Friday, May 30, 2014

Solar Freakin' Roadways

There's a great new video about the Solar Roadways I wrote about last week. With around 8 million views, it's already super-popular. Surely that has to be a record for a video about roads!

UPDATE: Now over 14 million views

Thursday, May 22, 2014

All You Need Is Less

In a book by a former sports star, I was surprised to find an anecdote on what he calls "possessions mania".
We set out to attain the things that we want, when and where we want them. Most of us do just that: attain, accumulate, collect. Enough is never enough. The more we get, the more we want.
The big crunch comes when we realise what all that comfort, convenience and "stuff" costs. We have to pay for it, keep track of it, protect it, clean it, store it, insure it and worry about it.

It turns out that this particular sports star is also an architect, and has seen it from that side.
I know people who have used the services of an architect to design elaborate storage spaces, in the form of a "house extension" for the sole purpose of housing excess possessions.

On top of the emotional and financial drain, there's also the impact of factories around the world churning out excess amounts of junk which just ends up in landfill.

All you need is less

All of this has inspired me to write about ways we can reduce the junk, and unnecessary possessions, in our lives. I read that Australians spend $10.5 billion dollars a year on things we don't (or rarely) use. That's a lot of cash - and a lot of pointless greenhouse gas.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Paved Paradise?

It's hard to know what the future holds, but it's exciting to see new innovative ideas - like Solar Roadways.

prototype of Solar Roadways

This couple have developed a prototype for solar roads. If expanded, it could be a future road surface of toughened glass with solar panels underneath. A series of LED lights provides changeable road markings.

Artist's impression of Solar Roadways in action

There's more info in their video and more images of what it would look like on their fundraising page.

Now that's what I call a 'road of the 21st century'.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Australia V The World

Australia is the most polluting country - in greenhouse gas per person - according to this series of carbon infographics.

Graphic of per capita greenhouse emissions

Another graphic compared progress from 1990 to 2012. For Australia it was
1990: 274 million tonnes of carbon pollution
2012: 433 million tonnes of carbon pollution (ouch!)

Amongst this gloomy news, there were also some upsides. One is the progress of countries initiating renewable energy targets.

Graphic of which countries have renewable energy targets

Let's hope Australia doesn't fall out of this group when the government reviews the renewable energy target this year.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Which is bigger? 15 or 5?

This is how comedian John Oliver sees opinion polls regarding climate change.
“You don’t need people’s opinion on a fact. You might as well have a poll asking: ‘Which number is bigger, 15 or 5?’ or ‘Do owls exist?’ or ‘Are there hats?’”
The only accurate way to report that 1 in 4 Americans are sceptical of global warming is to say 'a poll finds that 1 in 4 American are wrong about something.'

He makes the good point that the debate shouldn't be about whether it exists, it should be about what we do about it.
"We've been repeatedly asked 'Don't you want to leave a better earth for your grandchildren?' and we've collectively replied 'Ehhh, f*** 'em'".

The clip gets a little silly towards the end, but that probably matches the silliness of have polls about 'belief' in climate change, and the silliness of having one-on-one so-called debates.
[Warning: clip contains some strong language]

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wind power makes energy cheaper

It sounds odd. But building more wind power means it is cheaper to make electricity, as this video explains.

There are power stations that only run when there is lots of electricity needed. These stations can charge a high price for their power - which raises the price that all stations charge.

Wind can prevent these high prices by providing cheaper energy and bringing down the market price for all power.

28% of South Australia's power is from wind. There, the cost of making electricity has stayed stable - while in other states it went up. (Full report)

PS. Congratulations to Powershop for making the video. It's definitely the best explanation I've seen about this. And it's good to see an energy company contributing positively to the energy conversation.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Solar in my street

It's quite enjoyable to see so many people taking advantage of solar power. Also great to be able to see it each day. This is a view in my street.

solar power on several houses in a street

These people have gone solar at different times. The different sizes reflect how affordable panels have become - with households going from 6 to 12 to 24 panel systems.

In 5 years time, the top house in the picture could even go off-grid. That's how quickly battery prices are coming down.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

All religions the same?

Maybe not, but a growing number of religions have their own climate action kit. Hindu, Islamic and Jewish resources are now available for download.

Climate change action guides for the Hindu, Islamic and Jewish faith communities

Much like the Christian resource, these are practical and spiritual guides. They are designed to help people connect faith with action on climate change.

Bonus file: A Jew, a Muslim and a Christian talk about religion and climate change

Friday, May 09, 2014

Comparing Action Plans

I enjoyed the Roast's satirical take on different action plans to tackle climate change.

This video references the current government and the Palmer party. But it also reminds me of the government and opposition arguing about whose policy is best - when both are aiming for such a tiny reduction in emissions.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

My Bank Chose Fossil Fuels

On Saturday I was at my local Divestment Day event. There was a big turn-out by Doctors for the Environment, but mostly it was ordinary customers wanting to move their money to a bank that doesn't invest in fossil fuels.

Divestment Day - Commonwealth Bank

The move spread even to parliament. Senator Larissa Waters announced on facebook that she was moving her mortgage from ANZ.

Divestment Day - ANZ and Larissa Waters

As a side note, here in Brisbane the NAB refused to let anyone close their accounts on the day. Customers were told they would have to come back again another day. It didn't seem like good customer service to me.

See more photos from around the country.
Download the How to Switch Banks guide.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Good News Week (for Solar)

The Climate Council brings us this summary of recent solar events.

Solar Aid have provided a million solar lamps to Africa - helping children to study, saving families money and improving people's health.

Good news for solar. Solar Lamps. Solar cheaper than gas. Solar flight.

Solar is now cheaper than gas in Asia.

A solar plane will fly around the world. It is called Solar Impulse, and is a bigger version of the one that last year flew across America.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Frogs in a pot

Three frogs. First frog says they're cooking in a pot. Second frog says they're boiling in a pot. A third frog says that there's no agreement so nothing needs to be done.

There's been a couple of people acting like this here in Australia recently (eg Maurice Newman). Pretending there's doubt when there isn't, doesn't help anyone. It just means people (or frogs) suffer longer than necessary, rather than fixing the problem.