Thursday, February 28, 2013

2012-2013 Australian Heatwave Records

Today is officially the last day of summer in Australia. So i'm fairly these are the final results from what was Australia's biggest heatwave.

Brisbane 37.9 (100F) Sydney 45.8 (114F)
Melbourne 41.5 (107F) Canberra 42.0 (108F)
Hobart 41.8 (107F) Adelaide 45.0 (113F)
Perth 42.2 (108F) Darwin 36.3 (97 F)

Even flooding rains, didn't stop January being Australia's hottest month ever.

The rural areas were even hotter than the capitals (so hot we had to extend the scale. But imagine these temperatures with another 4-6°C (7-11 F) on top.

Sydney's top 45.8 would become up to 51.8C (125F).

Monday, February 25, 2013

Just How Great Is Solar Energy?

This is part of a solar infographic put out by 100% Renewables in celebration of their Summer Solar BBQ.

Solar infographic detailing 15500 jobs, plummeting costs of solar, and solar's effect on reducing the cost of electricity

They're great stats. Ever increasing presence, reducing costs, creating 15,500 jobs. It's no wonder Austalians are investing in solar like crazy.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Should Christians Care?

John Dickson, head of the Centre for Public Christianity was on QandA this week. His thoughts on climate change were both sensible and great to hear.

picture of the panel from this week's Q and A

Asked if Christians have a special responsibility to respond to climate change, he replied:

So, yes, we have a deep responsibility. I mean there are some very deep ideas driving Christian response to climate change. It’s the science, we’re schooled by the scientist and then the Christian sits there thinking, "This creation is actually a creation; an intended, beautiful work of art and humanity is here to care for it".

And more than that, that we are here to care for our neighbours, especially the neighbours that are going to feel the effects of climate change more than most; poorer communities. So there is, I would just say, a deeper or added dimension to the Christian care of the earth.

Another panelist argued that we all have responsibility - Christian or not.

I can see both points of view. What do you think?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

1 Beats 96

Recently I've been talking about recycling plastic bags, but nothing beats plain old not using one in the first place. Just 2 plastic bags, twice a week is 96 plastic bags in 6 months.

Graphic displaying 1 re-usable bag being equal to 2 plastic bags per trip, 4 per week, 16 per month, or 96 in 6 months

This graphic also reminded me of the coffee cup video i posted a while back.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Renewable Energy: Cheaper than coal

Building wind power is cheaper than building either coal or gas. Bloomberg crunched the numbers at $80 for wind (per MWh) and $143 for coal and $116 for gas. (See the chart). Also, they forecast solar to be cheaper than fossil fuels by 2020. (So much for renewables being expensive).

Collinsville coal-fired power station. Shut down and may be replaced with renewables

Meanwhile, the new owners of Collinsville (coal) power station (pictured above, and built in the 1960s) have closed it down and are looking at replacing it with a solar power station.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The last 100 years

These maps compare world temperatures over the last 20 years to those 100 years earlier.

Global temperature map of the last 20 years compared to 100 years earlier

It's a fairly stark contrast, but a relatively small change compared to what is forecast for this century.

NASA has also produced this data in a short animation - over 100 years in just 26 seconds.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What you can recycle at Coles

The variety of plastics that I can now recycle has increased - as i announced a few weeks ago. If your local store is in the program, this guide may be of help.

list of items that can be recycled at selected coles supermarkets - including bread bags, frozen food bags and old green bags

Check the map to see if your local store is participating. If not, maybe ask them why not.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Giving up carbon for Lent

Wednesday 13 February is the start of Lent in 2013. It's traditionally a time for people (religious or otherwise) to give up something (or cut back on it). What better to cut back on than carbon emissions? Cue the Carbon Fast.

TEAR publish a Carbon Fast Guide to help you along the way. You may remember i gave this a go last year. Check back here for more of my efforts this year.

Be encouraged to have a go yourself. It's a chance to simplify your lifestyle - but also do a favour to the earth and the poorer people on it.

PS. British people may want to check out the version run by the UK's tearfund.

Monday, February 11, 2013

We're not as good as we thought

The Climate Institute publicised these results from the OECD. Bottom line is that Australia (the dark-coloured bar) and the USA (just above Mexico at the bottom) aren't really taxing carbon pollution that much.

bar chart of effective CO2 tax by country

So if a dubious politician (or someone else) tries to tell you that Australia is leading the world in taxing carbon, you'll know not to believe them.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Nicaragua leads action on climate change

Nicaragua has a plan to get to 94% renewable energy in 4 years time (2017).

Obviously this is good news for the climate, but has the added bonus of freeing Nicaragua from depenency on foreign oil. Now, if only the "developed" countries could learn a lesson from this.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Almost-New Year Resolutions

A friend of mine makes his new year goals in February (it's also his birthday). So this could be a good time to make some practical goals that help you and the planet.

1. Walk or ride instead - healthy for you and the planet.

2. Save energy at home - cut bills and greenhouse emissions.

3. Support renewable energy - make your own or choose greenpower.

4. Get into the community - join a group that helps the planet.

View the full list (with helpful links) by the Climate Commission

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Junk Mail - what to do

As well as helping the planet, this post could also help you declutter your letterbox (and perhaps give you a break from constant advertising). has some helpful tips for stopping junk mail.

You can get a free "no advertising material" sticker for your letterbox. If junk mail still arrives, you can report it.

If you're an advertising addict, you can still read catalogues online.

The next best thing to stopping junk mail is to recycle it. There are significant energy savings in recycling, along with other environmental benefits.

PS. There might be a junk mail company that uses recycled paper, printed and delivered using renewable energy - but i don't know of one.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Australia's Hottest Month Ever

January 2013 is Austalia's hottest ever month - with an average daily maximum of 36.92°C (98.5F). This map of January maximums around the country shows the widespread coverage of the heat.

Heat Map of January 2013 - Australia's hottest month

The yellow, orange and red area (almost the whole country) was hotter than average. That tiny bit in green was slightly cooler than average (but that part of Australia is quite hot already).

The very unfortunate people in the red and dark red areas got a taste of what every summer will be like unless there is action on climate change. For those of us in the bright yellow regions (even though we set some temperature records) it was only 1-2°C hotter than normal. Climate forecasts are for 4-6°C hotter this century. (Ouch!)

It's tempting to think "Lucky that January is behind us" but it's not a one-off. This is a continuing trend. The 2012/13 September-January period is also the hottest on record.

For more details on other new heat records, see January shatters Australian heat records.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Why You Pay More

Here is one example of the fossil fuels subsidies i talk about (where society rewards the burning of fossil fuels). This one comes as a quick image from Environment Victoria.

fossil fuel subsidy mean consumers pay more for fuel than mining companies do

While Australian motorists pay 38 cents per litre in tax, mining companies get a tax refund on their fuel bill. It's called the Fuel Tax Credits scheme, and costs Australia around $6 billion per year.

Environment Victoria has more information this and other fossil fuel subsidies, and an opportunity for you to take action.

UPDATE: There is also an online petition aiming for 100,000 signatures