“In Transition” video

30 06 2012

I’ve just found this, and we all need some uplifting among all the doom and gloom…. enjoy.

Sustainability and population

28 06 2012

Yesterday, I put the new ute to good use.  There’s a hardwood sawmill near here (well, 30 odd kilometres away…) which sells its waste wood, all the stuff on the outside of the logs that can’t be cut any further to make dimensional timber or the middle bits which are often ‘piped’, for just twenty bucks a load.  When you consider that supermarkets sell just a small bag of the stuff for the same amount, it’s a bargain…!  Of course, you have to load it by hand, and no longer being a spring chicken doesn’t help, there’s well over an hour’s work there, and then I have to unload it and stack it!


I figured there’s almost a ton there, the leaf springs on the ute were almost straight, which I’m told is the weight limit, 1 ton.  It’s not seasoned as well as I’d like, but it doesn’t smoke when the AGA is warm enough, so it will have to do.  The plan is to get more during the Summer months and store it in readiness for next winter.

The last load, however, only lasted about six weeks….  the consumption rate is pretty amazing, and it’s just as well I’m lucky enough to be able to burn wood that was going to be wasted from timber manufacturing.  It got me thinking that, obviously, there is no way whatsoever that everyone around me could do likewise.  If ever I needed proof of how overpopulated the world is, that was it.  If everyone in Australia tried to live sustainably “like us”, there aren’t the renewable resources around to do it with.  The forests would end up being cut down until none are left, Easter Island all over again.

The weather of late has been very cold in Tasmania.  I got on facebook and contacted my mate Monte who lives in Geeveston in a strawbale house he built to my specifications, to ask him how they were faring in the freezing conditions.  “It’s short and tee shirts inside” he replied….  his house is so efficient he heats the whole thing with an Esse cooker which is just like an AGA only not as posh… at least Esse make a wood burning cooker, AGA do not.

Monte tells me they buy firewood by the 12 ton truckload…..  GASP!  At least, he doesn’t pay any more than I do for it, especially when you count the fuel I burn to pick my wood up.  I try to roll other errands into the trip to Gympie to ease the pain and guilt of driving at all…..

The niggling thought of what will we do when the oil runs out never ceases to make my brain hurt.  And what will the unprepared people in Tassie, or anywhere else for that matter, do when the shit hits the fan?  Because it will, and every day we are one day closer to this event…..

Austerity coming to a town near you

25 06 2012

After years of being told Australia’s economy is world’s best practice, it comes as a shock to see the unravelling beginning, even if you’ve been waiting years for this to occur like I have.  But it started last night when our Moron in Chief, Campbell “can’t do” Newman appeared on our TV screens last night in prime time to announce we are screwed.

In the one-minute advertisement, Newman urged Queenslanders to read the Commission of Audit’s interim report produced by his Liberal mate Costello, a minister in the Howard government.

Without referring to job cuts in the public service or indeed any specific programs which have been given the chop, Newman says the government has to tighten its belt and ‘‘tough’’ decisions must be made.  That’s it, Greece all over again.  This is the man who promised to “cut the cost of living”…..!

He actually had the nerve to say the previous government had overspent, when he himself spent billions on tunnels that will will be abandoned as soon as Peak Oil bites us all on the bum.  The buck passing is truly amazing.  But wait, it gets worse……

The Queensland Government has today announced that from 10 July 2012 the Queensland Solar Bonus Scheme feed-in tariff will change from 44 cents to 8 cents for new Scheme customers.  So that’s it then, if you’re poor and can’t afford the skyrocketing electricity prices, forget about screwing some solar panels on your roof, the government just screwed you instead!

Mark O’Connor recently pointed me to an article at http://www.crispinhull.com.au/2012/06/23/two-wrong-commentary-streams-on-oz-economy/  There, he points out that when annual population growth approaches 2%, the infrastructure costs become in practice unpayable.  Why?  Because as a civilisation reaches maturity, new infrastructure has to be built while the old one has to be simultaneously replaced.  That’s why the Bligh government in Queensland, which was not that incompetent or corrupt, was forced to sell off assets and cut services, even while seemingly riding the mining boom.  The entire Traveston Dam fiasco was nothing more than a symptom of overpopulation in the middle of a drought.  But of course, there’s no such thing as overpopulation, let alone Climate Change freaking the weather out…..  Just ask the Moron in Chief.

It’s enough to drive you to drink.  Actually……..

Cap ‘too costly’?

24 06 2012

The article below appeared in our Noosa News paper on Friday (June 22)……

NEW Mayor Mark Jamieson has told a Cooroy high school audience that he will not be putting up the no vacancy sign on the fourth largest council in Australia by adopting Noosa’s much-debated population cap across the Sunshine Coast region.

Cr Jamieson, speaking on Tuesday to the school’s Year 11 Australian Business Week budding entrepreneurs, said that the path to such an artificial limitation could make it impossible for working-class people to live locally.

The mayor, who was elected on April 28, was asked about possibly adopting the former Noosa Shire’s development control lead.

“The fact of the matter is it’s pretty difficult to do,” he said.

Mark, did you not hear “Life wasn’t meant to be easy”?  What on Earth made you think being Mayor was easy anyway?  The article prompted me to write the following letter to the Editor, which, considering my good run at being published there, I’m hopeful will be published too.

Letter to the Editor:

It is unbelievably demoralising to discover our new Mayor Mark Jamieson has seemingly no idea of what is going in the world today.  In 1972, a group of scientists got together to study the effects of growth on civilisation; they eventually became known as the Club of Rome.  They modelled nine different scenarios of possible outcomes by varying the rates of growth in industrial output, use of non renewable resources, pollution, food per capita, and so on.

In every single case, even where some population growth control was used, they discovered that within a period of roughly one hundred years, civilisation would collapse.  They were, of course, universally discredited by the pro growth crowd with vested interest in this growth, even making claims of things that were never written in the Limits to Growth Report that was the eventual outcome of their study.  We are now forty percent of the way into the Club of Rome’s century; what has been done about it?  Absolutely nothing!

Recently, an Australian scientist with a PhD in Physics, Dr Graham Turner revisited the numbers and came to the conclusion that humanity is bang on target to reproduce the Club of Rome’s “Standard Run”, so closely in fact, the mind boggles.  The scariest part of this “Standard Run” is that population begins to collapse by around 2030…… just let that sink in for a moment, because it is just eighteen years away.

We have managed our economy fairly well by world standards, but that is now threatened by unnecessarily imposing on ourselves the impossible burden of delivering the infrastructure and protecting the environment for a population growing (exponentially) at nearly two per cent.  Two percent may not seem like much, but it’s a doubling every thirty five years.
A two per cent population increase doubles the infrastructure requirement – two per cent a year to replace major infrastructure that wears out at an average of fifty years and two per cent more to cater for the extra population.  People complaining may say they are complaining about government failure to deliver services – but the underlying cause should be more obvious: it’s the population, stupid!
I’ll keep you posted…!

Home Solar Power Electricity Price Rise Myth

21 06 2012

Whenever I mention the fact we make money from selling power to the grid on certain forums, I get attacked for being partly responsible for the recent (and looming) electricity prices.  It doesn’t really matter how often the anti solar morons perpetuate the myth that panels on my roof, subsidies and rebates are a major reason for electricity price hikes; it still won’t make it true…..

And it’s not just the luddite rednecks out there spreading this disinformation… some career journos still fall into the trap of repeating these myths as fact – as do some politicians; which is a bummer given the Carbon free energy future of our nation is at stake.

Energy Matters recently released a study proving this is all hogwash here.  But to save you navigating away from this interesting website, I’ll repost the data….

Home solar contribution to power prices

Home solar power and electricity prices

The report was prepared by the AEMC for the Ministerial Council on Energy following a request from the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).

Solar is but a bit player in recent, current and future price hikes – that is really all there is to it. The next time you hear or read of someone perpetuating myths of home solar power being the electricity price rise bogeyman, you can help set the record straight by pointing those wayward souls to this page.

* Tables from AEMC, Possible Future Retail Electricity Price Movements: 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2014, Final Report, 25 November 2011, Sydney.

How unsustainable is Australia…?

19 06 2012

As an aside to all my usual activities, I sometimes spend too much time commenting on the Australian Broadcasting Corporations blog site called “The Drum”.  If someone writes an article on energy or sustainability or resources, I usually jump in and rattle some cages by pointing out the errors in their ways of thinking.  During such an exchange, I quoted my “running out of oil by 2020” mantra, and, to cut to the chase, was forced to revisit Mark O’Connor’s link to this still ignored momentous event.

The chart in this report is so important, I have decided to reproduce it here for discussion.  Some of the info there is simply mind boggling…..

Indicative life of Australia’s non-renewable resource stocks

(a) The indicative life of a non-renewable resource is calculated as the stock of the accessible economic demonstrated resource relative to annual production. Brown coal’s indicative resource life in 2008 was 490 years.
Note: The data for crude oil and natural gas is based on economic demonstrated resources, which for these two commodities is equivalent to accessible economic demonstrated resources.
Source: Geoscience Australia.

Each resource has three bars related to data available five years apart…..  1997, 2002, and 2008.  Can’t wait to see the 2013 data!  The way to read this chart is by going to the end of whatever bar you are interested in, and drawing a vertical line straight down to the bottom where it tells you how many years of that resource are left before we run out.

So if you take the longest one, black coal (1997), it tells you that then, we had ~190 years of coal left.  I particularly want to stay with coal here, because once the oil is gone in twelve years time, we’ll be relying on coal a whole lot more.

By 2002, the estimated time left before running out had dropped dramatically to ~115 years, and by 2008, to ~90 years…….  which means that in just fifteen years, instead of the remaining time dropping by fifteen years, it fell by a whopping one hundred years, meaning we extracted HALF of all the coal we needed for business as usual.

Of course, it’s easy to be misled by numbers, and there is no information here as to exactly what this time left really is.

I suspect it’s years left at Australian Consumption Rate.  Most of the coal we mine goes to China and Japan, so we are extracting it at a much faster rate than we as a nation burn for electricity purposes.  And there’s no way of knowing whether the numbers include all discovered stores of coal, or merely those that are currently being exploited.  Surely it would be the former?

I know extrapolating charts like this is a dangerous thing, but at the current depletion/export rate, we could be out of coal within 20 years, unless (and it is highly probable) more substantial stocks are either discovered or exploited.  I know Clive Palmer wants to open a gargantuan coal mine in Queensland, but whether this will ever occur in view of the way the financial world is crashing all around us remains to be seen.

One thing’s for sure, all those people who believe we have 500 years of coal left are way way off the mark.

The rest of the resources list is also interesting, because while some have gone up in estimation (Uranium, Nickel and Copper being three important ones), all the others are either stagnant or falling, and they average out at about 60 years left, give or take a decade.

So how long has modern civilisation left to go?  Your guess is as good as mine, but that the Club of Rome’s predictions are bang on target still applies without a shadow of a doubt on my part.  I just wish the powers that be would stop ignoring Limits to Growth and change direction before the ship strikes the iceberg.  Effective leadership is why we elect them after all, they owe it to us.  Not holding my breath though….