Tag Archives: Australia

Stifling innovation #2: Overland Flow

This story is a follow on from the British Standard Fire Test of an earlier post. It is the story of how an attempt to be innovative with design in the aftermath of a major natural disaster foundered on the rocks of tick-box regulation.

Satellite image of Chelmer on the Brisbane River in January 2011. Source; ABC/Nearmap.

Satellite image of Chelmer on the Brisbane River in January 2011. Source; ABC/Nearmap.

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Climate Change: It’s complicated or what!

Solar_Flare_and_Coronal_Mass_Ejection_2010-02-12_lrgCalm solar cycle prompts questions about impact on Earth

First seen (by me) on the New Zealand Herald site.

Originally reported by Jean-Louis Santini (AFP)

Washington — The surface of the sun has been surprisingly calm of late — with fewer sunspots than anytime in in the last century — prompting curious scientists to wonder just what it might mean here on Earth.

via AFP: Calm solar cycle prompts questions about impact on Earth.

The question that exercises my mind now is what this means for the global warming debate. Continue reading

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Injalak Rock Art Galleries

I recently had the privilege to spend some time working with the people of Gunbalanya, a small community in West Arnhem Land, part of the ‘great top end’ of Australia. Whilst there I was taken on a tour of the ancient rock art galleries of Injalak Hill.

This is a brief visual diary of that experience:

Injalak Hill from Gunbalanya

Injalak Hill from Gunbalanya

Into the wild... wet season buffalo grass grows to over 8 feet and is razor sharp

Into the wild… wet season buffalo grass grows to over 8 feet and is razor sharp

Pausing for breath and breathtaking views across the flood plain

Pausing for breath and breathtaking views across the flood plain

Viewing the gallery as it has been for thousands of years - no walkways, barricades or interpretive signs

Viewing the gallery as it has been for thousands of years – no walkways, barricades or interpretive signs

Up close and personal Gary Djorlam shares some of the stories and explains the meaning of the paintings

Up close and personal Gary Djorlam shares some of the stories and explains the meaning of the paintings

Rock polished by human contact over the millennia and an ochre grinding bowl carved by stone tools

Rock polished by human contact over the millennia and an ochre grinding bowl carved by stone tools

X-ray style painting - a Barramundi is good eating

X-ray style painting – a Barramundi is good eating

Digging for bush tucker

Digging for bush tucker

Gunbalanya viewed from Injalak Hill

Gunbalanya viewed from Injalak Hill

Find out more about tours and local art at: http://www.injalak.com/

Community Based Renewable Energy Programs

City of Victor Harbor

Victor Harbor South Australia

I’ve been inspired recently by genuine grass-roots community initiatives to regain control of their energy security as a buffer against increasing costs and supply disruptions through investment in cooperative style renewable energy.  The City of Victor Harbor in South Australia in particular has made an impressive start – more below, but first some background.

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How Clean and Green is Coal Seam Gas?

There are conflicting claims about the greenhouse friendly nature of coal seam gas in Australia. In this article, Colin Hunt finds that the differences turn on assumptions about the quantity of gas that escapes to the atmosphere from coal seam gas operations and the gas’ global warming potential. He argues that both better measurement of the fugitive emissions of coal seam gas and an official update of its greenhouse potency are required. These recommendations have important implications not only for meeting Australia’s greenhouse targets but for the tax rates on emissions under the Clean Energy legislation.

via The Brisbane Institute » November 2011 Issue.

Carbon offset credits?

The Question (from Florida): Are purchasing carbon offset credits really helpful to the environment? Where are the statistics these are actually a positive endeavour?

My Answer:

Lies, damned lies and statistics, to borrow from Mark Twain, seldom convince anyone who doesn’t agree with them in the first place. Proof positive of an environmental benefit is a long time coming in most cases. Unfortunately if we just ‘wait and see’ then it will definitely be too late to avoid harm.

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On cars and neighbourhoods – parallel universe reprise

Last year in my post “parallel universe number one” I wrote about an imaginary world where the maximum speed of any powered road transport device is 30-km/h within urban areas.  As a consequence the urban experience there is surprisingly different to that of our universe.

The post was never intended to be a learned discourse, rather I use a narrative style to make the points.  A recent question on sustainable transport caused me to revisit it and I’m pleased to report that even after nearly a year the scenario still looks like a valid alternative to me!

I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts, if you can spare the half hour or so to read the original post.

Keep an eye out for Peda Pods too:

100% people power

Garbage and Room Service

Artist Hans-Jürgen Schult has made garbage, or trash in the American idiom, the source material of his life’s work.  His latest piece “Trash Hotel” develops his fascination with the detritus of modern life and takes it to a new and somewhat ironic apogee.  His project has attracted an unlikely sponsor, the internationally top selling beer brand Corona Extra, who feature the hotel as part of their ‘save the beach’ campaign.  Thanks to Mr Schult and with a nod to Planet Shifter Willi Paul, I’ve had a bit of a rethink about garbage.

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Sustainable Office: Build new or renovate?

The Question:

Is it more sustainable for a company to build a brand new but eco-friendly office building, or to purchase an existing but not so eco-friendly property?

My Answer: Continue reading

How walkable is your neighbourhood?

How walkable is your neighbourhood? Find out at:  http://www.walkscore.com/
It is a US based site and lacks public transport (transit) data for Australia at the moment, but it does work for Australian addresses.

How It Works

Walk Score calculates the walkability of an address based on the distance from your house to nearby amenities. Walk Score measures how easy it is to live a car-lite lifestyle—not how pretty the area is for walking.

What does my score mean?

Your Walk Score is a number between 0 and 100.

Here are general guidelines for interpreting your score:

  • 90–100 = Walkers’ Paradise: Most errands can be accomplished on foot and many people get by without owning a car.
  • 70–89 = Very Walkable: It’s possible to get by without owning a car.
  • 50–69 = Somewhat Walkable: Some stores and amenities are within walking distance, but many everyday trips still require a bike, public transportation, or car.
  • 25–49 = Car-Dependent: Only a few destinations are within easy walking range. For most errands, driving or public transportation is a must.
  • 0–24 = Car-Dependent (Driving Only): Virtually no neighborhood destinations within walking range. You can walk from your house to your car!