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December 01, 2005

It's raining, it's pouring ...

... but that doesn't mean the drought has broken. In Brisbane, we've had stormy weather for what seems like weeks. Blackouts are back -- remember the fun of reading by candlelight? -- and the rain is greening gardens and lawns all over town. What it isn't doing is falling into dams -- so along with hail, winds and torrential downpours, we still have level 2 water restrictions. It's even worse elsewhere. The drought has lasted four years and the water crisis is real even if that's hard to believe when it's bucketing down outside. The Brisbane Institute has a paper on the water issue at http://www.brisinst.org.au/resources/brisbane_institute_queensland_water.html. It sets out what we need to do to avoid running out of water, and what role local government should play in getting things sorted.
Posted by belinda at 09:33 AM | Comments (0)

March 31, 2004

Hydrogen extra

The Australian Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources (http://www.industry.gov.au/) has also recently released a report on the hydrogen economy. The report The National Hydrogen Study was prepared for the Department by consultants ACIL Tasman and Parsons Brinckerhoff. It suggests that the Australian demand for hydrogen as a fuel source could be as great as 18 million cubic metres by 2030, with up to half of all mobile phones and 20% of vehicles using the clean new fuel. The study is available at http://www.aciltasman.com.au/clients/Hydrogen/. Thanks to Fiona A for the tip. ACIL Tasman also has an Issues Paper for further information.
Posted by belinda at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2004

Could have told them so

You can't see past them, they guzzle gas, their bullbars are ridiculous in a city environment and they are killing people at more than double the rate of ordinary cars. What are they? Four-wheel drive vehicles. Don't take my word for it - the Parliamentary Library says so in Research Note 27: Road Safety and 4WDs. According to the research: "Almost ninety per cent of children killed in NSW driveways in 1998 were run over by 4WDs or large commercial vehicles". How come? You can't see past them for a start. Though people often buy 4WDs for safety, the research shows that "a higher proportion of 4WDs was involved in fatal rollover crashes compared to normal passenger cars (35 per cent and 13 per cent respectively)." It goes on to note that: "In using a 4WD, instead of a normal car, one's chance of death or serious injury falls by 4 in 1000. But the chance of killing or injuring others rises by 11 in 1000, with a resulting cost to the community." The note is in HTML at http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/rn/2003-04/04rn27.htm and in PDF at http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/rn/2003-04/04rn27.pdf. Wouldn't drive one myself - did I mention that I really hate not being able to see past them on the roads? Time to downsize, folks.
Posted by belinda at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

October 31, 2003

Convention on Biological Diversity

The Convention on Biological Diversity (http://www.biodiv.org/) was convened after the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro with three main goals:

  • the conservation of biological diversity
  • the sustainable use of its components
  • the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources
The site provides news about meeting and events and provides access to a big range of documents and reports.
Posted by belinda at 03:29 PM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2003

Let's get real

According to UQ research fellow and economist John Quiggin, "The current state of the Murray, whose problems range from rising salinity levels to the loss of wetlands, has become a symbol of our failure to balance the needs of the economy and the environment." This piece, "Letís clear muddy waters" on the Murray-Darling system originally appeared in the AFR and appears now on Australian Policy Online. Read it at http://www.apo.org.au/webboard/items/00491.shtml.
Posted by belinda at 02:45 PM | Comments (0)

October 02, 2003

Kyoto Protocol or death

Global warming is already killing people, according to a story in Wired News. A new study, by scientists at the World Health Organization and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, claims climate change may already be responsible for as many as 160,000 deaths a year. Many of the deaths occur in developing nations in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia, hardest hit by the spread of malnutrition, diarrhoea and malaria in the wake of warmer temperatures, floods and droughts caused by global warming. It's a wake-up call. Read the full story at http://www.wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,60640,00.html/wn_ascii.
Posted by belinda at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)

September 03, 2003

Time to lose the 4WD?

They call four wheel drives 'sports utility vehicles' in America and they are wrecking the environment faster than small cars do. The report, Driving Up the Heat: SUVs and Global Warming, looks at the impact of SUVs on the environment, and it is not a happy story. Pollution! Global warming! Oil dependency! Read the bad news at http://www.sierraclub.org/globalwarming/SUVreport/.
Posted by belinda at 03:01 PM | Comments (0)