July 21, 2008

Hypermiling... the art of maximising fuel efficiency

I was introduced to the concept behind hypermiling when I was a kid, back in in South Africa by our Geography teacher, Mr Wahee. He used to run the hiking tours taking groups of six to eight twelve year olds through outstanding parts of the country on two to three week treks. On one trip from Joeburg to the Knysna forest Elephant Walk our combi ran very low on petrol.

Wahee's strategies for conserving fuel was to coast down the hills, gathering speed and momentum to take us
as far up the next hill as possible without rapidly accelerating, discard useless weight and slip-stream trucks down the highway. The memories lay dormant for decades, until I started realising that my emissions-spewing, hoon-like diving style was at odds with a new understanding of the causes of climate change. So I resolved to drive more fuel efficiently, and picked up where Wahee had left off.

It was a revelation. It's quieter when you coast with your foot off the accelerator — and in neutral, down a long hill, it feels like the difference between sailing and stink-boating. You become more conscious of your car's performance, and more aware of traffic around you. The latter is for the same reason why motorbike riders are hyper-vigilant in traffic, you are driving in a manner that is different to the flow. You quickly add another rule. Your hypermiling is not to interrupt the flow of traffic.

I was discovering a better quality driving experience that offered me the satisfaction of competing against myself to beat my fuel mileage record, while saving money and co2 emissions.

Now I discover that there are other freaks like me.

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June 9, 2008

Personal carbon trading

Was this the future being debated in the British House of Commons by the Environmental Audit Committee, last month?

A House of Commons committee suggested last week that the U.K. Parliament create a personal carbon-trading scheme for all citizens of the United Kingdom. It was the strongest statement yet by any government in favor of an individual cap-and-trade system for buying and selling greenhouse gas emissions.

Personal carbon trading would provide a set "carbon emissions allowance" to each citizen and establish a national carbon budget. Individuals would then be able to trade their carbon credits with one another on a designated carbon market if they chose to purchase additional energy or to partake in activities that would exceed the allowed emissions limit, such as riding a plane.

Seems logical to me, but there will be adjustment pains. Seemed logical to Tim Yeo, the committee chairman, when he told the BBC ,"It's the single best instrument to encourage every man, woman, and child in the country to make a low-carbon choice every day. The problem with green taxes is they tend to bear most heavily on poor households. This way poor households will be able to make cash rewards for their decisions."

June 8, 2008

NSW households emitting 2.5million tonnes of CO2 annually

That's equivalent to 'putting an extra 500,000 cars on the road every 12 months'.

Much of it is wasteful, according to an EnergyAustralia survey.

"Bad habits with appliances waste energy and waste money and like most bad habits, they should be broken."

We have proved how much water we can save, we can do it for electricity. The incentives are both financial, and environmental.

Almost 90 per cent of householders rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, with almost half rinsing them in hot water.

More than a quarter of all households run the dishwasher before it is full.

Many householders also use refrigeration inefficiently with 22 per cent of people surveyed saying they leave the door open while unloading shopping and 29 per cent own a second fridge that is rarely used.

Young people waste more energy than older people, with people under 30 more likely to leave the fridge door open while making a meal (28 per cent) compared with people over 60 (7 per cent).

People under 30 are also more likely to use a clothes dryer, with 29 per cent saying they mostly use the dryer compared with only 9 per cent of people aged over 60.

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There's money in restocking biodiversity

Or so hope Scottish millionaire, Paul Lister, who is restocking his estate with bears, wolves, elk and wild boar, and plans to charge visitors to see them.

Well it worked for Steve Irwing.

THE howl of a wolf echoes through the glen, lumbering bears fish in the lochs and moose amble through the forest of native trees.

This is multimillionaire Paul Lister's vision for his estate in the Scottish Highlands, and his grand scheme is already under way.

Last year, the British businessman spent £ $33,000 buying a pair of moose, also known as European elk, in Sweden and flying them to Scotland in a chartered plane.

Hulda and Hercules now roam a bracken and heather-carpeted 180-hectare enclosure in the Alladale Wilderness Reserve, alongside newly released wild boar.

His aim is to restore a section of the deforested and depopulated highlands to its former glory by releasing into his vast reserve native species that have disappeared from the highlands, and to turn a profit by charging people to visit.

"Alladale is a restoration project," said Lister, 49, the son of the founder of British furniture retailer MFI.

"It's not about conservation - we haven't got a lot to conserve."

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December 6, 2007

Rudd backs deep 2020 emissions cuts

During the election campaign, Kevin Rudd has repeatedly said that Australia would not set its own 2020 target until he received a report from economist Ross Garnaut next year. But when he arrives in Bali next week he will face international expectations from Europe, China and Indonesia to make Australia's position clear whether, having ratified the Kyoto Protocol, it is committed to its own deep cuts:
clipped from www.smh.com.au

THE Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, signalled his support for
developed countries, including Australia, agreeing to making deep
cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions in the next 12 years.

In a significant move last night the Australian delegation to
the UN climate talks stated it "fully supports" the proposal that
developed countries need to cut their greenhouse gas emission by 25
to 40 per cent by 2020.

The public statement came after China and Indonesia demanded at
the UN climate change talks in Bali yesterday that developed
nations who have ratified the Kyoto Protocol stick to this
understanding reached earlier this year.

Last night Australia publicly aligned itself with the nations
under the Kyoto Protocol that have agreed to consider these cuts,
distancing the new Rudd Government further from the US position.
Saying Australia "fully supports" the position, the delegation said
Australia was, "happy to proceed on this basis".

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November 11, 2007

Lessons About Climate Change Pose Many Challenges for Science Teachers

clipped from www.edweek.org

Yet educators also say they face challenges in finding accurate and student-friendly classroom activities and lessons on the topic, partly because textbooks and other materials have not caught up to a growing body of scientific evidence about climate change.

Consequently, many science teachers are turning to Web sites and resources produced by scientific organizations. They’re also sharing strategies at conferences and workshops and by word of mouth.

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One billion climate refugees in our lifetimes

But, don't worry, Howard's Pacific solution will deter them from coming to Australia.
clipped from www.smh.com.au

A BILLION people - one in seven people on Earth today - could be
forced to leave their homes over the next 50 years as the effects
of climate change worsen an already serious migration crisis, a new
report from Christian Aid predicts.

The report, based on the latest United Nations population and
climate-change figures, says conflict, large-scale development
projects and widespread environmental deterioration will combine to
make life unsupportable for hundreds of millions of people, mostly
in the Sahara belt, South Asia and the Middle East.

About 155 million people are known to be displaced now by
conflict, natural disaster and development projects. This figure
could be augmented by as many as 850 million, as more people are
expected to be affected by water shortages, sea level crises,
deteriorating pasture land, conflicts and famine, the report
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Google, Cisco to help fight global poverty

clipped from www.theage.com.au

The United Nations teamed with technology giants Google and
Cisco Systems to launch a new website on Thursday that will
provide data and a bird's eye view of global efforts to fight
poverty and meet UN  development goals by 2015.

The Millennium Development Goals, which world leaders approved
at a U.N. summit in 2000, provide the latest statistics on health,
education, malnutrition, women's equality and other measures that
contribute to poverty.

On one portion of the new site, a web surfer
can also use Google Earth's map and satellite imagery to fly
anywhere on the planet and "explore" the places where work is being
done to achieve the goals.

"They can see successes and celebrate those, and observe
failures or shortfalls ... and redouble their country's commitment
to pursue those efforts. So it's very exciting for us," said
Michael Jones, chief technologist for Google Earth and Maps.

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November 10, 2007

Mattel recalls more Toys

clipped from news.bbc.co.uk

Mattel in fresh toy recall alert
Toy manufacturer Mattel is recalling 12,000 toys sold in the UK and the Irish Republic, a European Commission official has said.
The recall affects the Fisher Price-branded Go Diego Go Animal Rescue Boat toys, because of excessive levels of lead found in the paint.

As a result, its profits over the past three months slipped by 1%.

This latest recall marks the fourth in six months, prompting the EU to embark on a two-month review of its toy safety regulations, expected to be complete in November.
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Solar USB Charger

I want one...
clipped from www.ifilm.com
Turn those useless Solar Powered garden lights into an all purpose solar charger for your USB devices.
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Parasites trickle-feeding of your power

clipped from www.cnn.com

New kind of 'vampire' sucks power out of homes

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- A force as insidious as Dracula is quietly sucking a nickel of every dollar's worth of the electricity that seeps from your home's outlets.

Insert the little fangs of your cell phone charger in the outlet and leave it there, phone attached: That's "vampire" electronics.
Allow your computer to hide in the cloak of darkness known as "standby mode" rather than shutting it off: That's vampire electronics.
The latest estimates show 5 percent of electricity used in the United States goes to standby power, a phenomenon energy efficiency experts find all the more terrifying as energy prices rise and the planet warms. That amounts to about $4 billion a year.
lawmakers passed a proposal last year -- dubbed the Vampire Slayers Act -- to add vampire electronics labels to consumer products, detailing how much energy a charger, computer, DVD player, PlayStation, microwave or coffee maker uses when on, off or in standby mode
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August 19, 2007

Blood moon due on August 28

Put it in your diary...

clipped from www.smh.com.au

THE eastern states are in the box seat to see a rare full "blood moon" eclipse on August 28, with astronomers tipping that most people in NSW should have a clear view.

The moon will appear a vibrant red as Earth's shadow passes over it.

Nick Lomb, curator of astronomy at Sydney Observatory, said lunar eclipses occurred at least twice a year, but the chance to see one in its entirety from the eastern states was rare.

The moon will rise in the east at 5.22pm. At 6.51pm the eclipse will begin, with Earth's shadow starting to block light travelling from the sun to the moon's surface.

The moon, which will have red wavelengths from Earth's atmosphere scattered across its surface, will be fully eclipsed from 7.52pm until 9.23pm.

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August 18, 2007

Beautiful pictures from Antarctica

I love the underwater shot of the penguins! (Pics didn't come out, you have to go to link...sorry)
clipped from beirutraders.org
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