climate solutions

We’d better use it wisely:

Yeah, that’s me.

Of the three announced national carbon targets I’ve heard of lately, two are arithmetically worse than Kyoto targets, and one is technically worse. The latter is Australia’s target, already discussed here.

The others are the recent US announcement, and the recent China announcement.

The US announcement was for a 17% cut, which sounds a bit better than the Kyoto US commitment (or non-commitment, as it turned out) of 7%. But it’s not really better, because it’s on 2005 levels, where as Kyoto was based on 1990. As it turns out, the US target, compared to 1990 levels is only about 5.5%, so it’s worse than the Kyoto target, and it’s 8 years later.

China’s announcement was for 40%, which sounds pretty good (and ok, since they didn’t have a target for Kyoto, it’s not really technically logical to call it worse), BUT. China’s target is relative to GDP. And China has a phenomenally high GDP growth rate, that 40% grows less meaningful every year. Even if China’s growth rate was close to average, like 3%, that 40 percent would be more or less nothing by 2020. China’s growth rate isn’t average though, it’s massive – 9% in 2008.

I’ve started collating ruses like these on envirowiki. If you know of any others, please edit that page and add them

This is in response to a discussion about population control and climate change on an e-list I’m on. In particular, it’s in response to a line by a mate, Jono:

it’s not the number of people that is important, but rather the power of the argument. Population control arguments need to be challenged wherever they occur, because they turn the climate movement into a war against human rights rather than for human rights.

Population control doesn’t have to infringe human rights. Some of the best ways of reducing the rate of population change are PRO-human rights: accessible education, equality in power relations between men and women, access to contraceptives, the aged pension.

Population is inseperable from environmental impact – if the population is low, but consumption per capita is very high, then you have a problem. If you have a really high population with small per-capita footprint, you still have a problem. At the moment, it’s obvious that the current global average per capita footprint is too high for the current population. The UN predicts 9 billion people by 2050, (150% of current population), which means that for us to have the same over all impact by then, we will need to have reduced our average percapita footprint to 2/3 of what it is now. To put this in perspective, current Australian GDP per capita is US$40-50,000, globally it’s about $10,000, so we’d have to reduce our footprints to about 15% of what it is now. That sounds doable, but that doesn’t take into account that we have to REDUCE our over-all impact, not keep it steady. (I realise I’m only talking about averages, but I think median figures would likely show even greater disparity).

There’s no reason why population control has to happen in the third world. It doesn’t matter where it happens. In fact, it’s probably better that it happens in the rich minority world, ’cause one less person here is heaps more impact reduction than the same person in the minority world. And that could potentially mean we have more room for refugees (not that population is the barrier now).

Ultimately, it’s about how you do it. Of course there’s plenty of fucked up ways to control populations. But the same can be said for any problem (Green Dictatorship, anyone?). We definitely shouldn’t be supporting any kind of punishment/penalties for people who feel the need to have more kids, but we should definitely encourage any positive measures that would help to slow down population rates, and oppose those that do the opposite (like Costello’s ” one for Mum, one for Dad, and one for the Country” – ugh… how would you feel to find out you were the one for the country?)

Seems to me that reducing populations and rates of change should definitely be a part of any broad climate campaign. We just have to make it abundantly clear how we mean to go about it – ethically and compassionately.

I don’t usually like spruiking for the corporate media, but channel 7 is doing something good with their Sunrise solar panel petition. I don’t make any comment on the rest of what channel 7 does – I usually avoid it like the plague.

But they’re right, a means test on the solar rebate scheme is bloody stupid. There are lots of people out there who want solar panels, but for the rebate, you have to have the money upfront. Not many people on a median wage (~$25,000/annum) have thousands of dollars just lying around. If they have a mortgage, neither do people on an average wage (~$57,000/annum). So means testing the rebate has already meant a massive drop in household solar installations(1).

But a means test could be a good thing. If the government wants to do something that has a real impact, and is actually equitable for people of all socio-economic classes, it should means test. But don’t means test down, means test up. For the rich, leave it as it is, or perhaps leave it at $8000 for households on $100k/annum or what ever other arbitrary measure you want, and reduce it in small increments as wages go up. For everyone else, offer an increasing rebate as wages go down, and a low-interest (0%, inflation adjusted) loan>here was a loan something like this in the budget this year (not sure how “low interest”), but only for solar hot-water, and only for a couple of hundred thousand homes(2). Expand this to include all homes and photovoltaics, and by all means means-test the loan.

A good idea might be to cap the loan at a calculated value – say enough to buy a system that could power a small family house – and then offer normal, or slightly lower than normal interest rates for any money needed over that cap. That would allow even mcmansions to go solar, but without encouraging excess energy consumption.

Obviously this solution wouldn’t be perfect, but it would sure be better than what’s currently on offer. The main thing at this stage is to wean ourselves off fossil fuels at quickly as possible. And that means spending big now – it won’t seem like much of a cost later, especially when it pays itself off in a few years anyway.

  1. Rethink solar rebate, industry urges Govt. (2008, May 17).ABC News. Retrieved June 30, 2008, from
  2. Simon, D. (2008, May 14). “Green” budget passed and pasted in Australia. Retrieved June 30, 2008, from

Horse Drawn Electric Hybrid

You heard it here first, folks!

Layperson’s guide to the favoured transport of the future:

  1. Horse. Equus Caballus. This will eventually replace the petroleum internal combustion engine as the power source of a large percentage land based transport. Smaller versions of this vehicle may be powered by pedal, and one or more Homo Sapiens.
  2. Bloke on top. There’s no reason that this couldn’t be a woman.
  3. Big Battery. Made with what ever means are the least polluting and toxic. Hydrogen fuel cell? maybe…
  4. Combined electromagnetic braking device and electric motor. Braking charges battery, saves on wear and tear on manual brakes and horses. Electric motor makes life easier for horses, especially on starting.
  5. Blokes on back. Could be replaced with food, or other goods. Or a solar panel, to take even more work off the horse(s)

I’ve spoken to a number of people about this topic, but I’ve never seen any definitive answers. So I’m going to try and find some of my own. For a student or architecture, permaculture, and ecology, it’s important to understand just how much of an impact it’s possible to sustain on this planet. Currently, I’m looking at the issue from an anthropocentric view point, though if anyone else can suggest another wider way of looking at it, go right ahead.

There are two main questions, I guess:

  • How many people can the planet support?
  • How many people can a City of a given size support?
    • How much hinterland does it need?
    • What is the relationship between increased density and food/goods transport, and the sustainability of the system?

These questions both hinge on another, more basic one: What resources does a human need to survive well?
Resources being food, water, air, clothing, shelter etc.
Human being of any gender/weight/metabolism (average).
“Survive well” being completely healthy, minimal stress, and having a decent amount of free time (and what a “decent” amount of free time is).

So that’s my question set. My base requirements for data will soon follow. I don’t think I need a hypothesis.

NOW would be a good time to point out any problems with these questions.

Note that I don not intend to apply these findings to any real life situation. That would be stupid. Real life situations deal with real people, not averages.

Please note that the intent, order, and formation of the title of this post is sarcastic. There is no way that I would ever put “money” before “going green” in normal conversation.

Anyway, looking around for places to promote envirowiki ( – knowledge database for environmentalist and social justice activists, which you should check out and contribute to), I came across, a reasonably cool site. On the “green your life” page I noticed a link to “29 Ways to Save Money on Gas” (on another site). I kind of get pissed of at these light-green/neocon in camouflage posts, I mean who cares about the money? If you fuck the planet you aren’t going to be able to buy anything anyway! And if you have enough money to care about how much you save of it on fuel for your car, then it’s pretty much guaranteed that you have enough money not to worry too much about money.

But anyway,it got me thinking, if there was an ecoanarchist approach to “how to save the planet, in ways that are also, co-incidentally, economically efficient”, what would it look like? And pretty much, I reckon it’d be this:

naught101’s big list of saving the world (and some cash on the way):

  2. STOP designing/manufacturing shit that doesn’t work, so other idiots won’t buy it.
  3. STOP thinking of ANYTHING as waste, and start thinking of it as a resource.

Maybe I’m missing something. Obviously, I could also add some crap about being slightly more efficient or whatever, but Jevan’s Paradox kinda fucks that right up, doesn’t it? No, I think that really cover’s most of it..

Good buy, and lucky planet saving!

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