200811

First mover advantage

Chrysler, General Motors and Ford are the big three of Big Auto in the US, and they are in big trouble. Big Auto represents the engineering might of the US. Big Auto, along with Big Oil, are a powerful political lobby group that for years have been working hard to cast doubt on the science of climate change and peak oil. Until recently, to listen to these powerful corporations talk about the future of our planet, they would have you believe that the world’s supply of oil is infinite, and CO2 is not a greenhouse gas. With the Bush administration in charge of 25% of the worlds pollution they had a receptive ear.

The car industry in the US, for example, has been fighting for a decade against improved effeciency, mileage and emissions from the vehicules they produce. Bush has listened, and consequently cars made in the US make a lot of pollution, and need a lot of petrol. That suits the manufacturers who happily continue to sell gas guzzling SUV’s, believing their own spin that people will not be concerned about environmental issues or the cost of gas. As recently as January, GM’s vice-chairman, Bob Lutz, was telling journalists that global warming “was a crock” and hybrid cars “make no economic sense”.

Unfortunately for Detroit, the science of climate change is real, and people are worried about emissions. In a second blow to the auto industry it is now clear that the price of a barrel of oil is likely to significantly increase over the next decade, which is going to encourage people to buy more fuel efficient cars, no matter what they think about environmental issues.

Big Auto can’t sell cars anymore, and all three are going bust. They are asking the tax payer to bail them out for their lack of vision. So what sort of cars are Americans buying these days?

Over a decade ago, Toyota, and the European car makers could see a threat to their industry, and thought they should do something about it. Hence the highly efficient Toyota Prius, and the incredible performance of turbo diesel cars in Europe. Toyota realise that the Prius is not the car of the future, but merely a stepping stone to something much better. Still, Toyota have demonstrated that a little bit of vision can get you a long way in this world. By saying that climate change is real,Toyota have a first mover advantage. By denying climate change, I reckon that General Motors is not worth “a crock”.

Toyota is now the biggest car maker in the world, and opening up factories in the US at the same rate that Big Auto are closing factories. More Toyotas are sold in Detroit than Chrysler, General Motors and Ford put together. Now Big Auto is asking for billions of dollars of tax payers money to get them out of a mess off their own making. If the Bush administration believes in a free market, Big Auto should look after this mess themselves. The problem is that there are 250 000 jobs at stake. What a dilemma for a government that should have seen this coming years away.

To now turn the American car industry around to start making the sort of cars that people want to buy today may take a decade. Meanwhile, Toyota has the first mover advantage, and will be difficult to catch. A bit of vision can go a long way in a world that is changing rapidly.

CEFE will be selecting a project manager for the solar farm this week. The feasibility study will be completed in April 2009. Eden Monaro has a first mover advantage.
Matthew Nott

LifeSaving Energy Big Swim Series 2009

In 2008 Clean Energy For Eternity managed to help get 4 surf clubs set up with renewable energy.We spent the first half of 2008 raising money with the Big Swim series, and the second half the year getting installations onto roof tops. 2009 will see more of the same.

The series will kick off on 8/2/09 with the Brogo Dam LifeSaving Energy Big Swim, a 7 km swim in the Brogo Dam to raise money for solar panels for St Johns Church in Bega, 2 weeks later we will be holding the second Jindabyne LSE Big Swim, a 7 km swim from Kalkite to Jindabyne, and a shorter 1500m swim out and back from Jindabyne. This swim will be to raise money for solar panels for the Rural Fire Station in Jindabyne. The Moruya River LSE Big Swim on the 14/3/09 will raise money for a wind turbine for the Moruya surf club, and the Narooma LSE Big Swim on the 5/4/09 for the Narooma surf club. The LifeSaving Energy BIGGEST Swim will be held in the Narooma Pool on 17/5/09, and will be a 24 hour relay to raise money for renewable energy for an as yet undecided community organisation. The series will once again be wrapped up by the Bega River LSE Big COLD Swim, a 7 km swim in the Bega River on the June Long Weekend 2009 to raise money for solar panels for the RFS station in Tathra.

A date for the Pambula LSE Big DEEP Swim is yet to be finalised. This will be a 5 km swim from the Merimbula Wharf to the Pambula Surt Club. It has not yet been decided what this swim will raise money for. I am hoping we can install a wind turbine on the surf club roof, but there will be local community consultation before any decision is made.

In 2009 we will continue to raise money for surf clubs, but the Rural Fire Service are about to launch into LifeSaving Energy. The plan next year is to get the Jindabyne and Tathra RFS stations set up with solar panels, and hopefully the Bermagui Rural Fire Station later in the year with a Bermagui LSE BIg Swim.

Matthew Nott

Money for jam

At the Berridale climate change forum on 6/11/08, it was pointed out that the
proposed Boco Rock wind farm would inject $20 million into the local economy over
its 25 year lifespan.

A strong objection was made, stating that the majority of that money would be
going to only 10 farmers.

Wind Prospect, the company planning to develop the 73 turbine wind farm at
Bocco will put $75 000 into local community projects each year. This money goes
into a trust account, and is administered by local trusties. The Cooma community
decides where that money goes.

Next year CEFE are hoping to form a partnership with the Rural Fire Service,
and start getting fire stations set up with solar panels. I’m confident that
the RFS would be happy to help fundraise, and if you were able to inject an
additional $75 000 into that effort, I reckon we could easily get 5 or 6 fire
stations set up with solar panels each year.

That’s just an example of the sort of thing that could be done with $75 000
coming into the community each year.

The objection made at Berridale was correct. In addition to the $75 000 going
directly to the community each year, land owners with wind turbines on their
property will be paid $10 000 per year per turbine. For a 73 turbine wind farm,
that amounts to $730 000 a year, and that money would go to the farmers in
the Boco Rock region.
Matthew Nott

Packaging

I don’t know about most readers, but in my household after the compost heap, the pets and the recycling bins have taken their share, most garbage that goes into our bin is packaging from grocery items. Some of these used to go to school for small children to make things with, and some are saved for various purposes, but most just has to go to landfill. This can be frustrating, especially if the packaging was unnecessary in the first place.

The other day some chocolates came into our house. Not long afterwards, the chocolates were all gone, and all that remained was the cardboard box, the cellophane that had wrapped it, and two trays with shaped compartments that had held individual chocolates. We thought of a friend who makes chocolates. Maybe she would like the trays. I put one on the draining board, ready to be washed. When I went to wash it a few minutes later, the bottom of each compartment had dissolved. Oh dear, I thought. I must stop using those strong chemicals to clean the bench; they must have dissolved the tray. I put the other tray into the washing up water, went to get something. When I returned, the second chocolate tray had turned into a blob of jelly. No chemicals there, just hot water. How interesting. The trays were made from an organic gelatine-based substance that looked like plastic, but was not.

So though my friend missed out on the trays to put her home made chocolates into, we were happy. It is exciting to find a manufacturer thinking creatively about reducing plastic packaging. I’m not telling you the brand, but… the box was purple. Rowena Evans Cooma CEFE

Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine?

Sean Morris (MNW 22/10/08) states that “recently over 31000 scientists signed the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine petition rejecting the claims of AGW
(anthropomorphic Global Warming)”. The Oregon Institute is worth a closer look.

The Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine is a somewhat more modest organisation than the name would suggest. The Institute is located on a farm
7km outside of Cave Junction in Oregon. It has 6 members, none of whom are climate scientists, and has produced no peer reviewed literature on climate change. Despite its small size, the Institute has not been afraid to make bold statements. The Institute argues that whilst the burning of fossil fuel is causing a steady rise in atmospheric CO2, that rise will be beneficial, not harmful.

The Institute states that “Human activities are believed to be responsible for the rise in CO2 level of the atmosphere. Mankind is moving the carbon in coal, oil, and natural gas from below ground to the atmosphere and surface, where it is available for conversion into living things. We are living in an increasingly lush environment of plants and animals as a result of the CO2 increase. Our children will enjoy an Earth with far more plant and animal life as [sic] that with which we now are blessed. This is a wonderful and unexpected gift from the Industrial Revolution.”

In part, the petition says that “there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”

Is there a scientific basis for the Institute’s claim that increased carbon dioxide levels will contribute to increased growth of some plants? Some research has gone into investigating this possibility, but the evidence does not point to the type of reassurance that the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine is peddling. Food growers in the Murray-Darling basin would probably argue that water availability is a more important determinant of plant growth than atmospheric CO2 concentration.

The magazine Scientific American analyzed a random sampling of the signers and concluded that only about one percent of the petition signatories claiming to have a Ph.D. in a climate-related field actually do.

Sorry Sean Morris, but you are going to have to find something better than the Oregon Institute to convince me that 7 billion tonnes of human emissions each year is a benign activity. You may wish to come along to the Bega Renewable Energy Forum in Bega on 5/11/08 to listen to Dr Mark Diesendorf from the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of NSW talk about why urgent action is needed, and how it can be done with renewable energy.
Matthew Nott