Monday, August 30, 2010

On Walden Pond

I'm listening to it as an audio book — and audio sets a nice reflective pace, and I have it on my iPhone as an ebook, which allows for a different style of reflection.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

medicines from nature - Why bother?

I found this an elegant explanation about why we can find things in nature that are hard to discover in the laboratory:

Toxins that have already been designed in nature have the unusual combination of precise specificity and extreme potency – characteristics that make them particularly amenable to use as leads in drug design.
— Dr Brian Fry, Bio 21 Institute

I'd always wonder why you can't just sit in a lab and make drugs. Why it was worth discovering them in nature whether in the middle of the Amazon rain-forest or in the Antarctic ocean.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

enviro quote IV

“I am following Nature without being able to grasp her.” – Claude Monet

Sunday, August 15, 2010

DSE and EEG. The three wise monkeys: nonfeasance, misfeasance, and malfeasanc

As I'm understanding the DSE and VicForests defence against the EEG was the three monkeys: see no evil, hear no evil, say no evil. Except in this case it was endangered species. If you don't see endangered species (or hear them and especially don't talk about them you don't have to protect them

I'm seeing this as a sign of the hardening of positions as the global debate on the environment warms; positions are delineated and deliberate nonfeasance, misfeasance, and malfeasance kicks in. No longer ad hoc but deliberate.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Environment quote III - another view from above

'For the first time in my life I saw the horizon as a curved line. It was accentuated by a thin seam of dark blue light — our atmosphere. Obviously this was not the ocean of air I had been told it was so many times in my life. I was terrified by its fragile appearance.'

Ulf Merbold, German astronaut

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Quotation II: A stark view from above

Astronaut John Grunsfeld is the veteran of five space missions between 1995 and 2009 and when he first flew over the Amazon in 1995 he saw networks of new roads fanning into the forest. By 2009 "there were huge open tracts, signs that some of the tributaries were drying out. Madagascar has basically been denuded of forest in 15 years.
Rivers I saw flowing to the sea are clogged up from erosion. At night the number of forests burning around the globe has gone up significantly. Our decisonmakers are ignoring it but it's so obvious from space. Everything is connected. Whether the Barrier Reef survives will depend on whether China keeps building coal-fired power plants."

Jeffrey Lee Lee

John Lee Lee is an absolute hero, donating land worth billions to Kakadu National Park. He should, no, must be declared Australian of the Year. Here is an indigenous Australian giving up more than any of us to protect his land. He's not a man who has had monetary wealth in his life, which makes his gift all the greater. He says, " It was a hard decision."

And he went on to say: "You are the only one in your clan group that is left and the pressure is on you.

"You've got a lot of responsibilities of that area, of that country, that's been passed on to you."

This is act defines the meaning of a "moral compass".

Presumably as it is Labor supported if the Liberals getting in, the land won't be joined to Kakadu and the French mining giant AREVA will go ahead and mine John Lee Lee's land.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

great environmental quotes I

"We are in the unusual predicament as a global civilization. The maximum that is politically feasible, even the maximum that is politically imaginable right now, still falls short of the minimum that is scientifically and ecologically necessary."
Al Gore, and he said it near the start of the Clinton Administration.

50% of our oxygen comes from plankton (which will be seriously affected by ocean acidication)

" The world is a fragile place, and even the most robust systems hang by a fine thread." found serendipitously in today's paper.

Monday, August 9, 2010


I do like the term bioengineering which I first came across the other day. The way I'm meaning is engineering of the environment by animals and plants. The classic example is a pair of beavers and their dam. But an example closer to home the spiral burrows of bilby acting as a nutrient trap to enrich our deserts.

I did learn some interesting facts about beavers in the process of writing this entry. There were 200 million of them in North American when Europeans arrived (and there'snow a great deal less), they mate for life, and the females are a little heavier than the males.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

tax deductible carbon offsets

I discovered most carbon credits are not tax deductible. Shock and horror!

The good news is that Greenfleet is, and so is Carbon Neutral (

Saturday, August 7, 2010

How big is the world's economy?

I admit I stole this from Fortune magazine who in admit they stole if from a famous article published in Prospect magazine. It's the idea of thinking of the world economy as a multiple of one state's economy, and thereby reducing the the unmanageable to the imaginable. It's a version of see foreign exchange rates in terms of the cost of a Macdonald's burger. Nico Colchester the author of the original article measured in Italys. The economy was then worth about a trillion or 26 Italy's. Fortune, being an American magazine has chosen Californias. The world economy is worth 32 Californias. (California $1.8b and World - $58 trillion; 58 times what it was in 1995 by the way.) And here's a table of a breakdown of of the world's economies:
US economy - 8 Californias
European Union (and added to it the holdouts in Europe, Switzerland and Norway), plus Canada, Oz and NZ: 10.5 Californias
"Prosperous Asia" (a neat term) - 3.5 Californias
that's Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore
China - 3.3 Californias
The rest - 6.7
that's most of SE Asia, BRICs, all of Latin America and the whole of the Islamic world including all the oil.

Fortunes does say the figures are very rough.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Big things are dependent on little things

"Diatoms are the grass of the sea."

The Everchanging Sea by David B Ericson and Goesta Wollin

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Offset with Greenfleet not Qantas or Virgin

Carbon offsets that are done direct with Qantas or Virgin Blue for business flights are not tax deductible!

A business is much better off making an offsetting donation through Greenfleet. This renders the Qantas and Virgin Blue programs very unattractive. The airlines should be lobbying the government to change that — if they're smart.

Of course any offsetting personal donation with Greenfleet is just as deductible.

That's a message worth getting out and about.