24 Dec 2013

Study Reveals Funders Behind the Climate Change Denial Effort

A new study conducted by Drexel University environmental sociologist Robert J. Brulle, PhD, exposes the organizational underpinnings and funding behind the powerful climate change countermovement. This study marks the first peer-reviewed, comprehensive analysis ever conducted of the sources of funding that maintain the denial effort. 

Through an analysis of the financial structure of the organizations that constitute the core of the countermovement and their sources of monetary support, Brulle found that, while the largest and most consistent funders behind the countermovement are a number of well-known conservative foundations, the majority of donations are “dark money,” or concealed funding.
The data also indicates that Koch Industries and ExxonMobil, two of the largest supporters of climate science denial, have recently pulled back from publicly funding countermovement organizations. Coinciding with the decline in traceable funding, the amount of funding given to countermovement organizations through third party pass-through foundations like Donors Trust and Donors Capital, whose funders cannot be traced, has risen dramatically.
Read article

19 Dec 2013

Protect our reef

More info here

Get up!

Get up!

Stop the shark cull in WA - 4 Jan

Update 2 January
There are almost 6500 people signed up for the Cottesloe  protest via Facebook 

Conservation groups and opposition politicians will speak at the protest, which starts near the Indiana Teahouse at Cottesloe Beach at 10am on Saturday.
Simultaneous demonstrations are being planned at beaches on the eastern states, as well as at Broome's Cable Beach.
It comes as commercial fishers have until tomorrow to bid for the contract to manage and patrol the baited lines.
Read article

18 Dec 2013

Staron Design Awards 2014

After winning the concept award for edition 1 this year and one of my students, Callum Campbell, winning the concept award for edition 2 I thought I should urge some more people to submit ideas for interesting use of this flexible material which is fully recyclable.
More info here

We know who’s profiting from emissions - let’s bill them

Join the discussion:
Research published last month in the journal Climatic Change may provide an essential building block in proving corporate liability for current and future climate change damage.
Researcher Richard Heede found that 90 entities are responsible for an astounding 63%of global carbon emissions. Heede’s eight-year project discovered that Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and ConocoPhillips have contributed 12.5% of global carbon emissions. (See also previous post) 

Who pays for the damage?

The Carbon Majors should no longer influence government decision making from behind closed doors. Instead, they need to talk openly with the international community about their contribution to climate change. They need to be held accountable through the Loss and Damage Mechanism.
Read The Conversation here

17 Dec 2013

Core77 Design Award

Recognizing excellence in all areas of design enterprise, the Core77 Design Awards celebrates the richness of the design profession and its practitioners. We present 17 categories of entry, providing designers, researchers and writers a unique opportunity to communicate the intent, rigor and passion behind their efforts. From client work to self-initiated projects, entrepreneurial to pro-bono engagements, we embrace a wide diversity of enterprise: commercial, cultural, social, environmental and discursive.
Design Categories: Consumer Products - Equipment - Soft Goods - Furniture & Lighting - Interiors & Exhibitions - Visual Communication - Packaging - Interaction - Service - Transportation - Social Impact - Educational Initiatives - Strategy & Research - Writing & Commentary - Speculative - DIY - Food Design

Both the Professional and Student Winners of each category will receive the C77DA trophy, and all Honorees will be published in the Awards Gallery, across the Core77 online network. Be part of the most inclusive and celebrated design awards platform of the digital age. More info here

The Plastic Bank

"The Plastic Bank is setting up plastic repurposing centers around the world, where there’s an abundance of both waste plastic and poverty.
They are empowering people to harvest plastics as a currency they can exchange for tools, household items, parts & 3D printing.
Our mission is to remove plastic waste from the land, oceans and waterways while helping people ascend from poverty and transition into entrepreneurship." - Plastic Bank
Read Article

100 days under Abbott: is his real legacy what we're not being told?

Having completed his first 100 days in office, Abbott has produced a downloadable commemorative pamphlet (pdf) listing the government’s comparable achievements since September 7.
It’s a curious document, given that it speaks not with the grandiloquent language of prime ministerial vision so much as to the tick-a-box “actioned items” tone of an end of week managerial report.
Read article
"The longer Prime Minister Abbott and his big business mates run the show, the less the public knows about what's going on behind the scenes. The Abbott government is a secretive, cruel and chaotic government".

In PM Tony Abbott's first 100 days he has:
• Continued his campaign to roll back action on global warming• Begun a harsh campaign of cuts to health, education and community services• Increased secrecy and cruelty towards vulnerable people seeking asylum• Undermined attempts to address discrimination in society regarding sexuality and race• Demonstrated that big business and mining interests will be put ahead of communities and the environment under the Coalition governmentRead article
100 days, 40 failures: a preview of secretive, cruel and chaotic government
Caring for the Environment
1. Approved the largest coal port in the world in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and approved a mega coal mine in the Galilee Basin, turning the Great Barrier Reef into a dumping ground for dredge spoil and a shipping super highway.2. Done deals with every state and territory government to gut and downgrade national environment laws by giving approval powers to state premiers.3. Removed the community's right to challenge decisions where the government has ignored expert advice on threatened species impacts.4. Done nothing to protect farmers from unwanted coal seam gas operations, despite Tony Abbott saying landholders should have the right to say no to CSG companies coming on to their land.5. Scrapped the COAG Standing Council on Environment and Water.6. Started dismantling Australia's world leading marine protection system.7. Failed to provide the promised customs vessel to monitor whaling operations in the Southern Ocean.8. Removed protection of iconic Murray River ecological communities.9. Failed to permanently shut down Ranger Uranium Mine after a massive spill of 1.4 million litres of radioactive acid at the Kakadu National Park.10.Started to unwind the World Heritage protections for Tasmanian forests.11.Abolished positions of climate change and science ministers.
Foreign Affairs
12. Severely compromised and endangered diplomatic relations with key neighbours Indonesia and East Timor. 13. Failed to protect Australians from spying and surveillance overreach.
Caring for Asylum Seekers
14. Hidden information from the Parliament and the people about the government's treatment of asylum seekers.15. Separated a refugee mother from her newborn baby.16. Completely frozen the issuing of protection visas, leaving thousands languishing in detention.17. Disbanded the Immigration Health Advisory Group for asylum seekers.
18. Back-flipped twice on Gonski, reversing a commitment to a ‘unity ticket' and failing to deliver equitable education funding.19. Converted crucial Start-Up Scholarships into loans, increasing the debt of 80,000 higher education students by $1.2 billion.
20. Failed to act on mental health, despite Minister Dutton saying that mental health would be his biggest priority for the first 100 days.21. Axed funding to the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia.
Global warming
22. Abolished the Climate Commission in an attempt to silence our climate scientists.23. Attempted to abolish our clean energy laws including our price on pollution, in a vendetta against the science behind global warming.24. Attempted to abolish the Climate Change Authority and Clean Energy Finance Corporation - despite the fact that both authorities are reducing pollution.25. Failed to acknowledge the link between global warming and increasingly severe extreme weather including bushfires, droughts and storms.
26. Broke its NBN election promise of giving all Australians access to 25 megabits per second download speeds by 2016.27. Failed to prioritise public transport infrastructure over tollway projects like the WestConnex and the East-West Link.
Caring for people
28. Challenged the ACT Marriage Equality laws to the High Court ensuring discrimination against same-sex couples continues.29. Moved to repeal protections in the Racial Discrimination Act.30. Taken money from aged care workers by dumping the Workforce Compact which provided a $1.2 billion fund to give aged care workers a much-needed 1% pay rise.31. Taken money from the childcare sector, by asking them to hand back funding for desperately needed wage increases.32. Hurt families by attempting to freeze the childcare rebate until 2017 increasing childcare payments for 150,000 families.33. Broken an election promise for PM to spend first week with Aboriginal community.34. Scrapped Social Inclusion Board, which had been established to guide policy on the reduction of poverty in Australia.35. Scrapped Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing, established to help address the challenges we will face in coming years as the number of older Australians grows.36. Suspended the Wage Connect program, despite it being proven to deliver good outcomes for unemployed people.37. Repealed the pokie reform legislation achieved in the last parliament to combat problem gambling.38. Condoned human rights abuses in Sri Lanka by saying "sometimes in difficult circumstances, difficult things happen".39. Failed to intervene to protect jobs and the future of Holden and Qantas.40. Included only one woman in the federal cabinet.

12 Dec 2013

Australian Farmers Gain Mass Consumer Support over GMO Pollution

Farmers in three Australian States are seeking public support for a Senate inquiry into the post-commercialisation impacts of existing regulated GM crops – as a Western Australian (WA) farmer who lost much of livelihood due to GM contamination seeks to crowd-source legal costs for his landmark trial.
Steve Marsh, an organic farmer from Kojonup, south of Perth, lost organic certification for most of his farm when GM canola contaminated his crop. He is suing his neighbour in the Supreme Court of WA, in a landmark world’s first trial beginning on February 10 2014.

Yesterday independent South Australia Senator Nick Xenophon launched the farmers
 www.change.org/contamination petition, and videos and a website for the Safe Food Foundation, which is coordinating fundraising for Steve’s case which is already attracting global interest as the first of its kind.The petition has attracted more than 21,000 signatures in 24 hours.
While law firm Slater & Gordon is providing legal work on a pro bono basis under their public interest policy, other substantial costs, for barristers and experts, requires significant further fundraising for the fast approaching trial.
Steve is supported by many, including TV celebrities, but he hopes that his battle will get broad public support. Steve’s stand on being allowed to choose what he wants to grow – organic, non-GM crops – is the same as our right to choose what we want to eat.
Read article

New adhesives standard on the way

Recognising the desire by companies to demonstrate the environmental preferability of their adhesive and related products, GECA (Good Environmental Choice Australia) is updating its Adhesives standard.
As well as updating criteria, the new standard will see its scope changed to include joint sealants and fillers, but most likely will be narrowed down to products used in building work and commercial manufacturing, excluding consumer/office glues.
The standard will be submitted to the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) so that products certified under it can be recognised by a variety of the GBCA’s assessment tools, providing added benefits for licensees.
A draft version of the standard is expected to be released for public comment shortly. More info contact GECA here

6 Dec 2013

Give love, not crap

Give your time, take your kids out more often. 

Give them gift cards for a day in the bush, involve them in making their own picnic treats and take them to the river, beach, park for a fun day. Create a gift card for the movies, one for baking that huge cake together, for that sports game or a concert. A gift card for the zoo, or AQUA, the aquarium, one for a cycle trip around the river and stop for a picnic or a huge milkshake. One for a play or a classic concert at the theater.

Not only nice for your kids, but also for your friends and family. It doesn't have to be something made of plastic which you've spend a very long time on finding and they will put away with all the rest of their material possessions in the cupboard... Give something what gives you both a heap of fun, give love!

3 Dec 2013

Chemical Time Bomb

In the 1980s and 1990s governments across Australia outlawed the use of the herbicide 245T. The ban was introduced for one very good reason - 245T contains dioxin, a chemical impurity with the potential to seriously harm people who are exposed to it.
But has the dioxin menace been tamed?
Four Corners reveals evidence that this potentially deadly chemical compound may still be present in weed control products and that authorities do not routinely test for it.
The program also reveals that this hands-off approach to regulation is entirely in keeping with the way governments have dealt with the lethal chemical dioxin over four decades.
Weeds are a scourge on country life, costing landowners up to $4 billion a year. In the 1960s and 70s the solution used in weed eradication often involved the spraying of herbicides 245T and 24D. Both substances contained dioxin. It was common practice for workers, in many parts of the country, to decant the herbicides from large drums into backpacks to apply the chemicals. In many cases they sprayed the liquid without using proper protective clothing.
Four Corners reveals the full extent of the problems caused by the chemicals. We meet the families of former government employees who have died almost certainly as a result of their exposure. The program also reveals the failure of successive governments to acknowledge the problems associated with the use of the chemicals and the refusal of those governments to pay adequate compensation to people who sprayed them and who have suffered massive health problems as a result. Four Corners reveals there are now reports of the children and partners of former sprayers also getting sick.
It is now widely accepted by experts that dioxin is the common factor that causes health problems in people who were exposed to herbicides. Although governments finally banned 245T, they continued to sanction the use of 24D as a herbicide, provided it did not contain anything more than trace levels of dioxin. The problem is authorities admit they do not routinely test for the potentially lethal chemical contaminant.
Four Corners has found evidence that herbicides containing 24D, currently being sold, do have levels of dioxin which could pose a potential health risk. Significantly, experts warn that cheap imports might be a source of herbicides contaminated with dioxin and yet those imports haven't attracted significant scrutiny.
To add to the problem posed by the lack of regulation enforcement, there is also evidence that farmers are spraying forms of 24D that drift across large tracts of neighbouring land creating a potential danger to other farm crops.

Australians may pay the price in Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement

A leaked draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal looks to have worrying intentions.

Australians could pay more for drugs and medicines, movies, computer games and software, and be placed under surveillance as part of a US-led crackdown on internet piracy, according to details of secret trade negotiations exposed by WikiLeaks.

A leaked draft of a controversial chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement reveals the negotiating positions of 12 countries including Australia on copyright, patents and other intellectual property issues, with a heavy focus on enforcement measures against internet piracy.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has indicated he is keen to see the trade talks pushed to a successful conclusion next month, saying that ''there's always horse-trading in these negotiations, but in the end … everyone is better off''.

Intellectual property law expert Matthew Rimmer said the draft was ''very prescriptive'' and strongly reflected US trade objectives and multinational corporate interests ''with little focus on the rights and interests of consumers, let alone broader community interests''.
Read article

2 Dec 2013

90 firms behind 66% of greenhouse gases

JUST 90 companies worldwide produced fuels that generated two-thirds of industrial greenhouse gas emissions from 1854 to 2010, according to a new study.
The 90 biggest producers of fuels driving climate change include investor-owned corporations, such as Exxon Mobil and Chevron, and state-owned oil companies, such as Saudi Aramco and Mexico's Pemex.

The top five producers of fuels driving climate change over the last 150 years are Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Saudi Aramco, BP and GazProm, the Russian company that is the world's largest natural gas producer.
Read article

Vaclav Smill, a professor emeritus of environment and geography

Endorsed by Bill Gates this author of three dozen books has analyzed the world’s biggest challenges in detail about the future of energy, food production, and manufacturing.

"Manufacturing is crucial to innovation.
Most innovation is not done by research institutes and national laboratories. It comes from manufacturing—from companies that want to extend their product reach, improve their costs, increase their returns. What’s very important is in-house research. Innovation usually arises from somebody taking a product already in production and making it better: better glass, better aluminum, a better chip. Innovation always starts with a product".

"Apple! Boy, what a story. No taxes paid, everything made abroad—yet everyone worships them. This new iPhone, there’s nothing new in it. Just a golden color. What the hell, right? When people start playing with color, you know they’re played out".
Read the whole interview

Aquaponics basics

Why you should set up an organic aquaponics growing system at your house 

Aquaponics is an integrated aquaculture (growing fish) and hydroponic (growing soilless plants) system that mutually benefits both environments.
More info here or like this Queenslanders Facebook page: Bits out the back, Urban Farming