Three Green R’s reconsidered

reduce ruse recycleWe all know the three R’s of conservation, of course, but I wondered recently whether more of them might be useful.

I shared that thought with friends on and off facebook; most of their suggestions were good but they tended to be refinements or extensions of the first three, and the only one which seemed to deserve an equal standing was Repair, although Refuse nearly deserves a spot at the top of the list.

One respondent suggested that we should Rejoice in what we have already, and that’s a good thought, too. If we can be happy with what we’ve got, we’re well on the way to all of the other steps: we will reduce new acquisitions, we will re-use and repair our belongings, and in the end we will dispose of them respectfully. Continue reading “Three Green R’s reconsidered”

Whale-watching in the Palm Islands

The number of whales migrating up the coast past Townsville has been steadily increasing, and local residents now catch sight of them from the Magnetic Island ferry quite often. We have never been lucky enough to do so, however, so we booked a whale-watching trip to make sure we did at least see a whale before the season ends.

The tour operator picked us up in the city in his troop-carrier and we went out from Lucinda in his small boat at about 9.00. The weather was absolutely perfect until early afternoon, when a bit of wind blew up (not enough to make us too uncomfortable, just not as nice as the morning) and we had a wonderful day.

Our route took us roughly South-east once we cleared the end of Lucinda’s enormously long jetty, out towards Pelorus Island then South along the Eastern side of Orpheus and into the area between Fantome and Great Palm. (This map might help you keep track of our day.) Continue reading “Whale-watching in the Palm Islands”

Home solar update after seven years

The rooftop PV system we installed seven years ago has just passed another good round number – 16 000 KWh – having produced 4 000 KWh since my last update, in September 2016.

The daily average in that period is therefore 5.9 KWh/day, a little lower than the average of the first five years.  The drop in output is so small that it’s not really worth worrying about but three explanations come to mind, and all may have contributed to it:

  • We don’t bother cleaning the panels, so full-sun output may have dropped;
  • Our trees have kept on growing, so the panels may be shaded for longer, especially in winter;
  • The period we are considering includes two full Wet seasons but not quite two full Dry seasons (the month-by-month variation is shown here).

How much money are we saving now?

Continue reading “Home solar update after seven years”

Bergstrom’s Orange, Daintree ulcers and rainforest

Bergstrom’s Orange

Carolyn Little, 2015

A book described on its back cover as a “contemporary thriller [which] explores the growing interest in biodiscovery and the modern crime of biopiracy, against the back-drop of the beauty and challenges of the Daintree World Heritage site … and [the] popular resort world of Port Douglas” recently leapt from the shelf of my local library into my hand. It lived up to its promise, too, being both entertaining and informative.

The (perfectly valid) scientific background to the story is a search in the Daintree rainforest for a botanical cure for the affliction known locally as the Daintree ulcer or Mossman ulcer. It is a nasty flesh-eating ulcer with no known prevention or cure, caused by a bug (Mycobacterium ulcerans) related to those which cause leprosy and tuberculosis. Continue reading “Bergstrom’s Orange, Daintree ulcers and rainforest”

Renewable energy – all the good news

Most of us know by now that we need to decarbonise the global economy – fast – if we are to have any hope of avoiding catastrophic climate change. Fortunately, the technology to do just that is booming, charging ahead so quickly that merely keeping up with the news is difficult.

Solar and wind power are demonstrating astonishing growth rates, with or without government incentives, now that their costs have dropped below the costs of new coal and (in many cases) gas; some time last year we even began hearing of cases in which it was cheaper to build and run new wind and solar power plants than just to run old coal plants.

Last year, for most of us, was the Year of the Battery. Tesla’s big South Australian battery did something its many little Powerwalls couldn’t, i.e., make battery storage seem like a serious option for the real world rather than just a cool idea. Bloomberg’s 2018 outlook report sees this continuing and allowing electric vehicles to undercut conventional, internal combustion engine cars on both lifetime and upfront cost by the mid-to-late 2020s.

The Green Path facebook page does its best to keep up with all this news but anyone wanting it all, and unfiltered, should bookmark or follow these sites:

RenewEconomy

Launched in 2012, RenewEconomy.com.au is an Australian website focusing on clean energy news Continue reading “Renewable energy – all the good news”