A world drowning in plastic

A recent cover story in the New Scientist has the odd title Fixing planet plastic: How we’ll really solve our waste problem (pay-walled). Odd because the article tells us there is no perfect solution except avoidance, and that plastic is so useful that if we didn’t have it we would have to invent it.

The article tells us:

    the early 20th century, humanity has produced an estimated 8300 million tonnes of the stuff. Around three-quarters has been thrown away, and 80 per cent of that has drifted into the environment or gone into landfill. Eight million tonnes a year end up in the ocean – 5 trillion pieces and counting.

Continue reading A world drowning in plastic

Australians speak: what does the government hear?

In the Lowy Institute Poll 2018 (interactive version here) respondents were asked to rate 11 threats to Australia’s vital interests as (1) a critical threat, (2) an important but not critical threat, or (3) not an important threat at all. Here’s the result:

At 58% climate change came third. However, a stubborn 11% thought climate change not a threat at all. Continue reading Australians speak: what does the government hear?

Italy: too big to fail, too big to save

The phrase “too big to fail, too big to save” in this case comes from an essay in Der Spiegel by Henrik Enderlein which says that the time to act is now, but also says that all the options available for action will fail. I take it he’s saying that Italy must take ownership for its debt, but Germans must also stand in solidarity or the speculators on the demise of the euro will have a field day.

The article by Der Spiegel staff Italy’s New Government Is Bad News for the Euro is pessimistic. Continue reading Italy: too big to fail, too big to save

Antarctic ice loss rates have tripled since 2012

A new study has found that Antarctic ice loss and sea level rise rates have tripled since 2012.

This assessment involves 84 scientists from more than 40 institutions, and combines data from 24 satellite surveys. It follows in the footsteps of the first IMBIE (Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise) conducted in 2012, and paints a particularly grim picture of the years between then and 2017. Continue reading Antarctic ice loss rates have tripled since 2012

Saturday salon 16/6

1. You don’t need enemies when you have friends

You’ve probably been living under a log if you haven’t seen this photo:

They say Trump does not like G-7 meetings because they are short on people who massage his ego.

According to this account the photo was released by Angela Merkel’s office. Trump looks like a naughty school boy, recalcitrant and unrepentant. The bloke behind him is John Bolton, the National Security Advisor. Not sure what he was doing there. Continue reading Saturday salon 16/6

Blog glitch plus dirty work at the crossroads

Probably everyone who attempted to visit the Climate Plus site on Wednesday and Thursday 14-15 June found a notice saying the domain name had expired, if they found anything at all.

In simple terms the domain name of the site was due to expire on 11 June. We thought it was on automatic renewal, but that turned out not to be so. Turns out there was more to it than that. The interwebs is a place where it seems the normal ethical rules don’t apply. Continue reading Blog glitch plus dirty work at the crossroads

National emissions audit shows NSW in some trouble

The Australia Institute has instituted a National Energy Emissions Audit , which Giles Parkinson wrote about at RenewEconomy.

The April-May update tells us:

  • The capacity of large-scale solar generation supplying the National Electricity Market tripled between March and early May.
  • South Australia became a net energy exporter for the first time in March, selling the state’s abundant wind-generated power into Victoria.
  • NSW coal-fired power stations have been consistently at 65% capacity despite three closures and speculation over Liddell, with imports switching from Victoria to Queensland post Hazelwood.

Continue reading National emissions audit shows NSW in some trouble

Saturday salon 9/6

1. Banks behaving badly

When criminal charges were brought against ANZ and investment banks Citi and Deutsche Bank that sounded fair enough to me. Barbora Jedlickova, Lecturer in the School of Law at The University of Queensland says that criminal charges are more effective than fines and:

    Charging high-ranking bank executives will potentially make the deterrent more effective still, because high-ranking executives set the cultural tone for their organisations.

James Thomson in his Chanticleer column at the AFR says that victims are hard to find in this case, but it is a good idea because bankers should behave themselves. Continue reading Saturday salon 9/6

James Cook University sacks reef scientist with contrarian views

James Cook University has sacked academic Professor Peter Ridd, he claims because he “dared to fight the university and speak the truth about science and the Great Barrier Reef”. He rejects the scientific evidence linking human activity to degradation of the Great Barrier Reef, and takes the view that the Reef is doing fine.

James Cook deputy vice chancellor Prof Iain Gordon says:

    “We defend Peter’s right to make statements in his area of academic expertise and would continue to do that until we are blue in the face,” Gordon says.

    “The issue has never been about Peter’s right to make statements – it’s about how he has continually broken a code of conduct that we would expect all our staff to stick to, to create a safe, respectful and professional workplace.”

Continue reading James Cook University sacks reef scientist with contrarian views

Snowy Hydro and the future of renewables

Snowy Hydro 2.0 was, I thought, being justified at the political level by its capacity to back up with pumped storage some of the “reckless” development of wind and solar energy around the place. RenewEconomy now reports that Snowy Hydro is itself planning to develop 800 MW of wind and solar capacity. It has put out an expression of interest document, aiming to conclude contracts by September:

    “The initial aim is to procure 400MW of wind and 400MW of solar off takes,” the document states, although the company may change its mind on the 50/50 split between wind and solar depending on the offers made.

    “Snowy Hydro’s goal is to construct a portfolio of wind and solar offtakes such that the resulting portfolio benefits from diversification of fuel sources (wind / sun), geography (across NEM States, latitude and longitude) and supply profile (intra-day, week, month and season).”

Continue reading Snowy Hydro and the future of renewables

Climate change, sustainability, plus sundry other stuff