Saturday, December 16, 2017

Energy transition in China and Australia

They expected the industrial era to end with the burning of the last coal.

Increasing awareness of the health implications
 of the carbon particles in the air, which can
cause heavy smog, is one of the internal drivers
 for China’s transition away from fossil fuels. 

Modern economic development has been built on intense use of fossil energy. Leading nineteenth and early twentieth century thinkers focusing on the future of human civilisation and the economy, from Jevons to Weber, thought that the benefits of the modern industrial economy depended on the availability of fossil energy to continue.

Australian pioneer of development economics Colin Clark noted in his seminal Conditions of Economic Progress in 1940 that we would need to find other sources of energy to allow modern economic development to continue after we had returned to the air as much fossil carbon as was consistent with stable atmospheric conditions.

Clark suggested that sustainable substitutes would be found for fossil energy, and that we seek them in the fast-growing Australian eucalypt or new technology built on recent developments in silicon physics.

Read the Pursuit story by Professor Ross Garnaut from the University of Melbourne - “Energy transition in China and Australia.”

Nature Inspires Climate-Friendly Architecture

Scientists who invent things often look to nature for inspiration. Their goal is to mimic biological systems in order to create new consumer products, or improve existing ones. The 1941 introduction of Velcro, for example, grew out of a Swiss engineer’s curiosity about why Burdock seeds clung to his coat and that of his dog when they were walking through the woods. Today, responding to the growing urgency of climate change, researchers are turning to biology for ideas to reduce emissions and save energy.
The pinecone - looking to nature for climate answers 
Cordt Zollfrank, a chemist, forest scientist and materials researcher at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), thinks he’s found one potential source that could turn energy-sapping buildings into energy-saving ones: tree cones.

Cones produced by such trees as pines, spruce, hemlock and fir respond naturally to different degrees of humidity by opening and closing, without consuming any electrical energy in doing so. Designing window blinds based on their mechanical properties that could open and close in response to moisture but use no energy in the process could conserve a lot of energy. 

Many buildings (as well as homes) use motorized blinds or shades that run on plug-in electricity or batteries.
Read the Nexus Media story by Marlene Simons - “Nature Inspires Climate-Friendly Architecture.”

Our decisions will decided the future of the species - Noam Chomsky

Writing in “Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy” Noam Chomsky, interviewed by David Barsamian, said: 

“We can’t overlook the fact that we’re at a moment of human history that is entirely unique. For the first time in human history, the decisions we make will determine whether the species survives. That has not been true in the past. It’s very definitely true now”.

World-first solar train now leaving the platform in Byron Bay with zero emissions

What is claimed to be the world's first fully solar-powered train is operating on the New South Wales North Coast.
The world's first solar-power train runs on a
three-kilometre stretch of line in Byron Bay.
A refurbished 70-year-old 'red rattler' is running on a three-kilometre stretch of disused rail line at the popular tourist destination of Byron Bay.

It made its maiden trip yesterday with almost 100 passengers on board.

Controversial Abbott-era climate fund will survive climate review: Josh Frydenberg

A controversial Abbott-era fund that uses public money to pay companies to reduce their pollution will survive the federal government's review of Australia's climate policies.
Environment and Energy Minister, Josh Frydenberg.

In an interview with Fairfax Media, Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg also expressed confidence that future generations would avoid disastrous predicted impacts of climate change, saying technology would drive the transition to decarbonised economies and "get us where we need to be". 

Read Nicole Hasham’s story in today’s Melbourne Age - “Controversial Abbott-era climate fund will survive climate review: Josh Frydenberg.”

Friday, December 15, 2017

Nature never rests, but we need to

Nature never rests.

Strangely, humans, who have disrupted nature, do need rest and so Beneath the Wisteria will be taking a break, having a rest, this month.

Subsequently, we will not gather Beneath the Wisteria in Shepparton’s Maude St mall and so our next gathering will be on Saturday, January 27,  2018, at 11:00 am - hopefully, we will see you then.

And, in the meantime, enjoy whatever it is you are doing and take care.

Summing up this year, 2017, from a climate change point of view, it is worth noting that there has been, in my view, a significant shift in attitudes toward climate change with people being much more conscious of the dilemma and so eager to hear about what they can do to mitigate our carbon dioxide emissions and adapt to the inevitable unfolding societal changes.

Please join us on January 27 discuss 2017 and consider what might eventuate in 2018.

The Problem With the Climate Movement? Too Much Science

Next month, EPA chief and coal-industry darling Scott Pruitt will likely kick off a ‘Red Team, Blue Team’ “debate” on climate science. The purpose, according to Pruitt, is to establish an “objective, transparent, public review of questions and answers around the issues around carbon dioxide,” wherein a ‘red team’ of conservative pundits tries to poke holes in decades of climate research. In reality, this isn’t science. It’s theater, a one-act play put on for coal-mining executives and conservative think tanks.
Bill Nye - too much science.
The fact that scientists overwhelmingly agree humans are causing a rapid and dangerous rise in temperature should come as little comfort to advocates. Pruitt shows that for many Americans, science isn’t the strength of the climate movement. It’s the Achilles heel, and fossil fuel firms have been hacking away at it for decades.

Read the Nexus Media story by Jeremy Deaton - “The Problem With the Climate Movement? Too Much Science.”