23 February, 2009

Green Razor, Green Wash, Guilt Offset and Climate Change

In today's Green Razor there is a story on Green Business: "carbon negative" operations?

In my opinion, it is completely irreconcilable for individuals or a business to continue a bad practice, then buy offsets and think that it is all ok. In Green Razor, Fiji water are quoted as an example of a company going "carbon negative". Bottled water (in my opinion) is a complete waste of energy and resources. Bottled water from Fiji, shipped to developed countries seems so perverse when many people in Fiji do not have access to a wholesome Municipal supply or adequate designated places to poo. Fiji are frontline and centre for receiving some of the most serious consequences of increased incidences of extreme weather events.

The story in Green Razor states: "companies looking to brand themselves "green" are taking a new approach to reducing their carbon emissions: offsetting "double" their emissions. "The article goes on to discuss: "ecoigo, a "green" car service in London, offsets double emissions from every trip. Again, I personally find it irreconcilable that one can drive a car, knowing the connections between the peak oil and anthropogenic climate change.It shits me to tears that insurance companies like "ibuyeco" and NRMA insurance offer carbon offsets, while encouraging people to continue driving cars. Lord Mayor Campbell Newman persists with his "Tunnel Vision" for the city of Brisbane, entrenching the reliance on motor vehicles for decades to come.

The beef industry tells consumers that we were meant to eat red meat and our children will suffer learning deficits if they don't. In more recent ads, Laurie Lawrence evokes our sense of patriotism to encourage Australians to eat beef mince.....

Xstrata Coal Queensland are trying to buy favours with $750,000 over three years to improve medical and allied health facilities in the southern inland mining town of Wandoan, whilst extracting and selling coal with the full knowlegde of the likely connections between [CO2e] and extreme weather events.

For decades the tobacco industry denied the connection between smoking and health impacts. Regardless of one's views on thegreen house effect, one cannot look me in the eye and tell me that one does not think cars, cows and coal are causing immense ecological harm. One cannot tell me that there are no alternatives means of transport, protein or energy.

....end of rant...

Rowan Barber

18 February, 2009

Queensland needs safe, effective leadership more than ever (not gasification of coal)

From: Rowan Barber
Sent: 18 February 2009 14:39
To: 'Mount.Coot-tha@parliament.qld.gov.au'; 'ferny.grove@parliament.qld.gov.au'
Cc: 'Premiers@ministerial.qld.gov.au'; 'mulgrave@parliament.qld.gov.au'; 'brisbane.central@parliament.qld.gov.au'; 'Hervey.Bay@parliament.qld.gov.au'

Subject: Queensland needs safe, effective leadership more than ever

The Honourable Andrew Fraser and the Honourable Geoff Wilson

Dear Mr Fraser and Mr Wilson,

I would like to commend the Bligh Government for initiatives like the “Climate Smart” programme, aimed at helping individuals and families reduce their Greenhouse gas emissions. I would like to sincerely thank the Bligh Government for investing in establishing a second wild colony of Northern hairy-nosed wombats near Saint George. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank the Honourable Warren Pitt for his service to the State of Queensland as Minister for Local Government and Main Roads. I agree wholeheartedly with the Member for Mulgrave who said: “With the worldwide economic situation becoming more dire by the day, Queensland needs the safe, effective leadership provided by the Bligh Government more than ever.”

It was heartening to read that coal tonnage forecast for the first two years of the project was 90% lower than what was originally requested. I then read in horror that the Bligh Government’s plans to allow trials of coal gasification projects to proceed. Has anyone done a greenhouse gas inventory on gasification of coal? Replacing coal fired power generation with gas fired generation from coal gasification, does not led to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Replacing liquid fuels derived from crude oil with liquids fuels derived from coal is not going to help reduce the global greenhouse gas inventory. There is no leap of logic that can possibly make “Gas derived from coal” a path to a cleaner energy future. Gas derived from coal is a path to escalating catastrophic, anthropogenic climate change. Expanding Queensland’s coal industries is not safe, effective leadership. In the emerging carbon economy there has to come a day when coal is worth more in the ground than as products of combustion in the atmosphere.

I read with interest the article in the Guardian on Sunday February 15 2009 by James Hansen one of the world's foremost climate experts. He launched an excoriating attack on Britain's long love affair with the most polluting fossil fuel of all – Coal. To see this story with its related links on the guardian.co.uk site, go to http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/feb/15/james-hansen-power-plants-coal

I wonder why is the Bligh Government is putting such a disproportionate amount of money into ensuring the private companies profiteer from the extraction, processing and export of coal? At the same time, the Bligh Government appears to be sinking good money after bad into so-called “clean coal” technologies, which are decades away from any real breakthroughs. If the Government really wanted to ensure job security for QR workers, might I suggest that the Bligh Government fast track expansions of the passenger rail network to Caloundra, Maroochydore, Noosa, Redcliffe, Burleigh Heads and better networks to service the Western suburbs of Brisbane?

In the lead up to a State Election, I would like to think the Government might be more responsive to the growing tide of Queenslanders looking for cleaner, greener solutions to the economic downturn. Like California in the United States of America, Queensland could lead the way in renewable energy, creating new jobs in new industries.

It is impossible to pin any one unusual weather event (such as flooding in North Queensland or bush fires in Victoria) on climate change. However the evidence is emerging that suggests that climate change is already influencing the weather. The IPCC reports that both heat waves and intense rain events have increased in frequency during the last 50 years, and human-induced global warming more likely than not contributed to the trend. Satellite-based rainfall measurements show tropical areas got more rain in the form of large storms or light rainfall instead of moderate storms between 1979 and 2003. Since the 1970s, the area affected by drought and the number of intense tropical cyclones also have increased, trends that IPCC scientists say were more likely than not influenced by human activities.

In the wake of recent flood events, I trust that the Queensland State Government will consider re-building Green. Let’s replace roads with rail. Lets replace the burping & farting beef cattle with more sustainable agriculture. If we want to cut the extreme weather greenhouse cycle for future generations, post-disaster periods are an excellent time to rebuild green, encourage more energy efficient transport and re-think green lifestyle choices.


Rowan Barber


Minister for Mines and EnergyThe Honourable Geoff Wilson

Bligh Govt gives green light to thousands of jobs

Minister for Mines and Energy Geoff Wilson has given the go ahead for two competing industries to tap into Queensland's rich coalfields in a move that will create thousands of jobs across the state. Minister Wilson said State Cabinet had approved trials - near Chinchilla and Kingaroy in southern Queensland - of underground coal gasification, a potential new energy source. "We've come up with a solution that gives certainty to industry in tough times. This is about creating jobs and keeping the economy going," Mr Wilson said. "Two industries will benefit from our decision, but the ultimate beneficiaries will be Queensland's environment and our economy. This will generate thousands of jobs for workers around the state," he said. The State Government's decision will pave the way for the joint development of coal seam gas - a multi-billion dollar industry - and trials of underground coal gasification. "Coal seam gas is powering ahead in Queensland. It's a multi-billion dollar industry. Its success is due in no small part to our world-leading gas scheme which requires big electricity companies to source at least 13% of their energy from gas-fired generation. We're increasing it to 18% by 2020. "Gas is a vital path to a cleaner energy future. It has half the emissions of coal-fired power and it's in abundance in the Surat Basin which is set to rival the Bowen Basin as the state's economic powerhouse. "Our gas scheme is an investment in people who live and work in cities and towns like Gladstone, Miles, Chinchilla and Dalby. It's an investment in their future," Mr Wilson said. Coal seam gas converts into liquefied natural gas or LNG. There are seven LNG export projects being considered by the State Government. Cabinet's decision to progress thousands of hectares of gas acreage towards tenure approval will give certainty to the LNG projects. "When these projects are up and running, they will inject billions of dollars into Queensland's economy and lead to around 1750 jobs on site, and up to 4,000 jobs during construction stages." Mr Wilson said three pilot projects would also be able to tap into Queensland's rich coal resources. "These pilots plan to convert coal seams into a synthetic gas for power generation, industrial heating, diesel fuel and ammonia," Mr Wilson said. "Underground coal gasification is an emerging technology that's largely untested in Australia. We're going to allow trials under strict monitoring conditions. "They will have to meet the most stringent environmental standards," he said.


TreasurerThe Honourable Andrew Fraser

Bligh Government committed to Northern Missing Link

Treasurer Andrew Fraser today confirmed that the government was committed to building the Northern Missing Link project.
"We are proceeding with the Northern Missing Link project, including the doubling of Abbot Point Coal Terminal,'' he said.
''Yesterday was the date the current contracts with coal companies expire, but we have offered (through Ports Corporation of Queensland) to extend the contracts for another three months, with a further three month extension beyond that (ie to June) as we seek to provide every opportunity to the coal companies to commit to the timing and scope of the project.
''The coal companies have come to the government (through QR and Ports Corporation) saying that they now have very different tonnage profiles for the coming years.
''The downturn in the resources sector is massively reshaping the sort of volumes the coal companies believe they will need.
''Whereas we previously faced infrastructure bottlenecks, there is now going to be 30 million tonnes of spare capacity on the network this financial year.
Mr Fraser said that coal tonnage forecast for the first two years of the project was 90% lower than what was originally requested.
''We are committed to building the link, the volume it carries will be determined by what capacity the coal companies believe they want.
''In short, we will build what they want when they decide they want it.
Mr Fraser confirmed that no QR employee would lose their job.
''The alliances with the construction companies for the project remain in place,'' he said.
''The early works project is nearing completion.
''We announced the early works program previously to prepare the site for construction.
''As the early works program concludes the construction companies who are part of the alliance will seek to redeploy their staff.''

14 February, 2009

Santa Claus, the tooth fairy & clean coal

Minister for Mines and Energy
The Honourable Geoff Wilson
Tackling climate change with clever, innovative solutions

The Bligh Government has taken a major step forward [into fairy land] in tackling climate change and delivering a cleaner, greener energy future for Queensland, Mines and Energy Minister Geoff Wilson said today whilst sitting on Santa's Lap.

State Parliament has passed the Greenhouse Gas Storage Bill - new legislation to fast track the development of greenhouse gas storage in Queensland."Our new laws will pave the way for industry to explore for safe sites to store greenhouse gases," Mr Wilson said.

"It's the way of the future and it will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Queensland."It's intended to capture carbon dioxide from gas or coal-fired power plants and store it safely underground in deep reservoirs well below the earth's surface," he said.

the road to hell is paved with good intentions

Minister Wilson said the coal, petroleum and gas industries were keenly interested in greenhouse gas storage. self interest in protecting profits gained from polluting the planet"

While we push ahead with renewable energy solutions and gas-fired power, coal will continue to play a role an important role in providing the power we need to get on with our daily lives. I think getting on with our daily consumer driven lives is the root cause of the problem"Our key challenge is to use it in an environmentally-sustainable way and that's where the Bligh Government is showing real leadership," he said.

whilst openning up rail & ports to move as much coal as quickly and as cheaply as possible

Mr Wilson said Tarong Energy, a government-owned corporation, was working on a pilot project in partnership with CSIRO to capture greenhouse gases at the Tarong power station."It has the potential to capture 1500 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year - enough to fill 30 million balloons."Work is also well underway on a world-first project right here in Queensland - new technology that, if successful, could be capable of cutting emissions from a typical coal-fired power station by 90%."

It's the Callide oxyfuel project, the first of its type anywhere in the world and it's being developed by CS Energy, another government-owned corporation."CS Energy will retro-fit a power station with technology that burns coal in oxygen and gases rather than air, to create a concentrated stream of carbon dioxide which can be captured, transported and stored."Governments and industry across the globe are watching and waiting on the outcome," Mr Wilson said."

As well, our ZeroGen project could become the first in the world to combine coal gasification with carbon capture and storage, to produce electricity with low carbon dioxide emissions."It's all about smarter, cleaner power - converting coal into hydrogen gas to generate power."ZeroGen plans to build a demonstration plant close to the Stanwell power station near Rockhampton.

"It aims to capture carbon dioxide released in the combustion process at the site and store it underground in deep saline reservoirs in the Northern Denison Trough," he said.Minister Wilson said the new storage technology would have to meet the most stringent environmental standards."

It's Q2 at its smartest. We're taking Queenslanders and the rest of the nation into the future with strong, smart, green solutions," he said.

if CO2 capture & storage is the answer, I think the QLD State Government is asking the wrong question!

11 February, 2009

My "beef" with the Cole's Bush fire appeal

I noticed that Coles have an appeal on:

Shop at Coles for the BUSHFIRE APPEAL
Friday 13th
All profits for the day go to the BUSHFIRE APPEAL!!!


My suggestion is to not shop at Coles.

Buy unprocesed or less processed foods from markets or a "fruit & vege" shop....Perhaps one can eat vegetarian on Friday the thirteenth. Fresh Vego food is usually much cheaper than
processed food containing meat, dairy or refrigerated products.

Perhaps one can donate the savings to the Australian Red Cross, rather than letting Coles Corporate donate their profits. Cut out the middle person, support a local business or a primary producer& reduce your green house gas inventory for a day.


I am starting a "Facebook consumer collective" on facebook to test a hypothesis:The Null hypothesis is: "a facebook consumer collective can have no influence on the global green house gas inventory."I am hoping we can prove the Null hypothesis false....it may be a little hard to measure directly.

I would be happy if the outcomes was seen in more indirect ways. Either way, I think it is worth running the experiment.


One of the thing I hope to achieve is encourage consumers to eat less beef.

Every kilo of beef generates in the order of 51 kilograms of GHGs. A kilo of veges generates less than 0.1 kilograms of GHG.

in her book: "Green is good: Smart ways to Live Well and Help the Planet", Rebecca Blackburn writes:
"Are all foods equal or are some foods worse for the environment than others? The answer is pretty simple: anything made from animal products is resource intensive-that is,it uses more than its share of resources - especially if it is factory farmed....In fact one third of the average person's footprint is due to their intake of animal based food, which is far moer than the impact of driving a car or the energy used in our homes."

I am not suggesting everyone becomes vegan or vego. I am suggesting you can choose your sources of protein.

Kangaroo is better than beef. Lamb is better than beef. Dairy is better than beef.

Perhaps one can lower one's impact by eating less processed foods (including beef) and help the bushfire appeal, without needing to support Coles Supermarkets.



10 February, 2009

Carbon Rationing Action Groups

On the 9 Feb 2009, I attended my first meeting of the Nth BNE Carbon Rationing Action Group.

We have set ourselves a reduction target of 20% of 2008 GHG emissions by 2010. The inventory at theis stage only includes:

* electricity;
* gas;
* car travel;
* air travel

I am going have to work pretty hard at a 20% reduction. I have already done most of the obvious things (including solar hot water, lighting, insulation, shutters....)



responding to bush fires & floods in Australia

I have been fielding enquiries about the tragedies in Victorian Bush Fires and the flooding in NQ.What can we do?Here are some of my thoughts....

1. We can stay away.....unless you are a vollie with the SES, CFA or facsimile, it is probably a good idea to stay out of the disaster areas;* embers, snags and all sorts of hazards will remain for days, possibly weeks...

2. We can donate stuff: * money (the Federal Govt and Victorian & Queensland Govts all have appeals);* blood (Australian Red Cross - blood bank);* non-perishable food;* clothing, blankets, toys;

3. We can start thinking about the things that need to be replaced. We can lobby our politicians to

"re-build green"

4. we can start acquiring useful skills:* book in for a senior first aid course (including Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation);
* learn about water & sanitation;
* brush up on:Davis & Lambert (2005) Engineering in Emergencies - 2nd Edition - A practical guide for Relief WorkersRedR, ITDG PublishingISBN 1-85339-521-8
* help organise a "Pathways to working in developing communities" event in your town.http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=44857265793

5.We can put our own homes in order
* do you have an emergency plan?
* do you have fire extinguishers, fire blankets, first aid kits;
* are you ready for increased incidences of extreme weather?

6. Do you know your neighbours?
* we can comfort people in their loss;
* the people who may be the first to need help or the first to help you are your immediate neighbours;

- do you know who they are?
- Do they know you?
- do you know how to contact their next of kin?

7. we can assess our ecological footprint & tread a little softer on the earth;
* audit your lifestyle,
- the food your eat;
- transport & travel choices;
- housing, water, energy efficiency;
- apparel & other consumer choices.....
* learn about transistional living (beyond peak oil);


* learn about permaculture....

I would be interested in your thoughts!



04 February, 2009

the Normanby Protocol

The Normanby Protocol is a platform for personal carbon credits - capped and tradeable. The leaders of the world have completely failed to put in appropriate mechanisms to address the issues of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change. It is time the citizens of the planet earth took matters into their own hands....In a flash of brilliance, one of the advisors on my personal board of directors has suggested a scheme which I have named “The Normanby Protocol”

It works like this. We calculate the global GHG inventory. (easier said than done). We then calculate the required reductions, necessary to stabilise global greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.....If we divide the total reduction of GHG’s on a mass basis by the number of people in the world, we can then calculate everybody’s personal GHG emissions reduction target....on a mass basis (not a percentage)....Everyone on the planet gets an allocated GHG emissions quota. If you use less than your quota you can sell it to someone else.

The next step will be assessing our respective lifestyles – including:
* the food we eat;
* the clothes we wear;
* the consumer goods we purchase;
* our household energy usage;
* our transportation choices;
* our vocations...

The objective is to establish a market to trade personal carbon credits. The primary objective is to reduce everyone's GHG emissions. Those who wish to can purchase "personal carbon credits" on an exchange. The income generated from the sale of "personal carbon credits" will be used for:
* projects to mitigate the impacts of climate change on the poorest of the poor;
* projects that help further reduce GHG emissions

Carbon Counters are a social enterprise to assist people assess their personal Greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory. Carbon Counters has been established to help individuals to put one's lifestyle on the scales, in a similar way to how the "weight loss" industry assists people to reduce their body mass through diet and exercise.

We are developing products and services to help you reduce your GHG emissions including:

* composting technologies;
* solar hotwater systems;
* energy efficient lighting...

We are developing expertise in providing advice on diet and how one can reduce GHG emissions through one's purchasing decisions. We are forming relationships and networks with other service providers who may assist you with transportation choices and vocational choices. We also provide consulting services to residential, commercial and industrial clients on energy and water efficiency.

for more information check out: carbon-counters.com

02 February, 2009

Rudd, sweat & shiting me to tears [Environment protection]

From Paul Kelly in the Weekend Australian:

"In Rudd's view, social democrats must use a ressurected State Power to regulate markets, strike a better balance between public & private interests, embrace Keynesian economics, correct for a market failure from the financial system to climate change and invest more in education, health, unemployment insurance and retirement incomes - while supporting open markets and withstanding attacks from the extreme Left and nationalist Right."

In Rowan's view, for too long the previous regime and the current social democrats are under-valuing the intrinsic worth of ecosystems, the environment and human rights. The public sector appears to be entrenched in policies and personnel from the Howard era. The private sector is under-regulated and there are inadequate incentives or penalties (carrot or stick) to drive a more sustainable and humanitarian society. It is obscene that Executive salaries are 100s times those of production staff. It is a travesty that water and non-renewable (fossil) fuels are rammed through a linear economic system as quickly as possible.

"He (Rudd) shuns any embrace of old-fashioned socialism. For Rudd, Labor's task is to hold the middle ground - between state socialism and free-market fundamentalism. He argues thet the failure of neo-liberalism (Thatcherism) has made the state the primary actor; it must save the financial system, stimulate the economy and impose a new global regulatory regime."

I would argue, that if the Australian Government is going to push for re-regulation of the financial sector, there has to be an accompanying push for Environment Protection. Fair trade can only be fair if there is a mechanism for Environmental Protection and fair wages.