Friday, February 24, 2012

Carbon Fast - Action 3 - Grow Food

It's day 3 of the Carbon Fast. Today's action is "give some time to grow your own vegetable garden at home". Coincidentally, i started an attempt to grow food a couple of weeks ago - so i have a photo to share.

I guess even starting today, a person would have something to show for their efforts, by the end of the carbon fast.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Carbon Fast - Action 2 - Car Free

It's day 2 of the Carbon Fast. Today's action is to live a less fuel-intensive life by commiting to one car-free day per week. Coincidentally i received this photo today - a view of what the roads might be like with less traffic.

But going car free doesn't have to mean riding. It can mean catching the train, bus or ferry. Or arranging activities such that one day per week everything is close to home. Apart from saving petrol money yourself, reduced road congestion means everyone travels quicker.

This might be the easiest of the 40 actions for me. I go car free as my regular habit, so 1 day a week is a piece of cake.

[Day 3 action]

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Carbon Fast - Action 1

It's day 1 of the Carbon Fast. Today's action was to visit the Footprint Calculator, and get an idea how many Earths would be required if everyone lived like us. The animation makes it more fun than your average quiz.

Turns out that for me, even living quite an eco-friendly life, we'd need 1.6 Earths. The message seems fairly clear. We don't have 1.6 Earths, so we either have to hope the extrememly poor and hungry stay that way so that we rich countries can take more than our share (probably not a great option) or we use our resources less wastefully and more efficiently - so that it's sustainable in the long term.

What was your score? I'd be keen to know how much it varies.

[Day 2 action]

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Addicted? Time To Quit

I suppose doctors are accustomed to warning people about harmful things. This one from the doctors' group DEA is a bit different - but it's still a health warning (of sorts).

I like the comparison with smoking. There are obvious health impacts (both for us and those around us) and yet there is reluctance to change to a healthier option.

In the full poster version, the smoke carries the words: "lead, mercury, arsenic, dioxins, sulphur dioxide, NOx, fly ash". These are some of the toxic substances that result from coal mining and use - and lead to conditions including heart disease, lung cancer, asthma and stroke.

For more info on these and other health effects, check out the Coal and Health page on the DEA website. One interesting stat is that the health and social impacts are so severe that (if converted to financial terms) would triple the true cost of coal-based power.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Christians Should Be "Greenies"

Possibly Australia's most well-known Christian leader and CEO of World Visions Australia, Reverend Tim Costello, says all bible-reading Christians should be "greenies". Not sure that i like that term, but i get what he's trying to say.

Through World Vision's staff in various countries, he sees climate science already becoming reality in the lives of many people around the world. He states that "creation care" is core to the Christian faith and that it is incumbent on all Christians to say we have to take this seriously - and to battle cynicism and despair.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Nissan Leaf and the Polar Bear

This week i went to the Brisbane premiere screening of Revenge of the Electric Car. Immediately prior to the movie, the organisers showed this great little ad for the Nissan Leaf (coming to Australia soon).

Check out Nissan USA, for a longer version.

[Related post: Renault - The Electric Life]

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Blade Electron

This week i went to the Brisbane premiere screening of Revenge of the Electric Car. As a special pre-screening event, they had a number of electric cars on display.

One of the surprises was the Blade Electron. It's not overly well-known, but it's made by an Australian company. Using the same bodies that are used for the Hyundai Getz, they specialise in putting an electric motor and battery into that body - instead of a petrol based system.

At a time when manufacturing in Australia is shrinking, perhaps this is a company people could get behind. Another good example of how tackling climate change also benefits the economy.
update - Now when i see a Hyundai Getz, i find myself having sympathy for it. That it missed out on the chance to become an electric car ;)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

800,000 Year Record Broken

This is one of the classic graphs of climate science. It's the starting point of a great animation/explanation.

Obviously the scary bit is the CO2 we've added in recent history. It's such a large amount, and so sudden, that the line appears vertical.

Knowing the role of greenhouse gases in warming the planet, it still astounds me that they can be at such record-breaking levels while some people still claim there is nothing to worry about.

For more info check out the full animation - it's just 2 and a half minutes.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

TEAR Carbon Fast

Around this time of year, many people decide to give up something for Lent. Obviously, one of the best things we could give up would be carbon pollution. TEAR publishes a guide to help people do a Carbon Fast.

In the guide, each week has a theme, and there are actions around that theme. It's not a traditional fast (ie. total avoidance for 40 days, then back to old habits). It's more about trying out some ways in which we can live a more planet-friendly, and people-friendly lifestyle.

For those of a christian orientation, there is a bible study to match each theme.

ps. Lent this year is Feb 22 - Apr 7. And for those in the UK, there is a similar (but more British) version run by tearfund.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Argument Against Wind

There's been a fair bit of hoopla about wind turbines and whether they affect residents. And i think hoopla is probably an appropriate word.

A CSIRO study finds that a 'vocal minority' who oppose wind farms secure the majority of media and political attention" and that there's a strong support of wind farms from "residents who do not seek media attention or political engagement to express their views".

Meanwhile, experts find that the claims about health effects are dubious and based on no evidence.

[Links: CSIRO Study, Author Interview]

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Save Millions on Hot Days

Last month Brisbane had a couple of distinctly hot days. Sure, our summers are already hot compared to many places, but those two days stood out from the rest. Energex put out this chart showing what it did to electricity demand, as fridges worked harder and air conditioners were turned on across the city.

The energy use on those two days was 1000 megawatts above anything else for the previous two weeks. This is one of the main drivers of electricity price rises - paying for energy infrastructure that sits idle for most of the time. By conserving energy, particularly with the items that are responsible for these peaks, we can reduce the need to spend millions on all that extra capacity. This helps keep future prices down, as well as saving money on our own electricity bill.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Video: How to Buy Public Opinion

News here in Australia is mining billionaire Gina Rinehart buying a large stake in Fairfax Media (the most significant newspaper group in Australia outside of News Corporation) to go with her stake in Channel 10.

With newspapers on the decline, there are suggestions the purchase is more a political investment than a financial one. It's a view that seems to be supported by this footage of climate change denialist Christopher Monckton meeting with mining bosses.

Basically, he suggests mining start its own news channel. With enough wealth, they can make 'news' that promotes their agenda. It gives new meaning to the phrase 'commercial news'.

With another wealthy miner, talking of buying 30% of Fairfax, it's a worrying day for action on climate change, when the news we read is controlled by the people profiting from digging up the coal.

Kudos to freelance journalist Graham Readfearn for breaking this story and to GetUp for passing it on.
[Link: more from Graham Readfern on this]

Friday, February 03, 2012

The Difference Between Weather and Climate

Sometimes it can be frustrating when climate is confused with weather. But comedians Armstrong and Miller make it more light-hearted ;)

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