Three Rs of energy

Joel Makower: Energy’s ‘Three Rs’: A Primer.

I proposed using “two Rs” (Reduce and Renew) to our comms team here at WWF a week or two ago in relation to an energy campaign we’re planning here. I know it’s nothing ground-breaking, but it’s nice to see an idea reflected from such a prominent thinker as Joel.

I think this idea is particularly compelling when communicating with a large number of people that already do recycling as part of their daily lives. Most local councils in Australia have some recycling program, and I think we can definitely learn from the communication campaigns that saw the significant uptake of these services by the public (which in turn make such initiatives viable).

I also agree with Joel’s statement about the order in which we should be promoting things. I’ve long believed (and stated) that switching to renewables is not enough – the reduction in our use of resources is an absolute requirement (this obviously extends beyond energy too) if we are to live within our planet’s means. It’s also often the simplest action we can take, and there are cost benefits as well which, in theory at least, should make it an easier idea to “sell”.

I do hope that WWF’s campaigning in the future will head in that direction (I’ll certainly be an advocate).

Thinking about the third R – I think “Redress” is a very appropriate term, but how many people would know what it means? “Replant” is a “reader-friendly” word that hints at the purpose (carbon offsets), but is definitely not the right term.


I posted this to, but I just realised that I haven’t re-added my feed to the sidebar as a result of template mangling to get archives working properly.

Amnesty International have launched a great campaign site highlighting internet censorship and repression around the world. It’s an easy-to-use site with a couple of ways to quickly get involved in the campaign.

EPBC Act and the orange-bellied parrot

David Jeffery at Oikos recently penned two pieces on the “orange-bellied parrot” incident that stopped a wind farm going ahead in Victoria. An Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act primer: Part 1, Part 2.

I personally suspected that something was amiss with the decision, and David’s posts make a good case in that regard. It also highlights some interesting things about the EPBC that I didn’t know.

Disclosure: I work for WWF-Australia which, via the discontinued EPBC Project, has played a key role in education, advising and facilitating the EPBC Act. The views expressed here are my own.

Nuclear efficiency

Confronting a False Myth of Nuclear Power seems to be a fairly strong rebuttal to the nuclear lobby’s case.

More importantly it presents the case for wind at the same time, with very favourable results. I wonder if this kind of reasoning will enter Mr Howard’s debate?

Update 25-May: I also just read Net Nuclear Energy at theWatt:

Whenever making a policy decision about energy, what absolutely must be considered is how much net energy can be supplied. For example, in the case of a nuclear power plant, it takes energy to mine and refine uranium, and this energy reduces nuclear’s energy return on energy invested (EROEI) and could mean that nuclear power contributes to CO2 emissions.

… In fact, the [research] paper suggests that a nuclear power plant being fueled by uranium of an ore purity of 1% or more (which represents only 10% of the world’s uranium) would require 10 full years of operation until it becomes a net energy contributor to society. Officially, nuclear power provides 7% of the world’s energy. When including the energy required for the uranium fuel cycle, it contributes just 0.4-0.7%.

Framing the debate

In his article Ankelohe and beyond: communicating climate change, Simon Retallack mentions some recent work by the Frameworks Institute about how our frames of reference impact how we hear and respond to the world around us. He brings it up in the context of how the issue of global warming is communicated:

FrameWorks found that depicting global warming as being about "scary weather" evokes the weather "frame" which sets up a highly pernicious set of reactions, as weather is something we react to and is outside human control. We do not prevent or change it, we prepare for it, adjust to it or move away from it.

They suggest that when communicating climate change, we should change our frames of reference. That we should use the "words, metaphors, stories and images” in a way that create the right "triggers" for action.

Applying this approach to communications on climate change in the United States, the FrameWorks Institute drew several conclusions:

  • it recommended placing the issue in the context of higher-level values, such as responsibility, stewardship, competence, vision and ingenuity
  • it proposed that action to prevent climate change should be characterised as being about new thinking, new technologies, planning ahead, smartness, forward-thinking, balanced alternatives, efficiency, prudence and caring
  • conversely, it proposed that opponents of action be charged with the reverse of these values – irresponsibility, old thinking and inefficiency.

FrameWorks also recommended using a simplifying model, analogy or metaphor to help the public understand how global warming works – a "conceptual hook" to make sense of information about the issue. Instead of the "greenhouse-gas effect", which was found did not perform for most people, FrameWorks recommended talking about the "CO2 blanket" or "heat-trap" to set up appropriate reasoning. This would help, it argued, to refocus communications towards establishing the man-made causes of the problem and the solutions that already exist to address it, suggesting that humans can and should act to prevent the problem now.

(Emphasis mine.)

Hassan at Worldchanging then quotes New Zealand MP Jeanette Fitzsimons framing the recent budget as a "flat earth" budget – which fits puts that last idea into practice.

PM on Nuclear

I don’t know about you – but I feel mighty uneasy when the PM announces that he hopes for a “full-scale nuclear debate“. He certainly doesn’t have a good track record with debating the issues – be it Iraq, WorkChoices, refugee and civil liberties “protection”, or any of the other sweeping legislation he’s introduced in his tenure.

A real debate into nuclear would incorporate informed analysis from all sides, including a real look at the total cost, dangers (of both the source material, the processing and use and the storage of waste) and efficiency (including mining operations for extraction and processing for enrichment).

I somehow doubt that the debate will look anything like a balanced investigation.

(The good news is that the SA Advertiser article linked to above got WWF’s position right.)

Nuclear in the Australian (again)

WWF-Australia 04-May-2006:

WWF-Australia said today it has never supported nuclear energy as a climate change solution…

The Australian 22-May-2006 (scroll to “The nuclear option”):

Burning coal and petroleum causes pollution that is associated with a range of illnesses. And concerns about climate change have seen green groups such as WWF and Labor politicians such as Martin Ferguson calling for Australia to put atomic energy back on the table — despite the objections of Kim Beazley.

Saying something three times does not make it true. Once more (for good measure):

WWF-Australia 22-May-2006:

"Australia has more renewable resources per person than any other nation on earth – we do not need nuclear power plants in this country," says WWF-Australia CEO Greg Bourne.