Saturday, February 21, 2009

Every drop is precious

Recent logging industry claims that logging our catchments will improve water yields and protect them are false and opportunistic. Scientists have confirmed that logging in our water catchments, like bushfires, decreases the quality and quantity of water they produce.

The recent catastrophic bushfires travelled at alarming speed, up to 100km/h, across farmland and through plantations and heavily "managed" forests, including forests where recent fuel reduction burns had been done. Bushfire and climate scientists have confirmed that Victoria's hottest day every, combined with very strong north winds, created conditions for an unstoppable firestorm.

The bushfires slowed considerably when they eventually entered Melbourne's water catchments. Intact wet sclerophyll forests in our water catchments are less prone to burning, and temperatures and wind speeds have eased. Melbourne Water is doing a great job managing our protected catchments.

However, the Victorian government has been sitting on their hands holding continual reviews about the destruction of some of our catchments by logging; it is now time for action. Stage 4 water restrictions are looming in the near future, and every drop of water is precious. We are now facing less water in our dams and drastically reduced rainfall across the state.

Melbourne's water catchments, and those elsewhere across the Victoria, should be immediately protected from logging in the interests of all Victorians.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bolt dogwhistling: Stridently dark green

From Andrew Bolt in today's Heraldsun: Stridently dark green

GLOBAL warming preachers have been crowing over the bushfires in ways not just despicable but dangerous.

Here are Bolt's lies:
  • Green activists had been desperately wrong to oppose fuel reduction burns (Greens policies support fuel reduction burning)

  • Sat 7 Feb was not Victoria's hottest day on record (it was, he quotes an anecdotal newspaper report)

  • Forest experts insist that green policies on forest management helped to kill so many in the first place (no forest experts quoted - anonymous sources, and an outright lie)

  • The planet actually hasn't warmed for a decade, and we've faced even worse conditions than these before (not true)

  • Global warming is not associated with the recent bushfires (not true - the increased risk of such events has been predicted the the CSIRO and climate scientists)

  • Global warming preachers are desperate to try to fool you (Who exactly? This is just mud throwing)

  • But I don't just write all this to go nyah-nyah. Normally that's fun, I admit, but too many people are dead for such crowing of my own. (hypocrite - that is exactly what he is doing)

  • Greenhouse gases which might not actually cause the warming that might already have stopped anyway. And which didn't cause these fires. (incorrect)

And a false dichotomy:

Bolts $4b "plan" OR the greens' $100 billion and more to "stop" global warming?

Bolt doesn't have a plan other than a random assortment of ideas he has pinched from recent newspaper articles. The Greens don't have a $100 billion plan to stop global warming.

Clearly, some actions on addressing bushfire risk and emergency procedures are required. The Royal Commission will hear, gather and assess evidence, then make recommendations. I think the vast majority of them should be enacted.

In short:

Fear, no evidence and incorrect sums, blaming, and several red herrings.

This is more of Bolt's propaganda war against "greens", "Greens", conservation and anyone who believes we should take action to address climate change and global warming. It is a mixture of mud slinging and denial.

And here is online response to Bolt's shameless dogwhistling:
“I am disgusted with the whole 'green' movement. Every 'green' advocate should be cut -quartered-and hung. Bob Brown & the other 'green' cronies should not be given the time of day. What's more important - the life of a tree, or human life? Bugger the environment, if it means my life is in jeopardy? The environment has looked after itself quite well for God knows how long, & it will continue to do so - without my help thank-you very much!

Posted by: Steve Morgan of Echuca 8:29am today”
Andrew Bolt (and Miranda Devine) must accept full responsibility if their hate-mongering and lies results in murder and/or "lynching".

I wonder if they both believe their nonsense? If they do they are idiots, if they don't they are pariahs; best avoided.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Barrie Cassidy blames greens for bushfires

The harrowing tales from survivors and CFA people on the After the Firestorm: An ABC News Special" tonight were compelling viewing.

However, the host Barrie Cassidy then displayed the most appalling and offensive editorialising journalism I have ever seen the ABC broadcast.

Barrie Cassidy said "and people say the greens have too much influence, what do think Peter Attiwell?"

This was a leading question for Attiwell, who is ex Forestry faculty Melbourne Uni and has been employed by the Victorian Association of Forest Industries (VAFI) at various times. Attiwell has previously made public statements about "logging being good for forests", "forests need disturbance" and the "importance of fuel reduction burning for forest management" over recent years.

Attiwell's response to this leading question was inaccurate on several counts, and represented a pro-logging anti conservation political position.

Attiwell claimed that
  • there is far too much fuel in the forests and that is why the fires were so bad
  • The 1983 Royal Commission made 23 (?) recommendations and the government has only implemented 6, oops 7 of them
  • There hasn't been nearly enough burning, the cycle is once every 30(?) years, only a very small percentage has been fuel reduction burnt.
  • We need to burn on a cycle of every 7 years to make things safe
  • We don't need another commission, we just need proper burning. Ecological burning.
No contrary opinions to this were aired or raised.

Cassidy also failed to mention that Black Saturday was the hottest day on record in Victoria and in any Australian capital city ever, and that the three days above 43C the previous week made the entire state tinder dry. These type of extreme weather events have been linked by Professor David Karoly and the CSIRO to the effects of climate change.

I know for a fact that a lot of the forest around Marysville has been fuel reduction burnt by DSE on numerous occasions over the last 10 years. This of course made no difference to the ferocity of the fire.

There is no scientific consensus on the claimed ecological benefits of fuel reduction burning. It is actually done to reduce fuel loads, not manage ecology. Scientists have also observed that excessive burning of native forests can actually make them more prone to burning by changing the ecology of the forest from wet sclerophyll to more fire prone dry sclerophyll over time.

Much of the fires burnt on grassland, farmland, plantations and heavily "managed" and logged native forest. Around 50% of the area burnt was privately owned land.

On Cassidy's mention of "the greens", there are no elected Greens in the Murrindindi, Yea or even Nillumbik shires, and there are none in the Victorian State Parliament in these regions either. To claim that greens set policies in these regions is specious and ludicrous. Policies are set state and local governments, and enacted by DSE, the CFA and other government departments.

In addition, fuel reduction burning, conducted without species and habitat loss, is are actually supported by the Greens and organisations such as the Wilderness Society, so Cassidy is dead wrong on this too.

Barry Cassidy's conduct on this matter was biased against the Green political party and local and state conservation groups.

It was also extremely offensive and inaccurate. Opportunistic political comments by those pushing agendas are grossly insensitive to bushfire victims.

As I have stated previously, the only focus at present should be to find the deceased and help the survivors and others deeply affected. I and many of my friends (some of whom are still fighting the fires and are on the ground in affected areas) have been deeply personally affected by these bushfires and the loss of life.

Barrie Cassidy should be subject to disciplinary action and the ABC should also issue a formal retraction of his comments.

You can comment on the ABC TV program website too.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Victorian bushfires tragedy

My sympathies go to the many families, relatives and friends, and everyone across Australia for this tragedy. The entire nation is suffering. We need to pull together as a community and nation to help recover and assist those who are grieving and have suffered great loss.

Opportunistic political comments by those pushing agendas are grossly insensitive to bushfire victims.

The only focus at present is still finding the deceased and helping the survivors and others deeply affected. I and many of my friends (some of whom are still fighting the fires and are on the ground in affected areas) have been deeply personally affected by these bushfires and the loss of life.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Feed in Tariff questions for Premier Brumby

The following email was sent to Premier John Brumby and the Victorian Cabinet on 6/2/09.

Dear Premier Brumby,

I have now written to Energy Minister Peter Batchelor's office on five separate occasions concerning the Feed-in tariff legislation your government has stated it will introduce.

As yet, none of the questions (listed below) that I have asked concerning this tariff have been satisfactorily answered by Minister Batchelor or his staff, which I find very disappointing and quite unacceptable.

1. When will your feed-in tariff legislation be introduced?
2. When can a copy of it be sent to me?
3. What is the purpose of the 2kW array size cap?
4. Why are you not able to model the tariff for gross metering similar to successful tariffs in place in Germany and elsewhere?
5. Why you have chosen to keep the economic modelling that you say your decisions were based on secret?
6. When can I meet with you to discuss these concerns?
7. Why is the Brumby government proceeding with a feed in tariff for Victoria that will be completely ineffective and conflicting with proposed national legislation?
8. What is the Brumby government's target for domestic solar panel installation (in MW) for 2009 and 2010?

I note that Professor Ross Garnaut stated in his final report in 2008 that a gross feed in tariff was the best one to adopt, as has been introduced in the ACT feed-in tariff legislation where they pay on gross metering with a generous 10kW cap on array size.

Several explanations on the government website at are not consistent or accurate, some of which I address below.

Problems with 2kW cap on array size.

DPI have stated that:

Data available from the Commonwealth Solar Homes and Communities Plan indicates that the average size of residential PV systems is 1.5 kilowatts and over 90% of currently installed PV systems are at or below 2 kilowatts. For this reason, the 2 kilowatt capacity threshold was deemed appropriate for the premium fee-in tariff scheme."

Your stated purpose for the feed-in tariff is to
increase the residential uptake of PV systems. Putting an artificial cap on array size, based on the average systems installed to date, simply limits the financial incentives for households to install systems over 2kW for no good reason. It is therefore in direct conflict with your stated purpose. Your basis for the proposed 2kW cap on array size is simply not valid.

Encouraging energy efficiency

Your government states that encouraging energy efficiency is another objective of the feed-in tariff. This is simply not relevant. The feed-in tariff is a policy measure for encouraging the uptake of solar panels, not driving energy efficiency. I urge you to consider effective measures for encouraging energy efficiency such as:
  • Introducing energy efficiency labelling standards for all consumer electrical goods
  • Introducing energy efficiency standards as part of building standards
  • Consider raising the price of electricity so that consumers will be encouraged so use less
The cost to households is much lower than you claim

I understand that a cabinet committee submission from the Department of Sustainability and Environment stated that the so-called "gross feed-in" solar subsidy scheme would have cost households just $18 a year, or 35 cents a week, increasing electricity bills by just 2 per cent. This is significantly less than your previously claim, based in information not released from
Energy Minister Peter Batchelor's office, that claimed the cost at $100 a year for households. This claim now appears to be in error.

More solar panels could avoid or reduce recent power outages.

The very hot weather across Victoria last week, combined with many households using energy hungry air conditioners during the day (up to or great than 8kW) resulted in electricity supply falling below demand. Photovoltaic panels, if enough are installed, would generate power for the grid precisely when on hot sunny days when it is needed most and power is most expensive. Additional generation by solar panels may have avoided these supply problems and kept the grid, and Melbourne's train network, operating properly during the heatwave conditions.

Solar panels reduce emissions and therefore address climate change.

All power generated from PVs should be paid a gross tariff as they produce power that would otherwise be sourced from the coal-fired electricity, thereby reducing carbon emissions, This is an essential measure for tackling climate change, which is now an urgent concern following the recent extremely hot weather resulting in some deaths and huge disruption to Victoria's economy.

The Feed in tariff should also provide financial incentive for large scale solar power energy producers to encourage investment in large scale solar plants too.

I strongly urge you to implement a proven effective gross feed in tariff with no cap on array size as this would greatly boost installation of solar panels and green jobs, both of which will benefit Victoria.

Peter Campbell

Previous correspondence

Subject: Re: Solar Feed-in Tariff Date: 5/10/2008 11:59 PM
Subject: Re: Solar Feed-in Tariff Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2008 18:58:48 +1000
Subject: Re: Solar Feed-in Tariff Date: Mon, 09 Jun 2008 23:38:12 +1000
Subject: Re: Solar Feed-in Tariff Date: Thu, 08 May 2008 22:29:08 +1000
Subject: LETTER: Please introduce a feed in tariff Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2008 11:26:37 +1100

Thursday, February 05, 2009

A great climate action summit in Canberra

I attended the first ever Australian climate action summit in Canberra.

More than 500 people from around the country gathered for three days from 31/1/09 to 2/4/09 to produce a national, unified set of objectives for the community campaign of climate action for the crucial year ahead.

Over 140 community climate action groups united in their decision to oppose the Federal Government’s proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), saying that it will fail make the required cuts to greenhouse pollution.

At the summit there was:
  • Two days of facilitated meetings and workshops to build a unified national climate campaign.
  • One day of dynamic training in climate campaigning skills for taking action, facilitating climate action groups, effective lobbying and more.
  • On the first day of the 2009 Federal Parliament, thousands of people were mobilised in a high profile demonstration for real action on climate change by encircling Australia's federal parliament.
In 2009, the united Community Climate Action Groups will campaign to:
  • Prevent the CPRS from becoming law as it will fail to make emission cuts necessary to stop the climate emergency.
  • Build community-wide action to demand green jobs, a just transition for fossil fuel industry workers and 100% renewable energy by 2020.
  • Aim for stabilisation at 300ppm CO2 and strong international agreement in line with what science and global justice demands.
I was amazed at how much common ground there was between the people who attended, from all walks of life.

More information (and soon some photos) is available on Greenlivingpedia here