Australia most at risk in developed world

The Australian: Bell tolls down under on warming.

Australia has been identified by the Stern report as one of the most vulnerable countries in the developed world to the economic and social impacts of global warming.

Enough to prompt our fine leader to reconsider his current position? I sure hope so, but I’m not holding my breath…

I’ve seen some reports that the suggestions on how to resolve the problem that appear in the report leave a little to be desired. But I sure hope the ruckus it’s causing prompts some serious change all the same.

New home

Well after a stressful couple of weeks, I can finally announce that I’ve just bought an apartment! The news came through at 4.30pm today, giving us 30 mins to scramble the deposit cheque to the agent. But the deed is done!

We picked up a one bedroom loft-style apartment right in the center of Newtown (just near the RPA Hospital for those that know the area). We move in very early December (we’re not sure on the exact date yet). It’s a 20 min walk to work, so I’m looking forward to that too – clearing my head, listening to podcasts and avoiding overcrowded buses – ahhh bliss…

This is the first apartment/house/home that I’ve ever owned – so it’s quite exciting and quite daunting all at once. But I’m really looking forward to having my own space, without having to deal with housemates and real estate agents and all the baggage that comes with share-housing. I’ve had a pretty good run where I am now (except for the dampness and cold in winter), but it’s definitely time to move on.

Skewed priorities create polluters’ windfall

The Age: Polluters get cash windfall from Howard.

Funding for things that increase C02: $8 billion. Funding for things that reduce C02: $280 million (or just under 4% of the funding towards increases).

I wonder what the $5 billion “for subsidies and incentives for road users” is – some of these might be quite reasonable. But even if you remove that $5 billion, there’s still a massive discrepancy there.

New drive technology

Robert Cringley’s announcement of a new drive technology seems pretty awesome, on the surface at least. I don’t expect Robert would go out on a limb to announce vapourware – so I suspect we’ll be hearing lots more about this in due course.

Reduced cost, improved reliability, and reduced power consumption with more storage space for physical size – pretty much the holy-grail of drive technologies.

Good for the environment because they use less materials and far less energy. Great for business because it reduces cost of storage devices, as well as increasing storage capacity in the same space, which reduces data center costs.

Very cool indeed…

Trademark madness

Oxfam Australia: Starbucks opposes Ethiopia’s plan to trademark specialty coffee names that could bring farmers an estimated $116 million annually: “Starbucks opposes Ethiopia’s plan to trademark specialty coffee names that could bring farmers an estimated $116 million annually”

Ethiopia attempts to trademark the names of its renowned specialty coffees that giant’s like Starbucks use to get premium prices in their stores. Starbucks intervenes and blocks the application. These names belong to the people of Ethiopa – Starbucks has no right.

I hope that Oxfam puts together a good online action for this – I’m sure they’d get a lot of support.

Running out of power – so let’s use less

SMH: We’re running out of power (on the front page of today’s broadsheet).

NSW faces blackouts and skyrocketing electricity prices within five years unless it increases supply, the national energy market regulator has warned.

The article does not take into consideration the most cost-effective method for avoiding the need to increase supply – using less energy.

WWF recently put out a report A prosperous low carbon future. It shows how energy efficiency is one of a potent and immediately actionable technique for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But it has a flow-on benefit: less use means the existing (and future) supply goes further.

Long enough, at least, until renewable energy technologies come into play, and as existing coal-fired power stations begin to be decommissioned.

Of course Costello has jumped on the nuclear band-wagon again. “They’ll be ready in as little as 10 years time” he says (paraphrased). We have solutions now – solar, wind, gas-fired power (which has significantly less emissions than burning coal and is suitable for base-load power) – all these technologies exist today and can meet a significant portion, if not all, of our energy requirements.

We can start reducing our emissions today, not in 10 years, while still meeting demand. I really wish that message was getting as much play as nuclear. Better still – put a price on carbon and let the market decide… I’m confident non-nuclear options will win in the end.

Disclosure: I work for WWF-Australia. The views expressed here are my own, and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.