clear the air

Face the Facts: Where the Water Flows

§  30% of water use in the home is in the shower.

§  Having a bath can use twice as much water as a shower.

§  Leave the tap running and you will waste 15 litres of water a minute.

§  Retro showerheads use about 20 litres of water per minute.

 §  AAA rated showerheads use about 11 litres of water per minute.

Simon Turner


What Does Your iPod & Kyoto Have in Common?

iPod To understand the deadlock in the debate on global climate change, look no further than your iPod.

The vast majority of the world’s MP3 players are made in China, where the main power source is coal. Manufacturing a single MP3 player releases about 7.7kg of planet-warming carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

iPods, along with thousands of other goods churned out by Chinese factories, from toys to rolled steel, pose a question that is becoming an issue in the climate-change debate. If a gadget is made in China by an American company and exported and used by consumers from Stockholm to São Paulo should the Chinese government be held responsible for the carbon released in manufacturing it? Present agreements such as Kyoto look at emissions on a country-by-country basis, requiring participating nations to reduce greenhouse gases released within their borders.

In other words, the manufacturing nation pays for the pollution. Many are arguing, however, that the next global climate treaty should take into account a nation’s emissions “consumption.”  

Experts, environmentalists and scientists argue that the emissions are embedded in goods that move around the world through trade.  Therefore if Australia imports iPods from China, Australian’s should share some responsibility for the pollution produced in making them.

In other words, judgment should be based on a “consumer pays” criteria.

Simon Turner

Where Your Water Goes

Here is a simple breakdown of the average Australian household’s water consumption.

Australian Household Water Consumption

Global Warming in Layman’s Terms

Global Warming

The average surface temperature has warmed one degree Fahrenheit (0.6 degrees Celsius) during the last century, according to the National Research Council.

The temperatures were relatively unchanged from 1880 to 1910, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

They rose till about 1945, cooled until about 1975 and have risen steadily to present day.There are several possible reasons for the warming, scientists say.

A change in the Earth’s orbit or the intensity of the sun’s radiation could change, triggering warming or cooling.

The reason most cited for the current warming trend is an increase in the concentrations of greenhouse gases, which are in the atmosphere naturally and help keep the planet’s temperature at a comfortable level.

The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, for instance, has increased by 35 percent since the dawn of the industrial age, according to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, commonly referred to as the IPCC.

The presence of methane is now 151 percent above pre-industrial levels, but the rate of increase has slowed in recent decades, according to the EPA.

Meanwhile, nitrous oxide increased by about 18 percent during the past 200 years.

Many scientists and experts who have studied global warming believe the increase is primarily the result of human activities, like the burning of fossil fuels, emissions from vehicles and the clearing of forests.

Quite simply, for the last 30 years, there’s no way there’s anything natural that can explain it.

There are, however, skeptics who are less convinced of the role of human’s in climate change, arguing that the current warming trend is the result of natural variability, where a planet goes through phases of warming and cooling (as is the case of any fluid-covered planet) and thus the human contribution to it is minimal.

The greatest point of contention is the possible implications for future political and economic policies for the world’s nations.

The lower end of the range could cause more intense hurricanes, droughts, wildfires and flooding, Schneider said. The higher end could lead to the catastrophes commonly associated with the visions of Hollywood filmmakers.

Therefore, whilst scientists cannot agree exactly how much the planet is going to warm up, most are convinced with major certainty that it is indeed going to get warmer.

Simon Turner

The Greenhouse Effect in Layman’s Terms

Mountain Peek The science of how the Earth is warmed is relatively straight-forward.

Energy and light from sun go through the Earth’s atmosphere and strike its surface, which warms the planet.

The Earth emits the energy, but it is trapped in the atmosphere by naturally occurring greenhouse gases — like water vapor and carbon dioxide — which help maintain a warm, comfortable temperature for life to exist.

The earth’s temperature is generally about 60 degrees Fahrenheit (about 16 degrees Celsius).

Without the naturally occurring greenhouse gases, the temperature would plunge to about 0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 18 degrees Celsius).

OZone Layer Hole Closing

Stratos“This is the smallest hole for a decade”.

The ozone layer is on track to a full recovery, with the latest sets of satellite images showing the hole is shrinking.

“Apart from the (unusual) 2002 hole, this is the smallest hole for at least a decade,” CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric scientist, Dr Paul Fraser, said.

The hole in the ozone layer has been progressively shrinking since the phase-out of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halon gases in the 1990s.

“I think our long term prediction is still basically out to 2060 before we’ll get long-term recovery,” Dr Fraser said.

“We’ve got this large reservoir of CFCs and halons sitting in the atmosphere, slowly leaking into the stratosphere where it does the ozone destruction,” Dr Fraser said.“The slow leakage means it will around for a long time. We’re paying for the sins of the past.”

He added that increased levels of greenhouse gases are likely to push delay an ozone recovery by a few decades.  Simon Turner


Saving Energy When You Travel: Cars

Try to combine trips in the car.

Several short trips begun when the engine is cold creates unnecessary air pollution.