Thursday, December 31, 2009

A New Year's Thought

As we are about to ring in the new year, i figured i'd share this 'thought for the day' that a friend emailed me recently.
Don't blow it - good planets are hard to find.
Probably a good a motto as any for the new year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Saving Hot Water

I've been away for a few days over Christmas. Before going, i opened up my electricity box and flicked this switch.

It's the mains switch for the hot water system. I save the energy of keeping all that water hot (when no-one's using it) just by flicking the switch.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Posters From The Future

With the lack of any substantial agreement coming from the Copenhagen UN meeting, it seems the series of "future" posters may have been more prophetic than first thought.

For more of the posters, featuring other world leaders, check out Duncan's blog on this.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Climate Scoreboard

The Climate Scoreboard keeps track of how the international deal making at Copenhagen is going. As well as displaying how much progress is being made (or not being made) it also shows what some of the nations have set as their goals.

UPDATE: This new graph analyses the effect of the emissions cuts each nation brought to the Paris meeting in 2015 - and compares them to the world's goal. Clearly nations need to have more active goals.

It's a bit like having a huge weight loss goal and thinking one sit-up per day will achieve it.

climate scoreboard comparingnational proposals and world goals

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Climate Action Tracker

So with all the hubbub in Copenhagen, how is it actually going? The people at Climate Action Tracker are summing it up for us with this neat little thermometer, estimating the temperature rise by 2100.

2°C is what most countries are aiming for. The low-lying countries would prefer 1.5. Either way, the promises made so far don't really cut it (pun not intended).

Further down the home page, a world map lets you click on individual countries to see how they are doing. Australia (on a scale of "Inadequate" through to "Role Model") ranks as "Inadequate".

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Prayer For The Earth

I found a fantastic prayer, written by Rev Tim Costello and Brian McLaren for the occasion of the world conference in Copenhagen. It contains gratitude,
We thank you for the precious gift of life, for the intricate cycles and the beautiful balances that sustain it, and for the unfolding story of planet earth and all creatures that share it.

You have inspired us to do much that is good and beautiful and true, but we have also chosen to act in ways that are destructive, selfish, ugly and false.

and a call for help.
help us believe your truth - that true prosperity, life in all its fullness, can only come from wise stewardship, mutual responsibility, and mutual care.

The full text is available here

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ice Updates

Saw a news report today, where Al Gore presented some new research showing that the Arctic might be practically ice-free as early as 2014.

Hidden down the bottom of the article was a casual mention that the rate sea level rise has doubled in the past 10 years!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Please Help The World

Believe it or not, the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen has an 'opening ceremony'. Perhaps the highlight was this short film "Please Help The World", commissioned by the Danish government.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Vote Earth

The good people at Earth Hour have put together a neat little application which allows us to "Vote Earth" - to encourage action on climate change at Copenhagen.

This is one thing we can do to urge world's leaders into serious action.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


The other day i mentioned the documentary The Great Warming. One part that stunned me was the Bangladesh stats.

80% of the country is a flood plain. A sea level rise of just 0.5m would make about 1/6th of the country uninhabitable. With a population density of 840 people per square kilometre, the forecast is that, by 2030, 40 million people (roughly double Australia's population) will have to move .... somewhere!

So, all these wealthy countries that are so reluctant to cut their emissions - how are they going to react when 40 million people need a country to live in?

(ps. i just looked up Bangladesh on wikipedia, which references a journal article saying a 1m sea level rise would cover 50% of the land)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Bubbles Of Trouble

Found this map at America's Center of Public Integrity. The size of the bubbles represent the greenhouse emissions per person.

I think they designed it to show how much America needs to shape up - but it's Australia that has the biggest bubble.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Great Warming

The title The Great Warming is a comparison to the great depression, as this documentary suggests that global warming will be the 21st century equivalent.

Narrated by Keanu Reeves and Alanis Morrisette, this documentary looks at climate change, the effects that are already being felt, and the solutions that exist. The extras is also a treat. It's almost like a 'deleted scenes' with a bunch of 1-2 minute chunks of interesting info.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Group D

The draw for the 2010 World Cup has been announced over the weekend, and Australia is in Group D. With Copenhagen starting today, i thought it would be interesting to compare the emissions of our world cup opponents.

If only there was a world cup for pollution :) Each Australian could match it with 67 Ghanaians.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Talking Kev

With the UN meeting at Copenhagen next week, the people at Talking Kev are giving us the chance to hear the words we want our PM Kevin Rudd to say - by arranging soundbites from things he has said.

You can see my arrangement here ... if only it was real.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Dramatic Increase

With all the goings-on in Canberra this week, i found this cartoon quite appropriate.

If only real action was increasing at a similar rate. Meanwhile, Margot O'Neill has an interesting piece on the coal, hard facts.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Climate Smart Meter

Sometimes we take things for granted. I met some NSW people last week, who wished their state had something like the Climate Smart Home program. One of the reasons is this great little energy meter, that can tell you how much power you are using at any moment. (It can also has a money mode and a greenhouse gas mode.)

Apart from the meter, the deal includes free energy efficient light bulbs, and a water efficient showerhead. And if you live in Brisbane, the city council will reimburse you the 50 dollars.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Chains Not Needed

Found this neat little clip from Germany's Deutche Bahn. It gives, some handy greenhouse reduction tips (with very cool graphics).

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Making the CPRS Worse

You may have heard the government has agreed to some amendments to the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. See here for a short summary.

Basically, it's about dividing up the revenue. And the proposed change is that the coal companies and electricity generators get more, and households get less (for rebates etc) - almost 1 billion dollars less.

I figure this might be a good time to provide links to the Find your Electorate tool and the list of Contact Details of our federal pollies.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Funnies - Wallace and Gromit

Fans of Wallace and Grommit will enjoy the energy efficiency ads for british utility n-power.

At the n-power website, there's an interactive version of Wallace and Gromit's energy saving house and "Bob's" energy saving tips.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Quick Quote (Al Gore)

I think a country like Australia probably has more usable and profitable sources of renewable energy than any other nation ... You have desert areas, abundant sunlight within tens of kilometres of most of your major cities.

Al Gore, The Age

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Wind In Spain...

I read that last weekend Spain reached 53% of its electricity coming from wind power. Interesting that just 5 years ago, critics claimed the grid couldn't handle more than 14%.

The wind people reckon they can more than double capacity by 2020. But even as it stands now, experts reckon that renewables will have provided a quarter of Spain's energy this year. Meanwhile, Australia is aiming for 20% ... 11 years from now.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

We Must

This is another clip i saw during the climate change blog action day. The two stats relate to the USA, but apart from that it's true for us too.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

3-Day Weekend

Last year i wrote about Utah's idea of a regular 4-day working week. Now, Hungrybeast reports that the scheme has been very successful.

With the goals of saving money, emissions and employee sanity; so far it has saved $1.8 million dollars, 12,000 tonnes of emissions and gets the thumbs-up from 75% of employees. Hungrybeast also interviews an Australian company doing a similar thing.

The idea is popular, more productive, and better for the planet. One politician called it a "no brainer". I call it a Convenient Solution.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Climate Change and the Liberals

Tonight's 4 Corners was quite interesting. It talked to a number of people within the Liberal Party about their views on climate change.

By their own admission, a number of the people interviewed don't even think that greehouse gases cause climate change. It's hard to know if this view is wide-spread amongst the party, but some of the people interviewed believed it was a majority view.

Also a bit concerning was the admission that the ETS plan the Liberal party took to the last election was essentially just a reaction to public concern, rather that something the party believed in.

I'm still not sure if this is a good thing or not. Ideally, i'd like to think parties believed in what they said - and stood for something. I guess it's good that parties are listen to public opinion, but it also sounded like it was a bit of a scam to sneak through another election.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

350 in 2:10

Last week i mentioned the 350 event that i went to. (Local readers may have even seen my photo in the local paper). It was part of a worldwide movement to encourage global leaders to get serious about tackling climate change.

Apparently, greehouse pollution more concentrated than 350 means dangerous climate change. It's currently at 387 and going up every day. At, you can see the picture gallery and take the 350 pledge of readiness for an ambitious global climate deal.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sunlit Bridge

Passed by Brisbane's Kurilpa Bridge the other evening. Apart from being a pedestrian and cyclist bridge, it uses LED lights powered by solar power.

According to Energy Matters the bridge has 84 solar panels. Each day they produce 100kWh of energy (presumably stored in batteries). When the bridge is in fully lit mode (as above) the solar system provides 75% of the energy. But it most lighting configurations, this increases to 100%, with the excess energy fed back into the grid.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Turning Copenhagen Into Hopenhagen

As we know, this December the world's leaders get together in Copenhagen to negotiate on climate change. Hopefully, they can agree to get serious about tackling climate change, and building a better future for humanity and the planet.

It's this kind of hope that inspired the creation of Hopenhagen - a place where people from around the globe can become citizens, and encourage our global leaders to make the best of the upcoming opportunity.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Electric Bus

There's a lot of talk about electric cars - and rightly so. Meanwhile, in Adelaide the city council is already into the electric bus.

The Tindo (aboriginal for 'Sun') is recharged using 100% solar energy - at 50% less cost than the fuel for a diesel bus.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Age of Stupid

I called this blog "Convenient Solutions" after the many smart things we can do that improve the state of the planet - and the state of our lives. Unfortunately, many of these things don't happen. In fact, quite often we do the precisely the reverse - as demonstrated in the new movie The Age of Stupid.

Set in the future, it asks the question "why didn't we save ourselves when we had the chance?". Or, as the narrator observes:
We might not be the first species responsible for its own demise, but we'd be the first to do it knowingly.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Target of 350

I was having a look at the website for events that are happening on Saturday (more on that in a sec). Sometimes groups have a hard time summing up their objectives. Not the 350 group.

One of the event on Saturday is at the Indooroopilly library, and includes a screening of the new film Age of Stupid. I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Coal Story

This animated short film "Coal Story" is apparently by Greenpeace China, and looks at the use of coal and the effects of climate change.

Oh, and you may want to turn the volume down a bit - it's not quite as melodious as the Brazilian one from Monday.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Journey to Planet Earth

Found this one at my local library - Journey to Planet Earth - and was intrigued by Matt Damon on the cover.

It's not directly related to climate change, but it was quite an eye-opener to the extent of hardship that can be caused even by relatively small environmental changes.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Actions Animation

Found lots of great stuff during last weeks international blog action day on climate change. The first one i want to share with you is this quick little video by Brazil's WWF.

The message is great, and the rhythm of the backing music is quite infectious. I can't help but play it over and over.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Copenhagen & Will Steffen Interview

Tonight Catalyst had a piece about the importance of a good outcome from the UN meeting in Copenhagen this December.

If you're keen to see even more of the interview with Prof Will Steffen (climate change advisor to the Australian government) Catalyst has the extended interviews.

Here and Now of Climate Change

Climate Change is something that is getting continuously, so there is a lot of the concern is for future generations. As a result, we sometimes overlook the fact that it is already underway.

Climate Orb is a project from the same people that brought us the Beds are Burning remix. You can spin the globe to any country, and click on the red dot for a story about the effects of climate change that are already being felt in that region.

With such international effects, it's no wonder that this year's Blog Action Day is focussed on climate change.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Planet Earth

I've just been watching the first few episodes of Planet Earth - and i can definitely recommend it.
It's not directly about climate change, but it's just fascinating how the earth works. Seeing how magnificent it is also makes me even more reluctant to mess around with it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

How Much Is 1 Tonne?

A little while ago, i told you about the Carbon Quilt. Well the guys behind that, also have a flickr account, where i found this:

It's a handy way to visualise what it means when people talk about a certain number of tonnes of greenhouse gas. For instance, the average Australian puts out about 29 of these in a year.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Hungry Beast (Coal Association)

Last night Dan Ilic (ABC's Hungrybeast) exposed the con-job of the latest ad by the Coal Association. I've mentioned previously, my disgust at misleading people into thinking they'll lose their job. But Dan Ilic points out some other stuff as well...

For those who like exact maths, the billion dollars on "low emission" technologies (code for "clean coal pipe dream") turns out to be just 0.37% of one year's revenue for the coal industry.

And the mines the coal guy says will close are mines that were going to close anyway. After all, if you've taken all the coal out, there's no point keeping the mine open.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Solar-Powered Rubbish

So i read about these bins called Big Belly and thought they sounded like a great idea. Then i discovered we have them in some of the public places in Brisbane.

The solar panel on the top collects energy for an internal compactor which can compress rubbish to 1/8th of the original size. Obviously this greatly reduces the number of collection trips done by the garbage trucks (which saves on greenhouse gases). There's also an in-built device that can SMS the binmen when the bin is near capacity (to save on picking up part-full bins).

The company estimates that customers can save 80% on their operating costs (trucks, fuel and labour). Another great example of reduced greenhouse emissions saving money.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Breathing Earth

Breathing Earth is a cool simulation put together by a Melbourne artist, visualising both increasing population, and increasing greenhouse gases.

Each country lights up each time it emits 1000 tonnes of greenhouse gases. You can get stats on any country by hovering the cursor over it. It's amazing just how many countries have as many people as Australia (or more) but produce far less pollution.

(Incidentally, the world population had just ticked over 6.8 billion as i took the screenshot)

Monday, October 05, 2009

Win A TV

Previously, I've mentioned the Climate Smart Home Service that the Queensland Government is running.

In addition to all the energy-saving benefits, they are also running a competition at the moment. Everyone who registers for the Home Service by November 3 goes into the draw for a TV (energy-efficient of course) worth over $5,000.

There is a $50 fee for the service, but if you live in Brisbane, the council gives you a $50 rebate - so it's effectively free!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Beds Are Burning

Midnight Oil's song, "Beds Are Burning" has been re-recorded (with some adjustments) as part of an effort to encourage world leaders to agree to reducing greenhouse emissions.

The video can be also viewed at the Time for Climate Justice website, where you can also download the audio (for free).

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


So the other day, i received a comment about cars and trains from Stuart McMillen.

I've met Stuart a few times in 'real life' and (aswell as being a very amiable fellow) he does some very thoughtful cartoons. It occurred to me that i've never shown these to you - so i'm rectifying that now.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Special Edition - New York Post

Serial pranksters, the Yes Men distributed copies of a fake version of the New York Post this Monday in New York. While the paper was fake (not really by the NY Post) the articles were real.

Like any paper it covers weather, sports, politics, business, movies and celebrities. It has comic strips - and news on Pamela Anderson.

Why am I telling you this? Every story relates to climate change, and tells it like it is. The lead story "We're Screwed" is about a report by New York City on the disatrous effects of climate change for those in the Big Apple. Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men had this to say..

This could be, and should be, a real New York Post... Climate change is the biggest threat civilization has ever faced, and it should be in the headlines of every paper, every day until we solve the problem.

Check out the paper online or in pdf.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hot August Nights (And Days)

Wasn't it a warm winter? Well yes, it turned out to be Australia's warmest August on record, according to the Bureau's Special Climate Statement. It's one thing for Brisbane to be hot, but this is nationwide.

Yellow and orange mean warmer than average. Deep orange indicates record temperature. White is average, and (if you can see any) blue means cooler than average.

Of course, one month doesn't mean that much. But then i found this graph of the number of extreme months over the decades. (red for hot months, blue for cold)

One hot day doesn't mean global warming, but when it's hot everywhere - and more and more frequently - that's the concern.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dusted Up

It seems everyone's talking about the dust storms - including the scientists on the IPCC. The ABC tells me that the IPCC report predicts an increase in dust storms with climate change, as the conditions that cause them increase.

The same article estimates that the storm contains at least 8 million tonnes of dust. For statistics buffs, we put the same amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere every 2hr 45 minutes. (based on this rate)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Youth Have Decided

So I saw this ad for Youth Decide - an website for young people to show their desire for action on climate change.

I checked out their website, and the vote is very overwhelming, with 91.5% voting for greenhouse gas reductions at least 40% by 2020.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Understanding Science

Interesting report on Lateline about shrinking public knowledge of science - and why this might be.

It's followed up by a discussion with Chris Mooney (author of Unscientific America) about the impacts of the public being "clueless" on science. One such result is that science is attacked on the basis of political (or other) persuasions. For instance, US polling shows that a key factor of opinion on global warming is the person's preferred political party (rather than anything related to science).

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Funnies

I was emailed this cartoon, from the August edition of the Big Issue.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Car Versus Train

So Queensland Rail now have an Emissions Calculator for Citytrain trips. Just enter your start and finish stations, and it works out the emissions by train and by car - and how much pollution you saved by taking the train.

The train graphic adds a little something to the experience :)
Update: With the changes to QR, the calculator is now located at

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Electric Car Report

Last night, ABC's 7.30 Report had a piece on the coming electric cars (starting next year apparently) described as the biggest industrial transformation of our generation.

The report includes comment from Better Place, Mitsibushi (makers of the iMiev pictured above) and Professor Michael Roberts of Sydney University.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Last In The Class

With the G20 nations meeting next week, the Climate Institute have released a report ranking the nations on their greenhouse performance - and it's pretty embarrassing for Australia.

In ability to meet greenhouse reduction targets, Australia is at the back of the field, with only Saudia Arabia, Russia and Turkey behind us. For ability to do business in a low-carbon world, Australia was last of the industrialised countries.

"It is an economic challenge, not just an environmental challenge, and one which we need all of our political parties to be focussed on" said John O'Connor of the Climate Institute, who described the results as "a wake-up call for our leaders, both the Prime Minister but also to Malcolm Turnbull."
This is something which puts our jobs and living standards at risk if we don't get on with economy-wide measures to change our economy to cut carbon pollution and to increase our productivity.
Climate Institute report: download
ABC News coverage

ps. this comes on top of Friday's report by a British Group, that Australia is now the worst polluter in the world.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The New Swap 'n' Go

A clip from Better Place, showing how electric battery exchange is quicker than filling up with petrol.

Of course, this would be a rarity for most urban drivers. Ordinarily, it recharges overnight. But for driving hundreds of kilometres in one stretch, the occasional battery switch would be in order.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ten Technologies To Save The Planet

For this one, the name really does say it all. Chris Goodall examines in depth each technology, it's advantages and any limitations - but also busts some myths.

Overall, he points out that we have the technology to address climate change. Also, as he reminds us early on in the book, the more we use renewable sources (eg. wind) the more the price comes down - the more we use fossil fuels (eg. oil) the more the price goes up. Surely it's a no-brainer - isn't it?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


Just discovered some great little cartoons at a place called inkcinct - like this one.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Carbon Capture Still Elusive

Last night ABC's Four Corners program did a report on The Coal Nightmare. It focussed mainly on carbon capture, and how so far nothing has really come of it.

While it was meant to extract carbon dioxide from coal plants, it seems the only things it's extracting is taxpayer's money. Or as Professor Mark Diesendorf puts it:

And what we're seeing in Australia is billions of dollars being poured down the drain in order to satisfy the demands of the coal industry, which is an incredibly wealth industry, which is not prepared to make most of the investments itself.

Coincidentally, on the same day, the Brisbane Times ran a story on carbon capture and storage being still just a pipe dream.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Brisbane Sticker

I've mentioned the Climate Smart Home Service before. And, of course, if you are a Brisbane resident, the council will re-imburse you the $50 fee.

As a little bonus, you get a free sticker in the mail, along with your $50 cheque. (no photo of the cheque - straight into my account :)

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

CO2 Cubes

The people at Millenium Art are making something abstract (like a tonne of carbon dioxide) into something visible (like a huge cube). This image shows the size of 1 tonne of CO2. For scale, that little thing at the bottom right is a person.

Scarier still is the rate at which we pump out these 'cubes'. According to the website, in developing countries the average person takes 3 months to emit 1 tonne. In industrialised countries, it's about one month. In the US (and Australia's about the same) the average person puts out a tonne every 2 weeks.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Stick It In The Bin

I scored one of these stickers that lists what can and can't be recycled - now handily located inside of the bin lid.

Today I saw the following figures for the energy savings achieved by recycling:
Aluminium - 95%
Plastics - 90%
Steel - 62-74%
Paper - 60%
Glass - 33%

Those are massive energy savings, just for putting something in a different bin.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Super-Condensed Version

You may remember, the Garnaut Report - the independent review to tell the government what to do about greenhouse emissions. The printed report was about the thickness of a bible but this poster at greenfest summed it up very simply.

In short, Australia (a) has more to lose from climate change, and (b) more to gain from a low emissions future. The pictures at the bottom left are to illustrate that Australia has the skills, the innovation, the resources and the access to renewable energy.

(ps. if you're keen, here's the longer version)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Free Stickers + Video

You might remember a few posts i've made about the company Better Place (here, here and here). Well now they're giving away free stuff.

There's a choice of 3 stickers promoting electric cars. If you don't want a sticker, just check out the great video clip

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Sharing World

Previously, i mentioned the bike hire scheme that my local council is starting in 2010. Of course, this is by no means a world-first - it's already going on in many cities overseas.

Two guys (Russell and Paul) keep a Bike-sharing blog about the various bike-sharing schemes around the world. They even covered the Brisbane one.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

1 Year 8 Months 27 Days

That is how long it took the government to make good on it's 2007 election promise of a 20% Renewable Energy Target. But at least it's there now.

I read the statement by the ACF, which talks about $31 billion in investment and creating 26,000 new jobs. It also gave special mention to the Greens and Senator Xenophon for trying to strengthen the bill.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sierra Tower of Power

I just read about eSolar, and their new Sierra solar thermal power plant. At a size of 5 MW, it's not the most powerful plant ever, but it still produced 300 jobs during its construction.

Oh, and one other thing about solar thermal power - it can run day and night! The mirrors focus the sun's heat on a central point (in this case on a tower). The resulting heat (hundreds of degrees) produces power even after the sun goes down.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Carbon Quilt

I recently discovered the Carbon Quilt. It makes greenhouse gases "visible" by giving us a tangible idea of how big our emissions are. Figures like 80 million tonnes per day are obviously big, but hard to physically imagine.

The average Australian's emissions would fill a 3m cube (about the size of my bedroom) each day. An Aussie's yearly emissions would form a 3cm-thick 'quilt' more than half a kilometre wide. It get scarier when you multiply by Australia's population!

Anyway, check it out - it's especially handy if you're a visual person.

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