Thursday, September 30, 2010

Good bills want to become good laws - Container deposit legislation and Palm oil labelling

Parliament has been back in business this week and I have noticed there are two bills that have either just been introduced or under consideration in areas Transition Kenmore has previously spoken up about.

The first is container deposit legislation (or trash into cash as the SMH so wittily puts it), which would provide a 10 cent rebate for bottles, cans and cartons like they have in South Australia. Such a law would boost recycling rates and stop millions of these containers going to landfill everyday, or being left to litter the landscape. We supported a petition back in February to introduce this in QLD, the answer to which was basically, "we're thinking about it at a national level". Well, The Greens are trying to get a federal law past, but despite it being popular with the public, things are moving very slowly. If you'd like to see this made law, then a brief email to, or chinwag with, the new Environment Minister Tony Burke would be a good place to start.

Second up, many readers will be aware of how deforestation and habitat destruction on a massive scale has been occurring in Indonesia and Malaysia to clear rain forest for palm oil plantations. This is causing not only enormous greenhouse emissions but is also threatening species such as "the orangutan, Sumatran tiger, Asian elephant, Asian rhino and other rain-forest species with extinction". Palm oil is literally in everything, but currently it's difficult to know which products contain palm oil or whether the palm oil is actually from a sustainable source.
Enter Sen Nick Xenophon with his truth in labeling bill to make food products which contain palm oil say so, as well as allowing responsible companies to state they're using sustainable palm oil. Informed choice is a good thing and we've supported a similar petition previously. A message to our new local MP supporting this bill might be a good idea.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Green Buildings and Retrofitting - Helping the economy and the environment

With energy use in buildings making up a large amount of worldwide CO2 emissions (some 40-45% in the USA for example) it's no secret that making new buildings Green and Green retrofitting provides a clear path to combating climate change.

The benefits of such activities are obvious, using less energy and water means lower bills, less waste and less exposure to rising prices without even considering the environmental benefits. While there are productivity and physiological advantages of, for example: buildings schools that don't fry in the heat in a state like QLD.

Of course the question that everyone asks about Green buildings is: Won't it cost a lot more?

Well according to Gregory Kats and his new book Greening our built world the answer is NO.

Working with ~100 "architects, developers, green building consultants, and building owners" Greg and his team surveyed 170 Green buildings from schools to laboratories, residential complexes to offices and found:

Green buildings—designed to use fewer resources and to support the health of their inhabitants—are commonly viewed as more expensive to build than conventional buildings. For example, a 2007 opinion survey by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development found that, on average, green buildings were thought to cost 17% more than conventional buildings. But we found this widespread perception—that greening costs a lot more than conventional design—to be wrong. In fact, the green 170 buildings analyzed for Greening our Built World cost, on average, less than 2% more than conventional buildings; moreover, green buildings provide a wide range of benefits—both direct and indirect—that make them a very good investment.

So not only do Green buildings not cost much more, but because they create large energy savings that pay back multiple times over there are a good investment too.

More info and plenty of graphs can be found here.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

TTKD Growing Food & Landshare Initiative

Growing Food and Landshare Initiative:
Interested in growing food?

Your local Transition Town: Kenmore District group is continuing the process of self-empowerment.

We are launching the Growing Food & Landshare Initiative.

Please share the following information with your email lists, neighbours, friend and family in the area.

Here in the Pullenvale Ward (from Kenmore/Chapel Hill through to Moggill) we are very fortunate to have a mixture of medium density housing through to peri-urban acreages. This diversity creates an opportunity for those without land, or land unsuitable for growing to match with landholders who do not have the time or resources to utilise their land. This synergy can result in a very productive and stronger community.

This idea of matching people keen to grow food to people with available land came to fruition in the U.K . Landshare was launched by KEO films in the UK in 2009 through the River Cottage TV program. The concept is simple: to connect people who wish to grow food with landowners willing to donate spare land for cultivation. Since then it has flourished into a national movement of more than 50,000 people, sharing more than 3,000 acres of land, with matches in every region of the UK.

TransitionTown: Kenmore District (which covers the Pullenvale Ward) would like to engage with people interested in exploring the possibilities of:

1.Landshare and setting up an online Landshare register

2. Co-ordinating people who are already growing food and have a surplus, no matter how big or small.

3.Co-operatively selling food through the local Moggill Markets in the first instance then onto a wider local food supply network.

Who should register interest?

Anyone interested in growing food.
Anyone with land they are happy for others to use with a written agreement as to the terms of that use.
Gardening Mentors: people in the area who have experience in growing food and are willing to share that knowledge.

Register your interest by sending us an email: transitionkenmore"at"

"From little things, big things grow" - Lets start growing!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Political bias at The Australian and the reporting of climate change

Greens leader Bob Brown has accused The Australian of trying to wreck the alliance between the Greens and Labor. We wear Senator Brown's criticism with pride. We believe he and his Green colleagues are hypocrites; that they are bad for the nation; and that they should be destroyed at the ballot box.
The Australian, Editorial, 9th September, 2010

This week's Mediawatch on ABC "Gunning for the Greens" looked at how The Australian appears to be running its own political campaign against The Greens.

The role of the media in a democratic society is necessarily to report the news, cut through spin and to provide an honest critique of the policies of all political parties. However as the quote from the Editorial in The Australian shows, they have apparently decided to target a particular political party. In this they have crossed the line from reporting the news to political advocacy, the editors clearly think this is ok, I would suggest it is not. Does this now mean all articles regarding The Greens are now being written with the agenda to destroy them at the ballot box? Hardly the stuff a reputation for solid journalism is made of.

Why is The OZ so steamed at The Greens? For one it seems they are angry The Greens didn't vote for the CPRS and then attacked Labour for a lack of climate action. Now I don't think The Greens ever said they were going to vote for the CPRS so holding out for a stronger scheme wasn't all that hypocritical. On the other hand The Coalition did agree to support the CPRS before backflipping after a leadership change, while Labour declined to call a double dissolution over the senate CPRS logjam and chose instead to jettison its climate change policy altogether. Neither of those decisions left either major party covered in roses, so why is The OZ so steamed solely at The Greens?

Shift back to the present and we have a new Government reconsidering its policies on climate change and growing calls from the business world calling for the new Government to get on with it and put a price on carbon, so the debate about how best to reduce our emissions isn't about to go away. Given the results of the election, the Australian people have made The Greens a key player in this debate, so by declaring war on them has The Australian just limited its own ability to report fairly and credibly on this critical issue?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Background on Dr Paul Martin - one of our speakers our electric bicycle meeting

Dr Paul Martin is a Specialist Anaesthetist who for the past 9 months has been riding a bicycle for transport instead of taking the car - commuting, grocery shopping, going to restaurants, you name it!

His first difficulty was finding a bicycle that was suitable for this task - in a country where most bicycles are sports equipment or toys. In this search, he discovered the electric assist bicycle; in his case a Dutch built e-bike. This allows him to overcome the last few obstacles when traveling by bicycle in his normal clothes - the heat, humidity and hills. He is a strong advocate of cycling for transport - normal folk in normal clothes - and believes that the key to urban cycling is quality infrastructure and not emphasising cycling as a 'dangerous' sporting activity only, requiring special equipment and safety gear.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Electric Bicycle Buying Group

Our upcoming meeting is on electric bicycles. Garry Willett from Sustainable Jamboree, will be talking about the e-bike bulk buy he is organizing. For those considering this offer, here is some more information about the bikes available (taken from the Sustainable Jamboree website).

"Please let us know if you’re interested to buy an electric bicycle for $1600 ($700 off)! Models on offer include the eZee Sprint or Torq.

We’re in the process of organising a buying group in partnership with Glow Worm bicycles but we need 50 people to order one with them through Sustainable Jamboree.

Those interested can contact Garry for an order form etc: garry [at]

For information about the Queensland Government’s position on e-bicycles see:

This buying group does not constitute a product endorsement. Please do your own research before making any decision."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

TTKD Sept Meeting: Electric Bicycles - The future of transport in the city?

Electric bicycles offer an affordable, sustainable and congestion free way to travel in the city.

Come and hear from some local electric bicycle enthusiasts, try out their bikes and check out the opportunity to get an electric bike at a heavily discounted price.

Speaking on electric bicycles will be

Dr Paul Martin, an Anaesthetist and electric bicycle enthusiast. Paul has been able to replace most car journeys with cycling and will be speaking about the advantages of electric bikes and why they are well suited to a city like Brisbane.

Garry Wilett, a member of Sustainable Jamboree, Garry is organising an electric bike bulk buy will talk about how you can purchase your own electric bike at a heavily discounted price.

Why an electric bike? well as Garry told us:
"This probably does not mean much, but let me tell you my bike can do 30Kmh without peddling. Faster if I peddle. It can travel 40km on a charge and up to 90kms if I peddle a bit. It flys and guess what I don't feel like I have been rung out when I get to the other end. No heart palpitations or wobbly legs. Oh, and I don't wear lycra. I just ride in my every day clothes. The bike paths are getting better and I have found riding the bike quite safe."

Wed 15th 7:30pm
The Uniting Church Hall
982 Moggill Rd Kenmore

Monday, September 6, 2010

How many scientists does it take to change a skeptic?

Tongue in check perhaps, but on Tuesday night (7th of Sept) SBS Insight is a Q&A between renowned climate change scientist Prof Stephen Schneider and an audience full of climate skeptics.
Recorded before his untimely death in July, the program promises to be quite interesting. Stephen Schneider had a life long passion for engaging with the public and it will be interesting to see not only if he can educate and sway opinions but for those interested in communicating complex science to a skeptical public what does and does not work.

I'm also curious about the level of scientific knowledge of the skeptics and whether their skepticism appears based more on honestly held opinions and or ideology. I guess we'll see.

SBS Insight 7.30pm
Tues 7th of Sept