cracks and drafts under the shadow cabinet doors

Getting the house in order: Turnbull rebuttal of Bishop, and Abbott says Carbon Tax responsible for energy prices rises of 30, 50 100% depending on state affected. When he categorically claims he will dismantle the tax and energy prices will fall 30%!  On Today television it was his piece de resistance, in the mean time another of the shadow cabinet was published in the Australian as saying she (Julie Bishop) has privilege of ASIO briefings! Where can we find the truth?

CO2Land org then noted a tweet from Malcolm Turnbull (Federal Member of Wentworth – Shadow Minister) rebut Bishop’s claim: Methinks there are cracks and drafts under the door of shadow cabinet! It should also be said Turnbull has a lot of experience of Government and from a personal perspective when he was the Federal Minster for the Environment he does know how to count the apples of the greenhouse tree.  Quoted from the tweet is:

[ Published on: September 28, 2012

Today The Australian carries a story by Cameron Stewart stating that I was briefed by ASIO about the Government’s decision to ban Huawei from participating in the NBN project on national security grounds.

The Australian suggests that this is at odds with my comment “Having said that, we have not been privy to the security intelligence advice that the government has had. We will review that decision in the light of all the advice in the event of us coming into government. That’s as far as I can go.”

I have not hitherto publicly confirmed or denied that I have been briefed by ASIO but I note Julie Bishop has confirmed she was briefed by ASIO and as it happens I was present at the same briefing.

ASIO did not provide us with the full advice it had given to the Government. This was not surprising. Opposition briefings are very rarely, if ever, as complete as those given to the Government of the day and as a consequence the responsible approach for us to take was simply to state that if we formed a Government we would review the decision in the light of the complete advice and intelligence material that is inevitably only available to the Government of the day.]

No doubt swords are drawn in shadowland

 

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food shortages, weather patterns and prices

Overheard: a farmer complaining near Canberra that the entire vegetable crop of the farm is loaded in a container and shipped to China, They are not allowed by contract to sell any produce locally, nor in this country. How common is this, and it was worth a closer look for worldwide trends.

Co2Land org did not have to look too hard to find 3 trends that impact the commercial world of farming: Food Shortages, Implications of global weather, and Non Farmer induced price behaviours.

Originally posted by farminguk.com each of these trends were reported as separate items, but in tying them together it made an interesting study.

1. Food shortages ‘a major threat to global security’ 26-04-2012

The warning in the story is the concerns over global food supply. It is argued economic hardship; political instability and human conflict could be the future reaction to a poor food supply. It is stressed this is beyond the threat of hunger and malnutrition and extends into wider security concerns.

They talk of the need for policy directions to embrace developments in agricultural science and technology to avert the dangers of shocks and disruptions to the food supply system. That currently innovations in plant science is discouraged in the policy agenda.

CO2Land org did notice that the use of wording ‘anti-science EU policy agenda’ and assumes this as a covert attempt to promote GM foods.  In particular the words: “Innovations in plant science, from agricultural biotechnology to advanced crop protection products, offer major opportunities for Europe’s farmers to deliver sustainable gains in agricultural productivity. Yet such advances are currently discouraged by an anti-science EU policy agenda.”

The argument is national and international security risks of failing to tackle the global food supply crisis. Commissioned by the Crop Protection Association the UK Parliament was told “Food supplies must increase by at least 70% to keep pace with the demands of a world population set to exceed 9 billion by 2050, and the report highlights the urgent need to increase agricultural productivity, reduce food waste and improve distribution networks….The report also recognises that increasing food production sustainably in a world of rising urbanisation and already strained natural resources will require access to the most advanced farming technologies and practices. ”

2. El Nino fading: Implications on global weather 27-09-2012

This post really startled: The implications of a wane of the weather patterns do not guarantee a change replenishing soil moisture for crops.

It would be reasonable to expect cooling surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific is the wane of El Niño atmospheric osolation.  And then comes the quote reported to be from Don Keeney, Senior Agricultural Meteorologist for MDA EarthSat Weather/CropCast. “It is true that we are seeing a fading El Niño, but this does not mean that we are automatically headed for La Niña,”

So how does this affect the global food situation? Again, to quote the source: “While the easing of El Niño makes the idea of drought-busting rains in the U.S. and ideal growing conditions in South America less certain, the current trend away from El Niño does imply that the tropical Pacific will have less influence on weather patterns in most areas”.

From this we can glean future weather patterns will continue to shift from being predictable ways of announcing rain and temperature events. This is explained as the effects of other circulation patterns called teleconnections. What are the implications of this pattern shift?  The answer is less certainty and increased variability making long-range forecasts more difficult and less reliable in estimating temperature and rainfall signals.

CO2Land org can now speculate the potential of countries with larger populations will do what they can to accumulate or guarantee food security. This includes buying the entire crops at the farm gate of one country to export to the other and even then process any excess to be imported by the originating country. The near Canberra farmer even mentioned it was believed that farms produce went to China was then sent to New Zealand processed and sent packaged back to Australia. We have no proof other than see if a comparative economic benefit exists it is possible to believe.

3. Current food supply could lead to severe price rises 26-07-2012

It would seem UK and Australia shares a common problem in the food industry. That being a small number of processors and retailers were dominating the industry and farmers were finding that they are struggling to keep afloat. The demands of dominate processors and retailers mean comparative economic advantage from one country to the next will be exploited and the consumer is partly to blame because they insist on paying less.

The post tells of how many farmers or too small to be of interest to supermarket chains and that small scale farmers are struggling to exist. It cannot legally be called restriction of trade; it is simply that the economies of scale required place very restrictive contracts conditions on farmers by way of what is required by supermarkets. Farmers then find the outlets for their produce are very limited and the price to get to market further erodes a reasonable return on the price consumers will pay.

My near Canberra farmer is large scale in the sense container loads are shifted and it does seem insane that the produce is grown locally, and sent to massive packing centres wherever before being transported back to local supermarkets. It also appears the large scale producer is under increasing pressure to continue to lower costs of production and increase the varieties that increase shelve life of the products.  It is conceivable that they like smaller farmers will find resilience not enough to stay in the market place. You could then ask if it is not the weather that will sink us for food security is it a lack of competition at the process and retail end that is the problem?

CO2Land org finds it must absolutely agree the issues and problem are many to use the weather pattern analogy it is teleconnections that are bring random and less easy predictors of how to best handle the problem of enough food. But no matter the comment it is difficult to go past the arguments that the food industry is full of short termism and the state of the market drives this behaviour. As is the debate on climate change we do need to address this, the changes in the environment and learn the market itself cannot be sustainable without political will to protect our long-term future.  But it is already too late!

 

Dominating the educators space

Thinking the request was too late – the answer came back – sent from my iPad! How they are used is surprising, and a big impact is the surprising ways schools are using iPads around the world. Innovation and finding new ways to use them in education is helping the electronic tablet market expand, and the iPad is dominate in the space. Innovation that is the coolest, they are displacing other energy intensive processes and storage space needs. They replace laptops, textbooks and notebooks, and increasingly as a measure of assuring the learning experience around the world educational institutions are issuing iPads as part of the school material – an interesting move to make the technology more accessible.

While researching the dominance and the rise of the electronic market CO2Land org found the story posted September 23, 2012 (by Katie Lepi| Online Learning ) titled  9 Surprising Ways Schools Are Using iPads Around The World. As the iPad is dominate in the market and in institutions the focus is the impacts they have made to education and that the strengths continue to be developed. The innovation is helping in class and in life experiences and some ideas to encourage them include rewards ideas as in the article the coolest ways iPads are making waves in higher ed this year, from helping teams play better to ensuring students never forget their notes.

Looking at tablet brands and ownership is a necessary if you want to savy – obviously. Market share gleaned through the article lists iPad 61%, kindle 14%, nook 1%, Other 18% (assume they mean Android based systems), Don’t Know 6% – A don’t know sounds interesting!  On the subject of teaching with the devices it is found they become more than reading tools they connect the music the actual speaker and delivery of the intention of the speaker, and for most tech savy people it is an extension of a familiar experience of using a smart phone.

Co2Land org then looked at the global illustrations of their use and Online Learning and a cross-reference with Best Colleges Online was most helpful. For instance:

  Colleges in the UAE are going iPad only.

The U.S. isn’t the only place where iPads are becoming a common sight in college classrooms. In the United Arab Emirates, iPads are also playing a significant role in higher education. In September 2012, the UAE’s Higher Colleges of Technology announced a deal with Apple that will see the school’s campuses remove all paper and pens from the classroom and rely only on iPads for note-taking and information management. The change is expected to impact some 21,500 students. Similar programs are being rolled out at 62 other top colleges and in numerous businesses around the world.

  Gustavus Adolphus College has created an iPad app for admissions.

Instead of mass mailing thousands of brochures and packets in an attempt to recruit new students, The school has rolled out a new iPad app that’s full of information for prospective students, allowing them to learn about the campus, see photos, and even get materials for applying. Gustavus is one of the first to develop this kind of admissions app, though others could be soon to follow as tablet ownership becomes more widespread.

  Colleges are prepping for the big game with iPads.

iPads aren’t just showing up in college classrooms but on football fields as well, as coaches and players use them to get ready for games, strategize, and keep in touch. Ohio State and Stanford are two examples of schools that are making the most of the tech to keep coaches and players on the same page. The iPad method makes things a lot easier and makes resources accessible at any time and from anywhere.

  Regis College is going all in on the tablets.

The iPads will be distributed pre-loaded with apps tailored to Regis’ classes, so students only need to power them on to start using them in class. To prepare for the roll-out, students have been taking iPad training sessions and some faculty members received iPads in advance so they can practice working digital teaching into their curriculum.

  Wabash College uses iPads to facilitate history discussions.

The adoption of the devices in the course was motivated by rising printing costs and a larger pilot program at the school for using iPads in the classroom. The response has been positive, as students read e-books, use iAnnotate, and even explore a virtual version of Napoleon’s castle throughout the semester.

  A University of Michigan professor is developing new classroom apps.

At the beginning of 2012, Professor Perry Samson debuted LectureTools, an iPad app that makes it easy for students to collaboratively draw on a shared canvas. Samson teaches atmospheric, oceanic, and space sciences at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and developed the app as a way for students to be able to instantly annotate or ask questions about slides in a lecture. Even better, the application makes it possible for students to participate remotely, which can be a big help for non-traditional students balancing work and family commitments.

  Medical schools are making iPads standard equipment.

iPads became a common sight in hospitals all over the world almost as soon as they were released, and as a result a growing number of medical schools are making the tablets a part of their training programs. Even better, using the iPad will save more than 40 reams of paper that students would traditionally use for taking notes and printing out materials.

  Colleges are using iPads as marketing tools.

The tablets are proving to be successful tools for showcasing the brand of the school and plans are in the works to let alumni buy the devices, too, so usage could soon be much more widespread.

Co2Land org also notes further advantages where students can buy digital textbooks that don’t just provide the usual text, they also come complete with interactive features, quizzes, and the ability to annotate and highlight the text. Even better they also save owners money: up to 40% off the cost of bound textbooks as students can buy only the chapters of the book they need.

We better buy one!

 

making by makers and encouraged by maker spacers.

On the USS Enterprise: “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot” and a cuppa would magically appear, via the Replicator. Here now, the Replicator exists – limited but here, 3D printers, laser cutters, and digitally controlled milling machines are here and priced for consumption. The Replicator, marketed by MakerBot Industries, costs $US1, 750, “fits on a desktop, and prints designs, made by the user or downloaded from the Web, using a nozzle similar to the one in an inkjet printer, spewing successive layers of molten plastic onto a moving platform. As each new layer of plastic is laid, a plastic mug begins to rise. Depending on its size, it might take 45 minutes to complete”.

With some imagination you can conjure whatever, and print instant prototypes to manufacturers who want to customize small batches of products. The operative here is making by makers and encouraged by maker spacers.  This concept encourages community workshops, where tools and expertise is shared. According to Anderson, the editor-in-chief of Wired, knights “these makers as future industrialists will drive a new age of manufacturing”.

It is just another story of innovation, how change is made by the courageous that dare. Imagine if the Web was too difficult, how the world would not be aware of the what is changed in the world – possibly before it was too late to realise the damage done, why the information really could be distributed, and sped up in time for us to make a difference. Think how the diffusion of information created business opportunities along the way, how we become flexible enough to change.

CO2Land org considers how these changes lead to desktop production and design as a means of change in manufacturing. It will move from the process of capital rising to a flexible one based on creativity. Anderson’s estimation is the change will be orders of magnitude with direct effects on the economy. In developed economies the Web is significant but currently a lower economic driver than making, moving and selling consumer goods. Anderson accounts in the US less than 20 percent of U.S. gross domestic product is currently originated via the web. That will change, at first seemingly in an amateur way, and Anderson again writes, “It’s exactly what happened with the Web, which was colonized first by technology and media companies, who used it to do better than what they already did. Then software and hardware advances made the Web easier to use for regular folks (it was ‘democratized’), and they charged in with their own ideas, expertise, and energy. Today the vast majority of the Web is built by amateurs, semipro, and people who don’t work for big technology and media companies.”

CO2Land org postulates it is about individuals, with ideas that grow and evolve by those that dare to dream and develop the dream. As we evolve we develop tools and be a revolution in different ways, as an inventor as an engineer, as a designer. Why quote Anderson? In 2007 he started a company called DIY Drones, which sells open source mini helicopters and airplanes with programmable autopilot. Most of the design work comes from an online community, which serves both as customer and engineer. The company broke $3 million in revenue last year, and the CEO of DIY Drones never graduated from college but didn’t need to, today there is no need for a résumé, you just have to prove you are capable of extraordinary things.

So what is the reality, unfortunately producability will not allow makers to be largely more important to the economy, this is not disagreeing that makers will increase the impacts of their presence it simple means local production will not meet the demand, it will however produce it’s cool stuff and going to change things. The issue will be inspiration fatigue, and robots don’t get bored with the grunt work of assembling. So we must accept Replicators development will be inspiring, but production will be uplifting with good ole process machines.

This evaluation is a critique of Chris Anderson in Makers: The New Industrial Revolution.

Counting apples of the Greenhouse Tree – ACT 2

In Australia, we are idealistic, know how to love, but childish and impossible in dealing with reality – and think reducing emissions is a fairytale notion. The same authors said,  “Over the past four years something remarkable has happened in ACT climate change policy.  Yesterday the ACT Government released its long awaited final action plan outlining how the ACT can reach its 40% emissions reduction for the year 2020. The target, legislated in 2010, leads the country in local jurisdictions aiming to reduce emissions.” This is cccording to Love40percent.org.

CO2Land org takes note that the super fast action needs to be discussed as LOL: Legislated in 2010, action ‘plan’ yesterday September 2012. We agree they now have a policy plan, and it has been researched, undergone economic modeling and considered planning. But is concerned the optimism is utopian as it relies too heavily on the idealistic, and is a good example of the need to give a reality check and not get too carried away with the concept, as ultimately the implementation will come down to the commercial reality. To illustrate, not long a go the ACT Government touted a policy calling for Zero Waste, that is until it was learnt revenues would be affected – the commercial reality was loss of revenue when success lead to loss of weighbridge fees at tip sites became the ‘tipping point’ in the decision to backtrack.

So is the reason such well meaning concepts fail simply because idealistic concepts are too closely aligned with vision statements, initial outreach attempts and childish opportunism? What can be done to ensure concrete actions are in place to make a 40% target a reality? For a start we can look at these needs of the vision: It requires continued community support, constant reinforcement that realising a solution requires we alter our way of life.  This means our emissions reduction must affect our lives so we can reduce 90% of our reliance on convention energy sources – move energy sourced from conventional power sources to renewable wind and solar, ensure 30% of work travel is done by other than the single car journey, drastically improved energy efficiency in all of our buildings. etc.

Co2Land org now find another reason of concern, a populist appeal to encourage GreenPower – albeit in time for a electioneering. Recently the ACT Government commented of ‘misleading’ representation of GreenPower. Then in the Love40percent report it said, “The renewable energy that we create is recognized as additional to any national emissions targets.  No offsets to faraway plantations or gas power required.  This plan effectively reduces the impacts of the way we live for the long term, and will wean us off almighty coal”.  It would seem they either do not understand what is legislated or they are attempting to confuse the issue and deflect that they are embarked on actions that are not carbon but generation offsets and displacements? As such there is no opportunity to generate revenue under a carbon trading scheme, nor can any offsets nor Rec’s can be created. However, the project developers (guess who?) can charge a ‘generous’ price for GreenPower which customers are encourage it the right think to do?  See how easy it is to confuse what is real and what is fairyland?

The suggestion is for the ACT Government to stick to the facts: The truth of Climate Change, that ice caps melting faster than expected and global emissions still rising, and encourage the action that will make a difference. But, alas again the ACT Government will set emissions reductions targets and make climate policy that encourages skepticism. After all the ACT Government’s Greens MLA may have encouraged skeptics when said a matter of days ago: ”There are significant issues with GreenPower’s operation and management, which are placing unfair price pressures on GreenPower customers,” Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury said yesterday.

We agree they should be afraid that we’re putting more pressure on local household budgets when life is already too tight managing a Canberra mortgage.

 

 

Apples in the tree of greenhouse – GreenPower

Carbon Management 101 – GreenPower must be additional to LREC[1], LREC generate RECs, 1 REC = 1MWh Qt*EF, 1 Carbon Offset = 1t CO2-e. Therefore GreenPower payments help meet project costs and do not count as a carbon offset, nor is it a REC, it is a project additionality – it would not have happened had it not been for the desire of the buyers to reduce emissions from the need to generate energy for their needs. Simple isn’t it?

Then, along comes a matter of days into the ACT Elections cycle, the Green MLA saying:  “There are significant issues with GreenPower’s operation and management, which are placing unfair price pressures on GreenPower customers,” Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury said yesterday. Read more: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/rattenbury-hits-power-claims-20120917-262vl.html#ixzz26nDlNtte

Possibly it might have been wiser for them to say there is a need to rethink ‘what’ is marketed for political purposes. If we start with the word ‘Carbon’ you will notice governments – including the greens, get hung up on ‘additionality’, and there are two definable types that need to be understood. That is project additionality, and environmental additionality, as mention earlier project additionality is ‘had it not been for …it would not have happened’. Environmental additionality is what is written into carbon legislation. You would notice from the article the ACT Greens selectively leave this point out when they criticized as ”misleading” marketing of GreenPower electricity schemes. It would be far more correct and honest to say there is a need to call on parliament to address the legislation and the issues of GreenPower as project additionality. We also notice the ACT Greens are now freely calling the Carbon Price a ‘tax’.

So who is at fault that many GreenPower customers have been angered by not being exempted from power bill increases linked to carbon pricing? Is it the Greens for being silent until days before an ACT Election? Is the problem that GreenPower customers are wising up that a 49% shareholder (ACT Government) of the dominate energy provider is benefiting from GreenPower customers willing to pay higher power bills in exchange for their provider purchasing the equivalent amount of electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar farms projects. In other words willing to invest in project additionality for MWh displacement.

CO2Land org therefore must conclude: It is correct that GreenPower customers should be spared higher costs linked to carbon. Carbon is the issue here; it does not fit to use that term, as they are two different spheres.

It makes no sense to levy a carbon price to an emission reduction tool and is the same argument that successfully separates LREC’s from being claimed as a carbon offset for an carbon liability, and to expect them to be lumped together is nonsense and misleading. What would better serve the customers of GreenPower is for adequate notice of what you are buying to be clear in labeling of the benefit assessed in terms of a difference of emission factor reduction by region. Why do we need a Climate Change Authority to do what is obvious – call it for what it is: An emission reduction scheme that customers volunteer to participate in – a means of counting the apples in the tree of the greenhouse!


[1] Renewable energy certificates known as Large-Scale Renewable Energy Certificates (LRECs) are created to conform to Schedule 2 Part 1 Section 4 of the Act. Wood waste is excluded from being a LREC.

revenue and costs to the community – reckless with the future

Playing the tricks on a NSW Electricity bill: Typical increase is $316 for climate change actions [red ink] and $392 [black ink – price revenue change $200 + price service availability change $162 + GST change $36] for other revenues. * These prices assume 7kWh per day consumption as written on the ‘red ink’ part of the bill.

CO2Land org is an advocate of necessary actions for the future of a sustainable world and disagrees strongly with the way politics plays the emotional card. If we strip away the emotion and look at the hard numbers of the viability of state finances we can understand the panic and scramble for revenue raising and shifting the blame and shame wherever for short-term gains – creating a radio shock jocks paradise despite distorting the facts.

The cold hard facts on state finances can be taken from this table:

NSW VIC QLD WA SA TAS
2011/12 -$940 -$811 na -$178 -$120 -$80
2012/13 -$1000 -$635 na -$284 -$400 -$120

Table: Estimated impact of GST reduction on State budgets, 2011/12 and 2012/13 ($m). Source: State budget papers

From what’s on the table, we can see that state budgets are in a mess that seems to be getting worse rather than better.

To quote The Conversation, 25 June 2012, on the parlous health of our state finances: “These financial woes are not because of reckless spending. The trouble stems from revenues, which are flat-lining and seem set to stay that way for the foreseeable future…We are only seeing the problem clearly now because the Rudd government’s recession-busting stimulus spending that was channeled through the states is coming to a premature end”.

CO2Land org asks is the problem, and the solution to be, to address excess bureaucracy and regulation that serves as cost drivers on the community. The idea is not new and the Council of Australian Government (COAG) meeting of 12 April 2012 announced it was “meeting the red tape challenge”.

How should we tackle the ‘real’ problem? Paul Keating favoured a reform of the tiers of government and was ahead of his time. Malcolm Turnbull pushed for a republic model and it to be truly representative – and recently concede vested interests would resist vigorously.  These two persons are selected at this point to illustrate that between them [one a former and the other a likely Prime Minister] they hold the answer to our problems.  We need to address the effectiveness of our beliefs and the efficiencies of how we use our energies.

CO2Land org proposes we examine the imposts on the community and review:

  1. Tiers of government – the terms of reference being: the money waste of the structures for producing relatively ineffective practices; the effectiveness and efficiencies of parochial behaviours of state bodies; and the powers of federal government as an executive power.
  2. The rights for every resident of this country to unfettered education and training in the most effective way possible (please note: this is not a guarantee for established practices, it calls for a complete rethink of how we teach and learn).
  3. That the issues of Education, Environment and Immigration be judged by a jurist prudence principle and not in the hands of short term ambitions of any political party. If we consider this idea, we also consider the four primary schools of thought in general jurisprudence:

▪    Natural law is the idea that there are rational objective limits to the power of legislative rulers.

▪    Legal positivism, by contrast to natural law, holds that there is no necessary connection between law and morality and that the force of law comes from some basic social facts although positivists differ on what those facts are.

▪    Legal realism is a third theory of jurisprudence which argues that the real world practice of law is what determines what law is; the law has the force that it does because of what legislators, judges, and executives do with it. Similar approaches have been developed in many different ways in sociology of law.

▪    Critical legal studies is a younger theory of jurisprudence that has developed since the 1970s which is primarily a negative thesis that the law is largely contradictory and can be best analyzed as an expression of the policy goals of the dominant social group.

CO2Land org has in each is its previous postings set the theme of better practice and were it can illustrate how innovation is a trait of our human side. We have the power to control our future and all too often our willingness to get a result we align in an pluralist way to align with people we do not agree with for our own short term ends. If we look at community consultation businesses that influence, they are making their money by setting up community representative groups. These groups give comfort to the Minister of state that all is well on a certain issue. So the question then becomes why does our three tiers of government fail to give the Minister comfort? Answer, the truism is: Those that seek election are opinionated and not necessarily informed!

The matters that arise over education is the levels are tiered and try to be a fit of society as if society has a stable static requirement to conform to an ideal of more of the same. Education as funds become more scarce are tending to be generalised and specialising is seen as an elitist achievement. However, it is increasingly evident that high achievers are bored with convention and ceremony, good narcism could be the term best suited in saying a specialist position for the niches of interest will follow with them a need for a fit into the world rather than teaching to conform with alliances.

Combine all these issues and it becomes obvious that whenever a decision is made at a group level it is a political achievement. However, if the rule of law was to apply the rights of a better education, to protect the environment and law of god, we do remove the one real problem in the  ‘reasonable man’ principle being applied to protect the future from those that peddle misinformation. Our cliché being ‘better to have been educated and lost, than ignorant and foreboding’.

The Risk of Anthropocene – cause and effect

Innovate differently and conservation projects succeeding, what is the connection? The AGE, 10 Sept 12, article alarmed on saying “Humans’ power to determine the future of planet Earth is increasing exponentially. The result could be disastrous unless we change the way we think”. The story referred to the “Anthropocene,” in which all earth processes come to be powerfully shaped by human activity. Also quoted is: “Of all the usable energy reaching the Earth from the sun, we humans already gather and exploit as much as 5 per cent. Nearly half of the planet’s land surface has been altered by human action and practice”. Further reading of the article refers to Sander Van Der Leeun’s assessment that humans have a problem of being obsessed with making change described as a “mismatch between brains and reality”.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/environment/innovating-how-we-think-20120910-25n23.html#ixzz267yIAS00

Then the story ‘Conservation Project Succeeding in lower Mekong’ by Maya Thatcher and Michelle Kovacevic was noticed, 10 Sept 12, and quoted is: “For thousands of years, the people living on the banks of the Mekong river have been paddling through its often treacherous waters in wooden cargo boats laden with all manner of freshly grown produce, ready for trade….But in the last few decades they have entered a struggle of a new kind. With rising foreign investment and a rapidly expanding population demanding more than small sellers can produce and transport, trucks carrying tonnes of commercially grown produce now trundle along newly built roads slicing through the riverine forested slopes. The powerful river flow has now been interrupted by dozens of hydroelectric dams; transforming it into the ‘battery of South-East Asia’….Seeking to stave off such challenges, aid and conservation projects have moved in droves to protect one of the world’s great waterways. In the Lower Mekong Basin, where the streams flow through Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, millions of dollars have been poured into integrated conservation and development projects (or ICDPs) that attempt to promote environmental sustainability of local communities while satisfying their development demands.”

‘But are these projects succeeding?’ ask the authors of Evidence-based Conservation: Lessons from the Lower Mekong, “Many ICDPs have excessively ambitious goals and they inevitably make mistakes, so it is really important to make sure that we learn from those mistakes,”says Terry Sunderland, Principal Scientist with the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and one of the book’s editors”.

CO2Land org compared the two stories as printed and wondered should all projects where we affect the environment be judged first as potential Anthropocene? In that way the consequences of what we do would be compiled and used as monitoring systems and be inspirational as a source for learning and change. It follows “we need to know about not only project successes but also about failures – if we are to learn from them, says Jeffrey Sayer, Professor of Development Practice at James Cook University and another of the book’s editors”. He goes on the say “All too often the only motivation to put monitoring systems in place is to keep donors happy, as the value of monitoring as a source for learning and change is not yet appreciated by people on the ground.”

Although CO2Land org does prefer it to be kept simple – computer says yes takes some of the sense of achievement away for overcoming the odds. Is it possible that is what Sander Van Der Leeun meant of the discourse of our reality!

Then we read of the Mekong project many alliances were formed in eagerness to get on with it, and clear and achievable objectives were not reinforced and as such it is no easy to articulate what is achievable as long term effects.

Next comes what we have been waiting for “Market-based mechanisms may help marry conservation and development

“For long-term conservation projects, funding is crucial. In recent years, possibilities have opened up for market-based incentives like payments for environmental services (PES) and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), which place a value on ecosystem services, including carbon sequestration.

While the commoditisation of nature is not without its critics, Minh-Ha Hoang, formerly the Vietnam Coordinator for the World Agroforestry Centre, and another of the book’s editors argues that such schemes can play a valuable role as complementary to other funding mechanisms rather than being standalone solutions to link conservation and development.

“In Vietnam for example, REDD+ is being earmarked as a way to help ease rural poverty, however it cannot work if significant changes are not made to the country’s land tenure system as poor households are often excluded because they do not have land titles,” she said.

Fully understand the policy context

In many cases, the root causes of biodiversity loss and threats to parks can be traced to government policies. As the book highlights, while an excellent framework may be in place for conservation and poverty alleviation, success rests heavily on the implementation of legislation.

Policy challenges to protected areas are further compounded by a general lack of political commitment to conservation, as is evident in the weaknesses of many environmental agencies and poor financing of park management activities.

Learning from a ‘major conservation failure’

While the book was being compiled, conservation worldwide suffered a major blow: the Javan rhinoceros was declared extinct in Vietnam.

Despite significant government and NGO resources, poaching has killed the last of its kind in Cat Tien National Park, meaning that less than 50 individuals now survive in Indonesia.

So what went wrong?

Many conservation projects have excessively ambitious goals and they inevitably make mistakes, so it is really important we learn from those mistakes.

“Substantial investment was made in park infrastructure for eco-tourism…rather than spent on direct monitoring and protection of the Javan rhino,” Sunderland says in Killed for Keratin: The Unnecessary Extinction of the Rhino.

He adds that political will must be strengthened to stop cartels from trading in endangered species.

Conservation efforts recently gained much needed political clout when Indonesia’s President announced the International Year of the Rhino, aimed to help safeguard the future of Javan and Sumatran rhinos. Nevertheless, some conservationists remain cautious in their outlook, saying that now policy makers must follow through on their promises.

Sunderland warns that turning words into action is no easy task. Enforcing national and international legislation to protect endangered species is not only expensive but also highly contentious.

“Conservationists have been roundly criticized for implementing what is regarded as draconian efforts at protecting species at the expense of local livelihoods, as local people are often excluded from protected areas,” he says.

But perhaps enforcing ‘best practice’ regulations is exactly what’s needed for conservation and development projects striving to succeed in aiding the people, flora and fauna that still subsist in the Lower Mekong Basin.

To get your copy of Evidence-based Conservation: Lessons from the Lower Mekong please click here.

CO2Land org has no more to add, other than say it is time for a reality check – what we do has a cause and an effect.

Another way to design for food production

True innovation is forward thinking, adapting and making it work and challenging the status quo. Innovation involving food production is more than changing land use practices. A couple of examples are the Hatch system and purpose built skyscraper greenhouse.

The Hatch system provides a pickup and delivery service for urban needs and convenient food production. The system uses shipping containers to provide a complete growing centre, and solves a number of problems for urban farmers including tackling micronutrient deficiency by developing a hydroponic farming system that works inside a standard shipping container that will benefit those that might have alternative growing options, or find it more convenient farming in this way. Some claims are you can quickly be growing food, with little water, and have produce that needs to be transported no further than the length of a shipping container to be available. The system information is available by contacting Dean Hewson by email: dean@co2ti.com

The other absolute pearl, is a concept development of Swedish social enterprise that is building a 54m high vertical farm that is said has the potential to feed up to 30,000 people. The story by Will Nichols in Stockholm, 5 Sept 2012, indicates this type of innovation is required for the world to feed over nine billion people by the middle of the century, and these solutions are outside the traditional farm. It is thought and estimated most of the arable land is already committed to agriculture, and we may be hungry by mid-century if consumption levels continue at the same rate. Add to this problem that climate change will make predictions on production less certain at the farm.

The technical advantages is impressive, it allows increased food production with accumulative environmental benefits. Also impressive is the placing the greenhouses in urban areas reduces the need for transport.

This innovation can be even more impressive in doing more than any other building and to quote the promoter “The purpose is to make it sustainable and use the resources of a city that we don’t often see as resources,…We use the excess heat from buildings to heat the greenhouse and also carbon dioxide from outside is turned into oxygen. And you can make biogas from what comes out of the greenhouse.” The concept does not expect it to be a greenhouse only. “Of course you can build a skyscraper of 200m – there’s no limits,…But what’s also of interest is to combine it with some other type of services, like an office. Half could be a greenhouse, half could be an office or shopping area. Or maybe just build it on the top, so the vegetables come right to the supermarket.”

CO2Land org finds inspiration from these two projects and the systems should produce bankable business case and environmental benefits, and also illustrates innovative people can make such things happen.

 

Power of Choice – review by AEMC of DR

All community is affected by the rising cost of energy. Something can be done, and the “Power of Choice” review being run by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) and a Senate Select Committee on Electricity Prices Inquiry is underway. Both these essential bodies need to be influenced and informed about how essential the implementation of and effective Demand Response (DR) is in the National Electricity Market (NEM) in saving $billions, and continuous saving thereafter.

Over the last 11 years there have been a number of Reviews that have made clear recommendations[1] that Demand Response (DR) should be implemented in our electricity markets.  Unfortunately, all these recommendations for implementation of DR have been ignored, with the exception of DR for Reserve Capacity in Western Australia’s Wholesale Electricity Market (WEM) which works very well.  In hindsight, the lack of an effective DR mechanism in the NEM in particular has cost electricity users an estimated Present Value (PV) of $15.8 Billion[2] (this is in the order of a 9% impost on their annual electricity bills).  Worse still this loss to the community is continuing to grow.

The “Power of Choice” Review is an unfinished work, and CO2Land org has experience in the material of Demand Response (DR). DR is most effective as a formal aggregation of small amounts of demand reduction from a larger electricity users who are contracted to reduce this pre-agreed amount of their demand at times when their are extreme wholesale prices, extreme peaks in demand or in emergencies.  It is much cheaper way to address these short term events than our current outdated approach of spending billions of dollars on more generators and networks which are only needed for a total of about 40 hours per year.

In the push for acceptance of DR becoming a part of the National Electricity Market (NEM) an article was written in the Daily Telegraph, 5 Sept 2012,  (link: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/power-shift-to-cut-household-bills/story-e6freuy9-1226465075377) after it was relayed some of the source contributions were gleaned from an EnerNOC sponsored report recently completed by CME.

CO2Land org and those mentioned in this post accept we look forward and hope the AEMC is now convinced that DR is essential to minimize further price rises.

If you are confused with the terminology, hopefully the following will help you better understand: The energy market has three components that affect the price we pay: Price response (PR), Demand Response (DR) and the Emergency response (ER).  Price is largely inelastic, and as we are experiencing alternative energy sources we notice the costs have similar or more Price effects to introduce them. Demand Response (DR) is the most volatile price driver in the market where smaller splices of time require a greater build and increase capital required for infrastructure projects (pole and wires builds and maintenance needs to cater for the demand growth). Emergency Response (ER) is an energy security problem and is reactionary to large events with little warning.

References to support this view are:

[1]

  • Alan Fels, Chair of ACCC, speaking at the Inaugural EUAA Conference on 19 November 2001
  • The Parer Review 2002 “Towards A Truly National And Efficient Energy Market”
  • The EUAA April 2004 “Trial of a Demand Side Response Facility for the National Electricity Market”
  • The ERIG Review November 2006 “Review of Energy Related Financial Markets”
  • Stages 1 & 2 of the Demand Side Participation Review (Stage 3 still in progress)

[2]