Monday, April 30, 2012

Earth's disease

Monday's funny
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Website to have a look at....climate change science

I am reading a book called Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand at the moment and thought I would share one of the resources that the book highlights.

John Cook is one of the authors of this book and runs a website called Skeptical Science. It is a great resource that explains much of the science behind climate change and also brings awareness to the lack of science that surrounds climate change "skepticism".

Certainly a fabulous resource and one that you might be able to use to find out more about the science and evidence for human-induced climate change. It also reveals some of the strategies and ploys of climate change deniers and provides explanations as to why the "popular" climate change denier arguments are not accurate. Pin It

Monday, April 23, 2012

Food waste

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about how much thin plastic was dominating my domestic, internal rubbish bin. I thought this was so peculiar and a significant burden on the landfill to which this rubbish was destined.

 (Source: Tree Hugger)

The second fact is still true, but as I washed my dinner dishes this evening I had a bit of a light bulb moment. At the time all this plastic was going into the bin I was doing a bit of a cook up. I perhaps might not have noticed the complete dominance of plastic in my rubbish bin if I had been mixing all this plastic with food waste as well. However, there is very little food waste that enters my traditional (in urban environment) rubbish stream.

Food waste in my house generally gets separated between the worm farm, the compost bin and the dogs. Hopefully in the near future I will also be sharing my scraps with some chickens too! In fact, I might not have enough food waste to sustain the chickens and may have to actually grow some goodies for them! Amazing.

All green waste from kitchen, including fruit and vegetable peelings, fruit stones, ends of herbs and old and sloppy fruit and vegetables all go to my worm farm and compost bins. The meat wastes and any small amounts of old left-overs go to my dogs! The only food scraps that on occasion goes into my mainstream garbage stream is my onion and garlic skins. Worms don't like these and as such most of the time they go into the normal rubbish bin.

Interesting what little light bulbs turn on when you're up to your elbows in grey-water appropriate soaps suds!   Pin It

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Science versus advocacy

I just read an interesting post on the The Sea Monster blog. The blog entry discussed whether junior scientists should be involved in advocacy.

Have a look at the post at:

Certainly some food for thought. I personally agree with the comments made by Matthew Ayres. I think this response does however split hairs with regards to definitions relating to certain language or terms.  But my thoughts are if you informed (no matter whether a junior scientist or not) it is important to tell the masses, including policy makers, the information you hold.

I find many pure scientists are hesitant to provide information on their findings until the full process of their science has run its course. The world, however, does not wait for this process and policy makers tend to make public policy based on gut feelings, the loudest voices or quasi-science. It is therefore important for the scientists to be more actively involved in this process.

Many people in my field (policy-led environmental profession/quasi-science) now discuss the importance of making decisions now and apologise later.  This seems to be how 'the world' and 'policy' seems to work these days.

As such, I think it is important for scientists to reveal information about their findings and research prior to the end of the pure science process and if something that has been conveyed to the public that isn't quite right at the end of the process, then inform the public of the complete picture at that point. People may have even forgotten the original information, given we all have two second attention spans these days. Pin It

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment

You may recently heard about UNESCO's concern about the level of potential impact and the amount of proposed development in and nearby the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. In lines with this, the Queensland Government will be undertaking the lead role in the coastal component of the strategic assessment for this area. The idea behind the strategic assessment is to determine whether there is areas which could have development proceed, whilst others have higher levels of protection. Specifically, the Commonwealth drive process is to identify potential and actual impacts on matters of national environmental significance (things protected by Commonwealth government legislation) at a strategic level.

The two levels of government involved have determined that they will assess the overall impacts of land use, including cumulative impacts, that have the potential to impact these Commonwealth protected matters (including the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area). This strategic assessment will also determine whether the current regulatory framework adequately protects these issues.

The Queensland State Government is currently seeking comment on the draft terms of reference relating to its responsibilities under this assessment. This draft Terms of Reference (ToR) is now available for review and comment and should be read in conjunction with the strategic assessment fact sheet also available on their website.

This consultation period closes on the 30 April 2012.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Deepwater Horizon...nearly two years on!

(Source: Planet for Life)

It is nearly the two year anniversary of the biggest oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico caused by a drilling rig called the Deepwater Horizon. I can't believe that it has been two years, but the effects of this event are still being felt in the surrounding marine and terrestrial environments.

The National Geographic has an interesting article on their website by Brian Handwerk, describing some of the activities that are still being carried out on the beaches and how much effort is still being put into the 'clean-up' activities. It is interesting to also note that it still seems there are significant questions about whether the contaminants that remain within the environment are reason for concern and what health impacts they may pose.

I'm sure there is much research and learnings being generated out of this horrific event, but I don't know if I would like to be living in the experiment. Pin It

Monday, April 16, 2012

What will your container do in its second life?

It is time to re-think containers! Most of the products we buy from the supermarket come in some sort of container and many of us just throw them out or put them in our recycle bin to be turned into another product. Well, now it is time to think what you can do with these containers around the home.

In our house I religiously wash and save jars. I have a nice stash in the top of the cupboard and utilise these for all sorts of things around the house, but mostly for holding basil pesto that I make from basil I grow in my garden. Another container that has many uses in my household is a strong plastic type container that we get yoghurt in. My partner is particularly good at utilising these!

(Source: Georges Yoghurt)

We store many of our bulk food items in these containers, including sugars, biscuits, cereals, bird seed and much more. And these types of containers are sturdy enough to last a long time and have great lids that seal well so little black ants aren't attracted to their contents. 

What is great about re-using these containers at home, is that there is no additional transportation costs and no more electricity or water used to make these products into something new and none of these costs (financial and environmental) associated with buying a new container to store the products that I am currently using these "second hand" containers for.

Other uses for these containers might include:
  • storing elastic bands, sewing cotton;
  • storing kids' pencils, felt tip pens, crayons;
  • storing all types of food products;
  • storing or freezing leftovers and excess garden produce.
Why don't you leave a comment and tell us all what you use your left-over containers for.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Bob Brown planning to retire

The long-standing leader of the Greens party, Bob Brown, plans to retire at the end of June this year. Christine Milne has been endorsed as the replacement leader and faces a mammoth task with the Greens set to lose their balance of power position in the Federal senate at the next election.

What a milestone! Bob Brown has been in parliament since 1996 and led the Australian Greens since 1992. He has seen initiated and progressed many environmental and human rights matters through the Federal parliament. Some of the bills he has introduced and the matters he and the Australian Greens are passionate about are listed on his wikipedia page.  

He has been a voice of reason, a person that seems to care about the Australian people and the environment in which we live and someone that has been passionate enough to stand up for these beliefs.  Pin It

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Q&A...climate change episode (do you want to be part of the audience)

ABC is asking for audience members for their Q&A show for an episode on climate change. You have to be in Sydney on the 26 April 2012 to participate and filled out a questionnaire prior to the show.

More details are available at:

If you can't participate in the show, you can still have your voice heard by taking part in the show's online survey about your opinions on climate change. Visit the following web address to participate in the survey: Pin It

Something to add to your tv schedule

On the 26 April 2012 ABC1 is airing a very interesting television show called "I can change your mind about climate".

It is proposing to take an environmental activist and a climate change skeptic to meet various influential and informed people on the matter of climate change. The aim of each of the show's participants is to sway the other's opinion on human-caused climate change based on the information provided to them during the course of the program.

I am very much looking forward to watching this show. Have a look at the trailer at:

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One of my favourite products

Wandering around my house today I noticed a product in my household that I get completely frustrated about if we buy an alternate product. What product is it you may ask? Well, it is a specific brand and type of toilet paper. That's right, toilet paper!

We buy double length 100% recycled "post-consumer waste paper" toilet paper. This isn't plush, extra soft, printed, excessively chlorine-bleached toilet paper which many people indulge in, but rather a recycled product. When you come to my house you may experience this product and I think you might be surprised that it isn't scratchy like some people believe recycled toilet paper is, it isn't unattractive and is certainly practical and appropriate for its use.

The product (6 rolls of toilet paper) is branded as "Safe", endorsed by Planet Ark (produced by Encore Tissue) and made in Australia. The best part about the product I buy is that the amount of toilet paper on each roll is the equivalent to two standard rolls. These rolls still fit my standard toilet roll holder and means that I save on the number of toilet roll tubes (less waste), the amount of packaging used to cover the entire product is reduced and the double length means you have to need to change the toilet roll less. The only unfortunate thing about the product is that it is packaged in a plastic material, where surely a paper wrapping would suit just as well and could then be recycled.

The product is also rated as an ethical choice by the Ethical Consumer Guide.

What a great product and it means that all the recycling of paper and cardboard products as part of my domestic waste collection, might eventually come back to me in the form of toilet paper later in their life cycles.

Give it a try, you might be surprised. Pin It

Friday, April 6, 2012

Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand

I have started to read Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand by Haydn Washington and John Cook (2011). So far, I am truly enjoying this book, but I wanted to share a part of the forward to this book by Naomi Oreskes.

"Most of us are aware that scientists say climate change is under way, but even if we accept it as true we act as if it had no implications. We deny, what it means, and continue business as usual. 

....will that is needed.....not the will to keep calm and carry on in the face of tragedy. It is the will to change the way we live in order to avoid an even greater tragedy; a tragedy that will affect not just Queensland, or even all of Australia, but the whole world, including the plants and animals with whom we share this rock upon which we live. 

It is about the way of life that does not reckon the true cost of living, an economics that does not take into account environmental damage and loss.

Climate change is the ultimate accounting; it is the bill for a century of unprecedented prosperity, generated by the energy stored in fossil files. By and large, this prosperity has been a goof thing. More people live longer and healthier lives than before the industrial revolution. The problem, however, is that those people did not pay for the full cost of that prosperity. And the remainder of the bill has now come due. 

What we need now is the will: the will to face the facts, the will to accept their implications and the will to do something about it."
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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Long weekend! Woo hoo

What are you planning for the next four days? (For those that are under a rock or live outside Australia, all States in Australia have two public holidays either side of this weekend for Easter). For those that aren't particularly religious or completely un-interested in religious activities here is a list of things that might tickle your fancy to keep you busy for these four days:
  • relax;
  • vegetable patch planning or maintenance;
  • bit of weeding;
  • riding your bike along your favourite waterway;
  • hang out in a tree (for all those kids);
  • setting up a worm farm or a compost bin;
  • de-clutter to make space for positive vibes;
  • order a rainwater tank;
  • plant a deciduous vine on the western wall of your house;
  • hang out with family and friends;
  • eat fair-trade and/or organic chocolate;
  • recycle or freecycle some 'junk' around your house;
  • sit on the beach and take in the breath-taking view & when you're finished take some rubbish from the beach;
  • go bird-watching;
  • visit your local national park;
  • see what activities your local Museum or library is holding;
  • plan your garage sale to take part of the Garage Sale Trail in May;
  • see what you can make out of bamboo;
  • have a swim at your local pool, watering-hole, river, creek or beach; 
  • go camping; or
  • set up a herb garden. 
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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Internet carbon footprint

(Source: Pareto Logic)

Just came across an article on the ABC website about a new technology that could potentially improve the carbon footprint of the Internet. The article is located at:

I thought the most interesting part of the article was the section that explained that currently the Internet has a carbon footprint equivalent to the global airline industry, but that the Internet is in fact growing at a faster rate. My understanding is the majority of this impact comes from the electricity used within the buildings that support the data centres. Pin It

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Do you know what a ghost net is?

Ghost nets are discarded fishing nets. These nets can be deliberately discarded or lost at sea during fishing expeditions and end up traveling around the world on ocean currents. Here in Australia, the northern shores of our continent are significantly impacted by these nets, with particular effects on marine wildlife. These nets are known to capture, injure and kill a number of our marine species, including threatened marine turtles and sawfishes.

What can be done about this situation? There is certainly room for improvement to netting and fishing technology and restrictions to locations where nets are permitted. But as many of these nets are released or lost in countries other than ours, these solutions won't help the Australian marine wildlife in the short to medium-term.

So, here in Australia the majority of attention and funding is on the removal of these nets from our coasts and waters. Ghost Nets Australia is an alliance of indigenous communities across northern Australia which are funded to remove ghost nets from our shores. What a big job! Their website shows many initiatives that have been generated from this project, including recycling and art programs and scientific research.

This is certainly a big problem, particularly for northern Australian marine species and one which is generally out of sight of the majority of the Australian population.

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