Fantasy and Budgets – a dream time.

Don’t pick that mushroom! Why – then it came back, Alice in wonderland grew a mile high after eating one. She was then subject to rule 42 which says that anyone taller than a mile must leave the court immediately. Just thinking out loud as I remembered our treasurer is a self-professed Lewis Carroll fan. So is the budget buildup all a big joke? Before we go on, rule 42 is a joke – said to actually mean the average number of lines on a page of a paperback book. Can we speculate what is contained in the budget is written down as 42 lines on a page?

Is this an allusion, a trip into the fantastic, extraordinary and, completely obvious. An amazing revelation and remarkable. WOW, it explains so much beyond the books. It even debunks the notion that a computer could provide an answer to the meaning of life. Do we have a Brian in parliament? Its ok it won’t hurt a bit! The pain is to be brought down on budget night.

Ok, Joe does not like science. But, he might still hope that science will come up with answers to the big questions. After all when looking for meaning, science has answered the most questions so far. However, it hasn’t provided answers to the most fundamental questions like why we are here, what is the carbon tax for. But just because it hasn’t yet, doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t when we own it. Having said that, it is possible that questions of meaning is simply of a different sort to question of what matters. We know the physical world is where science is proven so powerful. That being so, it is easy to understand why we are saying something rather than nothing, because just as with mathematics it might make no more sense asking if an equation is happy or if union people in a movement are friends, it can be satisfying just asking the question.

Now we get serious – do you know the mind of god. Is it possible? Let us pre-empt a possible answer: Though we haven’t run up against a class of questions that we couldn’t answer yet, it is a fiendishly difficult area, we have yet to exhaust all possible answers. Why all these questions are this some sort of deep thought madness?

When you have no answer, no meaning, no sense being made of the political universe, and you think you would not be any worse off if you had no government – That’s it the answer, install robots and computers for the job! But who would understand the need for life? Who would accept that life is a gift

To put it another way, life is a gift. It is good. It flourishes in experiences like love. But, such philosophy can no more provide meaning than science can. Why, because life’s giftedness, its goodness and its loveliness are essentially spiritual qualities. They can be assessed by rational enquiry. But they cannot be accessed by the cool calculations of reason. They must be experienced. I know now why Joe said we must experience pain! How else could we see a world in a grain of sand, and capture something of the world needed to be transformed through the beauty and meaning of his ideals.

Oh yeah, OK it was all a bad dream, I though I better write it down before I forgot it. Then someone really scared me and said the answer is rule 13! I must have dozed off again. Oh my god, he does talk like that! Bolt upright and awake now it is so real.


IPAT the Difference – Technical

Its simple mathematics (part 3): subject – calculus & the Affinity Laws

Technology is the third variable in IPAT. It can be good and it can be bad. Technology allows things to be made for a much lower price on one hand, meaning that a lot more people have the ease of financial access to the products. On the other hand, technology allows more efficient use of resources, so environmental degradation is reduced by a percentage factor.

An example of the benefits of technological efficiency is found in the Affinity Laws and their application to motors. The International Energy Agency has estimated that 45% of global electricity consumption is by motors. It is estimated that 20% of global electricity consumption is by the motors that drive pumps (Pump Lifecycle Costs: A Guide to LCC Analysis for Pumping Systems, Europump and Hydraulic Institute, 2001).

The basis of the Affinity Laws is that pump and fan flow rates are related to pressure and power consumption. The calculus is as follows (assuming the impeller diameter remains constant):

Law 1a Flow is proportional to shaft speed:

Law 1b Pressure or Head is proportional to the square of shaft speed:

Law 1c Power is proportional to the cube of shaft speed:


To make the maths simple, I will explain what the key points to understand out of the above formulae:

If you reduce the speed of a pump or fan by 10%, you will use approximately 25% less power. If you reduce the pump or fan speed by 20% you will halve the amount of power consumed.

But how do you control the motor speed. Easy, with capacitors incorporated into variable frequency technology (VFD’s). Their connection to a motor is like giving the motor an accelerator pedal, allowing them to back off the gas as appropriate. VFDs are like big buckets of electric charge. The charge comes into the bucket as an alternating current at 50 or 60 hertz (depending on the country you are in). In Australia it is 50 hertz. The VFD deals out the power at the hertz rate necessary to maximise motor operational efficiency. Sensors are often connected to the VFD telling it:

“Hey mate, the motor doesn’t need to be running at maximum speed at the moment, so back off”.

Now for some rough estimates of the potential benefits of VFDs applied on a mass basis. Say there is an opportunity to reduce the electricity consumption of half the pumps and fans in the world by an average of 25% from their current consumption (by slowing their speed by 10%). This is a conservative estimate that incorporates situations where the pump has to run at 100% capacity, where VFDs are already in operation and finally, it presumes only a 10% reduction in speed. The estimate means that total global power consumption of motors could be brought down from 20% of total electricity consumption to 17.5% of the total. Given the total electricity consumption from fossil fuels will be approximately 16 TWH in 2014 (based on estimates derived from 2011 data of the International Energy Agency), then there is the opportunity here to reduce fossil fuel generated electricity consumption by 400,000 MWh in that year. Given that each MWH generated from fossil fuels causes the emission of approximately one tonne of CO-2e, the emission reduction would be of the order of 400,000 tonnes of CO2-e in 2014.

Going back to consider the algebraic consequences in IPAT, carbon emissions make up a significant part of the calculations of the ecological footprint (approximately half). Therefore, if VFD technology is introduced on a mass scale EPM/WTB estimates there will be a noticeable reduction in per capita global gha.

Finally, a specific example of the benefits of VFDs. David Bartush, the aquatics facilities manager for the Blue Mountains City Council, near Sydney, introduced VFDs to the two x 15 kWh pumps to the Springwood leisure pool. The pump power consumption has reduced by 56 MWh per annum since.

In following newsletters we will look at other ways of reducing motor power consumption with more efficient motors, correct pump and pipe sizing and power factor correction.


IPAT the difference – global footprint


Its simple mathematics (part 2): subject – algebra & IPAT

Have you ever heard of the formula:

I = P x A x T

From Ecoprofit Management: The formula’s evolution was the outcome of a debate between three guys, Barry Commoner, Paul Ehlich and John Holdren. “I” stands for environmental impact or environmental degradation, “P” is population, “A” is affluence, “T” stands for technology.

A basic tenant of algebra is that both sides of the equation have to be equal. Therefore, if you increase one side of the equation, the other side increases by the same amount.

According to the IPAT formula, if the world’s population increases by 655,000 in three days, then the other side of the equation i.e. environmental degradation, has to increase the same amount.

What we need is a common unit of measurement to apply to the formula. This is where the calculation principles of ecological footprinting come in handy. It uses global hectares (gha) as its unit of measurement. The total gha of the earth is calculated as all the productive land and sea available to provide the natural resources needed for all the things humans consume. Wealthier per capita countries like the USA (8 gha per person) and Australia (6.8 gha per person) have higher per capita footprints than countries like India (0.9 gha per person). This is because wealthier countries consume more things on a per capita basis. So for the USA, 8 gha represents the amount of productive land and sea needed per person to not only meet the demand on natural capital, but also to allow the natural capital consumed to be regenerated and all associated waste assimilated.

Currently we are in overshoot. The average global per capita footprint is 2.7 gha.The average global biocapacity is 1.8 gha per capita. That means humans need the earth to be another 50% bigger in order for it to be able to meet the demand on natural capital. At the current rate of increased consumption, the world will need to be three times as big to meet demand by 2050.

We are turning resources into waste faster than waste can be turned back into resources and depleting the very resources on which human life and biodiversity depend.The result is collapsing fisheries, diminishing forest cover, depletion of fresh water systems, and the build-up of carbon dioxide emission. Overshoot also contributes to resource conflicts and wars, mass migrations, famine, disease and other human tragedies and tends to have a disproportionate impact on the poor, who cannot buy their way out of the problem by getting resources from somewhere else.

So what is the impact of the extra 655,000 people on earth in the 3 day period? All we have to do is multiply the net increase in people by the average per capita gha (i.e 655,000 x 2.7 gha) which equals 1,768,500 gha. This is how much extra global hectares are needed. Over a year it will be 216 million gha (80 million extra people x 2.7 gha). The “I” in IPAT must therefore increase by the same amount and is reflected as an extra 216 million gha in overshoot.

The next variable in IPAT is affluence. This is where one looks at not only the bigger consumersin the west, but also the rise of the middle class in economies such as China and India. Worldwide 700,000 TV sets and 5 million phones have been sold in the last 24 hours. For the year, 20 million cars have been manufactured and 85 million computers have been sold. Just today, 5 billion dollars has been spent on the military enterprise.

In both China and India, the average per capita income has increased significantly in the last 30 years and is reflected in the rise of the middle class. Over this period the average per capita gha in China has risen from 1.3 gha to 2.2 gha now. In India it has risen from 0.7 gha to 0.9 gha over the same period. Worryingly, India’s biocapacity has collapsed in the same period by almost half down to 0.4 gha per person. This means it is regenerating its own natural capital at half the previous rate.


To Promote – Expertise – Resilience

Sitting in Wodonga VIC, with friends of course, the discussion was about enabling to promote resource opportunities. Then joining the table was an impressive thinker, in fact a scientist that could add she was part of a group focused toward the development of sustainable, resilient regional communities. Part of the aim of that group is to build on the region’s competitive attributes – Now sitting with us was an inspiration, someone to be seen as a critical enabling agent.

CO2Land org is familiar with computer terms and if you carry over that same meaning you could describe that agent as: Part of an enabling proxy of the objective that is to allow this agent on other management packs.

Therefore a group like the Regional Centre of Expertise – Murray-Darling, RCE-MD) through this enabling proxy could import their management pack, and that management pack would discover like minded entities and assign them to other organizations.

The down side of this thinking is that some wanting to be influencers have the potential to dupe you into running a framework with a less safe agenda. With that agenda they could introduce a subtle internal social engineering attack that is counter to your stated intention. Such distractions are then not easy to skip over, and take up much of your valuable time to get around this problem and getting the priority message delivered.

In the realization that now, at this time, the political environment encourages such counter tactics: WINTELBOFF (, Carbon Training International (, Y ME Solutions ( are likely to form an agreement to promote and project environmental health. In this context and in recognition the future will not function adequately or at all if we fail to counter the increasingly sophisticated ways less safe solutions are promoted, they propose they will share the need to inform, educate sustainable systems and engage the community – if not a fail could cost the earth! We can only wait to see if this management pact creates a roll-up of the uptake of being much more responsible and enable trust with absolute certainty.

What is the Regional Centre of Expertise? For a start it is acknowledged by the United Nations University. The complete name is the Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development.  This discussion started around the consortium of the Murray- Darling region (, and it is noteworthy that the wording of who they are is ‘a creative re-combination’ in enabling activities and initiatives through collaborative partnerships, networks and resource-sharing as well as the obvious – opportunities.

CO2Land org as a general rule does not promote membership to company entities. However, there is always room for an exception where it is formed solely for being a centre of expertise with a purpose to add meaning to sustainable outcomes and being resilient.  Looking at the members the lead organisations are: Charles Sturt University, Wodonga Institute of TAFE, La Trobe University. Others are with research, schools, business, community, and government in each of the tiers. The suggestion is if you need a contact try Dr Alison Mitchell .

And, there is more – other centres – it is spreading organically.



the notion of “water flow uphill”

“They thought there was a communication problem, and that what he was saying (‘Getting the water to flow uphill for the plants’) should not be taken as a literal translation. Interesting that many of us armed with conventional wisdom, with sleeves rolled up and espousing there is only one view of the world. That is a world with a benign bias that is a result of their own ignorance, a bias shared by the establishment where they are happy to “Recognise traditional owners” but completely ignore 40,000 years of stable landscape management as being not scientifically based (due to their own biased view of what constitutes science).

Co2Land is not the author of what is written in the opening paragraph. However, on reflection it is very possible we are ignorant if not wrong for what we believe to be truth.  Truth, like real, prior, could be a synonym or even a proprietary product and still be wrong. We could be ignoring one of Einstein’s greatest tenants (the universe depends on the perspective of the observer).

Looking at the concept of a net movement of water away from drainage lines is possible when you research even at a basic level, like Wikipedia, or as follows as published by

“The force with which water is held by capillary action varies with the quantity of water being held. Water entering a natural void, such as a pore within the soil, forms a film on the surface of the material surrounding the pore. The adhesion of the water molecules nearest the solid material is greatest. As water is added to the pore, the thickness of the film increases, the capillary force is reduced in magnitude, and water molecules on the outer portion of the film may begin to flow under the influence of gravity. As more water enters the pore the capillary force is reduced to zero when the pore is saturated. The movement of groundwater through the soil zone is controlled, in part, by capillary action. The transport of fluids within plants is also an example of capillary action. As the plant releases water from its leaves, water is drawn upward from the roots to replace it”(Read more: Capillary Action – Liquid, Water, Force, and Surface – JRank Articles ).

This illustrates that science supports what the indigenous know in that water can back out across the slopes due to capillary action and in this way encouraging growth and interconnection of the soil “fungal mat”, and from the perspective of the observer in the drainage line moving the water ‘uphill’.  With a closed mind we might say ‘not possible’ – yet the Romans BC did it with viaducts and manipulating volume pressures to do so.  Should we have an open mind for these things? The answer appears to be it is beyond a cost benefit it is just a big yes.

If we relate this to the methodology process of the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) a strong case can be made for inclusion, greater than savanna burning. As told to us we could see success and it opens up millions of hectares of bush to better management part funded by carbon credits generated.  The advocates of this method gave CO2Land org an example of what could happen in an area of 1000ha. Said was: “If patches are prescriptive burnt on a ten year rotation then this would yield 120 tonnes of soil carbon sequestered a year, and if we assume 360 Australian Carbon Credit Units (CFI credits) @23 dollars per tonne. An income boost of +$8000 a year is possible”. If accepted is it noted all of this is possible from this activity without wholesale alteration to the natural balance.

CO2Land org has previously postulated that $7,000 per annum is needed as an enticement for participation in complex methods so this possibility would be enough to offset the liabilities of land ownership (rates, weeds control, land use etc), and give additional benefits that include productivity improvements and/or other opportunities generated.

If you wish to be critical we accept that the bio char method is acceptable under National Resource Management program (NRM). However, out point is in order to incentivize a market for the concept the CFI and ACCU’s are a better way to go and could open up a multi product concept with the potential for the way forward for the sustainable environment and hopefully those faithful to carbon will no longer be in a blue state and that will be because they no longer will be only living in hope and will be able to participate in a reality. We will get a result.



CFI – ‘black swan event’ treatments

Friends recently said they have been challenging conventional thinking, and they are tiring of the seemingly ‘black swan event’ treatment for their CFI ideas. It seems despite what is obvious until it is policy it cannot be measured and the process to change that view requires a consensus from the vested interests. In open discussion it was thought the matter centered around influence and the funding facility too old school as it measures either through historic evaluation or by a formulae that has not been questioned. This could be relevant because we are talking of the action of innovation being exercised to get results as opposed to standard measures for an outcome.

It follows that I was told a few years ago ‘ as a courageous person we need to reward you, a generous package should do it. But beware your ability to see through the veneer of policy, and act with sincerity is not the true reality of the politics. This of course points to how easy it is that the person acting out of moral fortitude can be seen as counterproductive in the minds of those that ‘play the game’. CO2Land org postulates that the ultimate manifestation of the artificial reality is by manifesting confusion and resentment and formulating as if the views were facts in order to direct perceptions of ‘doing good’ in their public decision-making declarations.  Postulating in this way shows that the courageous are seem as dangerous to those maintaining the Status Quo, or business as usual, and to get momentum for your good ideas or even get a fair audience on the carbon risk products you might offer will be subject to a difficult path.

A very good example is provided by Peter & Kerry Davies <>where they said it is eerily quiet when we asked about Bio char Methodology using Traditional Indigenous burning techniques. When questioned it was obvious they have products and advanced thinking capabilities that can reduce emissions and control waste impacts. They also actively showcase what is possible and are prepared to demonstrate the possible and as a direct quote from them where they asked a government officer in Climate Change a question on business as usual in the hope it could receive a fair audience, or influence for a commonsense response:

“Can you tell us whether there is any Carbon Methodologies based on Aboriginal burning practice under consideration or proposed?

The reason we ask is that we were privileged to have Rod Mason the Monaro Landscape Connectivity Project’s Indigenous Land Manager out to our property yesterday. He was showing us how they would manage some woodland and forest restoration using small patch burning. Now the question was asked of us by one of the other project officer’s present ‘Did we understand what he was doing and how it actually worked?’(Because they had witnessed some outstanding results but had no good scientific explanation for what was really happening).

The funny part is we do, but only because of our multidisciplinary background in sustainable forest management AND bio char production and use. What he showed us was a distillation of several thousand years of practice evolved through observation of the response.”

The Davies are uniquely qualified for their perspective, and know that these methods are actually optimised in situ bio char production techniques where temperature and duration of the process is controlled and aimed at minimizing damage to living plants and creating a interconnected pathway “for mycorrhizal fungi growth, which in itself is one of the key reasons  Bio char provides benefits well above its inherent fertiliser value”.

CO2Land org knows there is lots more to this and the material viewed shows a viable business we are quietly excited about. What is needed is recognition of the methodology. It is proposed that CFI and ACCU creation is the way forward. The ACCU could be more effective in encouraging the benefit from the concepts – it will also provide the incentives for training and education and research that might fill in our own knowledge gaps. It is certainly worthy of much greater research than we are aware is happening.

Some numbers you might like to think about in terms of conversion to bio char:

Method as proposed – char ratio yield approx. 5%

Uncontrolled bushfire – char ratio yield approx. 1%

In perspective (back of the envelope calculation) the yield volume of the method proposed would produce a suggested volume equivalent to around 1.25 tonnes/ha bio char application through this managed patch burning. The Davies’ mention that “this practice should not to be confused with large area mosaic burning as practiced by National Parks Managers”. The point out being “mosaic burning is a poor parody of the indigenous practices”.

It should also be added that “Rod Mason indicated that Wattles, Tea trees and Eucalypts produced different chars that were applied in specific areas to encourage particular plant communities” – Interesting is it not?

Contaminated Land – Remediation challenges

Presently, for a majority of contaminates, there are no endorsed standards or guidelines within Australia that define, for each category of land use, safe levels of soil contamination. What we do have within the National Environment Protection Measures Act 1998 (NEPM Act) guidelines is an adopted remediation criteria recommending investigation levels. Our suggestion is this investigation criterion is far too conservative and not well adopted or able to properly adept to manage health and environmental risks.

Posted on January 6, 2013 by co2land, Contaminated Land – Obligations to manage – was written to help the reader to understand that managing the environment means many things and it is not necessarily so that moral decisions will be made. From that story it follows that a natural discussion point is to now look at the remediation challenges, or if you prefer to call it – appropriate actions, and the point is made that to manage contamination the issues may involve: risk management activities, including actions to limit exposure to contaminates; remediation, such as physical containment, capture and on-site treatment, or removal/offsite for disposal; or whatever combination of above. In today’s political climate it is unlikely a government officer would go along with addressing the challenges unless due diligence investigations and factoring the results into a cost-benefit analysis was done ‘appropriately’. As a Carbon Manager, we might say extensive due diligence investigations and cost-benefit analysis has cost and time implications that science clearly indicates we do not have the luxury to indulge into – the earth as we know is dependent on our actions.

Notwithstanding the urgency matter, ‘real’ remediation challenges include managing the uncertainty associated with the costs of remediation, remember it was said investigative sampling could only provide an estimate of the actual problem (the nature, extent and concentrations of what is the contaminant(s)). Therefore any property management decision can attract significant cost risk when considering changes to land use. To recant the start of this discussion it was said recommendations are part of the NEPM Act and the conservative responses that will be elicited are not strong. It may be that the data available is part of the problem and that needs to be addressed in a more robust or targeted way.

CO2Land org noted that the federal Department of Finance and Deregulation has a number of areas responsible or have responsibility pertinent to management of contaminated land and wonders if it might be data collection that is the greater weakness in terms of the abilities for adequate and timely responses. Stronger more targeted data collection could be better used to quantify the risk and might lessen the likelihood of ‘excessive’ or redundant analysis on a project-by-project basis. The potential is to save money too!

We will expect we will increasingly see this approach being implemented and would applaud where issues such as uncertainty is reduced; improved decision making processes are covered off; and more efficient funding approval processes are followed. We believe additional benefits could accrue and if it is transparent shared lessons learnt and reports could give improvement in practice and the moral and the legal be much the same outcome.

Synfuel – to a ‘waste-free’ world

The prediction is Synfuel is the best alternative to meet world energy demand, and it will help address the other big issue of a waste-free environment.  The differences are an improvement over Biofuel as it will not compete with food production or involve land clearing, and the processes of the waste will put it to good use.

We already know the prediction of peak oil, what has changed is the dates when we will reach that tipping point, and it will be driven by demand. The current prediction is that fuel demand will triple by 2025, that gas energy and petroleum price will rise within 2 years and be subject to more competitive tendering processes as governments seek more revenues and vested interests seek to retain margins. Ironically, government (take Queensland for instance is solely assessing energy as a financial cost benefit, and this encourages consumption as a take or pay exercise). There is no demand constraint or carbon consideration other than price.

It is therefore reasonable to assume the oil industry will not be able to sustain supply.

A curious part of the matter is that the technology to address the demand and supply equation exists, the source of the feedstock is abundant, and government has the power in the form of existing legislation and approval processes to make the need for power ‘responsible’ and be encouraged. As CO2Land org is told, all that is needed is the assistance of the stakeholders to the innovative and the refinement of the design to meet accreditation requirements as a mass project rollout. We understand, currently the environmental protection license requirement policy is assessment on a project by project basis. The other impediment is the economics that proponents of most alternative and or renewable energy have issues with and that relates to costs, and cost can be in the form of cash investment or embodied problems in the ‘producability’. Therefore what must be overcome is the difficulty of the sustainability of the programs, not the technology.

What can be assured of is the technology to convert all organic waste to proper Synfuel or Kerosene according to the EU regulations, and in Australia (we understand the NSW EPA could accredit the technology in Australia within months) it is likely “as surely as day, the best, most cost effective and environmentally friendly way one can choose to convert waste to fuel. And it is one investment and not two – first in incineration or similar and then later into Synfuel. We can do it both with one technology” – If you would like to hear from the source of the quote, contact – .

CO2Land org also notes the ability to use to see what is the opinion around the world and especially agrees with the opinions of JAMES FERGUSON. Directly quoting:” However, this was not where this blog post goes. I wanted to make a simpler point. If you want to fix ‘Planned Waste’ then you had best address ‘Thoughtless Waste’ first. Why – because the first can be bought but not bought well in the context of the other, and the other must be learned – and cannot be bought at any price.

If thoughtless waste is addressed, it comes at the princely price of a penny – as in ‘a penny for your thoughts’. So payback is immediate and it clears noise away so that investment in reducing ‘Planned Waste’ can be made in the context of a reasonable operation. Please remember that thoughtless waste includes, not turning down thermostats, not adjusting time-clocks and making unfounded assumptions about needs.

Regarding the last ‘Obligatory Waste’ – can only say that the obligations are rules made to be broken. Waste is always wanton. So preventing waste always allows the actor access to the higher ground.”

CO2Land org then ponders recent discussion with Real Power Systems and Congent over feedstock for cogneration projects and those conversations was typical in that whenever and wherever ones reads about converting waste, or zero waste aspirations, around 90% of these discussions go around creating electricity from waste. In fact, it soon becomes discussion on a multiplicity of products and that the industry has a place to exist in a sustainable way, and it can be done, and it’s not difficult at all and each of the products make use of the resources we already have consumed.

So what about the other numerous natural sources from which to harvest as much electricity as we need – for instance wind, sun, hydro, ocean currents, vents in the ocean, photovoltaic, etc. Simply the answer is there is a place for all if we consider we will consume and economics says we need to grow to prosper. Therefore we must consider the many possibilities we should use just to meet the demand and consider the ability to reduce the carbon footprint of doing so, and the science says our demands are growing faster and the impacts are accelerating. It follows that three times the amount being demanded is more than the oil industry can maintain, and whether it is 2030 or 2025 when that comes about does not remove the need to think now and encourage the technology that converts all organic waste to reuse products. Think about this waste as from agriculture, Metropolitan waste streams, sewage, medical, hazardous, old oil and/or tyres and more and it can all be converted to Synfuel – this is not biofuel from productive land or food production diversions or sources. It is a fuel that goes from the manufacture plant into the engine, motor, jet and needs no blending. A well designed and tested unit produces desulphurized, 100% environmentally friendly fuel and the numbers show it will comply fully to the EU EN590 regulations, even exceeding the Cetane up to 58 and sometimes even more and also exceeding ASTM requirements.  Some numbers we could quote suggest around 63% from green waste blends.

Quoting ‘helga’ again: “If you wish so the plant will also produce A1-type Kerosene. 
You want to create electricity – no problem, we just add a genset and you get your electricity. 
BUT you invest only one time because investing now in an incineration or combustion plant – how long do you think this will a viable business? In most areas maybe for 8 – 10 years”. The analogy follows that the Synfuel industry will have a significant lead on other technolgies that will inevitable be developed to meet the demand for electricity. For instance in Goulburn yesterday, it was suggest Thorium reactors will be viable in the near term and the issues of producability will constrain the introduction in similar timeframes.  In the mean time Synfuel will solve a number of problems in landfill, the need to consume and the need for energy. ‘Helga’ also suggest our transport needs will not be met by electrical cars, and they are wasteful of resources also, and we should consider environment impacts of the millions of trucks, heavy machinery, planes, train locomotives and similar that cannot drive with electrical batteries – they will run on waste when it is converted to fuel. A fuel that can be produced in minutes without electricity and a waste can produce beneficial bi-products for agriculture (for instance bio-char) in six minutes.

Don’t you all think that this is the better way to go?

The operative of ‘Sustainability’, ‘Resilience’

A scientific term describing the dynamic balance of ecological systems – the term “sustainability”. Over the last 40 years or so since defined, it is not understood, or the meaning is misused. To appearances it is a similar problem for many terms like Demand Management, Energy Efficiency, Global Warming, Consistently, Resilience etc.

Posted on August 27, 2012 by co2landThe operative of ‘Consistently’, ‘Resilience’. Quote “Now a little more on why your methodology may be too narrow in its focus and it revolves around the word ‘Resilience’. According to the Decision Point, August 2012, Resilience is not about not changing as far as natural habitats are concerned – it is concerned with holding a system in exactly the same condition erodes resilience because the capacity to absorb disturbance is based on the system’s history of dealing with disturbances.”

Then we see a comment on that many in the UK are now using ‘resilience’ as a substitute for ‘sustainability’ especially when taking in business/operational terms, and gets over the still widely held link that sustainability is just about the environment. They claim “resilience links the need for an organisation to look to becoming enduring, being able to project itself into the future and be able to ride the vulnerabilities and challenges of scarce resources, energy security, adapting to climate change, and including social and economic aspects. 
Resilience – the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” Lovely, if it was perfect!

However, if you now look at why meanings change it could be enthusiasm at fault. Enthusiasm to be recognized and establish programs at the strategic level, and very little push actually comes from practitioners to bend the intended results. It follows that a strategic outcome is not always the path to a wanted result.

In a former role, some of us experienced that many government initiated ‘sustainability’ programs did not meet the ‘successful’ criteria, and that would be described as a ‘flawed’ program. The underlying issue would be determined that the program was not ‘robust’ enough. The move would then be to have a more robust means of measuring the success. You might have noticed we are no longer concerned with the problem of sustainability, but the measure. The means of ensuring it remains still long enough to guage success.

The effect is that policy continues and more and more metrics are being introduced, and becoming a place where subjectivity has no place and the need is to replace it with objectivity. You might see at this point it is ‘YES, MINISTER’, and when giving advice you would say ‘Challenging, but certainly quite feasible’. 
From this point on, there is now many ways that our terms that mean sustainability can be applied, and sit as a subset of the same term.

This is not saying all is wrong, many of the metrics are dealing with the social side of things and repositioning what might also be considered organisational boundaries into areas of influence that could do good. However, what is unfortunate, is the term “sustainability” (and many other well defined terms) becomes co-opted by business and politics and used to refer to all kinds of things that bear no relation to the triple bottom line or endurance over the long-term.

CO2Land org argues that diluting the meaning and confusing the general public this way could explain why people are easily led to believe the resources have been mis-used.

As further evidence of our position being shared. We quote: “This is because the term “sustainability” is not understood, and misused accordingly. A scientific term describing the dynamic balance of ecological systems in the 70s it was applied to economic systems by the WCED in 1987, and enhanced in later definitions to make clear its about leaving the world a better place for future generations (not the same place as it is now). As a green building advocate for nearly 30 years now, it has been important to me to distinguish between the process and the product. I doubt there are many “sustainable products” but we try, using a sustainability “lens” to do the best we can in designing products (from oatmeal to homes to manufacturing systems) that afford us environment, economic, and social benefit. This “systemic” lens is also known as integrated design, and the only way I know to achieve anything like the kind of future we crave for the greater good. This is so important to me that I am spending my “retirement” training and mentoring leaders in the sustainable building field in a systems approach to leadership — The Emerge Leadership Project.

To balance the argument , as a good debate should, another view:, “one of our most important jobs is to create healthy dialogues and allow people to discover their own meanings of sustainability. It is always my first step with clients, to help them define it for themselves and connect this definition to the definitions that might be different for other groups and societies.

I am sure the survey data backs up this response but exactly the same happened with Quality. Everyone followed the Toyota Model and we experienced BS5750, ISO 9000 etc. Over time the value of belonging to the club was eroded by spin and a watering down of the intensity of the standard. Sustainability isn’t easy – that is the point. Whatever you believe you can change the word for will, over time, suffer exactly the same apathy as the low hanging fruit is harvested. Surely these same highly experienced executives can find a way of innovating because one thing is clear – there is massive room for improvement.”

CO2Land org has the last word – we take particular note of “the club was eroded by spin and a watering down of the intensity of the standard” – that is our point.

Bioenergy policy – case for clarification

Two important statements: Coal is not a sustainable option for energy production. Energy production ‘product substitution’ could result in the use of higher carbon alternatives. Do we need to educate policy makers on what this means?

During 2011, a company called Carbon Innovation had high hopes that bioenergy projects would form part of its sustainability platform. The platform built on biomass for energy production and biochar products. It was a noble cause and the indicators were it could be a success. Like so many innovators, the fight became not about the quality of product, but of policy, and waiting for the strategy to be formed and implemented. All this takes time. Time is money and for a business case to be proven it needs to be bankable.  To be bankable requires metrics and measure of product approval.

In the debate of climate change verses global warming it should be clear-cut: The former is trends and the later is shorter-term rises. But somehow, deniers fixated on the later, media adopted the term as a de facto for sensationalism and controversy. The result what was a genuine cause becomes ‘issue’.

Let me put Carbon Innovation’s cause to you first: Forrest floor waste has many negative consequences and the bioenergy potential was a focus towards truly sustainable inputs.  Sufficiency reports advises any further investigation into waste products for energy use, such as wood waste from forestry was a sensible alternative to coal burning, and a very good global warming mitigation.

Representation to ABARE questioned if there was an accurate accounting system. Whether the systems were capable of raising awareness of carbon debt and material substitution, or whether it merely found a ‘lumping in ‘ approach easier. The argument being it is a lazy way and the approach fails to be robust and in all likelihood would lead to a challenge of the effectiveness of genuine environmental benefits. It should be clarified what was asked was for waste to be used as the fuel, not the deliberate destruction of a carbon sink.

Carbon Innovation Pty Ltd is now in the process of a ‘Strike-Off Action In Progress’ with ASIC – as a volunteer action by the management.

The CO2Land org notices a number of stories now circulating on Biomass for energy production and finds some interesting foes for the concept. Albeit it might be again the problem of ‘lumping in’ and things being taken as a ‘broad brush’ statement and failing to see the wood for the trees – not original but illustrated the problems very well.

While Carbon Innovation was trying for a favourable policy position in Australia, to offer a carbon neutral renewable resource, the UK government supports this shift through subsidies on biomass to combat climate change. However, some environmentalists label these subsidies ‘climate fraud’. Background stories:

Bioenergy policy

“The UK Bioenergy Strategy published earlier this year, aims to support sustainable bioenergy in order to reduce emissions. With this goal in mind, the UK plans to continue subsidising the use of wood for large-scale power generation. The strategy makes it clear that the use of wood, in comparison to coal, will result in emission reductions. As a result, several British power companies are actively following this directive”.

Dirtier than coal?

“A new report challenges the assumption that biomass is carbon neutral. ‘Dirtier than coal?‘, a combined effort between RSPB, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, goes so far as to say that replacing coal by burning whole trees would increase emissions by 49% over the next 40 years. The report identifies two key critiques of the assumption that wood is a carbon-neutral energy source.

1. Wood is inefficient

Stuart Housden, Director at RSPB Scotland, explains that the aim of government biomass subsidies is to shift towards lower carbon intensive inputs. Housden argues that replacing coal with wood will not have this outcome.

“When trees are burnt in power stations, CO2 comes out of the chimney, just like it does when you burn coal. The difference is that wood is less energy-dense and is wetter than coal, so it takes a lot more energy to harvest, transport, process and finally burn it…

Transport emissions are likely to rise as the UK will be forced to import wood in order to meet rising demand. On a local scale, as demand and price rises, industries using wood may be pushed into using cheaper options. This ‘product substitution’ could result in the use of higher carbon alternatives.

2. Carbon debt

Advocates of biomass argue that losses in carbon storage from harvesting of wood is compensated by regrowth. This leads to the second ‘accounting error’ of the bioenergy strategy. It fails to recognise the time lag between initialising regrowth and mature, carbon sequestering ecosystems. This issue of ‘carbon debt’ is one of the most serious criticisms of biomass for energy production. Housden goes on to point out that,

(It can take decades, if not centuries for the trees to recapture that carbon, leaving us with more emissions in the atmosphere now – when we least need it).”

 To put into a summary:

They are correct in these main areas:

  • There is the need for an accurate accounting system that avoids ‘lumping in’ one size fits all
  • Accounting systems should factor an awareness of carbon debt and material substitution
  • Bioenergy should refocus towards truly sustainable inputs
  • Further investigation into waste products for energy use, such as wood waste from forestry would be a very sensible strategy
  • There must be continued discussion over biomass as a renewable resource, and the classification of carbon neutral
  • Carbon neutral must be clarified in a policy context, as should other loose terms such as sustainable, real, even carbon (see footnote).

Many groups and governments agree coal is not a sustainable option for energy production. What is not clear is the question of the assumptions that surround policy regarding biomass as a product substitution. However, CO2Land org cannot support claims of ‘climate fraud’ by some environmentalists saying Governments practice it. We claim it is more akin to ignorance and under resourcing of responsible units, and that need to be addressed to get effective actions from government.

Footnote: Carbon – the word confused in CFIPosted on August 2, 2012 by co2land .