Prepare for unexpected climate events – but can we?

Reported is the driest ever on record and hottest ever recorded for the period, and OMG might be the response from agribusiness in those affected districts.

First look at these three stories:

South Australia and western Victoria head into drought after dry October

Catherine McAloon, Friday November 7, 2014 – 15:34 EDT

“The weather bureau’s latest drought statement shows severe rainfall deficiencies have developed in western Victoria and south-east South Australia.

South Australia recorded its driest October on record.

Australia-wide, it was the seventh driest October overall, but maximum temperatures across the country were the hottest ever recorded for the month.

Climatologist Lynette Bettio says rainfall from July to October in parts of western Victoria and southern South Australia was among the lowest ever for that period.

“”These are percentile rankings, so if you lined up all the July to October periods on record, starting at 1900, which is when we start our records, this July to October period, those areas covered by the rainfall deficiencies, which is much of western Victoria and southern parts of South Australia, would be in the bottom 10 per cent and the bottom 5 per cent,”” Dr Bettio said.

Richard Thornton, of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Co-operative Research Centre, says the dry conditions could mean bushfires develop sooner than expected.”

Academic says climate extremes the major problem for farmers

Michael Condon, Friday November 7, 2014 – 15:27 EDT

“An academic says climate change will not be catastrophic for farmers, as they can manage any long term change.

Agricultural scientist Professor Richard Eckard, from the University of Melbourne, says extreme weather events like fire and flood do more damage to farmers and farming viability than the long term nature of any climate change.

“”That is where attention should be focussed,”” Prof Eckard said.

“”Because the real threats are dealing with the extreme weather events.

The attitudes are slowly changing to recognise that there is something changing in our weather.

I think a lot of the farming community might say that that is part of the natural cycle but regardless of whether or not you think it is a permanent change or a natural cycle, it does represent a change in what we see in the extremes.

A heatwave in November is one example of that.

Any gradual change we can adapt to over time, if is a gradual increase in temperature you can start breeding different animals or plants in that direction to deal with those changes.

It is really the unexpected extreme events that will catch us unawares that we need to be prepared for.

I am talking about the floods, the bushfires the extremes in temperature, in unusual times throughout the year,”” Professor Eckard said.”

Time to get serious about land use and emissions

By Stephen Bygrave on 10 November 2014

“Agricultural emissions in Australia could be responsible for over half of Australia’s total emissions. The land use sector has the most to lose, and the most to gain from climate change. Following discussion with farmers, it’s clear many of them are looking at ways they can stay on their land, and even make it more productive in the face of the changing climate.

There are those already revegetating their land, and experiencing the benefits of doing so. Others are looking to keep their topsoil, that otherwise blows all the way to Antarctica, with methods such as no-till farming.

Our research also found that just leaving native forests to recover could draw down more than 10 year’s worth of Australia’ total annual carbon pollution.

The recommendations in Land Use: Agriculture and Forestry are not radical – no more than the IPCC calling for global zero emissions is radical. They’re things that some are already doing, and that we must do if we’re to inhabit the planet into the future.

In fact one thing the fifth assessment report does very clearly is provide even stronger evidence that we’re already feeling the impacts of climate change. As if we needed it. We’ve already been in conversation with farmers who’ve been forced from their land, largely because of climate change. Farmers like John Pettigrew in the Goulburn Valley don’t bulldoze their 10,000 peach trees if there’s any hope of things improving.

We’re heading into a hotter, drier summer in a country where hotter, drier summers have become the norm.  In fact over 75 per cent of Queensland & northern NSW are approaching four years of drought now, and the western districts of Victoria look set to join them.

Even the National Farmers Federation, based on ABARES data, acknowledge that “without actions to adapt to a changing climate and to mitigate the effects of greenhouse gases, Australian production of wheat, beef, dairy and sugar could decline by up to 10 percent by 2030 and 19 percent by 2050.”

One of the pathways identified in our paper is to reduce livestock by 24% in the intensive zone and by 16% in the extensive zone. This matches the trend of Australians overall eating less meat, and allows farmers to take control of their production before the decisions are taken out of their hands.

This number is fully encompassed by the controversial live export trade – meeting this target would still allow for consumption of far more meat than is healthy for everyone in the country.”

Co2Land org asks: What does all this mean? We do not think it matters whether is it anthropogenic or not as the cause. However, we do care that what contributes to our wellbeing needs us to care. You see our markets need a healthy environment as much as carbon life forms do too. So even if we just assume people, and our activities are 50% responsible for the change in climate the measure still needs to be based on what if we don’t abate and what difference will that make.

Without complex modelling a significant number can still be indicative of what could be avoided. And, what must be avoided is the tipping point of climate change – the point not imaginable.

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CFI – untangling the confusion.

While discussing how you go about untangling the confusion around land carbon science and climate change mitigation policy. The CFI group noticed that the Nature Publishing Group has published that wide held beliefs are “scientifically flawed”. It then became necessary to wonder about agenda and again you had to ask was it to further confuse and did it serve any real purpose in publishing the article other than it being a academic assessment – it appears another clue is the time difference from the receipt of the article to publishing was around 7 months.

To quote the abstract of this subscription service found under:

http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v3/n6/full/nclimate1804.html

Depletion of ecosystem carbon stocks is a significant source of atmospheric CO2 and reducing land-based emissions and maintaining land carbon stocks contributes to climate change mitigation. We summarize current understanding about human perturbation of the global carbon cycle, examine three scientific issues and consider implications for the interpretation of international climate change policy decisions, concluding that considering carbon storage on land as a means to ‘offset’ CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels (an idea with wide currency) is scientifically flawed. The capacity of terrestrial ecosystems to store carbon is finite and the current sequestration potential primarily reflects depletion due to past land use. Avoiding emissions from land carbon stocks and refilling depleted stocks reduces atmospheric CO2 concentration, but the maximum amount of this reduction is equivalent to only a small fraction of potential fossil fuel emissions.

CO2Land org prefers an apolitical stance on what matters. However, it could not be helped that the views above may undermine our Australian values for the Carbon Farming Initiative. It may also be pertinent to put to the public that there is an immediate need to offset carbon from fossil fuels, that no measure in its self should be judged into eternity.  What this need does show is the measures should only be judged on its effects on the term a methodology may be useful. That is, does it matter, in terms of carbon offset, that it makes a difference for 10, 25 or up to 100 years. or eternity. That if you want to make a difference, and monetary gains are more a matter for survival levels as opposed to money venture gains it matters only that there is bi partisan political support for the concepts and actions.

The reference to “scientifically flawed” in the quoted article maybe a headline grabber but as the difference possible through land carbon policy is quantifiable. It is a genuine action and debate will only result in no action – and that is the tragic consequence.  We know science supports that view of the potential tragic consequence.

finding Climate skeptics are a bore

We need to go from hindsight to foresight, no matter what it is it is an issue that impacts us all. And, we find Climate skeptics are a bore. They focus on quantifying an antithesis, and the evidence keeps mounting that they are always being proven ill-informed.  Regardless of the disagreements the “how” of Stern’s argument is still valid, calculating today’s prevention costs against future damage costs.

It could as well be applied to the debate about the existence of man-made climate change – The IPCC is now 99 percent certain that it exists.

Even if it was a likely hypothesis that deniers be true: That, as they decry, the money spent on developing a response to climate change was in vain and achieved no real difference to climatic conditions. CO2Land org says would it not be that the money is well spent when the new products available to the world enhance capacity building, are the result of finding energy alternatives, increase energy efficiency, provide forest protection, reforestation, coastal protection, glacier melting water management, zero waste management, increasing disaster resilience and many other activities that are sensible for a bunch of other reasons? They would be a benefit even if climate change were not a reality.

So instead of boring us with criticism, be productive and calculate the real damage from erring on a macro-economic scale. And, consider the paradigm of wasted opportunity and how you would apply discount costs for finding and implementing alternative energy sources 50 years from now, when oil and gas are or will become scarce? That is when it is too late even to adapt to what is obvious now! As friends recently retorted: It is time to be a doer, we are sick of the gonna (slang for talk about and do nothing)

 

Think eco profit management

Think eco profit management and it means reducing energy options to affordable solutions that improve the organizational bottom line, enhance brand image and accommodate operational expansion. It is showing clients how to implement energy and carbon management systems with confidence. A piece of cake – easy to understand.

Winton Evers the MD of www.EcoProfitManagement.com.au practices sustainability management . Formerly a Chartered Accountant, Winton came across the GHG Accounting Standard and realised how much organisations could improve their financial and environmental performance by managing their carbon emission sources. So why the frustration Winton, asks CO2Land org? The answers could be obvious, it is the obtuse that form opinions in our ‘smartphone’ world at the expense of ‘real’ experiences.

Then we read of another sustainability professional, Mary C. Alford, PE, in another part of the world saying the facts are “The largest companies have embraced sustainability – why? Because it has been shown to save hard dollars – and it has the side advantage of positive spin to customers and even employees (and many other advantages that we know, but let’s pick our battles). But when the corporation is ultimately answering to stockholders, the interest is only in one pillar of the triple bottom line: profit”

Mary continues to ask us to think of the following “What is the carbon footprint of inefficiency? What is the carbon footprint of a failed project? What is the carbon footprint of meaningless travel or pointless meetings? I believe that the selling of sustainability starts with the selling of ‘lean’ business practices. They go hand in hand. Sustainability needs to be rebranded away from granola and polar bears and recycling for corporate boardrooms and rebranded for profitability. (And just for the record – I like granola and polar bears and I recycle everyday – but when I bought a Prius, I only pointed out, to my corporate clients that asked, how much money I saved).

Co2Land org has also noted the increasing use of the connotation of sustainable and the inferences of deniers of change that one that practices sustainable is part of the ‘green’ or ‘granola’ sect. It is possible but, increasingly as Winton and Mary are saying it is about the need to balance the economy, for profit of longer than the short term and CO2Land org advocates if we evaluate and cost benefit is part of the equation it would seem mother nature is fighting back and cost of doing nothing has no benefit. We are clearly saying Climate Change is real, and it does not matter if it is man made or other cause, we have the technology, but do we have the will to innovate?

On a lighter note Urban Dictionary enlightened us with the following definition and antidotes:

Definition 1 granola

Thumbs 475 up, 233 down

 

 

 
  A person who dresses like a hippy, eats natural foods (granola), and is usually a Liberal, but in all other ways is a typical middle class white person, and is likely to revert back to being straight when they finish college.

Did you see that granola chick at the farmer’s market buying bean sprouts?

Yeah, her new Volvo was parked next to me.

Definition 2 granola

Thumbs 278 up, 126 down

 

 

 
  A tree hugging, free spirited hippie minus all the drugs.

Melissa is a granola.

Definition 3 granola

Thumbs 753 up, 189 down

 

 

 
  An adjective used to describe people who are environmentally aware (flower child, tree-hugger), open-minded, left-winged, socially aware and active, queer or queer-positive, anti-oppressive/discriminatory (racial, sexual, gender, class, age, etc.) with an organic and natural emphasis on living, who will usually refrain from consuming or using anything containing animals and animal by-products (for health and/or environmental reasons), as well as limit consumption of what he or she does consume, as granola people are usually concerned about wasting resources. Usually buy only fair-trade goods and refrain from buying from large corporations, as most exploit the environment as well as their workers, which goes against granola core values. The choice of not removing body hair (see amazon) and drug use are not characteristics that define granola people, and people, regardless of granola status, may or may not partake in said activities. This definition is sometimes confused with hippy.

Jack: My best friend is vegan and only buys produce that is organically grown from local farmers. Her and her feminist, vegan boyfriend are both in Greenpeace and advocate for queer rights. She waxes her legs but she’s still granola.

Jill: So that means she’s not a dyke? And she grows her own reefer?

Jack: Just because she’s granola, doesn’t mean she does drugs. Also, granola status has nothing to do with sexual preference.

Jill: Well maybe she’ll know where to buy hemp and how to tie-dye?

Jack: She’s granola, not a hippy. Some granola people are hippy and vice-versa, but they’re not the same thing.

 

Maybe the real medicine is: if we have a bit of a laugh and settle down we can work an understanding – a sustainable one!

The irony of flooding rain and a sunburnt country

The irony of flooding rain and a sunburnt country. Most recently, floods hurt the Australian eastern states, and a matter of weeks before by devastating fires. This is focusing on the thought – Maybe climate change is closer than we think.

The ABC reporter Tracy Hutchison, on Monday 4 February 2013, made a comparison of Australia facing another summer of floods, and that we are not alone. She centred her story on how Indonesia’s capital grappled with a watery chaos and Beijing being brought to a choking halt by smog. Her point being “Australia’s recent re-acquaintance with devastating flooding in Queensland and northern NSW this summer has been another sobering reminder of the climatic shape-shifting wreaking havoc with lives and livelihoods across the country. 

Yes, Dorothea Mackellar might well have written of droughts and flooding rains in the early 1900s (while homesick for Australia as a teenager in England), but you’d be hard-pressed to find much wistful fondness among the many farmers who have watched livestock, equipment and expanses of primary produce wash away their livelihoods for the second time in two years. 

For many of these much-heralded ‘country folk’, the financial and emotional struggle of staying on the land will be too much; they’ve said as much in shocked-filled resignation as the water came back too soon. 

Watching on, from the fire-prone drier states, the unspoken narrative is screaming; where will these people go? What will they do for a living? And who will grow the food they were growing for both domestic and export markets?”

In another irony, the current Queensland Government did not see anything other than a cost/benefit analysis being required to manage the environment. Because of the events the Queensland Premier Campbell Newman is now considering the cost of the climatic events and it is hard to find a benefit calculation other than the need for a capital injection might have to come from public funds to mitigate the damage. One such project would be that some flood-prone residential areas in Queensland could be relocated “to avoid what looks increasingly like the recurring reality of extreme flooding”.

Another pair of ABC reporters, John Morrison & Kerrin Thomas, also on 4 Feb 2013 said New South Wales Premier, Barry O’Farrell, “says his visit to flood-affected regions on the North Coast has reminded him of his visit to Moree around the same time last year. 

Moree was flooded almost exactly one year ago, as floodwaters travelled downstream from Queensland. 

Barry O’Farrell told ABC’s Statewide Drive program the conditions in Grafton this year are very similar to those in Moree 12 months ago”. To paraphrase BOF’s (Premier Barry O’Farrell – we kid you not, it is a published acronym for his name) point is that the city dwellers think it is unusual and the country folk do not.  Too right mate it is bloody heart breaking for country folk, if you did not know!

The reality is what the city dweller is now able to see change, and the statement of BOF of “unusual” is losing credence as the numbers keep stacking up that something is wrong, and climate related events are becoming more extreme and records are being broken nudging the entire population to think again about climate change.

The point is made again: It is not just Australia that is affected, in Jakarta right now, where record flooding has swamped the CBD for the first time in history. As in Queensland (suggested by the Premier Campbell Newman) there is increasing talk that relocating the Indonesian capital is the only feasible solution to an escalating problem. The ABC reporter Tracy Hutchison said, “Jakarta is sinking. Literally. Years and years of unregulated private water-bores has drained the city’s below-sea-level water table dry. The record rain, coupled with an underdeveloped drainage system and the penchant of Jakartans to use the city’s waterways as rubbish dumps, brought this city of 20-odd million to a standstill of a different kind…. Australians remember the massive economic and political impact when Brisbane flooded two year ago – the disruption and cost to business, the national flood levy, the daily Bligh/Newman media show, the rebuild…..The implications of a non-functioning Jakarta are immense and wide-ranging both for Indonesia and the region. But this is the reality…And while the Indonesian capital grappled with a watery chaos, further north a different kind of stultification was engulfing the Chinese capital. The soupy and toxic coal-fuelled smog that has descended across northern China sent monitoring devices off the scale in Beijing. 

Hospitals recorded a 30 per cent increase in admissions for respiratory-related illnesses and residents were ordered to stay indoors as state-run manufacturing was put on the kind of state-instructed ‘go-slow’ not seen since the Blue Sky policies of the Beijing Olympic preparations….There is something darkly delicious about China’s state-run manufacturing boom on a state-imposed go-slow because Beijing’s middle class, the beneficiaries of the boom, can’t breathe. It’s a vexing Catch-22 for China’s new leadership – how to keep a slowing economy buoyant but avoid a widespread public health crisis – and a new twist on boom or bust. Not to mention the regional economic implications for trading partners like Australia, whose coal-exporters might possibly be the elephant in the (Beijing hospital) room? 

It doesn’t seem that long ago that “environmental refugees” living on increasingly brackish low-lying Pacific island states of Kiribati and Tuvalu were dismissed as the political fodder of fear-mongering climate change campaigners. Now, sadly, relocations from what were once primary food-producing areas are a new way of life – and it’s not just Kiribatins and Tuvaluans feeling the watery heat. 

Widespread record flooding and deadly landslides have been a common theme across the Pacific this summer – PNG, Fiji, Samoa and the Cook Islands have all battled extreme weather events from ferocious cyclones and record rains. A 

It used to be that a few thousand people with wet feet in the Pacific never got much traction outside environmental campaigner circles; perhaps this faraway time of a planet impacted by a changing climate might be closer than we think”. 

Tracey Hutchison broadcasts throughout Australia and the Asia Pacific for ABC News Radio and Radio Australia.

Bringing this closer to home in the story “Fitzroy River continues rising amid ‘sea of water’” by Paul Robinson, Monday February 4, 2013 –the story is of central Queensland and the city of Rockhampton where it two has been hit by severe floods in as many years of the Fitzroy reaching up to 9.2m. This height has the potential to cut off the city for as much as two weeks at a time. Flooding also closed the Airport. However the problem for the city is that much of the water coming in also came from further inland, which brings its own problems in terms of trade. And extensive damage to agriculture. 

Quoted is “We’ve seen loss of livestock, there’s tractors that have been washed out of sheds, four-wheelers that are a couple of hundred metres down the paddock, there’s a lot of irrigation gear and pump sheds that have just gone missing, tanks, like a lot of fodder, round bales, small bales and lucerne, all gone,” he said. 

”Tourism hit

A central Queensland tourism body says tourist operators can expect further hits to business as Rockhampton prepares for Saturday’s flood peak. 

Capricorn Enterprise says highways cut by floodwaters severely damage tourism”. Also affected is rail infrastructure and mining activities and it is reported that “rail company Aurizon says coal rail lines to Gladstone could be closed for more than a week…. An Aurizon spokeswoman says crews are still unable to fully assess the situation because the rail line is under water. However, she says at the moment they expect the Moura and Blackwater systems will reopen within seven to 10 days. 

Freight operations along the coast have also been interrupted by flooding of the Queensland Rail network”. 
We should also say roads are also cut or restricted for use at different points too.

CO2Land org thinks maybe BOF had it the wrong way around. Country folk are finding it unusual that 10, 50 and 100 years events are happening, seemingly every 2 years. It is city folk that are tending to think it is normal and even the assistance appeals are failing to reach the targets.  Is it too late, how can we adapt at this rate? What is the cost of taking the high ground!

COAG Powers – playing ball EPBC, Energy Market Reform

A business’s focus should not just be on project management, which is a reactive stance, but ’project mastery’ – this includes not allowing stakeholders to tug it in a multitude of directions, making it impossible to set clear goals and deliver the goods on time – finding the balance between sticking to the original plan and remaining flexible – avoiding ‘score creep’ (where the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled) – and keeping to the path. Says The Harvard Business Review as sent out by Caring for our Country’s Garry Reynolds.

Linking how this could affect the effectiveness of the intention of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) intentions (Meeting – Communiqué Canberra, 7 December 2012) from its 34th meeting in Canberra [As a note COAG has for 20 years been meeting to discuss Business and politics]. You could wonder it COAG can deliver despite it continues to reiterate its commitment to focus its attention on policy reforms of national significance, and to keep its agenda as streamlined as possible.

If we focus on COAG Environment and Energy Reforms:

Posted on December 7, 2012 by co2landEPBC Powers – COAG passing the ball?” where we raised an analogy over federalism and enterprise models and “If you translate that to Federal and State and Territory government workings, you might see the possibility of a run away train through select enterprise if the influence is replaced by vested interest other than the good of society, or our long term future”, and then recently COAG, on Environmental Regulation Reform, “re-affirmed its commitment to broad environmental regulation reform that enhances efficiency and increases certainty for business, while maintaining high environmental standards”. It follows that the Commonwealth will progress its legislative reforms in response to “the Hawke review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 to further streamline and strengthen environmental regulation”.

As we previously said COAG wants to articulate ‘standards’ that the Commonwealth has proposed and that State and Territory processes would need to meet these standards as ‘accredited’ arrangements. COAG writes it “represent an important milestone in COAG’s reform agenda” and “Jurisdictions have made consistent efforts to improve regulatory arrangements, including increased use of strategic tools and commitment to early engagement with proponents.  COAG welcomed the release of the Commonwealth’s Statement of Environmental and Assurance Outcomes and draft Framework of Standards for Accreditation”.

The issue may be in the following: “As a further step to improving processes relating to environmental regulation, COAG agreed that all jurisdictions will direct their regulatory and referral agencies to eliminate duplication and to avoid sequential assessments and delayed approval processes and also to utilise common information requirements for both assessments and approvals”. The operative being co-operation and avoiding ‘score creep’ as states and territories are known to seek.

Energy Market Reform, in 1996 we saw the introduction of the National Energy Market (NEM) and its strong appeal was for urgent and concrete action to reduce the price of energy through ‘contestability’. In 2012, “ COAG noted the strong call by business for urgent and concrete action on energy market reform to help moderate the impact of high electricity prices on consumers and business, particularly the need for greater access to more flexible pricing”.   While the concepts differ in that contestability was the original answer to lower energy rices, in particular Electricity prices, what COAG has now endorsed is a more comprehensive package of energy market reforms for jurisdictions in the National Electricity Market than in 1996. In this instance ‘reliability standards’ are to be addressed additional to rules and price.

Set up for the job of the reforms are, “the Standing Council on Energy and Resources (SCER), with advice from the Business Advisory Forum (BAF) Taskforce.  In addition to agreeing to the recommendations from SCER and the BAF Taskforce, COAG agreed in principle to adopt the new best-practice framework for reliability standards (to be developed by the Australian Energy Market Commission and which give primacy to affordability for consumers at agreed levels of reliability and take account of regional considerations) and to transfer responsibility for applying the framework to the Australian Energy Regulator (AER), with a final decision by the end of 2013”.

It is additional funding from the Commonwealth that is being made available to enable the AER to review “its resources, independence and operational arrangements”.

COAG secretariat acknowledges the full implementation of the reform agenda (to be taken forward by Energy Ministers), “will take sustained commitment over time”, and the oversighting progress needs to be vigilant.  Further details on the reform package are available at www.coag.gov.au.

It should also be noted the domestic gas market is not forgotten and “COAG requested SCER to provide advice to its next meeting on challenges facing domestic gas markets”.

A bit more from Caring for Our Country co-ordinator, Garry Reynolds:

The International Energy Agency is projecting a glut of energy as the US becomes the largest producer of oil and an exporter of gas – CO2 emissions will continue to grow, but energy efficiency could help buy us time in addressing climate change and save money. Source: Climate Spectator 13 Nov 12.

Global demand for fossil fuels, especially coal, is forecast to grow strongly – yet carbon emissions will have to peak soon if the worst of climate change is to be avoided – coal met 45% of the growth in global energy demand between 2001-11 – roughly triple the contribution from renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Source SMH 17 Nov 12.

Australia is betting big on the expansion of coal as the world’s 4th largest producer (6% of the world’s coal production) – committed projects to expand coal capacity total $9.8 billion for ports and $16.7 billion for mines – the Government is hoping that the long term development of carbon capture and storage will mitigate the greenhouse effects of the expansion.  Source SMH 17 Nov 12.

Because of the variability of wind and solar power, every 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy production capacity needs 600 megawatts of coal or gas power as a backup. Source SMH 17 Nov 12.

The US glut of cheap natural gas is leading major coalminers to look to the construction of new ports on the US West Coast to massively increase exports to Asia. Source New Scientist 13 Oct 12.

Hydro Tasmania is the largest generator of clean energy in Australia. Source Planet Ark 24 Oct 12.

Australia’s 20 per cent Renewable Energy Target has delivered $18.5 billion in investment, with the potential for $18.7 billion more if the policy is retained in its current form according to the Clean Energy Council – it is cutting emissions and paying for itself. Source  REneweconomy 25Oct 12.

And, the best for last : ‘Innovation is obvious in hindsight and radical in foresight’ Hargraves Institute 23 Oct 12.

issue of waste disposal – e-waste

An outer Sydney council kerb-side collection truck did pick-up and crush the e-waste with all else. The thought was then: In this digital era we’re all linked to e-waste and need to understand it, the problems and do more than puff about what to do to implement solutions. Why is it so difficult to get anyone to care?

World wide policy makers acknowledge the issue of waste disposal is complex and poses challenges that relate directly to cost ($), and the measures of cost are viewed as a high political point despite sustainability and environmental issues having longer-term effects that affect viability. It is notoriously complex, and we listen to the excuses and catch cries of our thought leaders along the lines it is the system that is the problem, and major corporations need to take more responsibility for their products. You might also hear that consumers are to blame and it is their needs that generate the e-waste.

CO2Land org was pondering the conundrum of responsibility and took note of a post from 6 Heads (http://6-heads.com/2012/11/10/beyond-responsibility-2-0-insights-from-brazil/) and the follow up links to their argument on responsibility.

They talk of an alumni event at Imperial College London. Centered on the politics of climate change and how we need to move discussions beyond responsibility to get the positive collaboration levels needed.

Critical to the issue of responsibility is the end of life processes and when e-waste needs to be treated appropriately. That is the need to appropriately dismantle it, organize the different components, and the process and policies of reuse and recycling.

6 Heads says responsibly for this e-waste end of life phase takes into account two key steps: storage and disposal.

“Storage influences the amount of electronic products entering the waste stream before they can be appropriately treated. Nokia published survey results on the end-of-life of mobile phones, which revealed the difficulty in collecting phones as nearly 50% were kept in home drawers, and merely 5% were collected for recycling. This delay caused by storage makes collection for recycling difficult, and minimises opportunities to substitute virgin materials through recycling.”

Then in discussing Disposal:

“Once an item is thrown away, it should hopefully enter the recycling system. The recycling system is made up the following processes and the effectiveness of recycling is determined the weakest link. Often, the weakest link is the disposal of e-goods, which is closely tied to our behaviour.”

CO2Land org notes they are saying the weakest link to processing e-waste is collection.  No, it is not that simple, and there is another problem, albeit the weakness is collection the business of e-waste exists and comparative advantage of lesser-developed countries is enticing illegal exportation of e-waste. 6 Heads write, “countries like India, Pakistan and China, as this is the cheaper option. In fact, over 80% of the world’s e-waste is either dumped, landfilled or illegally shipped to developing countries where it is dismantled.” So we can then conclude The complexity of this industry is that costs entice low recycling rates and collection and then disposal determines high recycling rates. Then to avoid costs the cycle, at this time, is mostly e-waste is produced by higher standard of living countries and processed most likely by developing countries.

When considering responsibility, consider the lack of strong incentives, lack of an easy disposal system and low awareness among consumers and that behaviour is shaped and limited by the systems that surround us. The evidence is that most consumers are not aware or able to determine whether their e-waste is safe and what is the appropriate disposal methods – then think of the truck driver and offsider in Sydney. Why did they not know what was the complexity of their work. It does not matter how easy or hard it is too understand, they at least should be given good information to know what is happening because of the work.

Following is a brief insight of the story ‘Beyond responsibility 2.0 – insights from Brazil’, the measure may hold the answers:

“So how to tackle this phenomenon? Ideally, we want a solution that makes returning defunct and undesired electronics easy and cheap.

The EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) is a flagship policy that holds producers responsible for the collection e-waste. The systems put in place for this to happen can take many shapes and form, from collection points to buy-back schemes, the opportunities for returning e-waste are improving. What’s more, the need to divert e-waste from landfill is giving rise to business opportunities as companies like Mazuma and Envirofone deliver services to individual consumers and entire organisations.

But ultimately consumers will also need to raise the bar and play the role of active environmentally responsible citizens. We bear a social responsibility; we also need to bear an environmental responsibility.

Innovatively, Brazil has made all stakeholders along the lifecycle of electronic goods responsible for ensuring that it is appropriately returned to the manufacturer. From the consumer, to the retailer, the distributor and manufacturer, by law all of these stakeholders are required to ensure that e-waste enters the recycling system and is diverted from landfill. The National Solid Waste Law is the first to hold all actors accountable, and is a huge step towards environmental citizenship and solving sustainability through holistic means.

Furthermore, Brazil has also introduced a national programme to driver greater environmental citizenship. The Plano Nacional para Produção e Consumo Sustentávebrings together the public, private and civil society sectors in a national effort to increase environmental awareness and responsibility. The effects of the policies remain to be seen, but one thing is clear: Brazil has moved towards a more holistic definition of responsibility and is making efforts to mobilise all affected parties in an effort to advance to more sustainable behaviour and technologies.”

Indicators of hope – Environmental and Sustainability

In the 2012 victory speech President Obama call out “the destructive power of a warming planet”. It is reported it was more than words and some action will come from the make-up within the state houses and Congress from this election.

In a story along a similar vein Kate Sheppard for Mother Jones, part of the Guardian Environment Networkguardian.co.uk, Friday 9 November 2012, wrote about wins and the people that will champion the changes. These being: Jay Inslee – Washington State’s new governor; Martin Heinrich – New Mexico’s next senator; Angus King – Maine’s next senator; Pete Gallego – the next congressman, Texas’ 23rd District; Carol Shea-Porter – congresswoman, New Hampshire’s 1st District

Directly quoting Sheppard:

“1. Jay Inslee, Washington state’s new governor. Inslee, a Democrat, who has represented Washington in the House of Representatives since 1993, has long been a champion of renewable energy and sound environmental policies. In 2007 he coauthored the book Apollo’s Fire: Igniting America’s Clean Energy Economy, on that very subject. He was a member of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming (back before the Republicans nixed it) and the co-chair of the House Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition. He was also a key figure in shaping the climate bill that passed the House in 2009. As governor, he has pledged to continue that leadership.

2. Martin Heinrich, New Mexico’s next senator. Democrat Heinrich defeated Republican Heather Wilson in the race to succeed retiring Senator Jeff Bingaman. Heinrich authored the Clean Energy Promotion Act, a bill that would have expanded the number of renewable energy projects on public lands. (It didn’t pass, but it was a nice idea.) Before joining Congress he was a board member of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance and was appointed to serve as the state’s Natural Resources Trustee, who oversees the assessment and protection of the state’s resources.

3. Angus King, Maine’s next senator. King, an independent, is drawing attention because he won’t say whether he plans to caucus with the Democrats or the Republicans. But environmental groups are certain that he will be a strong voice for climate action, based on his record as governor of Maine. After leaving office, he went into the wind energy business, building a 50-megawatt wind farm in Oxford County. He won endorsements from the League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club.

4. Pete Gallego, the next congressman from Texas’ 23rd District. Gallego, a Democrat, defeated Republican incumbent Quico Canseco in this very close House race that featured fights about Jesus and a rare, eyeless spider. An outside group sent a mailer to voters accusing Gallego of siding with “left-wing extremists” in the debate over protecting this spider’s habitat from the construction of a new highway. Gallego won the endorsement of the League of Conservation voters based on his record of, in his own words, promoting a “robust, environmentally-friendly economy.”

5. Carol Shea-Porter, the once-and future-congresswoman from New Hampshire’s 1st District. Shea-Porter served two terms in the House but lost her seat to Republican Frank Guinta in the tea-party surge of the 2010 election. She reclaimed it on Tuesday, rallying support with a poignant appeal for action on global warming: “If Americans want to fix this climate change problem, they will first need to fix Congress in November.””

Co2Land org shares that many people will breath more easily at hearing there are indicators of bi-partisan support and the appointing of persons that care accordingly after the US presidential election.  Our friends have indicated they are happy to hear there are words saying we will work together, that governments will govern, and do more than just put bumper stickers on our possessions.

Co/trigeneration sequel – Balancing Energy in your Business

In its draft report on Electricity Networks and the Regulatory Frameworks the Productivity Commission encourages a standard approach to Embedded generation (12.2) and puts a focus on minor distributed generation such as PVs, VAWTs etc (13), and the disparities in tariffs. The general theme is to push toward time based pricing to assist technologies where it can be incorporated within a strategy of load lopping.

On 4 November CO2Land (www.co2land.org) posted “Balancing Energy in Your Business” and a quote from the story said “It might be time, if you have not already, consider curtailment opportunities, renewable generation, cogeneration or trigeneration (albeit some high profile projects may well prove to be an embarrassment for overblown claims), or combinations of technologies with emphasis on energy savings.” This sequel further explains the pros and cons of cogeneration and trigeneration. The message is fully understand it first!

Increasingly common, where gas connections are possible, is the embedding of co-generation and there is an increase trigeneration. A little 101 here:

  • Cogeneration: Also known as combined heat and power, cogeneration uses wasted heat from gas-fired engines to project into other processes such as generating more electricity or producing heating.
  • Trigeneration: Combined cooling, heat and power – goes a step further, simultaneously producing power, thermal energy and cooling. The cooling can be used for production processes or climate control.

Gas Today (www.gastoday.com.au/news/benefits_of_cogeneration_and_trigeneration/078333 ) ran a story on Benefits of cogeneration and trigeneration where the authors said: “Cogeneration and trigeneration are already well established in Australia, with a growing clientele of property owners and developers incorporating them into their new or existing buildings or plants. Flexibility in design makes these applications easy to adapt to different customer demands, and thus cogeneration and trigeneration plants can be found in various different locations, including:

  • Urban areas with office buildings or retail complexes;
  • Residential areas;
  • Industrial or manufacturing facilities, such as breweries, abattoirs and dairies;
  • Hospitals;
  • Education facilities including universities and schools;
  • Airports;
  • Government sites such as state and federal agencies; and
  • Data centres.”

However, with all good marketing efforts should come the balancing with ‘real’ stories. After reading a post of Dru Spork (Manager at Grocon in Sydney), he made the comment  “those with experience should be able to chuckle along with this”, and what did he mean? Pitfalls we suspect and what to avoid when sizing. Some common mistakes and problems are:

  1. Design size for load lopping rather than operation. This can mean the unit is insufficient to handle the building load if isolated from grid connection.
  2. Total reliance on standards measures (AS3000) design ratings and not correctly sizing to match operation. That is not measuring correctly the actual equipment selections coupled with absorbed power/run power modelling.
  3. Not considering the ‘what if’ on the power requirements when other energy efficiency initiatives or technologies are introduced. Will there be a need to run the generator?
    The economics are very important for the business case and overblown estimates could mean a stranded asset. Consider:
  • The Capex investment for different load operations.
  • Modelling the generator operation modeled at say 100%, 75% and 50% load (to predict available electrical load) and match this to absorber performance at 100%, 75% and 50% – rather than checking the quality of the heat output and how this works with the absorbers.
  • Determine building heat load in the operational model.
  • Be prepared for battles with the electrical authorities over fault levels and approval procedures (project approvals can take around 18 months).
  • Empty buildings do not need power. The operations modelling of the generators assume occupation and operations of the building.

CO2Land org considers it is not uncommon that such projects fail and it tend to be because the introduction was not planned as well as it should have been. When talking to Ahmed Abdoh, he said “that is why we in Carbon Training International offer the only nationally recognised course in Cogeneration and Trigeneration that can help how to take the right decision on size and type. check out our course on www.co2ti.com . The primary material of the Course is the work of Winton Evers (Ecoprofit Management) and Ahmed Abdoh (CO2Planet) moderated by Bill McGhie (CO2Ti).

We also ask you to consider, you will get noise complaints from the adjacent buildings when operating, you will not get $120 per KWH value every day for generating, for these projects a ‘too analytical’ engineering report is a good report!

What would happen if the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) did not go ahead

What would happen if the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) did not go ahead – the faithful can take the view it is an unlikely scenario – however, the terms of what is a commitment seems to loom as a political issue.  The pros and conns of whether it should be 10, 25 or 100 years is very much part of the politics and views have been put forward in previous writings suggesting it is something that needs to be carefully evaluated and a mistake in the terms and timings could amount to a revival of feudalism for farmers (Posted on August 8, 2012 by co2landYou can’t sit on a fence, a barbed wire fence at that, and have one ear to the ground).

Recently, the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE) in Australia made some important announcements:

  1. The case for continuing with CFI: The case can best be viewed through www.cleanenergyfuture.gov.au and recent presentations include the process of eligible activities, the intention of the positive list, baseline identification (which clearly put the illustration of what will happen if the CFI did not continue as a project), examples of the methodology proposal, preparation and the approval process (which is in complete acceptance when it appears on the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments).
  2. The appointment of Agrifood Skills Australia to develop the competency sets for CFI participants:  Associates of CO2Land org had previously lobbied both parties to argue the need for the competency sets and urged they should not believe they alone fully know the competency sets required. Examples were given where previous outreach attempts lacked some hard capability to influence other than a  ‘wait and see’ attitude and business as usual will continue until the audience can fully understand the partitioners voice is being heard. It is urged the associates should still be canvased to help resolve such dilemma in developing competency set faced by outreach entities.

CO2Land org also researches in an independent way and notes that according to US advances in ‘green businesses’ (previously we have also indicated CFI should not be described as a ‘carbon’ business initiative) the “Bay Area news channel KQED, by funneling auction revenues into green businesses, like sustainable farming, and encouraging corporate polluters to find more eco-friendly methods of conducting business, the state has a chance to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050″.

What exactly constitutes a green business? The news channel reports that sustainable agriculture is on the state’s approved list. This includes farms that “sequester carbon” with methods like reducing soil tillage, practicing water and energy conservation, and reducing synthetic fertilizer use through compost, cover crops, and crop rotation. Could we see a policy change here, suitable for Australia – soon!