Archive for the 'The Environment' Category

The climate change debate

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

With the debate in parliament about the Labor governments misguided “Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme” bill raging on of late, the key fact I am getting everywhere I turn for news and information is that nobody really understands the science or is prepared to use it to back their argument.

Here’s a couple of quick examples;

…the delusionist conspiracy theorists are exposed for the loony fruit loops they are…

John Quiggan

Even if you are a died in the wool Chicken Little and member of the Church of the Latter Day Alarmists….

Kev Gillett

I suspect the lesson for all of us is that resorting to childish name calling like the above severely diminishes our credibility, making what good arguments we may put up seem a lot less reliable.

In all things, we should focus on the facts (as we understand them), and be prepared to contest those facts, and not the person asserting them.

Garrett on Hydrogen – All Too Hard Mate!

Monday, June 16th, 2008

Readers will recall I wrote to Minister Garrett asking him to pull the finger out on Hydrogen as a fuel for transport, and recently he wrote back.

Most of the reply points to the challenges faced by anyone trying to bring Hydrogen to the market, but fails to suggest what the government might do to overcome those challenges.

The Australian Government that the use of hydrogen as a transport fuel has great potential…

…These difficulties are not seen as impossible to overcome…

Okay then, so why are there no initiatives in the hydrogen arena? Why is the government silent on the issue? Why is it proposing to spend $500 million on convincing Toyota to build the prius in Australia three to six years from now, and not spending anything now to promote Hydrogen?

What’s even funnier is that the letter cites a Howard Government initiative as one of the few positive policies that are in effect. Doesn’t Labor have any policies in this area? Apparently not!

I bet everyone who cares for the environment who voted Labor are thinking twice about doing it again; This governments environmental credentials are a joke, and will continue to be until Rudd wakes up and actually does something!

E-waste roundup

Friday, June 13th, 2008

My barrage of letters to local councils resulted in a mixed bag of responses. Having given proper time for the all to respond, here is the roundup of what they are all doing. It’s pretty shameful really; This is a long post, so if you are up for it, the rest of over the fold;


Rudd’s green car joke

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Check out dear leaders latest stunt; The Labor Party’s green car initiative. Despite the fact that the productivity commission report into the matter suggests that the move will be carbon neutral and has a chance of increasing carbon emissions, Kevin decides to trot this one out on World Environment Day!

There are so many reasons to be cranky about this; One good one is that this policy starts three years from now, in 2011. This will be after the next federal election, and chances are the whole thing will be scrapped then anyway.

Why is it that the announcement doesn’t actually specify what a green car is? Surely there should be an emissions target, or a fuel consumption target, or something, to tell us what this new wonder car will do for us. I find it highly suspicious that there is nothing like this in the announcement.

Then there is the fact that the plan is contingent on industry ponying up three times as much money as the government intends on throwing at it; No word from Rudd on what happens if they don’t.

In short, this policy is a crock. There is nothing of substance here. If Rudd wanted to do something to help the car industry, he’d ring the chief at Toyota (Or get Lawsie to do it) and ask a very simple question;

"What do I need to do to get Toyota to build the Prius in Australia?"

Then, when he gets the answer, he’d just announce that’s what he’s doing, and he’d do it today.

I’ve written to Minister Garrett today to see what he thinks about the idea of just helping companies like Toyota to manufacture their already existing green car options here. I’ll let you know what he thinks. Feel free to download and send him the letter yourself.

Hydrogen leadership needed at the top

Friday, May 16th, 2008

I was flipping through my "Road Ahead" the other day, and game across a smaller article on page 58 by Jon Dee, the founder and chairman of Planet Ark. In it he talks about the prospects for moving to hydrogen to power our cars and other transport options.

He restates what everyone knows; That to get there we need someone to push out hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, and we need a clean source of hydrogen. He goes on to point out that the University of NSW has developed a solar powered system for generating hydrogen from sea water.

In fact, the University has been saying this for a while, I found a press release from 2004 about it.

We also have the team over at Hydrexia, who are working to improve on our storage techniques for hydrogen.

It could be a technology that not only free’s us from the shackles of the oil industry, but if we get there first, could be a big winner for Australia’s economy. It could be, if we would fund it properly.

Sadly, nobody at the top is listening, which is why today I am writing to the Federal Environment minister to get his excuses for why there has been no announcement on developing hydrogen as a fuel since he got the job. You never know, we might get lucky.

Nothing of substance in the Budget this year

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

Currency Lad put it nicely when he described this budget as a shuffling of deck chairs. Many punters will see the glossy spin and get excited, safe in the knowledge that their union mates are sticking it to the man.

Those of us who open the cover and look at the cheap newsprint containted within, however, will see something different. I’m no analyst, so lets just take a quick look at a couple of key points;

Wayne Swan’s big issue was cutting government spending. Did he do that? No. How do I know? Well, look at the budget papers for last years budget, and then this years.  Down on page 6-3, you will see the total government spending estimate. Last years budget was estimated at 235.6 Billion. This years budget is 292.5 Billion. The current budget revises the actual spending from last year to 280 billion, so even taking that figure, the new government is upping spending by 12.5 billion dollars.

The other thing that irks me is the fact that Labor was all about the environment before the election, and is now nowhere to be seen on the issue. The Australian gives us a roundup of the environmental initiatives in this budget,and they are pretty woeful.

Where are the new solar power stations? The Hydrogen development? Why are we wasting money on "clean coal"?  Time for more letters I think, but first I’ll do some more reading to see what other clean energy options are already on the table.

Would love to hear your comments on these two issues, let me know what you think.

Local councils could do more on e-waste

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

I was having a chin wag with someone the other day about e-waste, and how there are many organisations that produce vast quantities of it at a time. One such example is local councils, which from time to time need to get rid of tons of old computers and other equipment.

The trouble is, that some councils are more worried about saving a few rate payer bucks than doing the right thing. Recently officials from Toowoomba council were alleged to have said, in reference to the cost of having e-waste removed for recycling, that it was a lot cheaper just to dump it all in landfill.

I haven’t had a response back from the state and federal ministers I wrote to a little while back. Today I’m writing to the Mayor’s of Brisbane, Ipswich, Toowoomba, Logan and the CEO of the Gold Coast council. I’m asking them to take a leadership role in e-waste, ensure they offer collection points for it and perhaps go as far as giving grants to small recycling businesses to build local recycling infrastructure.

Here’s hoping they take the lead on the issue, and we can get the Fed’s to jump in and help too. With the massive budget surplus we should end up with after they cut spending and raise the odd tax here and there, we should be able to fund, among other things, e-waste recycling.

Mine collapse should never have happened

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Recently in Collingwood Park the unthinkable happened. Old coal mine shafts underneath the suburb collapsed, causing severe damage to more than a dozen homes. The collapse will likely result in some of those houses having to be demolished.

These are cherished family homes, built and bought by people who trusted the state government when it said it was fine to build there. I’m hoping these home owners are getting legal advice, because if this happened to me, I’d be wanting my day in court to have the government explain why they did this.

Its about time that our state government realised that it is elected to help the people, not profit from them. Sanctioning a housing development on top of an old coal mine without doing something like collapsing the old mine shafts first, is just a cheap money grab.

Cr Paul Tully has lost the plot with his comment that the state government should be commended for its response to the issue. You’re kidding right Paul? The state government should be condemned for continuing to sell off land without rehabilitating it first. It would also be nice if he published maps of the affected areas with a few clues as to where they are; Just put one street name on the map Paul, and we’d know whats what!

I invite anyone affected by the issue to leave a comment and let me know how you personally are dealing with it, and what the state government is actually doing to help you.

Put it in the bin people!

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

I went for my early morning walk this morning and was once again struck by just how lazy and dirty the local population are around where I live.

The number of fast food wrappers, drink cans (including post mix alcoholic beverages), cigarette packets and other assorted crap littering the area is staggering.

I wonder if its time we went "singapore" on the issue. Dropping your garbage on the street there can result in thousands of dollars in fines and hours of community service picking up the rubbish. I wouldn’t have a problem with really high fines for littering. If we made the fine $1000, and employed just one guy to police it, he’d only need to catch two offenders a week to easily cover the cost of employing him.

That being said, I think we need more than that. How about the local high school organises groups of its students to do a clean up run every so often? In my area, a lot of the problem is caused by lazy high school students, so that idea seems to have the double effect of cleaning up the mess and educating the little darlings.

Beyond that, why doesn’t the local council install bins in public areas? On my 30 minute morning walk, there isn’t one single rubbish bin, yet there are three bus stops, four take away shops, a pub and various other service providers.

I guess it’s time to write to the local council again and ask for help!

Garrett without an e-waste plan

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

1.6 Million computers are dumped into landfill every year in Australia. So called “e-waste” is growing at 3 times the rate of general waste. Much of this waste can be economically recycled, and yet, Federal Minister for the Environment Peter Garrett says he has no proposals on how to fix the problem.

Environment groups are demanding the government implement a mandatory deposit scheme like the bottle recycling scheme in South Australia (which begs the question why Minister Garrett isn’t looking to federalise that either!), and I can see some merit in that proposal. Still, its odd that he isn’t pushing for it now, as he when he was the head of the ACF, he was pushing hard for the scheme.

WSN Environmental in Sydney recently offered to collect e-waste for recycling, staging a 2 week trial to see how it would go. They collected a staggering 17 Tons of e-waste in just those two weeks. The fact is that the public wants to recycle, and government only needs to help make it easier.

Then there is Free Collect, based in Toowoomba, who are trying to build a recycling business and clean up the e-waste problem in South East Queensland. But startups like these are running into ridiculous government red tape. One local council, for example, after being offered the Free Collect service (which is to pickup all their e-waste and recycling it at no charge to the council), demanded that Free Collect pay thousands of dollars in licensing fees. Seriously. The council wanted them to pay for the privilege of taking council waste away.

Then we have other problems. A lot of the recycling could be done in Australia, however to do so requires building plant and equipment to process the waste. Small startups like Free Collect don’t have the capital to make that happen, so they are shipping the waste overseas for processing.

Here’s an idea; how about Mr Garrett funds programs with local councils to provide e-waste collection services? Provide the infrastructure to support the collection and consolidation of this waste, so that recycling firms can concentrate on what they do best?

Further to that, how about we offer grants to these startups to setup the plant required to recycle the waste here? Surely that is in the best interests of our local economy, as well as the environment?

If you’d like to add some weight to the call for government action on the subject of e-waste, you can just download my form letters; I have sent them on my own behalf to the relevant ministers, and you can just insert your details and mail them off. Feel free to change the text if you think differently than I do on the subject.

Letter to Federal Minister for the Environment
Letter to Queensland Minister for Sustainability, Climate and Innovation