Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Mordor / Morwell - Compare the pair

One is fictional, and from Lord of the Rings. One is a coal mine disaster in Victoria, Australia.

Although both could probably claim the title "Land of Shadow", after the coal mine fire caused the township of Morwell to evacuate.

This comparison was inspired by the collection of tweets referred to in the post I wrote yesterday.

Related Link: The story behind Hazelwood - where Morwell coal ends up.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Social Media Disaster

Apparently, the coal industry found out about social media. Their hashtag #Australiansforcoal was meant to allow the so-called "silent majority" to voice their loving support for coal. Unsurprisingly, that's not what happened.

Instead the hashtag was flooded with satirical posts by people saying why they are NOT for coal. The Guardian report contains some of the smartest posts, while Buzzfeed did 23 Reasons - an illustrated list of the funnier tweets.

Both articles provide a few chuckles, but two of my faves were:
"Because #australiansforcoal scans better than #minersshippingprofitsoffshorewhileheatingtheplanetandgivingaustraliaworsebushfiresmoreoften"
"because our kids deserve the best bushfires, droughts, and cyclones money can buy" - which was accompanied by the above photo.

For readers outside Australia, the references to Mordor relate to the coal mine just outside the Australian town of Morwell. It caught fire for about a month, and caused unprecedented air pollution causing evacuation of the town.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Archbishop Desmond Tutu supports divestment

Retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu is the latest church leader to call for divestment from fossil fuels.

Desmond Tutu - We have allowed the interests of capital to outweigh the interests of human being and our Earth

Tutu would have witnessed a similar divestment helping bring an end to apartheid, and says that "people of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change." In addition to selling shares in these companies he also suggest boycotting events, sports teams and programs sponsored by fossil fuel companies.

"It makes no sense to invest in companies that undermine our future."

The call comes as some churches in Australia and the USA are beginning to apply their beliefs to their investments.

Related Links: Full Desmond Tutu article
Uniting Church Divests
Faith v Fossil Fuels
Divestment Day - May 3

UPDATE: Archbishop Desmond Tutu writes his own article, argues how and why we can tackle climate change, just as we took on apartheid.
And it is not just that we can stop it, we have a responsibility to do so that began in the genesis of humanity, when God commanded the earliest human inhabitants ... to "keep" it; not to abuse it, not to make as much money as possible from it, not to destroy it.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Roast of Maurice Newman

I don't know why influential businessman Maurice Newman decided to disagree with science on national TV. But he did.

Obviously, it came across badly - a bit like someone who is convinced the earth is flat and the moon-landing was faked.

But it was great material for news-satire show The Roast.

The Roast also take a more in-depth look at his comments, and asks why the media publishes unqualified opinions. Surely if you want an expert opinion on science you wouldn't ask a businessman.

Related Link: Political persuasion affects brain function

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sounds for the Reef

Artists such as James Butler, Missy Higgins, The Cat Empire, Hiatus Kaiyote and Remi have come together to make the album Sounds for the Reef to support the Great Barrier Reef - one of the world's great treasures that is under threat from climate change.

sounds for the reef album

You can buy a song for $1 or the whole album for $10, and support a good cause.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

LEDs at Aldi

Once again, Aldi have some low-price LEDs for sale. For $7.99 there are halogen-style replacements, and 'mini-bulbs' with the smaller base. For $10.99, there are the normal bulb-style replacements.

The two great things about this is (1) They are dimmable, for those who have had troubles with CFLs on dimmer switches, and (2) they now go up to 1055 lumens - which is about 75W in the old language (as per Aldi's conversion chart below). The other two pictured appear to be about 40 and 60W, so they've covered a fair range of brightnesses.

As per usual with Aldi, these are 'while stocks last', so you'll probably want to get in on Saturday before they're all gone.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Time to Un-invest from Fossil Fuels

May 3 is Divestment Day. People around Australia will be taking their money out of the banks that fund carbon pollution - and putting it into banks that are fossil fuel free.

Divestment day 3 May 2014

Many people have signed up, and it is expected that over $100 million will be moved away from fossil fuels on that day. Check the national guide for where your local event will be. Some locations hold an event on Friday if banks don't open there on the Saturday.

The events are designed to make the banks notice the reason people are taking their money back. After all, the best outcome would be if these banks also stopped funding pollution. Even if you can't make an event, you can still move your money, and let your bank know why.

To help you switch, I've made a list of banks and their current rates. There is also a 5-step guide to switching banks, and template letters to send to your old bank and your new bank.

PS. In making my list of banks and their rates, I also found that switching to a 'cleaner' bank typically also means getting a better interest rate. That's what I call a 'Convenient Solution'. :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Recycle at Easter

With Australians eating an average of 20 Easter eggs, that's almost half a billion wrappers. Planet Ark reminds us that (just like an aluminium can) this aluminium can be recycled.

Ball of Easter egg wrappers

Apparently the best way is to collect them up into a ball, and toss that in the recycling after Easter. If you're really keen, make a huge one by adding your family's wrappers - or by keeping it going all year round.

PS. Coincidentally, as I write this, the recycling truck is making its way up my street.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Who do I suggest?

Recently a number of people have been telling me they are looking at solar and asking things like "Any suggestions as to which companies to look at?" So here's what I've been saying.

Ingenero do solar panel leasing. As the up-front cost of panels is a psychological barrier to people, they lease solar panels to you. They design it so the savings you make are more than the lease payments. They are also the people behind the EveryRooftop initiative.

The Solar Guys seem to be at the leading edge. They have started promoting solar-battery combinations, so that the excess power you produce during the day can be stored for your use that night (saving you 30c/kWh) rather than getting fed into the grid for something around 8c/kWh (depending on your energy company).

Energy Matters seem to really have their heart in it. Their newsletter features renewable energy news from around the world, and a forum for people to discuss energy topics. For the tech-lovers, part of their process is to do an instant initial assessment by checking out your roof on Google Maps (for roof space, orientation etc). They have also featured on my blog with How Sunny Is Your City? and Solar Increases Home Value.

Local Power are, not surprisingly, Brisbane people. I personally know one of their main guys (Rob) and respect his integrity and energy knowledge. He also owns a Nissan Leaf which I have had a ride in.

PS. This is not an exhaustive list. If you are looking at someone else, they might also be great. These are just the ones that I feel I know enough about to put them on my suggestion list. One of my friends who asked me for suggestions, ended up going with another company recommended by his Dad.

UPDATE: I have since found out that Ingenero and the Solar Guys have closed. But there are still other good companies helping people save heaps on electricity.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Years of Living Dangerously

Matt Damon, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarznegger, Jessica Alba, Don Cheadle and James Cameron are just some of the stars in Years of Living Dangerously.

years of living dangerously

Don Cheadle says that "as actors we can't get out of the light - and a lot of these issues can't get into the light. So it's trying to bring the attention we get to those issues."

The series starts this weekend on US channel Showtime. Hopefully it will come to Australia at some point. Meanwhile, we can see episode 1 online.

See more videos on the Years of Living Dangerously youtube channel.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Earth Hour Video Highlights

Eath Hour Australia put together this video of highlights from here and around the world. It was the biggest ever Earth Hour in Australia - with over 1000 Earth Hour events around the country.

They're also going to let people know about other opportunities to take our commitment "beyond the hour" and make an even bigger impact for our earth.

Of course, I'll be posting them here as they happen, so stay tuned.

PS: This photo is from russia, where they held an earth hour bike race :)

the lights of the bikes in the Earth hour bike race in Russia

Previous Earth Hour photos: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

A New Leaf

One of the great things about electric cars is that they're continually getting better. This comes from the Green Vehicle Guide:

The second generation of the Nissan Leaf is 15% more energy efficient than the previous year's model, and can go 11% further on a charge. I'm sure it will get even better as the years go by.