Sunday, March 30, 2008

Earth Hour

We did it! We survived a whole hour without electricity... I wonder what the No Impact Man would think of that? He and his family lived a whole year in NYC without electric lights and all kinds of other conveniences. He logged the whole experiment in order to show that by changing our behaviors and habits of consumption we could reduce global warming actually improve the quality of our lives. He re-discovered a whole heap of exciting things about life, family, etc...
We did it for just one hour!

Time to switch it all off

What did we do for Earth Hour?

Instead of trying to decide what appliances could remain plugged in and which things we would have to switch off I though I'd simply flick every switch in the fuse box.
We burned candles which for an hour was enough to entertain both kids and myself, Sam wasn't so easily amused.
I charged up the wind-up torch, which we used to check our wax burns after goofing around with the candles.
I have to say Sam made a far greater sacrifice than I did. She forfeited watching her favorite show, Doc Martin. Instead we all sat outside in the carport and watched as lightening flashed in the distance.
We didn't use the car or anything that required the burning of fossil fuels, trees or any carbon emitting substance besides wax and air...

It was rather nice to have a quiet hour at home. It's still quite warm up here in Darwin so it got a bit sticky without the fans running but for one hour it was quite tolerable. My daughter loved the opportunity to observe flames. She still hasn't had a proper camp fire so the candles were quite a novelty and she got to blow them out.
The noise and lights of our suburb became glaringly obvious when we sat outside with the lights out (there were plenty of people around town who didn't participate).
One set of neighbors also took part in Earth hour it felt nice to be in solidarity with them. However our nearest neighbors seemed to be oblivious to the whole thing. It was business as usual for them. As we sat outside watching the remains of a thunder storm we often found it difficult to know if the flashes of light were lightening or being emitted from their plasma screen TV and if the deep rumbling bass sounds were thunder or their surround sound stereo. I often wonder when I see them fussing over their high powered utes, that appear to have never carried a load, or when I look at the the new 4X4 sitting idly in the driveway while the weekends are spent watching sport on TV; Will they ever take notice of the world around them? I hope so...

The fascinating awe of the flames... and subtle light of candles

Earth hour was a great success! It gave our family an opportunity to sit quietly together and enjoy the moment. It prompted me to contemplate the possibility of reducing my emissions on a more permanent basis. It sent a message to millions of people that change is possible and that people are prepared to take action and make sacrifices for the sake of our future!

This is a very positive step towards a global approach to climate change.

Congratulations to all that participated. We will join you again, and thousands more next year.

Candle light

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Earth Hour

This Saturday 29th March at at 8:00 pm is Earth Hour.

What is Earth Hour?

"... Earth Hour uses the simple action of turning off the lights for one hour to deliver a powerful message about the need for action on global warming."

"... 24 global cities will participate in Earth Hour at 8pm on March 29. "

"It is about simple changes that will collectively make a difference – from businesses turning off their lights when their offices are empty, to households turning off appliances rather than leaving them on standby."

(All quotes courtesy of Earth Hour)

Go on give it a go! If you sign up through a friends login page you will be part of their network, you can then see how you are linked to a bunch of other people.
Sign up through my page and your name will be added to my network and then there will be at least two of us... ;)

Click here to sign up.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The moon on Good Friday

On the night of Good Friday, we had a full moon.
It was nice.

It's just floating there like that! Reminds me of a song... "Lets swim to the Moon"

Full Moon...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Baby bonus vs Global warming

Please, please, please somebody tell my why is our government paying people cash to have more babies?
$4187 Cash money to have children!
Before I go on yes we have recently had a child and yest we did receive the money...
I objected to the payment before we had our second child but if it exists of course I will accept the extra assistance. My objection is that the payment is designed to encourage people to have children... To increase the birth rate! This I do not get at all!
The whole idea is so flawed and makes parenthood seem so disgustingly mercenary! Surely the government must know that there are desperate people out there who will now be having babies simply to get he cash! Of course it costs a lot more than this to take care of a child but the incentive will be irresistible to the least capable members of our society.

But this isn't my main objection to the Baby Bonus! What I don't get is how can our government acknowledge the need for minimum reductions of over 50% of our carbon emissions; a feat that will require a commitment greater than that needed for WWII but still be promoting population growth? If global warming is the result of the consumption habits of individuals (which I believe it ultimately is) and we honestly want to reduce our emissions to a safe level then surely we must consider that our population will need to be controlled!
The perceived need for population growth is obviously linked to economic growth. Basically we are breeding people as fodder for the economy which apparently takes precedence over the state of the living system that makes the whole thing possible!

I wonder if in the future our government will be held liable for enacting policies that directly contradict the worldwide objective of reducing carbon in the atmosphere? Have they discovered a way to dissociate the pressure of population from the effects of climate change?

Of course there will be tough times ahead. And yes I understand that our economy has become dependent on a state of constant growth; but by admitting that we must reduce our emissions by the amounts our government is conceding to we must be committed to large scale social and economic change! We can not go on as we have been... Surely this is obvious! Or will we just go on making warm mushy comments and spreading rhetoric about being responsible global citizens while we continue to destroy what is left of our atmosphere?

Why are all the news articles concerning the Baby Bonus only pointing out the current expense to our state coffers?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A garden plot

Down at the Patch there's been a bit of activity.
The garden is flourishing and it's nearly time to plant our vegetables.

I haven't had time to visit very often and the allotment is only attended once or twice a week but hopefully this will change soon. There has been a fair bit of interest in the site and larger groups have been visiting.

Red Bananas
Red bananas (I think they are for cooking)

snake beans 2
Snake beans on a tripod of native bamboo

The plan now, will be to encourage school groups and individuals to come down and create their own vegetable gardens and get some activity down there over the dry season. There's plenty of potential for this site and we will need to act fast to show the council that urban agriculture will be of great benefit to our community in the future. Unfortunately with two small kids and a full time job, the time I can devote to this project is severely limited but you never know what interest might rise around a great idea.

I had some grand ideas about using folia to link our gardeners up and as a means of showing parents the great work their children have done down at the patch but time is scarce and no one has shown much interest yet so it will remain on the drawing board until others show some interest.

Oh and I've also been thinking a bit, as I look out my office window, about how much space is wasted on rooftops. I know people have created functioning rooftop gardens but haven't yet read much on the subject. There are heaps of spaces where I work that would make excellent gardens. A favorite rooftop spot just outside my office window always collects a thin film of water. When I'm feeling particularly uninspired I gaze out over the horizontal plane and imagine it as a rice padi... (it works for me)

Roof-top horticulture?
Rice padi rooftop?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Erratum: Visual obstruction

I must apologize for an error I made in my last post.
Thanks to Annie at Bicycle NT I have been informed that the palm tree identified by the boy as a hazard was not the one that I assumed it to be.
Annie forwarded me an email yesterday with a response from the Department of Planning and Infrastructure to inform her, and I guess myself, that they did in fact prune the tree that was identified through the NT News. So the tree that I have photographed is in fact a completely different one in another location (that does look remarkably similar to the one in the paper).

Thanks to the DPI for responding so promptly and for making their web page available for reporting cycle path hazards.

As the email also stated that cyclists should use the DPI online reporting tool (which I did) rather than blogging about the problem, (which I also did and will continue to do) I thought I'd post a link here just in case anyone knows of more of these trees.

This link is for reporting hazards on bike paths overseen by the Department of Planning and Infrastructure in the Northern Territory, if your road is not identified it may be under the jurisdiction of the local council or some other body.

I must say that it is a little disturbing to think that there may be more of these rogue trees in our town... I recently watched Day of the Triffids so naturally I am highly suspicious of plants being where they don't belong! They can be very dangerous...

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Visual Obstrction

Recently the NT News posted a story about a boy who had reported a palm tree that makes it nearly impossible to see oncoming traffic when crossing one of our busiest roads. I recognized the crossing instantly and agree whole heartedly with his opinion of the tree as a major hazard.
I believe he requested that the palm be removed about a week ago, so far nothing has been done. So I thought I'd get some photos of the spot to try and illustrate just how dangerous this crossing is, and how easily the problem could be avoided.

The location of the palm makes it extremely difficult for drivers and path users to see each other and could result in a fatal collision.

The riders field of vision doesn't allow them to see oncoming traffic in time

As close as I dared to get to a drivers eye view of the crossing
(Notice the bike to the right of the lane)

Here is a riders eye view

You can see the cars coming but only when they are about 5 meters from the path. Cars travel at about 80 km per hour along this road and would have not chance of stopping if a bike emerged from behind the tree.

I was able to see far enough up the road to identify oncoming traffic once my front wheel was actually on the road. (It would be a bit late by then though)