Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thanks to all our readers - we promise plenty more good stuff to come in 2010

Sometime in the next day or so this blog will get its 500th unique visitor since we started counting a month or two ago. Obviously our total visits is higher than this due to all the folks who have come back multiple times.

So from the authors of the TTKD blog to our readers, thanks.
We hope you found some useful stuff in our articles this year, we'll have plenty more to talk about this coming year (in fact, despite all the posts I've written, my list of potential topics for posts only gets longer).

Some of our most popular posts included
Our climate change science resources posts parts 1 and 2
Alternatives to plastics bags
Comments on how to get in touch with OZ politicians regarding climate change
The latest smear against climate science and scientists

So if you missed these posts, give em a look


Happy new year everyone, here's to a good 2010.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How to build a garden box

If you find, like we did, that your attempts to grow a garden are being sabotaged by marauding raiders in the form of hungry scrub turkeys (or opossums) then you might want to fortify your position to protect your innocent vegetables. Thankfully, stone battlements and boiling pitch are unnecessary to ward of these raiders and a garden box can be made in a few hours with a some pieces of wood, nails and chicken wire.
Our method was not necessary the best, but it does show anyone can do it.

Here's what we did.


Measure out a likely spot, be a little less optimistic than we were about how close to the brick path is reasonable.


Construct the lid, a lid may not be 100% necessary but does provide excellent protection. Crossbeams provided the flimsy wood with some strength.



Add the chickenwire netting. This can be attached with staple type nails, single strips of wire and by winding the chicken wire around the wood and back onto itself.



Attach chicken wire to your corner stakes for your sides. Leave plenty of stake to dig into ground. We only attached two (opposite) corner stakes initially and added others once the size and fit of the edge was confirmed.



Once sides are done, start planting. We added some stones that were dug out of the garden area round the sides to discourage tunneling.



Attach the lid and there you have it. If you wanted to be fancy you could add a wooden top to the side pieces and then attached some hinges between this and the top for easy opening, but a few bits of wire or string work as well.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

If you want change - Follow up with your political representatives

There were a number of good speeches after the Walk against Warming. For its relevance to how we can create change locally the speech from Cr Helen Abrahams was quite interesting.
Similar to her message at the 350.org day of action, Cr Abrahams emphasised that if we want to create change not just at a personally level, but at a local level, turning out for events such as walk against warming is necessary but not sufficient.
We need to follow it up with our political representatives.

The BCC has a policy of making Brisbane carbon neutral by 2026, for now, I'll let you decide how well that one is going.
The BCC also has a policy of being carbon neutral council by 2026, which does seem to be making progress.

But as Cr Abrahams pointed out, if we want change at the rate we know is necessary, we need to tell our political representatives. Some semi-quotes follow.
"the council uses 50% Greenpower and plans to move to 100% Greenpower in 2010, tell your councilor you support this"
"everytime the council builds a bikeway, fill-up that bikeway and then demand more and bigger bikeways".
"everytime the council adds a new bus, fill that bus and then demand another bus"

So if you want change - Use the "green" initiatives provided by the council and follow up with your political representatives!

On its current trajectory it seems unlikely Brisbane will be carbon neutral by 2026, but this is council policy, if you don't want this otherwise laudable aim to be simply window dressing ...... well, you know what to do.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Big turnout for Walk against Warming - Thanks to all those who went along

Thanks to all those from TTKD who went along to the Walk Against Warming on Saturday. Compared to previous years the turnout was massive, both the QCC and the Courier mail are suggesting up to 10 000 people attended in Brisbane (although 5000 might be a better estimate), while over over 100 000 people are believed to have taken part nation wide. Hat tip to the QCC, Greenfest and all the community groups who helped make the day a success.
Check out the video from the QCC below or for some photos check here.




Hopefully such a large turnout will remind our politicians negotiating in Copenhagen that ordinary people really do want action on climate change. But in case you think it still hasn't quite got through to them consider sending a email to Wong and/or Rudd reminding them how important a fair, ambitious and binding deal at Copenhagen really is.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Visualisation of the "debate" on climate change

I just came across this (what I think is) impressive visualisation of some of the claims and counter-claims made by climate skeptics and scientists. The author (not an expert on climate science) approached this project from the perspective of someone just beginning to learn about climate chnage. He makes an important point at the bottom of the post: that even on (for example) realclimate.org, specific rebuttals to skeptics' claims can be buried in jargon, at the end of long chains of comments. Because of this issue, I think projects like this one are really important.

(I'm sure there are many other such things out there - please link to them in the comments!)

UPDATE:
As Mike mentions in the comments, he posted a comprehensive list of resources earlier.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

New uses for coal?

The following is an abridged version of an paper written by geologist and TTKD member Dr Lloyd Hamilton that first appeared in The Australian Geologist.
Since any discussion of coal usage can be somewhat controversial it is worth pointing out that, (intriguing as they may be), the views expressed below are solely those of Dr Hamilton.


A New Age of Coal Utilisation

Coal is essentially transformed sunlight and is surprisingly complex at the molecular level. This complexity continues to intrigue scientists and no chemist yet seems to know exactly what it is. Coal has a wonderful internal structure, with great molecular porosity. It may be a good reactor in nanotechnology. It can be used for a great many things but currently we mainly burn it for its heat energy or use it as a reductant for coke making. It is time to consider other ways of using coal.

CONSERVATION AND BEING CONSERVATIVE

It is true to say that the coal industry has made great changes and has reached a great level of efficiency but the changes associated with this have not been very radical and the changes have more or less been forced onto the industry by economic necessity. Generally there is much conservatism in the industry.

Conservatives resist change whether it is in approaches to industrial innovation or attitudes to preserving nature. Everything changes and if we do not adjust we become the ashes of history. When wood became too valuable to burn in England the Industrial Revolution began with coal as a substitute. Now it is time to move on beyond that. Some houses are being built out of plastics now.

VALUE OF COAL

It seems unreasonable to think the industry can keep going on in a straight line in a conservative manner. Alternative markets can open up or close down. Australia has only 8.3% of the world's coal whereas China has 11.6%. USA has the most coal with 25.4% of the world’s coal (World Energy Council, 2005. The figures quoted relate to total proven recoverable reserves for the end of 1999).

Australia has been the world’s largest exporter of hard coal since 1984. China is now the world’s fifth largest coal exporter. Will China keep buying coal from Australia when it has developed its own infrastructure? Or will Australia develop its infrastructure while China develops her infrastructure so that when they are both ready Australia’s extra infrastructure will be redundant?

Alternative sources of energy are emerging. Nuclear power has its problems but who knows when fusion power will sweep these aside? Hot rock exploration is well underway with three companies in Australia. Wind power and other forms of renewable power sources are now being taken seriously.

Sooner or later, the wholesale combustion of coal will have to be curtailed and reduced to levels lower than those of the 1990s -- especially as the Third World countries become more industrialised.

ACTION

The industry can keep fighting this trend, but it seems inevitable that it will lose. So what is to be done? Plenty! Coal has a whole range of uses which can be employed. The first plastics were made of coal, and there are other avenues to be explored

Coal can probably be turned into food, and there should be a big market for that as the world population increases and food resources decrease. Coal is unstable and therefore a potential food source for microbes. Coal seldom forms outcrops, but degrades to a sooty soil-like substance. Microbes, including slime moulds, come in a vast array of varieties. Could some of these feed on coal and be used as a feedstock for lower plant forms or animals, which in turn, going up the food chain, could eventually be fed to chickens, pigs and rabbits, and then to us.

In may not be easy to find microbes that break coal down, especially without oxidising it, but there is a vast array to choose from. Microbes can live in temperatures ranging from freezing to boiling, and under a wide range of pressures and chemical environments. Some can live in environments that are particularly toxic to others. The utilisation of coal with microbes also has potential other than that as food stocks, giving a wide vista of exciting possibilities.

Coal might also be used directly for making carbon fibres. Currently, carbon fibres are made from special graphitizing carbon compounds, but it is probably quite possible to make carbon fibres directly from certain types of coal. In particular, I am thinking of coking coals of very high fluidity or thermoplasticity. Such coals could easily be made to produce fine fibres, and these would probably graphitize easily. When carbon fibres become cheaper imagine the uses expanding for them. They are already used in making golf clubs and tennis rackets and aeroplane propellers. They could replace steel in many applications.

COALS FOR CONSUMERS

“Coals aint coals” and different coals will have different uses. Brown coal may be best for most sorts of microbial transformations for food use. Bituminous coal may lend itself to quite different microbial effects. Carbon fibres will initially be made out of rather special coking coal of high fluidity. Anthracites are closer to graphite in molecular structure and would lend themselves to a different potential range of uses.

Different components in coals may have different uses. Currently, macerals are not separated from parent coals as this adds unnecessary expense but if valuable uses were found, then it would be possible to use macerals separately e.g. resinite for plastics and inks, sporinite for waxes, vitrinite for carbon fibres, and inertinite for activated carbon.

THE BURNING QUESTION

Ultimately, coal is too valuable to burn. Imagine the future when your great grandchild grows up to use coal in a whole lot of new ways. Will he say ” why didn't my ancestors see the great value in this wonderful material?” ” Why have they squandered our heritage and resources?” “Why did they burn it to give us greenhouse problems?” and ”Why did they sell our coal at a price lower than that of crushed road aggregate when it is so valuable for other uses?”


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Permablitzing Kenmore Part2




Well what a resounding success the first permablitz was! Fourteen enthusiastic and willing helpers turned out to transform a sad, weedy garden into a fantastic edible landscape. It was a very warm morning, even by 7 am, however the old saying 'many hands make light work' couldn't be more true - in just over two hours we had composted, mulched, planted and watered the whole site - and even had time to make a temporary compost heap out of the removed weeds. Not to mention the split logs generously provided by a couple of TT folk to make paths so that all plants are within easy reach - very helpful for watering already.



The mushroom compost I had delivered was great value - rich and fertile. Both the compost and sugarcane bales were delivered by Sapar Landscape Supplies at Mt Crosby (3281 7888). At about $48 m2, the compost was very reasonable - the delivery price to Kenmore is not cheap ($66 for 2m2) but on balance it was certainly a good trade off for me - I didn't have to worry about trailer hire, driving over to Mt Crosby, unloading the compost etc - so worth considering if you are time and equipment poor like me.

The amount of plants donated was incredible - seedlings, cuttings, seeds - of all different types. Rockmelons, watermelons, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and corn went into the steep 'garage garden' (as I can't help but think of it). The narrow garden leading to the front door is now a fabulous herb garden with parsley, thyme, basil, oregano and lemon grass. In the front yard is some beautiful cassava, lettuce and galanga, not to mention one very special peanut tree. A young helper even pointed out a native tree species, a tuckaroo, already growing in the garden, which I would never have recognised and probably pulled out as a weed. Now I know better! There were even a couple of Madagascan bean seeds which I have potted out until they are ready for planting.

Best of all, the home-made lemonade, peach and iced tea ice-blocks to finish it all off were a very welcome treat. Let's definitely make that a feature of all our permablitz efforts!

Thank you so much Transition Town folk - what an amazing effort by all :) Just being able to enjoy a few moments each morning watering and wandering around the garden is truly lovely, and I can't wait to share the harvest. Next post - exploring water efficiency options. Any ideas?












Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hackergate/Swifthack/Climategate and the war on science

Usually this blog doesn't focus much on the science behind climate change or the huffing and puffing of the climate denial industry, however the latest smear campaign against climate scientists has been widely (and often badly) reported in the media so I think a comment is warranted.

Recently a person or persons unknown hacked into the files of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the UK and stole over a decades worth of emails between the unit and other climate scientists around the world. These private files were then released on the internet. Unsurprising, after mining through thousands of emails, the hackers and the so called climate "skeptics" managed to find a few phrases in a few emails which they could take out of context. This is unsurprising given the candid nature of email between colleagues and the huge volume of emails stolen. The usual charges of "fraud", "conspiracy" "falsifying data" etc then emanated out from the climate denial machine.

What made this round of accusations different from the week before was the extreme lengths it is clear some people are willing to go to smear climate scientists and drag science itself through the mud. The timing of this action is unlikely to be coincidental and instead part of an effort to disrupt the current global talks on preventing dangerous climate change. A number of media outlets have picked up on this story and unfortunately have failed to dig a little deeper to see whether the "skeptics" accusations hold water when the emails are viewed in context, or with a basic understanding of what the scientists were actually talking about.

Below I have posted two very good youtube videos which do dig deeper to explain these emails in an accessable and entertaining way.
Recommend watching.



Saturday, December 5, 2009

Walk against Warming - Dec 12th, 10am, King George Square


On Saturday 12th December rallies and concerts around the world will attempt to influence leaders at the UN Climate Change Meeting in Copenhagen to agree on a safe climate future. Support a safe climate future and add Brisbane’s voice to the global chorus on the 12th December by joining Brisbane’s Walk Against Warming.


When: 10am Dec 12th
Where: King George Square


There will be speakers and a concert after the walk starting at 12pm. Artists include Katie Noonan, Dallas Frasca and more.
The Community Climate Network Queensland which represents all groups working for action on climate change will have a banner that we can join under. The idea is to wear something blue or tie a blue ribbon as a unifying feature.

The best way to get there is to catch public transport. The King George Sq busway station is directly below the event location and the 444 Moggill to City bus stops there. King George square is also a quick walk from Central Station.

The walk against warming is our best and last chance to influence the Copenhagen meeting that we want a fair, ambitious and binding deal to prevent dangerous climate change.
Be there!


For more info see
http://www.walkagainstwarming.org
Queensland Conservation Council


Friday, December 4, 2009

Action at Anstead

Well, we are definitely settling into our new patch here at Anstead. On the 4th Nov when the temp reached 36 degrees we had the insulation installed, thankfully early in the morning. The guys installing jumped into the pool to recover !

On Nov 5th we had the new 1.44KW (expandable to 2.5KW) PV system installed -temp 32 degrees. Our average output per day so far has been 6.68 kWh with consumption 9.5 kWh per day ( that swimming pool pump!) so by the time we add another 1KW to the system we should be self-sufficient. Doone only has one more panel to buy on ebay.






Fortunately the 2 rains we have had have nicely topped up the water tanks.
We have added a grape vine, 2 xfig trees, black zapote, guava,olive, lem
onade, pomelo, 4 passionfruits, 3x pawpaw, cassava, native frangipani, herbs, rocket, a few vegies, ferns, palms and bromeliads to our growing garden. The 3 mango trees are laden so we might have to have a mango drying workshop!

The aquaponics unit moved well. We didn't lose a fish and they are certainly having a growth spurt in this warmer
weather. We need more grow beds as there is too much nutrient for the amount of plants we have resulting in too rapid growth.

AND, the point-of -lay chooks have started laying AND they put themselves to bed on only the second night of residence. I wish I had trained my children that well when they were young!
We would love to hear what's happening at your place!
Carol & Doone


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Permablitzing Kenmore










You can see why I was more than happy to be the guinea pig permablitz garden! This garden is an exercise in the importance of planning, planning, planning. Check out the interesting ‘garage garden’. Apparently the driveway was too steep to use, so the then owners decided to turn it into a garden – rendering the double garage unusable without extensive renovation and waterproofing (the amount of water that raced through there back in the May floods had to be seen to be believed). The garden was planted out - with declared weeds. These then had to be removed, leaving unsightly stumps and not much else. An efficient drip and spray watering system was installed to water those weeds – unfortunately, because of current water restrictions this is not allowed to be used either (okay, that one was hard to foresee, but for anyone thinking of using one, well worth considering now!).

With all the benefit of these prior learnings, I thought the best thing I could do was to call in an expert to help me plan what to plant and where. Scarlett Patrick from Brisbane Local Food was fantastic with the help and advice she gave - even taking time out from her own house-painting to come out to my place to have a look. She has some awesome gardening tips on her own blog too - check out her no-dig gardening powerpoint, and the photos of her regular garden harvest - you can find it on her profile page at http://brisbanelocalfood.ning.com/.
I think she was a bit daunted when she first laid eyes on the site, but quickly advised composting, mulching and came up with some ideas for edible plants that are relatively easy to grow and will hopefully thrive. So a big thank you to Scarlett for her generous time and advice.

Next thing, I co-opted my eldest son and we got stuck in and started weeding – a very hot experience last weekend I must say. I concentrated on the herbaceous weeds whilst he applied muscle and machinery to the woody weeds that were sprouting up everywhere. The most common one appears to be chinese elm which seems to be rampant around this area. I think the cobblers peg has been unchecked for a long time and it has taken months of continuous removing and binning to even make a dent in it. I’ll keep you all posted as to how successful we are at keeping this down. We made great headway and finished the day off with a thoroughly enjoyable water fight (buckets only of course!). Next post, I'll upload the photos of the prepared areas and the types of plants that Scarlett recommended.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Some pictures from Totnes, birthplace of Transition Towns

Recently, Marion Forrest from TTKD visited Totnes in the UK to attend a course at Schumacher College.
Following is her description of some Transition initiatives being undertaken in the Totnes area.

Transition Town Totnes is focused on creating a vibrant, local, resilient community. The movement, in my opinion, has been lucky to be associated with Schumacher College with its holistic teaching and out of the box thinkers as well as The Dartington Hall Trust which owns 1,200 acres of land and buildings thus allowing a relatively small community to be firmly in charge on the community land and infrastructure. That has enabled them to forge ahead and create their own future

Some positive outcomes which I saw in the Totnes area are:

Water wheels are being recommissioned to produce some local electricity



Greyfield Timber Business, a carbon and waste-neutral integrated wood business, is being constructed with of the main building and a kiln to dry the wood both being made with straw bale. It aims to be fuelled by its own waste and hopes to supply local markets with quality, locally sourced timber products.










A small low-carbon farm has sprung up on unused School ground and uses minimum tillage and low mechanization practices. It is now supplying directly into the local area a few boxes of food per week plus quality vegetables, fruit and cut flowers.


A demonstration Research Plot has been set up attached to the Schumacher College by Martin Crawford. Martin has 20 years experience of Organic Horticulture, Agriculture and Agroforestry and advised us that with climate change challenges ahead, he has found he can provide an abundance of food by growing a variety of fruit & nut trees plus perennials as understory but not necessarily with natives at all – just what can/might be grown with increasing temperatures on the way.
He is hopefully that in the future, with good plant choices and minimal cultivation we could feed ourselves. He has another much larger plot elsewhere in Devon where he also does research.



New businesses are being subsidized by the Darting Hall Trust until they can stand alone.



Can we learn from some of this here in Brisbane?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Community Climate Network Queensland now has a website

A few months ago, representatives from a number of climate action groups in Qld (including TTKD and the SEQ Transition Town Network) came together to form the Community Climate Network Queensland (CCNQ).

CCNQ now has a website
http://www.climatenetworkqld.org

Currently it is in a very basic and initial form, but eventually it will help to bring together all the various climate action groups and provide a one-stop-shop for news, events and information on climate action and climate change in QLD.

Check it out.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Climate Change Science: Resources part 2

In part 1 of this series I listed some websites that provide useful information on climate change. In this post (part two) I will provide links to specific figures and graphs on areas of climate science.

Please note that many important climate science figures come from the IPCC reports and scientific papers which are often not available to view online (although the IPCC reports are free to download) so some figures necessarily come from websites which have copies.

One website that collates scientific images in one place is: Global Warming Art. Other links are provides in the drop-down boxes below.

+/- Temperature and temperature trends - click to expand

Graph of the surface temperature record (land and ocean) from NASA GISS
-Technical note: Green bars are uncertainty estimates, base period ie: temperature anomaly of 0 is 1950-1980

Temperature trend calculator (Hot-topic website)
- situated within an article (so scroll down to find) this interactive gadget displays the temperature trend of the instrumental record.

Recent temperature trends (RealClimate website)
- heard skeptics claiming warming has stopped, what does the science actually show? Graphic show upwards temperature trend over the last ten years.

Statisticians reject global cooling - another rebuttal to skeptic disinformation

NCDC - State of the Climate
-National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) gives all the climate information you could want to poke a stick at (surface temp, atmospheric temp, rainfall, ice extent etc etc).




+/- Carbon dioxide levels, comparison with temperatures and humans vs volcanoes

Carbon dioxide levels over the past 400 000 years (NASA)
-shows the steep rise in C02 since industrialization

Comparison of CO2 emissions from volcanoes vs. human activities (US geological survey)
-another skeptic favourite, to bad "Human activities release more than 130 times the amount of CO2 emitted by volcanoes". To find, click on the "effects" tab and then scroll down.

Correlation of C02 and temperature (Skeptical science)
-Show graphical relationship between C02 and temperature over 450 000 years. Plus explains (rather technically) why C02 changes lag temperature changes during iceage- interglacial transitions.



+/- Sea level rise and ice melt (Glaciers, Greenland, Antarctica and the Arctic)


Recent sea level rise (CSIRO)
Last few hundred years (CSIRO)
- note that the average 20th century rise was 1.7 mm/yr. While in the last two decades it has been 3.3 mm/yr. It would appear sea level rise is increaseing in speed.

Accelerating ice loss from Antarctica and Greenland (Skeptical science)
- Review results of a recent scientific paper which shows rapid increases in ice loss from Antartica and Greenland

Melting of glaciers (Sketpical science)
-Combines results from several papers to show how almost all studied glaciers are melting

Melting of arctic ice cap
(NOAA)
-shows how both winter ice extend and especially summer ice extent have decreased. Scroll down to figure S2.




Solar activity vs temperature rise
No correlation between solar activity and global warming (Skeptical science)
-summaries scientific papers on solar activity.

Attribution of climate change - two slightly different ways of looking at it
Effect on radiative forcing (IPCC FAQs)
Effect on temperature (Global warming art)


The Earths energy balance and how we know global warming is occurring
(Skeptical science)
-summaries several lines of evidence to show how we know the earth is warming due to greenhouse gasses.


Comparisons of emissions from different countries (Washington Post)
-shows levels of emission per country and per capita up to 2006. Australia is the 15th biggest polluter worldwide per total emissions and the 2nd biggest per person.


C02 abatement cost curve
. Created by McKinsey and Co. Shows the "cost" and effect of various emission reduction strategies by 2030. Note that many ares especially in efficiency save money.

Friday, November 20, 2009

From now till Copenhagen - What you can do

It is now literally just over two weeks to the UN Climate meeting in Copenhagen, where nations will attempt to thrash out a treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The main object inhibiting a strong global deal is a lack of political will, especially on the part of the rich, polluting nations. So now is our last chance to apply political pressure and spur more political will.
Here are some ways you can do this:

1) Write to Kevin Rudd
The Queensland Conversation Council (QCC) have an online petition/letter to Kevin Rudd you can send from their website. Use their suggestions or formulate your own message and remember than individualized letters get more attention.

Oxfam also have online letter writing tools at their site A Climate for Change. They are pushing Kevin Rudd to provide finance to developing countries so they can develop cleanly. If I fair deal for developing countries is important to you, tell him.

2) Write to the Liberals and tell them to get serious about preventing dangerous climate change and start supporting a clean energy economy.
Send a message to Malcom Turnbull

3) More powerful than emailing your local MP is to call their office and speak to them, or even meet with them. Although there isn't much time to set up a meeting, you could still give them a call. The ACF has some information here to help you do this.

4) Talk to your local or a visiting MP at a community event.
MP's attend community events all the time, providing an opportunity for you to speak with them and such events will often be on their website/ in the local paper. For example Independent Senator Nick Xenophon will be visiting the Ryan federal electorate in just over a week. Perhaps a few people from TTKD could have a chat with him?

5) Protest outside your local fedreal MP's office
Get a group together and stage a protest outside the office of your local MP telling them to get serious about preventing climate change. Such a protest would be more effective if your MP is in the electorate and not in Canberra. If actions 3&4 (above) doesn't work this should get your MP's attention.

6) Sign one (or more) of the many international petitions.
eg: 350.org Survival Pact
: Seal the deal! The UN campaign on Climate Change
: Tcktcktck - "I'm ready" (for a fair ambitious and binding climate deal)

7) Attend the Walk Against Warming. On December 12th, during the Copenhagen conference, there will be a world wide day of climate action with people calling for a strong deal on climate change. In Brisbane there is the Walk Against Warming starting and finishing in King George Square followed by speakers and a concert. Event starts at 10am. Be there!

8) And most importantly, talk with your friends, family and neighbours and if they are concerned about preserving a safe climate and avoiding dangerous climate change ask them to take these actions too. If they are confused about climate change, you can always tell them to start here.


That's a few off the top of my head. If you have more ideas please leave a comment.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Climate Change Science: Resources part 1

Following on from our successful Climate Change Q and A, here are some resources where you can find out more about climate change science, the effects climate change is having now and the predictions for the future.

I'll be splitting the resources post into two parts. This (part 1) will contain links to websites with lots of information on climate change. Part two will be links to specific graphs and figures on areas of climate science. I'll also add some links to the sidebar on the blog.

Websites with information of climate change:

NASA - climate change. Brief easy to understand descriptions of evidence, causes, effects etc.
UK Met office - Your guide to climate change. Lots of information here.
RealClimate - "Start here". RealClimate is a website/blog run by climate scientists, the Start Here page is full of links to climate change information graded by your amount of knowledge (from complete beginner to lay informed)
Coby Becks' - How to talk to a climate skeptic. Debunks common myths about climate change.

IPCC 2007 (AR4) Report - The consensus science on global warming.
There are three long working group reports and a synthesis report tying it all together. Mostly available as PDFs only.
Start with the Synthesis Report's: Summary for Policy Markers (SPM) which is written for a lay audience. Then try the synthesis report itself or the SPM from the individual working group reports.
The IPCC does provide online FAQ's. These help to explain a lot about the climate and climate change.

NASA - Temperature Record (GISTEMP) - Lots of informative graphs showing temperature changes since the instrumental record began.

Climate Denial Crock of the Week - Peter Sinclair's produces short, easy to understand Youtube videos to explain climate science and rebut deniers.

RealClimate and Skeptical Science. Two websites that provide commentary on the scientific literature so that it is understandable to an informed lay audience. RealClimate also allows you ask working climate scientists questions, however it is recommended you gain a reasonable understand of climate science first. Their Start Here function can help you with this.

Update 25.11.09
A group of leading climate scientists have just released the "The Copenhagen Diagnosis" which updates the climate science since the IPCC AR4 in 2007. This report is written for a non-technical audience and be downloaded or read online.


Enjoy!

PS: I have tried to keep this list brief and link only some of the most reputable sites. However if you think there are other sites that deserve to be on this list please leave a comment.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Moggill Markets - Bringing farm fresh produce to the western suburbs

Maybe it's just me, but there seems to be a growing number of people interested in buying fresh, locally grown fruit and veges these days. For those of us who live on the west side of town, the Moggill Markets allow us to do just that.
Run fortnightly the Moggill Markets provide an authentic farmers' market which is closer by and less like being in a sardine can than at other popular markets such as at West End.



The Moggill Markets focus solely on food with a large number of stalls selling fresh fruit and veges as well as cheeses, meat, fish, yoghurt, breads etc.
In our experience the stallholders are friendly and happy to have a chat about their wares, give tips on how best to keep the food and help you pick out the best produce.
If you're hungry you can also grab something to eat at one of the food stalls.

The markets are located at Moggill State School and easy to get to, just a minutes walk from the 444 bus stop and with parking available if you drive.
The markets are run as a not-for-profit with the organizers donating all proceeds to the local school. Waste is also kept to a minimum as vege scraps are composted by the children at the school as part of their school garden.
Next market day is this Saturday the 21st of November. For more information see the Moggill Markets website.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

TTKD Nov Meeting. Understanding climate change: Spotlight on the "skeptics" and Climate Change Q & A

The November meeting is an opportunity to bring along friends, family, neighbours who are either inquisitive or skeptical to our

Q & A on Climate Change.

As we move closer to the important decision making event at Copenhagen we need to assist as many people as possible to be as fully informed as possible.

Dr Philip Machanick will be giving a short presentation
"Understanding the science by being skeptical of the skeptics." Looking at some of the "skeptics'" arguments and asking, how well do they really stack up? And, would a true "skeptic" believe their "evidence"?

Followed by a Q & A on Climate Change with our panel to help answer your questions and arm you with the knowledge to discuss climate change with friends and family.
On our panel are Dr Philip Machanick, Dr Doone Wyborn and Mike Clark.

If you have ever wondered.
Whats a tipping point? How do greenhouse gasses work? What's the lastest science telling us? What sort of a world are we leaving for future generations? How do we know it's not the sun? Then come along and find out.
Be informed, Be there!


Wed Nov 18th 7:30pm
Uniting Church Hall
982 Moggill Rd
Kenmore.

Update: Following on from the meeting, a summary of reputable online resources on climate change has been posted here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Vote for the best science blog

A site has been set up to vote for the best science blog. Go there to vote. Note the instructions: click on a "+" next to a site you like, don't nominate it again.

Three I recommend voting for:

  • realcimate.org
  • tamino.wordpress.com
  • theoildrum.com

I also modestly submitted my own opinion-nation.blogspot.com for consideration; I don't know if it will appear because that is subject to moderation.

Search for each occurrence on the page. I'm not sure what effect multiple nominations have but the system allows you to vote for more than one, so you might as well vote for your favourite every time it's mentioned (click on the "+").

Monday, November 9, 2009

Recycling Fest - Sunday 15th November

The local pièce de résistance of national recycling week (9th to 15th of November) is Recycling Fest put on by the Cubberla-Witton Creek Catchment Network in Moore Park, Indooroopilly.

The theme, naturally, is reduce, reuse, recycle, as well as wider aspects of sustainability.
There will be heaps of stuff on the programme including:
- An art show of "waste" products
- Sustainable fashion
- Food and Music
- Op shopping
- Our mates from Food connect
- Storytelling, theatre and face painting for the kids
- Recycling, composting and wormfarm info
and a whole lot more including Transition Kenmore

So head on down, should be fun and you'll no-doubt learn something new about the three R's and hopefully the fourth - repair.

For more info see the Cubberla-Witton Creek Catchment Network website

Where: Moore Park, Indooroopilly
(access from Western Freeway bikeway, Russel Tce or Taringa Parade)
When: 10am to 3pm Sunday 15th of November

Friday, November 6, 2009

National Recycling week 9th-15th November


Continuing our waste and recycling theme lately (see here and here), next week (9th-15th of November) is National Recycling Week.

The best place to find all the info about the week is Planet Ark's National Recycling Week Website. There really is a plethora of info on the website including:

Fact sheets on recycling all different types of products.

A short recycling FAQ that answers some of those nagging recycling questions like, can I recycle bottle caps? and how much food on my pizza boxes makes them un-recyclable?
Answers: Metal caps yes, plastic caps no and as long as you have scrapped all the food out of the
pizza box and it's not too greasy, yes (otherwise give your worm farm a treat).

A list of National Recycling Week events, including Swap Meets and Parties as well as Recycling Festivals.
A recycling quiz, with prizes
Information on and link to various organisations that promote reuse and recycle in your local community through Trade and Exchange . For example LETS and Freecycle.


Another neat resource offered by Planet Ark is the Recycling Near You website.
Got an item you want to recycle but don't know how or who to send it to? Well try here, you can search by area or product.
For example did you know you can recycle X-ray films in Brisbane? Neither did I, but you can send them to Siltech Pty Ltd. So if you have stuff sitting in the cupboard or garage that you don't want to pump in the garbage because you think it really ought to be recycled, then check here, you might be pleasantly surprised.






Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Phthalates and PVC – the not good, the bad and the ADHD

At our last meeting, TTKD set up a packaging group to encourage companies to use less packaging, recyclable packaging and as this post will detail, non-toxic packaging. The case in point being the presence of Phthalates in PVC plastic.

Phthalates are added to some Polyvinylchloride (PVC and no.3 plastic) to make it more flexible and soft. However the phthalte molecules are not bound to the PVC and are able to leach or evaporate out. Some products made from PVC include food packaging, vinyl flooring, children's chew toys, pacifiers and children’s bottles.

Phthalates are also found in a wide range of other products (see the Wikipedia page of phthalates for an overview). While daily exposure to phthalates from a single product may be quite low (1), exposure to all the phthlalates that find their way into indoor air, foods, dust etc, from the many products containing phthalates, means the cumulative daily dose may exceed the safe maximum daily intake. Eg: In one study it was found that the "tolerable intake of children is exceeded to a considerable degree, in some instances up to 20-fold" (2).

Phthalates are endocrine disruptors, which essentially means they are reproductive and developmental toxins. Exposure to phthalates has been linked to a number of different adverse effects including:

Autism in children (3).
Asthma and allergies in children (4).
ADHD in children (5).
Obesity (6).
Abnormal sexual development due to prenatal exposure in males and because of this effect phthlates have been linked (along with other toxins) to the observed decrease in male fertility (7).

While many of these studies are very recent and need to be replicated they show a growing concern about the safety of phthalates and how they might “synergise” with other endocrine disruptors to cause significant deleterious health effects. Countries are now putting bans or limits on phthalates because of this and it would be sensible at an individual level to avoid products containing phthalates, which brings us back to PVC.

Currently PVC products are not marked at to whether or not they contain phthalates, meaning all Plasticized PVC (PPVC or just PVC) should be assumed to contain them and should be avoided.

So to summarise, products containing phthlates (of which PVC is one) are not safe, with children (both post-natal and pre-natal) being most sensitive to their deleterious effects. Because of this household use of PVC (no.3 plastic) should be avoided.


References (click to expand)

(1) Corea-Téllez KS et al 2008 Estimated risks of water and saliva contamination by phthalate diffusion from plasticized polyvinyl chloride. J Environ Health.
(2) Heudorf et al 2007. Phthalates: toxicology and exposure. Int J Hyg Environ Health.
(3) Larsson et al 2009. Associations between indoor environmental factors and parental-reported autistic spectrum disorders in children 6-8 years of age. Neurotoxicology.
(4) Jaakkola et al 2008. The role of exposure to phthalates from polyvinyl chloride products in the development of asthma and allergies: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Environ Health Perspect.
(5) Kim et al 2009. Phthalates Exposure and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in School-Age Children. Biol Psychiatry.
(6) Desvergne et al 2009. PPAR-mediated activity of phthalates: A link to the obesity epidemic? Mol Cell Endocrinol.
(7) Hu et al 2009. Phthalate-induced testicular dysgenesis syndrome: Leydig cell influence. Trends Endocrinol Metab.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A new month begins - so don't forget to calculate your GreenStreet Score

One of the best tools for helping us to individually reduce our carbon footprints and to help get our neighbours and communities involved as well is GreenStreets (for a run down on what GreenStreets is and how it works see here).
Part of keeping up to date with GreenStreets is to fill out a monthly 2 minute carbon footprint calculation to get your GreenStreet score for the month which you can compare with those of your friends, street, suburb and so on.
As per last month I will again be offering a prize for the TTKD member who gets the best (ie: lowest) score.
So if you havn't yet joined then I recommend you click here (it really is quite easy) and if you already have don't forget to calculate your score for the month. Feel free to post it in the comments, bragging is accepted but the moment of truth will of course be at our next monthly meeting.
Good luck!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Local solar buying group - last week to secure a great deal

TTKD member and the director of Brisbane Energy Audits Ian Gittus has set up a bulk buying group for solar power (solar PV) and solar hot water.

By bulking buying the solar panels and securing a top price for the RECs the buying group is able to offer solar systems for thousands of dollars cheaper than leading solar companies. (For a full explanation of RECs and the new federal government solar credits scheme see here).

However this price cannot be maintained due to the falling price of RECs, to get the deal applications must be in by Friday Nov 6th. On a positive note by purchasing through the local group the solar panels should be installed by early December, months quicker than the current industry average.

A range of solar PV systems from 1.5kW to 5kW are available. The package includes the 180 watt monocrystalline solar panels, a top quality inverter with 5 or 10 year warranty and standard installation.

Prices start from $3600 for a 1.5 kW solar PV system.

To enquire about the solar PV deal, solar hot water or to book your free home energy audit go to the Brisbane Energy Audits website.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

An alternative to plastic bags: Onya weigh bags

To reduce the use of plastic bags a lot of people have switched to using "Green" bags when shopping in general, however putting loose fruit and veges into separate plastic bags at the supermarket or local farmers market is still very common.
Personally I don't have any problem with my broccoli hanging loose with my corn and apples etc inside one big "green" bag, but realize it's not as convenient when getting things weighed at the checkout. To the rescue comes Onya Weigh bags.

Onya weight bags are super thin, ultra lightweight, transparent bags, contained within a pouch. They are they are strong and durable so can be used over and over again.

Onya weight bags are made of a fine mesh meaning you can use them as a collander and wash your produce while it is inside the bag. And if the bags get dirty you can put them in the wash and afterwords they dry almost immediately.

As the Onya website says
"So you have remembered your reusable bags, but still need to use plastic for your fruit 'n' veg.....Not any more"!

*This Turquoise pouch contains 5 strong Tulle bags (each can easily carry 2 kilos of produce)
*They are incredibly lightweight, so they don't weigh anything on the scales
*Being see-through, shop assistants know what's inside
*Because washing fruit 'n' veg is important, these bags are designed so you can use each one as a collander washing the produce inside
*Most fruit 'n' veg store better not sitting in a plastic bag where they can sweat

Other uses:

*Just as useful in the Health Food shop for: nuts, grains, rice and lentils etc
* Laundry bag.

Onya bags come in sets of 5 or 8 can be purchased from onyabags.com or from biome stores
For more information see the onya bags website

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Images from 350.org events around Brisbane

The 350 Ultimatum (West End) - 350 Frisbees

Photo, Ken Burridge




Photo credits
Ronnie Wright/Oxfam Australia, Jesse Hunter and Ahmad Zamroni


Picnic in the Park (New Farm)






Photo's: Ken Burridge


Ring out the Bells (Bardon)



Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens




Not Stupid: Ken Hickson and Age of Stupid film (Indooroopilly)




Thanks to everyone who came along and made it a successful day. Heaps of stories and thousands of photos from the ~5200 event in 181 countries can be found at 350.org and on the 350.org flickr photostream.

A few myths debunked

It's been a busy week for myth debunking. Some of my contributions:

  • Wind power myths on ABC radio – debunking myths propagated today on Australia All Over that wind power requires a large spinning reserve of coal power plants
  • No, global warming hasn't ended (again) – debunking a false claim doing the rounds that leading Germany-based climate scientist Prof Mojib Latif, (Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences, Kiel University) has predicted that we are headed for two decades of cooling
  • Climate of Fraud Part 2 – latest episode of my war on climate change denial at The Australian

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

350.org International day of Climate Action on Oct 24: Events in Brisbane

Given our talk about reducing waste last night I am recycling this blog post as a final reminder about the 350.org International Day of Climate Action coming up this Saturday the 24th of Oct.


On Saturday there are a number of events being held around Brisbane. These events are just a few of more than 4,300 (and climbing) events being held in 171 countries around the globe calling for:


- a fair and effective climate treaty to stabilise atmospheric CO2 at less than 350ppm (parts per million)
– everyone to play their part in reaching a safe climate and a just world.
Here are some of the main events in Brisbane:

On the west side of town:

Sustainable Jamborees' 350.org event


2 - 5pm, Sat 24 October, Indooroopilly Library
ABC of Carbon; and
The Age of Stupid film

At Indooroopilly, join us to hear author Ken Hickson give a short talk about the ABC of Carbon followed by a showing of 'The Age of Stupid' (1.5 hrs).

RSVP to Ngaire, ngaire@sustainablejamboree.org by Thu 22 Oct.
Earlier on the day, Ken will also sign copies of his new book from 11.30am – 12.30pm, Sat 24 October at the Angus & Robertson book store, Mt Ommaney Shopping Centre.

Events in Central Brisbane:

350 Ultimatum 11am – 1pm

350 frisbees thrown to the beat of 350 drums!

11am – 1pm at the West End Markets, Davies Park
Come down to the markets and join in an amazing celebration of drums and ultimate Frisbee – feel free to bring your own disc, drum or shaker and join in!
___________________________

New Farm Park 3pm – 5pm

Come to New Farm Park for the culmination of the day's events, and a major chance to generate media coverage – so bring everyone! Be there from 3pm-5pm to enjoy stilt walkers and a circus performance and to be a part of making a daisy chain of messages to send to Canberra. We will have a Very Special Guest arriving by city cat at 3.22pm. We look forward to seeing you there!

Location within New Farm Park: Near the river and close to the Powerhouse.

> GIANT 350 DAISY CHAIN – We'll be writing our climate messages to Kevin Rudd on 'daisy' strips. All messages will be joined together into a giant chain calling for fair and effective global action for our climate.
___________________________
Other local events include:
- Giant '350' sign in plants & flowers at the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, 10am-1pm
- Bell ringing in Bardon at 371 Simpson's Road, Bardon, at 12pm Saturday 24th
- GRIFFITH Climate Action Day on Thursday 22nd, 11am - 4pm Nathan Campus Griffith University
- Global Change Institute UQ - *HIT THE SWITCH & POWER DOWN* Encouraging staff and students at the University of Queensland to turn off all non-essential electrical equipment at the wall switch when they go home for the weekend on the 23rd October.

Saturday's events represent one of our best (and final) chances to make our voices heard before Copenhagen, so make sure you get along to one (or more) events and show your support for a safe climate.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Focus on Waste and Recycling at next TTKD meeting: Wed Oct 21

Our speaker for this Wednesday's meeting is Michelle Prior who will be talking to us about Recycle, Re-use and Refuse as ways to lower our carbon footprint.

Michelle is an Environmental Researcher and Principle Advisor to IOSS (Integrated Open Space Services) and has a degree in Natural Resources as well as in Urban and Regional Planning.

And remember if you want more information about what you can and can't recycle on Brisbane you can check out recycling information found on the BCC website.

Well also be discussing a range of other topics at the meeting including how to get involved in the upcoming 350.org events this Saturday, opportunities for future Guerrilla Bagging and of course finding out who gets this months prize of a packet of TimTams for the lowest GreenStreet score.
And, as always come along and tell everyone what you've been doing to live more sustainably and your ideas for future group actions.

Wed Oct 21st
7:30pm Uniting Church Hall
Moggill Rd
Kenmore

All welcome, see you there

350 Practical Actions


It is heartening to see a surge in climate change activism at the moment with
350.org doing a great job in raising popular awareness. I find the message sometimes, (well maybe often,) overwhelming as well. Being out in my garden, just noticing what's going on, calms the mind. I have observed this effect on myself for many years - a swim in the ocean, a country weekend, alfresco dinning! Of course there is now a name and academic analysis of it - ecopsychology , a relatively new branch of psychotherapy.These moments are refreshing because they reconnect us with our true nature, too much of our contemporary lives have become an abstraction. Ecopsychologists argue that the ecological mess we find ourselves in, is directly the result of our efforts to ignore and repress all that is natural (and uncertain, mysterious,uncontrollable and real).

So to the garden -
Even the most neglected garden can be therapeutic. This week I looked beyond the weeds and dead dry lawn and saw that my paw paw had ripened and a respectable amount of cherry tomatoes were ready. The rocket went to seed over the holidays. I managed to save them (the seeds) using new skills gained from the OOOBY workshop. Not a bad effort I thought to myself, considering this time last year I was, (a complete novice), just starting my horticulture cert at Northy Street. If I applied myself to 350 such practical actions, (1 per day and 14 days reserved for inaction or impractical actions,)why that would be a year of good mental health plus as much paw paw and tomato as anyone could eat!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Take advantage of Government assistance to green your home. Part 4: The ClimateSmart at Home service

In previous installments of this series we looked at Federal Government programs such as Solar Credits, Green Loans and the Energy Efficient Homes package, this time we'll look at the QLD State Governments' hugely popular ClimateSmart Home Service.

Although I am confident many TTKD members will be part of the more than 100 000 households who have taken up this service I would encourage any who has not to book here. So why do I recommend this scheme and what do you get from it?

Funded by the QLD government the ClimateSmart Homes package sees an electrician come to your house and
1) Install a wireless energy monitor
2) Install a low flow shower head
3) Replace up to 15 incandescent light bulbs with energy saving CFLs
4) Conduct a brief energy audit and suggest additional steps you can take to reduce energy consumption, save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

By reducing the energy needed to light you house and heat water (through decreasing the water flow in the shower to a still more than acceptable 9 litres per minute) you will save money on your energy bills.

Most useful though is the wireless energy monitor. Because power bills only come every few months there is a disconnect between using power now and the actual cost of doing so. The energy monitor, in contrast, provides constant feedback on how much energy our houses are using, giving us much more control over power usage and therefore power bills.
By showing in real-time how much power our houses are using the monitor displays just how much power various appliances use (expect some surprises), encourages more efficient use of power and acts as a reminder whenever something is left on (always useful).
The only side-effect, as noted on Grahman Readfern's GreenBlog (and also found somewhat in our house) is the emergence of a obsessive energy auditor, hunting down any stray or wasteful power usage in the home, leading to even lower power bills.

Although hardly a scientific finding, the experience of our household has been of a fairly significant decrease in power consumption and therefore in our electric bills in the ~6 months since we had the service. Showing that it really does work.

So who can get it and what does it cost?
Subsidised by the State Government the initial service cost $50, however the BCC provides a $50 rebate once the service has been completed (BCC rebate application form available here). So all in all the service is completely free for Brisbane residents.
The service is open to both home owners and renters (with written permission from the landlord).

The ClimateSmart at Home service is a great energy efficiency measure that helps households save power, reduce their energy bills and reduce their carbon footprint while. Best of all it's free so if you havn't signed up yet go here to do so, or go here for more information.