solar energy you get there.

Apart from the fun of being able to compare the sunnyness of your city against your friend from another city - it's also a good way of comparing the potential for solar power.

I must admit that where i live is quite good for solar (4.81). Germany scores are around 2.5 to 3, but even with that little sunshine, they are still champions of solar power. So anywhere with 3 or more should be able to make it work easily.

Oh, and by the way, if you go further down the page, there is a link to work out how easily you could provide you own power from solar panels. (Have an energy bill handy to enter your consumption).

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Facts About Electricity Prices

There's a fair amount of panic and fear being whipped up about the effect of pollution action on electricity prices, so the Climate Institute did some number crunching to clear it all up - and put the results in a cool infographic.

They tallied up all the effects on electricity price - with and without 'pollution action'. This was the final result.

It turns out that the price on pollution is a minor factor compared to all the other factors. So what does it cost us to choose a clean energy future over a polluting one?

That sounds like a bargain to me. $2.45 a week for a clean energy future - as a society, we can afford that. As the infographic mentions, we throw away 5 times as much food as that every week.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Solar Energy Infographic

Mashable presents this infographic - along with a short article about recent investments in solar power. [click for a larger version]

The two stats i find the most amazing are (i) the solar energy that falls on the earth in an hour is enough to power the world for a year, and (ii) that the US production of solar is over 14 times larger in 2009 than in 2000.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Why Go Electric?

I've blogged about Better Place before. But i've just noticed a great slideshow on their Australian website.

It quickly takes you through the advantages of electric cars, and explains how the Better Place system works. Definitely worth a look.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Gina Rinehart

If you saw Hungrybeast's piece on the Koch Brothers, you might have thought "Only in America...". That is until this week's episode featured a summary of Gina Rinehart.

As Hungrybeast explain, she Australia's richest person (the money coming from mining) with her personal wealth going from $2 billion to $9 billion just last year.

She has now purchased Channel 10 and Fairfax media for "her voice to be heard". So if you start seeing a bunch of stuff on those stations / newspapers, criticising action on climate change - you can probably figure out why.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

1001 Little Ways To Save Our Planet

As obvious from the title, this is one of those books (like True Green and True Green Home) that collates handy eco-friendly tips for the reader.

This particular one has a more general focus, so about half of the tips don't relate directly to climate change. However, that still leaves several hundred tips for reducing energy usage, saving petrol, increasing recycling and saving money.

Not all the tips will be of use to you, but that's the benefit of starting with 1001 - you're sure to find something that's useful to you.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Solar Increases Home Value

Energy Matters reports on the effect of solar panels on the re-sale value of a house. The decade-long study investigated 72,000 homes and compared the price of those with solar to those without.

The study showed that house values were increased by the addition of solar panels. What's more, the increase in value was larger than the cost of the panels - especially in the case of existing homes.

So i guess the lesson is that solar panels will always be a good investment. If you're staying put for a long time to come, then you'll save plenty in electricity bills. If you decide to sell up and move, then you'll get a better price for your house.
[see the full report here]