Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Moral Climate

Michael Northcott, author of "A Moral Climate" appeared on ABC radio's Sunday Nights.
Play audio
He starts out talking about environmental bible history, and then looks to how the kind of society we have reflects our attitudes and morals - including the "moral upside".
"In order for us as a civilisation to pull back from the selfish greed, individualism and consumerism that are driving that destruction, we will need a moral change."
He says people who study happiness have seen no increase since 1972, despite all our 'luxuries'.
"If we consumed less and spent less, we'd have more time to engage in relationships again...
He reminisces about 1972 (when our carbon footprint was more like what it should be) and recounts that
"we had more time for leisure more time to interact with nature, more time for relationships, more time to raise children, and we spent less time making money to buy stuff."
[Download the MP3]

Friday, April 27, 2012

Energy Star Ad

A friend sent me this quirky little American Energy Star ad. It brightened up my day :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Connecting The Dots Infographic

Last week i mentioned the Connect The Dots events - about 'connecting the dots' between increased extreme weather events and climate change. Then i found this infographic on their blog, which really drives home the point.

Extreme events do happen. But there's comes a point when there are so many record-breaking events that we can't just keep putting it down to chance. Something different is obviously going on.

[Click the pic for a larger version]

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

62% Agree

62% of Americans agree there is solid evidence the earth is warming. (26% disagree, with 12 undecided). Of course, for something so obvious, you'd hope it would be more. But at least it's a majority.

White and black, men and women, college and non-college educated - the level of acceptance is pretty much the same (and a majority). The only exception is when it comes to political persuasion, with Republicans being less agreeable.

Graphic of poll results
One explanation for this comes from Chris Mooney, who suggests a link between voting intention and the way the brain processes information.

brain graphic
Apparently conservative voters, as the name might suggest, are less open to new ideas (including scientific discoveries) but also have a greater need for 'closure' - turning uncertainty into a firm belief.
Someone with a high need for closure tends to seize on a piece of information that dispels doubt or ambiguity, and then freeze, refusing to consider new information. Those who have this trait can also be expected to spend less time processing information than those who are driven by different motivations, such as achieving accuracy.
I think that not recognising the Earth's warming is a good example of this.

[Related link: Do you see what I see?]

Monday, April 23, 2012

When is a freeze is not a freeze?

Here in my home state of Queensland, there have big electricity price rises in recent times - mainly due to the building new network to coping with our increasing consumption.

This year the pricing authority came up with a new low price (for small users) but with higher prices for higher levels of consumption. The idea is that richer high end users (who are the reason for the network and price increases) would have to pay their fair share, whilst small users felt less of the pain. In other words 'cost-reflective pricing'.

But today the premier blocked that plan.

So instead of fixing the problem by encouraging the power-guzzlers to be more energy efficient (or even go solar) we are stuck with the old system where big users are subsidised by the general public. (At least the premier was honest enough to admit that our taxes were paying for this publicity stunt).

Fast forward one year (when this promise expires) and prices will be even higher, as we'll have to build even more network, because nothing was done to encourage efficiency. So the premier's claim that this was done to 'reduce living expenses' is only true in the most short-sighted perspective.

The end result of this action (or rather inaction) is less energy efficiency, more waste, less solar energy, and higher prices next year. But for the general public (without the full background information) it looks like a good idea.
PS. (For long-distance readers, yes this is the same premier i mentioned before. Obviously tackling climate change wasn't as important as helping rich people heat their swimming pools all year round. ;)
PPS. On further investigation, the money to fund this promise comes out of hospital funding.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Reassuring Lie

Saw this one from Gavin's blog of the year.

Cartoon of two movie queues - an empty one for An Inconvenient Truth, a long one for A Reassuring Lie
It's a witty look at one of our shortcomings as humans - that we'd rather pretend a nice thing is true rather than face up to possible change - even if the change is for the better. (We really are bizarre creatures sometimes).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Connect The Dots

"Things happen. They always have. But now they happen differently." That's the start of the video for the Connect The Dots events on May 5.

We've all seen increasing numbers of extreme weather events. Connecting the Dots is about seeing the bigger picture, recognising the science and taking action to restrict the damage of future climate impacts.
Climate Impacts Day logo
[Related link : Queensland Floods]

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

5 Actions for $715

A recent news item contained 5 tips (and their annual savings) from research done by consumer advocate group Choice.

  • Set clothes washer to cold wash - save $40
  • Use the clothesline rather than the dryer - $127
  • Retire the second fridge - $185
  • Switch off more appliances - $91
  • Install a water-saving shower head - save $272

For 5 relatively simple actions, at little cost or free, $715 is a good saving to be making, year after year.

Monday, April 16, 2012

1 Day in 14 Seconds

That's a lot of energy. To power the world for a day - in about the time you've spent reading this page.

This comes from a larger infographic (pertaining mostly to America) which also points out that the amount of solar energy hitting the earth in just one year is more than in all the world's fossil fuel supply.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Climate Change - Here and Now

For the people of Tuvalu, climate change isn't a theory to be debated. It's a reality to be lived.

UnitingWorld went to this tiny Pacific nation to meet the people and hear the stories. The result is a climate change response program, Here and Now, to help the people of Tuvalu adapt to what is already happening, and what is still to come.
UPDATE: check out the interview with Bruce - one of the Uniting World staff who went over to Tuvalu

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Who's Getting into Solar Power?

Recent data in Australia revealed the postcodes most enthusiastic about getting solar panels. Interestingly, they are low-income suburbs and retirement areas (contrary to the popular myth that it's a rich person's activity). Also the states with supportive solar initiatives fared the greatest.

But internationally Australia still falls behind. Despite our famously intense sunshine and wide open spaces, we don't even make the top 10 - a list which includes Belgium and South Korea.

[Related link: Country people switched on]
[Related link: Top Australian postcodes of 2012 - state by state]

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Brazil's Solar World Cup

Brazil's Mane Garrincha stadium, which will be covered with 2.5 megawatts of solar panels come the 2014 World Cup of Soccer. See an artist's impression of what the renovated stadium will look like.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Blog of the Year

ReNew magazine recently gave out an award for sustainability blog of the year. Convenient Solutions didn't win it, but did get on the 'blog honour roll' :)

For further details, see issue 119 of ReNew magazine, or this small summary on the ReNew website.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Click to See the Difference

Saturday night was Earth Hour, celebrated in over 150 countries. The Boston Globe put together a collection of 'click-images' of the event.

The landscape pictures show the scene before the lights went out. Click any photo to see what it looked like during Earth Hour. (Except the first photo - that's just a normal photo of two cute kids:)

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Billions are bigger than millions

Prior to the recent state election, some were questioning the finances of the incoming government. The cost of the promises exceeded revenue - by about 4 billion. So where was it going to come from?

Since then we've started to find out. $75 million was taken away from a ground-breaking solar project. A further $270 million will be taken away by dismantling the current climate change programs. (It's the kind of thing a party admits only 1 day before the election to minimise coverage)

Now, all of these amounts sound big - until they are compared with 4 billion.

Here's a solution - how about cutting the 7 billion in subsidies to fossil fuels. They've been going for a long time - surely they should be able to survive on their own two feet by now. It would save much more money, and we wouldn't have to sell our future to do it.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Germany Makes Solar Cheaper

I've mentioned before how Germany really gets behind solar, despite their lack of sunshine compared to other countries (like mine). Today, i looked at some stats that showed the price of solar reducing by 60% in 5 years (2006 to 2011).

In the same period of time the amount of solar has gone up by a factor of 8, and is now even driving down the wholesale price of electricity, as other generators (such as coal) are forced to drop their prices to compete.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Religious People and Climate Change

"No one who believes in a God that loves all people should be able to sit by as the wealthy harm the poor on a massive scale." says John Torrey in his article Why religious people must speak up about climate change

Reasoning the the vast majority of greenhouse gases are caused by the 'global rich' and that (for geographical and economic reasons) most of the impacts (including hundreds of thousands of deaths) are felt by the 'global poor', he describes this as victimisation.

He encourages followers of God to "lift up the voices of the poor and show the world what is really at stake: nothing less than infinitely precious and highly vulnerable human lives."