Monday 30 March 2020

New research puts myth to bed: EVs will lower emissions: The DriveIn

New research has busted the myths around electric vehicles and emissions – confirming that in virtually every part of the world, including still coal-dominated Australia, switching to an electric vehicle will lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

The study, published in the journal Nature Sustainability, confirmed that in 95 per cent of the world, switching to an electric vehicle from a petrol equivalent would lead to an overall reduction in greenhouse emissions, even when the full life-cycle of a vehicle is taken into account.

There has been some conjecture over the emissions savings that could be achieved by a switch to an electric vehicle, with myths being pushed by the likes of climate contrarion Bjorn Lomborg in the Murdoch media that electric vehicles have no environmental benefits as they still may still source their electricity from fossil fuel power stations.

But the study, led by researchers from Radboud University in the Netherlands, working with the universities of Exeter and Cambridge, found that electric vehicles did indeed lead to lower emissions, even in regions where a large portion of electricity generation is sourced from fossil fuels.

Read more in the original article

Saturday 28 March 2020

Cure for coronavirus-hit economy could be in renewables: Garnaut: Brisbane Times

"As Australia scrambles to avoid its first recession in three decades, economist Ross Garnaut says it is "exactly the right time" for government to throw cash into renewable energy infrastructure.

The global outbreak of COVID-19 has already taken a bite out of tourism, education and export industries, with the federal government working on a stimulus package to stave off a recession.
Professor Ross Garnaut says government should be investing in renewable energy.
Professor Ross Garnaut says government should be investing in renewable energy. Credit:Louie Douvis

Professor Garnaut said the country could not avoid sliding into a recession, but governments could "shape the way we come out of it".

"Even if there was no disruption in Australia from the virus, what has already happened to the economies of our major trading partners is deeply damaging to the Australian economy," he said, speaking at a CEDA lunch in Brisbane on Wednesday.
"The pure economics say right now is exactly the right time for major investment in the industries and infrastructure of the future."

"The high cost of transporting renewable energy overseas made Australia the perfect candidate to process its own iron, aluminium and other raw minerals, he said.

"Play it right and Australia has exceptional opportunities for new areas of prosperity and economic expansion in the zero-emissions world economy," he said."

Read the original Brisbane Times article

Thursday 26 March 2020

Greens amendments to protect renters pass NSW Parliament

The Greens NSW successfully amended the COVID-19 Emergency Measures Bill in NSW Parliament last night, to enable protections for renters to be part of the emergency response by the relevant Ministers now that Parliament has been adjourned.

Greens NSW MP and Housing spokesperson, Jenny Leong MP, said today:
“The COVID-19 Bills introduced by the NSW Government yesterday didn't include any measures for renters or tenants - in fact there was nothing that even began to address the housing and homelessness crisis that is just around the corner if we don't act swiftly.”

“This isn’t just a human rights issue: it’s a health issue. You can’t stay home to social distance without a house. You can’t limit your shopping without a fridge. You can’t rest and recover without a bed.

“Yesterday morning, after getting the Bill late Monday night, I started working with the NSW Tenants Union to draft amendments that would address this massive oversight, these amendments were introduced by the Greens and subsequently passed into law.

“The amendments give the power to the relevant ministers in NSW to create regulations to put a moratorium on evictions, prevent people having their lease terminated and make other changes to what current powers landlords and owners have over tenants.

“If this amendment hadn't been made, they would have had to draft legislation, wait until parliament resumed (next scheduled date in September), then have the legislation debated & passed.

“While these amendments give delegated power to the relevant minister to act, they still need to do that. The National Cabinet including the NSW Premier is meeting tonight, and tenancy is on the agenda. They can and should decide tonight to provide security and relief for renters that can be implemented immediately.

“These are extraordinary times, and these are extraordinary powers, powers that can be used for good - right now - to protect residential and commercial tenants from evictions.

“By passing these NSW Greens amendments to protect renters, the Parliament has put the ball in the Liberals court: they have the capacity to stop families being kicked out of their homes in the middle of this crisis,” Ms Leong said.

Wednesday 25 March 2020

Why don’t we treat the climate crisis with the same urgency as coronavirus? / The Guardian

"It is a global emergency that has already killed on a mass scale and threatens to send millions more to early graves. As its effects spread, it could destabilise entire economies and overwhelm poorer countries lacking resources and infrastructure. But this is the climate crisis, not the coronavirus. Governments are not assembling emergency national plans and you’re not getting push notifications transmitted to your phone breathlessly alerting you to dramatic twists and developments from South Korea to Italy.

More than 3,000 people have succumbed to coronavirus yet, according to the World Health Organization, air pollution alone – just one aspect of our central planetary crisis – kills seven million people every year. There have been no Cobra meetings for the climate crisis, no sombre prime ministerial statements detailing the emergency action being taken to reassure the public. In time, we’ll overcome any coronavirus pandemic. With the climate crisis, we are already out of time, and are now left mitigating the inevitably disastrous consequences hurtling towards us."


"Imagine, then, that we felt the same sense of emergency about the climate crisis as we do about coronavirus. What action would we take? As the New Economic Foundation’s Alfie Stirling points out, a strict demarcation between the two crises in unwise. After all, coronavirus may trigger a global slowdown: the economic measures in response to this should be linked to solving the climate crisis. “What tends to happen in a recession is policy-makers panic about what the low-lying fruits are; it’s all supply chains and sticking plasters,” he tells me. During the 2008 crash, for example, there was an immediate cut in VAT and interest rates, but investment spending wasn’t hiked fast enough, and was then slashed in the name of austerity. According to NEF research, if the coalition government had funded additional zero-carbon infrastructure, it would not only have boosted the economy but could have reduced residential emissions by 30%. This time round, there’s little room to cut already low interest rates or boost quantitative easing; green fiscal policy must be the priority."

Read the whole original story 

"Coronavirus poses many challenges and threats, but few opportunities. A judicious response to global heating would provide affordable transport, well-insulated homes, skilled green jobs and clean air. Urgent action to prevent a pandemic is of course necessary and pressing. But the climate crisis represents a far graver and deadlier existential threat, and yet the same sense of urgency is absent. Coronavirus shows it can be done – but it needs determination and willpower, which, when it comes to the future of our planet, are desperately lacking."

Read the whole original story 

Tuesday 24 March 2020

Small, modular wind farms

small vertical-axis wind turbines
Professor John Dabiri and his team have been conducting research for over 8 years on the potential of small vertical-axis wind turbines (VAWTs) for wind farms. According to their data, by using the wind wakes that so drastically inflate the size of wind farms using horizontal-axis wind turbines (HAWTs) constructively, rather than destructively, a VAWT farm could produce the same amount of power in 1/10th the land area, using turbines that are around 1/8th as tall. This has huge potential for industrial power production, as Dabiri et al rightfully point out, but I see an equal potential in a smaller niche: energy independence.

Read the original post

Photovoltaic solar panels (PVs) are currently the standard for community energy independence, from experimental ecovillages, to exploited areas such as Puerto Rico or Navajo Nation, to more privileged people looking to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. This makes sense - even using the synergistic VAWT layout, solar still outperforms wind in power-per-area, assuming roughly equal reliability of wind and sun. PVs have a host of other problems, though, most notably a very high energy input, high cost, reliance on industrial production, and lots of intermittency from nighttime, clouds, and winter requiring large batteries. On the other hand, VAWTs can be built by the communities hoping to use them, potentially at very low cost in both energy and money, and run much more consistently through the night and the winter - potentially making up for the extra land area

While the synergistic VAWT layout is very efficient in terms of power-per-area, the one concern I have is power-per-turbine. A dynamo on each windmill could inflate the cost of the system quickly, and though smaller generators can be built from salvaged electric motors, the ideal turbine for this system is too large for any consumer washing machine or dryer motor and so finding enough motors could be tough. I believe the best solution to this would be mechanical transmission to a central generator, either through something like a jerker line or - my preferred idea - water pressure. Each turbine could run a mechanical pump, sending water through a series of pipes to run a single, large water wheel - which could either be salvaged from old industrial machinery or built by the community. This system could be incorporated into plumbing, welling, purification/desalination, etc. and could even be attached to a gravity battery system, pumping water upward when supply exceeds demand to be run back through the turbine when demand exceeds supply and thus solving the intermittency problem. A system like this would also be really easy to expand as needed
Of course, this kind of design isn’t a catch-all solution - nothing is. Areas with more reliable sunlight (such as tropical regions or deserts) and/or less reliable wind might benefit more from solar power, whereas communities with small enough energy demands to be provided by a single HAWT (like Open-Source Ecology’s design, for instance) wouldn’t have to deal with wakes at all, and thus could provide their power with only the space needed for its physical structure and access to the wind. I definitely think there are cases where synergistic VAWT clusters would be a great fit, though, and I hope this post inspires engineers, makers, and communities to start working on a robust, open-source design for such a system

Read the original post

Monday 23 March 2020

Meet the Climate Science Deniers Who Downplayed COVID-19 Risks: DESMOG

On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the outbreak of novel coronavirus 2019, which causes the disease COVID-19, was officially a “public health emergency of international concern.” At the time, there were cases confirmed in 19 countries and deaths in China had reached 170.

The very next day, the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) published an article titled, “Coronavirus in the U.S.: How Bad Will It Be?”

Is coronavirus worse than the flu?” it began. “No, not even close.”
It already has spread from person-to-person in the U.S., but it probably won't go far,” ACSH added. “And the American healthcare system is excellent at dealing with this sort of problem.”

ACSH is one of several organizations promoting climate science denial that are now spreading misinformation on the coronavirus, with potentially deadly consequences.

American Council on Science and Health?

The ACSH presents itself to the public as a proponent of “peer-reviewed mainstream science,” in the words of the organization’s mission. Their experts have frequently been quoted in mainstream newspapers and magazines, and they pen columns criticizing journalists who write critically about companies like Monsanto. The group has received funding from oil giants including ExxonMobil, as well as from the agribusiness, chemical and tobacco industries to name a few.

Read the complete DESMOG article

Sunday 22 March 2020

The Frontline: experts answer your questions on the impacts of the climate emergency – as it happened: Ther Guardian

To mark the end of The Frontline series a panel of experts answer your questions about the climate crisis and how it is affecting Australia.
Ask Prof Lesley Hughes, Greg Mullins, Prof Michael Mann and Assoc Prof Donna Green your questions, and see the answers on our live blog. Email or tweet #frontlinelive

State MPs dismayed at NSW Forestry logging unburnt habitat after bushfires: The Guardian

Endangered species have lost up to 82% of their habitat but Environment Protection Authority says logging of unburnt forest is legal