Category Archives: Environment

Snakes alive

For something a bit different, for many years our neighborhood has had a carpet python that visited the back yards from time to time, where it cleaned up any vermin and then moved onto the next house. At over two metres it was sizeable – we know it has devoured a possum or two. Recently when it appeared in a yard nearby, hanging about in a small tree, we thought it might be dead after it stayed motionless for a couple of days:

Continue reading Snakes alive

Murray Darling Basin perspective

Back in November 2010 I did a post on Climate change and the Murray Darling Basin at a time when a plan for the Basin was proposed, but not yet settled. The post still gets a steady trickle of visitors.

The Murray Darling Basin Plan was passed into law in November 2012, when Julia Gillard was prime minister, and Tony Burke the minister responsible. There has been a recent kerfuffle, when Barnaby Joyce said an extra 450 GL of water probably would not be forthcoming. Yhe reaction from SA premier Jay Weatherall and his ministers, and Senator Nick Xenophon seemed to imply the South Australia would be left high and dry. Turns out that’s not really the case. Continue reading Murray Darling Basin perspective

Can we survive the 21st century?

Stephen Hawkins thinks we will probably go extinct on this planet if we don’t find a new one within 1000 years. Science writer extraordinaire Julian Cribb wonders whether we will make it past 2100.

His book Surviving the 21st Century: Humanity’s Ten Great Challenges and How We Can Overcome Them poses the ten existential challenges facing Homo sapiens, and answers each one. It is a book of solutions, severally and collectively. Continue reading Can we survive the 21st century?

Saturday salon 30/9

1. Stupidity over SA blackout

“Ignorant rubbish” is what Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews called Malcolm Turnbull’s initial comments on the SA electricity blackouts. “It’s the weather, stupid”, is more or less what Bill Shorten said, and he was right. The press has reported two ‘tornadoes’ in the north of SA which made pylons look like this:

sa-storm_sept-16_1475185969725_550

The questions to be asked in this case are not about the reliance on renewables, rather on why fractures to the grid 200 km north of Adelaide took the whole state down. Continue reading Saturday salon 30/9

Behold the dawn of the Anthropocene

It’s not quite done and dusted, but the scientists on the official working group have overwhelmingly declared that the new ‘epoch’ of the Anthropocene has begun in the geological time scale.

Years ago I recall a caller on talkback radio saying that in 50 million years time the only sign of humans will be a layer of toxic slime in the geological record. Stratigraphy is what we are talking about here, so it’s serious. Humans are leaving an imprint on the earth’s crust that will be there forever, or until the dying sun expands, and burns the planet to a crisp. Continue reading Behold the dawn of the Anthropocene

Increasing the Use of Public Transport May be Harder Than We Think

“Increase the use of public transport”  is an easy response to Brisbane’s transport problems.   However, once I realized that only 10% of car commutes went to the CBD the picture became more complex. Public and active transport was no longer the answer to everything. Continue reading Increasing the Use of Public Transport May be Harder Than We Think

Low Cost Ways of Reducing Congestion

What follows is a study I made some time ago into low cost ways of reducing congestion along Moggill Rd, a key through road that goes through Kenmore Brisbane near where I live.  The study is of general interest because many of the identified problems and solutions are applicable for a wide range of urban situations. Continue reading Low Cost Ways of Reducing Congestion

Saturday salon 21/5

1. Protect your plastic money

If you haven’t heard about it you will. And if you think it won’t happen in Australia, you’re wrong.

Thieves can use RFID technology to empty your card. Seems they can steal your details with a cheap credit card reader, which they hold near you wallet or purse. It could be on public transport, or standing next to you in a supermarket. Continue reading Saturday salon 21/5

After Paris, how do we really tackle climate change?

A record 177 countries signed the UN Paris climate agreement in New York on 22 April. That was a record for signing any international agreement on one day.

A few short days earlier another record had been broken – for the first time on any day CO2 emissions exceeded 409 parts per million. If you want some perspective on how aggressively we are forcing the climate, take a look at this graph, albeit from 2013: Continue reading After Paris, how do we really tackle climate change?

Goodbye Holocene, hello Anthropocene?

It hasn’t happened yet, not officially. The final decision rests with an august scientific body called the International Commission on Stratigraphy, which has a 36-person Working Group on the Anthropocene. Now 24 scientists, including some from the Working Group, have produced a paper advocating for the Anthropocene to be recognised as having begun in the mid-20th century. Continue reading Goodbye Holocene, hello Anthropocene?

CSIRO’s first Australian National Outlook report

Ross Gittins describes the CSIRO’s first Australian National Outlook report as “heroic” and “fair dinkum”. It does what the Government Intergenerational Report failed to do. It takes account of the effects of climate change and environmental sustainability.

The report says we can have dynamic economic growth simultaneously with sustainable resource use and reduced environmental stress, but only if we make the right choices collectively. Policy matters. Continue reading CSIRO’s first Australian National Outlook report