Friday, February 26, 2010

Costa Georgiadis from Costa's Garden Odyessey talks permablitz

Costa Georgiadis is an enthusiastic advocate for sustainable gardening, which he promotes on his TV series Costa's Garden Odyssey.
Hear the garden guru talk permablitz with Ruby Vincent on her radio show "A Question of Balance".
Listen here

Its fair to say Transition Kenmore isn't being quite as ambitious with our blitzes compared to what's happening in Melbourne, yet (no ponds for the moment and less cost to the householder). But Costa gives a great overview of what permabltizes can achieve and the enthusiasm and sense of community these events have created in Melbourne, something we definitely want to replicate here.

On the topic of Costa, it's worth mentioning that his new series begins 8pm on Thursday, 18 March on SBS One.

Ps: for a primer into permablitzes and what Transition Kenmore wants to achieve see this post.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Permablitz - Turning disused lawns into community vege gardens

Last year Transition Kenmore carried out its first permablitz. But what are they exactly?

Permablitzing started in Melbourne a few years back and involves transforming lawns and disused yard areas into bountiful food producing gardens. The name is a melding of permaculture (the food production philosophy embraced by the Transition movement among others) and Backyard Blitz.

It works like this, a group of people get together, select a property to "blitz", design a new garden producing veges, fruit and herbs according to permaculture growing principles and then get together one morning/day to create the new garden. TTKD's first permablitz was very successful, just check out the before, during and after.
Although TTKD members carried out our first blitz, the general public are welcome to help out, and like our members are eligible to have their own place "blitzed" after attending three blitzes themselves.

Permablitzing has a number of benefits, producing healthy, sustainable local food for the household in question, sharing gardening and permaculture know-how throughout the community, strengthening community links and they are also good fun!

Importantly, we have plans to take permablitzing one step further by creating community permalblitz gardens, these are blitzed gardens where the produce is available to the local community free of charge to come and pick, promoting healthy sustainable food beyond our group and into the wider community.

Transition Kenmore is keen to get behind the permablitz philosophy and make them regular events on our calendar. Our next blitz is in mid March so if you're a TTKD member; belong a gardening group here on the west side of Brisbane; or are an interested member of the public and want to get involved. Drop us a line at transitionkenmore (at)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Waste not.....

Two problems facing Brisbane gardeners are what to do with the palm fronds (most gardens seem to have them) and all the prunings, a natural by-puct of lush growth. One of the things I find upsetting is to see these being disposed of in the normal rubbish bin. This means they go to landfill and hence produce methane. Green waste constitutes 30% of landfill here in Brisbane.

BCC is now instigating a green bin system. You have to apply and there will be a small fee but it will be collected from your home, composted and used on council gardens. To find out more go to HTTP://

Meanwhile, as we have lots to mulch on our own place we recently invested in an 80 year old

It loves palm fronds and most other prunings as long as the stems are not too thick. It is fun to find a great use for this solid old piece of machinery.

Supergreenme: A "facebook for greenies"

A love of nature and the environment lead sunshine coast man and former banker David Toomey to set up a "facebook for greenies" called Supergreenme.
Part eco-encyclopedia, part social networking Supergreenme provides a wealth of user generated information on environmental topics and the ability to interact with other environmentally minded individuals and groups from around Australia and the world.

Informative stuff on the site includes lots of "going green tips", reasons for living an environmental friendly lifestyle for everyone from small business to grandparents, and lots of eye candy in the way of videos showcasing natural beauty as well as user created videos.

David recently explained that increasing environmental awareness in people by developing their appreciation for the beauty of the natural world and its wildlife is a major part of the philosophy behind Supergreenme and I think this clearly shows in the website.

Looking at some of the other environmental and nature orientated groups on Supergreenme such as Wildlife Warriors Worldwide (a group founded by Steve and Terri Irwin to care for and protect injured and endangered wildlife) you are reminded of the breadth of the environmental movement and also of how the jobs of such wildlife defenders will become much harder if we allow climate change to decimate natural ecosystems.

Although Transition Kenmore is mostly focused on the effects of climate change and resource depletion on people, it's worth remembering that a love of nature and the environment is an important reason why many of us become concerned about the impacts of people on the natural environment in the first place. Perhaps before we realised the serious impact a changing environment could have on us too.
In our efforts to address issues like climate change we must ensure that we not only work with other groups whose main focus in the natural environment but that we also reach out to members of the public who care about the natural environment but have not yet made the connection between climate change and environmental destruction the same way people have with other topics such as deforestation.

Luckily for us, David Toomey and Supergreenme seem to have realised this already.
Check it out.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Rain causes flash flooding in SEQ (again) - A case for "Green Roofs"?

The massive downpour that drenched parts of Brisbane and SEQ on tuesday caused flash flooding around the city, disrupted roads and public transport, submerged cars and caused damage to homes and businesses.
This seems to be the usual outcome of heavy rain as the storm-water system and creeks around the city are overwhelmed.
But could these effects and the damage and financial costs they cause be eliminated or at least substantially reduced?

One potential solution to urban flash flooding are "Green Roofs" ie: roofs covered in plants. We had Geoff Wilson the convener of Green Roofs Australia talk at our TTKD meeting back in Sept 09. Green roofs have a number of benefits including producing food, acting as insulation and reducing urban heat island effects.
Importantly Green Roofs also moderate the effects of heavy rain. Green roofs absorb the rain water and act to slow down and reduce rain water run off. Slowing runoff is critical as it acts to prevent the spike in runoff after heavy rain that overwhelms storm-water systems and causes much of the flash flooding.

Due to their multiple benefits Green Roofs are becoming increasing popular overseas and have been popular in parts of Europe for decades. Perhaps it's time to seriously consider them here and try to reduce this "rain-flood-clean up damage-repeat" cycle we see here so often.

Defend climate scientists

For those who are fed up with incessant and increasingly personal attacks on climate scientists, I've set up a petition at – please sign, and spread the word. There is no excuse even for those who do believe there is a valid case against the mainstream science to behave the way these people are behaving: theft of emails, accusations of fraud: where will it end?

I posted answers to some questions someone directed at me via The Australian’s letters blog to my own blog. I do this from time to time because posting response at their blog is unreliable.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Climate change fact of the week: Where in the world have temperatures warmed?

Q: Where has it warmed?

A: Everywhere

Explanation of figure 1: Long term temperature trend of each region of the globe between 1970 and 2009 (created at NASA GISTEMP). Scale at bottom shows what temperature change (in dC) each colour represents. Ie: Areas that have cooled are shown in blue, areas that have warmed range from yellow to orange to red, with red representing the most warming. Areas which no change are in white. Grey represents areas with a lack of data.

  • Warming has been recorded over the entire globe since 1970, ie: global warming.
  • The long term temperature trend from 1970 to 2009 shows warming of 0.67 dC (nb: this is not a comparison of 1970 with 2009 but the trend in worldwide temperatures over the whole 40 year period).
  • Warming has been greatest in high northern latitudes (around the north pole), consistent with what is predicted in a warming world.
  • The only area without consistent warming is in and around parts of Antarctica, scientists think this may be due to the hole in the ozone layer*.

+/- Further info (click to expand)

While the earth is warming, it is important to remember that not every part of the world will show record or near record warmth every year. This is due to natural variation. For example, figure 2 shows the worldwide temperature anomaly in 2009. Globally 2009 was the second equal warmest year on record, however during 2009 temperatures in parts of the USA and Canada were near the 1950-1980 average (coloured white). This is regional natural variation (ie: weather not climate) and is why looking at long term trends (figure 1) is the best way to understand how the climate is changing.

Explanation of figure 2: Worldwide temperature in each part of the world in 2009 compared to the 1950-1981 temperature average. 2009 was tied for the second warmest year in the instrumental record. Figure from NASA GISTEMP.

*The lack of warming over parts of Antarctica is an active area of research for scientists. It appears to be due to a strengthening of winds that circle Antarctica known as SAM which has been caused in turn by cooling in the high atmosphere due to the ozone hole. This is a complex topic but if you are really keen see the IPCC 2007 report WG1 chapter 3, or scientific articles here and here.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Transition Kenmore Feburary meeting - Transition in the UK: what's working, what's not and what can we learn from them

We are delighted this month to have Chris Wright from The Gap Transition Towns group
come and talk to us about his recent trip to the UK working with Transition groups over there.

Chris spent 10 weeks immersed in various TT groups in the UK and has lots to share on what those groups are doing, what's working and what's not.
The Transition movement originated in the UK and as such they have been going a little longer than groups here in Australia, this is a good chance to learn about the potential for groups like ours over the next few years.

Come and be inspired!

This will be an insightful evening on Transition in the UK at the grass roots so don't miss it.

7:30 pm: Wed 17th Feb
Uniting Church Hall
982 Moggill Rd

Feel free to bring a plate of supper to share

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Coalition's climate change policy

Various scientific and economic experts have weighed in on The Coalition's recently released climate change policy.
You can read some of their responses on the CCNQ site: "Tinkering around the edges" "wishful thinking" "manifestly inadequate" - Scientific and economic experts weigh in on Coalition Climate Plan

There is also a useful post gathering a variety of scientific, economic and environmental opinion here at A Climate For Change

You can see the full roundup of comments from the scientific and economic experts go here

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Climate change fact of the week: 2009 was the second (equal) warmest year on record says NASA‏

  • 2009 was the second equal warmest year in the past 130 years, (since the instrumental record began) according to NASA scientists at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
  • There is year-to-year variability in global temperatures due to factors like El Nino. This means not every year will be the hottest on record.
  • Global temperature shows "a term warming trend that has become strong and persistent over the past three decades", despite year-to-year natural variability reports NASA scientist Dr James Hansen one of the world leading climatologists.
  • According to NASA, the warmest year on record is 2005, then 2009, 2007, 1998, 2002 and so on. In fact 9 of the 10 hottest years on record occured from 2000-2009.
  • Climate scienists say we must keep warming under 2 degrees Celcuis to prevent the worst effects of climate change, however since the late 19th century the world has warmed by ~0.8 dC, meaning almost half our warming "safe zone" is already gone.

This is what global warming looks like when you graph it:

Graph of global temperature change from NASA GISS (Goddard Institute for Space Studies)

Explanation of the graph
The worldwide average temperature anomaly for each year is shown by the black squares (surface temperature of both the land and oceans) and the solid red line is the five-year average. Following the red line shows the temperature trend. The graph uses a base period from 1951-1980, and hence shows the temperature change/anomaly compared to the base period. Green bars show the uncertainty in the temperature measurement. Yearly temperatures are more certain now because of better measurements ie: the use of satellites to measure sea surface temperature.

For more information
NASA news release about 2009 temperatures
Dr Hansen explains 2009 temperatures in more detail on his website
NASA GISSTEMP web-page with all their graphs, data and more detailed explanations
See our Transition Kenmore climate science resources parts 1 and 2.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Transition Kenmore Community Dinner

Our first Community Dinner is drawing near! All are welcome to come and join a relaxed night of fun, frolic and food. This is a great chance to get to know other members of Transition Kenmore better, or meet them for the first time.

WHEN: Friday Feb 12th 7pm
WHERE: Please RSVP to transitionkenmore'at' for the address
BRING: Food to share, drinks, a folding chair and.......any acoustic instruments. Our gracious host will be providing some food, freshly prepared from their Food Connect box but it would be great if everyone brought something especially if you'd like to have some meat with your dinner.

This will also be the site of our next permablitz so come and share your ideas!

It will be helpful if we have some idea of numbers so drop us an email at transitionkenmore'at' if you are coming!
See you there.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Qld Recycling E-Petition - Sign the petition to introduce a 10c refund on bottles, cans and cartons

A petition has been launched to introduce a 10c refund on a number of recyclable items in Queensland to help prevent littering and help increase rates of recycling, similar to the scheme in South Australia.

Since this has been talked about at Transition Kenmore meetings as something we would support, you might like to sign the petition online here and let your friends and family know as well.
Signing the petition is open to Queensland residents, citizens and electors. See the website for more details.

The petition statement is as follows:

"Queensland residents draws to the attention of the House:

1. the increasing (dangerous) occurrence of broken glass, cans and associated refuse on roads, footpaths, cycleways and public space;
2. the escalating amount of recyclable drink containers going to landfill and overloading public refuse bins; and
3. the success of CDL in South Australia.

Your petitioners, therefore, request the House to introduce (CDL) legislation in Queensland as done in South Australian (12 February 2008) to ensure a 10 cent deposit/refund for every (glass, bottle, can, PET bottle, fruit drink and flavoured milk carton) drink container. (In consultation with the drinks manufacturers.)

H/T to Ngaire from Sustainable Jamboree for bringing this to my attention.