Tag Archives: environment

Doha Dreaming

Doha Dreaming

“There is surely a correspondence between an exhausted culture and a populace devolved so far into mental dullness that it can’t recognize its predicament. We don’t seem to get how much the industrial production spree of the past 200 years has just plumb worn us out, not to mention the ecosystem we were designed to dwell in” writes James Howard Kunstler under the title “Modernity Bites” this November 26, 2012.

James’ thesis is that we are at the end of the industrial era and that the economic structures it has spawned are imploding around us.

What if we just accept the reality that the industrial spree was a self-limiting adventure and now we have to move on?

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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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Thin Air – Stuart McMillen comics

How do trees manufacture mass out of thin air?

Stuart McMillen’s latest illustrated essay (he calls them comics, but I think that sells them short) is one of his best yet.  How do trees manufacture mass out of thin air?  How do our human building techniques and processes compare?

Fans of Stuart’s will know to expect a beautifully illustrated and well told story that will really get you thinking – they will not be disappointed with Thin Air!  Newbies please take some time to check out Stuart’s web site, not just his ‘comics’.

Thin Air trees cartoon – Stuart McMillen comics.

Doing the dishes?

The Question: (from Europe)

Within a business / home environment what should be considered to be the least environmental pressing way of doing the dishes:

  • washing dishes by hand?

  • automated cleaning of dishes?
  •  buying disposable tableware, plates and cups?

My Answer:

There are so many variables here that no single answer will be the best choice. The impacts of each option above could be large or small depending upon context.

We need to dig a little deeper to find the best approach

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Base-load Solar Power?

The Question:

What steps are needed to make solar energy a cost-effective, base-load energy source?

(from North America)

My Answer:

Broad definitions of ‘solar’ and ‘baseload’ are necessary to best answer the question. Solar is not limited to photovoltaic panels and base-load (demand) is not necessarily a given, it can also be managed through increased systems efficiency. Continue reading

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.

Out of the Blue – a new model for a resilient economy:

10 Years, 100 Innovations, 100 Million Jobs Returning to business as usual as soon as possible was the mainstream mantra after September 2008; such was the shock of the collapse. A crash like that is never an easy time for considered reform and few countries had the resources to make any serious attempt in any case, so invested were we all in the good old days of cheap abundant energy and exponential growth. August 2011; here we go again?

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20s Plenty for Us

What a delight to stumble across the website of 20’s Plenty for Us!

My hypothetical Parallel Universe turns out to be in the UK…

In March 2010 when I first wrote about an imaginary futuristic world where the maximum speed of any powered road transport device is 30-km/h within urban areas the notion seemed plausible to me, but most readers politely suggested the idea would remain a dream.  It turns out that dreams can come true:  The 20’s Plenty for Us movement in the UK (20 mph = 32-km/h) appears to be gaining some real traction.

Already 5m residents live in towns which are adopting or have adopted this policy. Most importantly, through democratic debate those communities have decided that “20s Plenty Where People Live”. And it is those same communities who have then changed their behaviour to drive slower in residential streets and where people walk and cycle.

via 20s Plenty for Us.

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Gil Scott-Heron: The Revolution must not be subsidised

Gil Scott-Heron

With the passing of poet Gil Scott-Heron this week, I’d like to dedicate a few lines here to reflect on his work, particularly his recurrent themes of freedom from oppression and peace. He died on Friday May 27 in New York after becoming ill during a trip to Europe.

Born in Chicago April 1st 1949 Gil was often called the godfather of rap for his groundbreaking spoken-word performances set to music, a tag he disliked. He recorded more than a dozen albums, but was probably best known for his 1970 song ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’.

“You will not be able to stay home, brother. You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out. You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip, skip out for beer during commercials, because the revolution will not be televised.” Continue reading

If I Could Be Anywhere…

Pacific Gyre

Floating in the Pacific gyre

My post on Garbage and Room Service introduced readers to the ‘Trash Hotel’ project and the mountains of rubbish in our oceans, particularly the huge – Texas size – floating archipelagos of plastic in the Pacific.

In a moving coda from TEDxGPGP, Jackson Browne plays “If I Could Be Anywhere,” a song he started writing last April [2010] aboard Mission Blue Voyage, the Sylvia Earle-inspired trip to brainstorm ways to save the endangered ocean. “If I could be anywhere,” he sings, “anywhere right now, I would be here.”  Have a listen:

If you’re as moved as I am by this song and the reasons it was written, what are you going to do about it?