Archive for December, 2011

Insight: How the Dutch got their cycling infrastructure

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on December 28th, 2011

From “How the Dutch got their cycle paths” by Sarah Goodyear for Project for Public Spaces:

Given the reputation of the Netherlands as a cyclist’s paradise, you might think that its extensive cycling infrastructure came down from heaven itself, or was perhaps created by the wave of a magic wand. Not so. It was the result of a lot of hard work, including massive street protests and very deliberate political decision-making.

The video [click through below] offers vital historical perspective on the way the Netherlands ended up turning away from the autocentric development that arose with postwar prosperity, and chose to go down the cycle path. It lists several key factors, including public outrage over the amount of space given to automobiles; huge protests over traffic deaths, especially those of children, which were referred to by protesters as “child murder”; and governmental response to the oil crisis of the 1970s, which prompted efforts to reduce oil dependence without diminishing quality of life.

The Netherlands is often perceived as an exceptional nation in terms of its transportation policies and infrastructure. And yet there is nothing inherently exceptional about the country’s situation. As the narrator says at the end of the film, “The Netherlands’ problems were and are not unique. Their solutions shouldn’t be that either.”

Watch the video.  It’s inspiring (“…it seems so simple”) and frustrating (“aaargh…it seems so simple!”) at the same time.


Walking Maps for the Holidays

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on December 23rd, 2011

From the Victoria Walks December Newsletter:

How about letting your own two feet take you on a few adventures these holidays? There’s no better way to get the wind in your hair while taking a sticky beak at what’s going on around you.

If you’re heading out of town:

Or, if you’re wandering closer to Melbourne:

Better still, show off your own walks to by creating a walk on www.walkingmaps.com.au!

Check out the Victoria Walks site.


Energy, Transport, Housing & Summer Reading for the PM: Grattan Podcasts

Posted in Opinion, Research by Kate Archdeacon on December 22nd, 2011

Source: Grattan Institute


Photo by El Pei via flickr CC

Australia’s energy future was considered in a seminar series that Grattan Institute ran jointly this year with the Melbourne Energy Institute. Webcasts are available for the final two seminars on the future of solar power and transport.

Grattan’s report Getting the housing we want was launched on November 21 by Cities Program Director Jane-Frances Kelly in conversation with former Victorian Premier, John Brumby.  Transcripts and recordings of the launch are available, as is the report.

Every year Grattan Institute produces its Summer Reading List for the Prime Minister. The list contains books and articles that we found stimulating and a pleasure to read, and that we believe the PM, or indeed any Australian, should read over the break.  Watch the launch or download the reading list.

www.grattan.edu.au


Koalas in the Otways: Research volunteers

Posted in Movements, Seeking by EarthwatchAustralia on December 21st, 2011

A new research project Conserving Koala Country has been established by Earthwatch Australia to look into the deteriorating habitat and tree condition in the Otway Ranges, Victoria.

Dr Desley Whisson a Wildlife and Conservation Biologist from Deakin University says, “so far we’ve been tracking the movement of 15 koalas (8 females/7 males) at Cape Otway and observed a high density of koalas in the area of up to 16 koalas per hectare”.  In many parts of Australia Koala’s are in decline and at risk of extinction due to disease, land clearing and drought, however the high density of Koalas is posing a potential issue in The Otways.  During the recent research trip during mating season the research team made up of Earthwatch volunteers recorded vocalisation of the koalas using a songmeter; a device set to record bellows for 5 minutes every hour. Volunteers recorded the number of bellows and whether it’s a male or female.

“We found a high number of koalas with young so it looks like a successful breeding year. The koalas are occupying very small home ranges where trees are still in good condition. They obviously don’t need to move far to find food or mates. A 3 legged female adult koala was also found, something very unusual to see and particularly for her to have survived to adulthood, ” says Dr Whisson. Volunteers also ventured out at night with a spotlight to search for possums that could also be causing defoliation of trees. They saw lots of koalas but only found possums in one blue gum site. Richard Gilmore Earthwatch Executive Director says “It’s great to be able to be able to support research aimed at protecting the habitat of the iconic koala, and at the same time involve the general public in such a hands-on and interesting way.”

The next team of Earthwatch volunteers will be heading out to do further research on the 18 April.

For more information or to sign up for an Earthwatch expedition call 03 9682 6828, email earth@earthwatch.org.au or visit http://www.earthwatch.org/australia/exped/whisson_booking.html


Ethical Consumer Guide to Christmas

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on December 20th, 2011


Recycled gift carton and photo by Urban Woodswalker via flickr CC

Don’t be naughty this Christmas, buy nice. Rather than doing your Christmas shopping at the local mega-mart, use gift giving and festive meals to exercise your commitment to ethical shopping. Our book makes a perfect Christmas gift, or there’s heaps of other ideas in the guide, at our online shop, and on our favourite gift ideas page. Christmas is an opportunity to shop ethically on a grand scale! This guide covers all the main things you might buy over Christmas, listed under the categories of food, gifts, and decorations.

http://www.ethical.org.au/christmas/


Blog of the Year Competition: Renew

Posted in Seeking, Visions by sashashtargot on December 19th, 2011

Calling all keen sustainability e-scribes! Enter your blog in ReNew Magazine’s Blog of the Year Competition for your chance to win a pair of 110-watt solar panels! We’re looking for blogs about sustainable homes on a budget, energy efficiency, DIY projects or wider issues to do with climate change or environmental policy. The blog should provide new details or insights for those seeking information on sustainability and should have been regularly updated in 2011.

To enter, simply email renew@ata.org.au with your blog’s URL, your contact details, your goals when you started blogging on this topic and a little about your audience, such as their age bracket, skill levels and level of engagement with you and your blog.

Email entries (under 200 words) to renew@ata.org.a

Entries close Friday, February 3, 2012. For more details: www.renew.org.au


Cost-Effective Distributed Energy Systems in Australia

Posted in Opinion, Research by Kate Archdeacon on December 15th, 2011

Source: Climate Spectator


Photo by twicepix via flickr CC

From It’s time for a smarter grid by Giles Parkinson:

Imagine for a moment that you are the head of a large group of network operators, faced with a decision about what to do about rising peak electricity demand. And you are presented with a choice: invest $2.6 billion over five years on upgrading your network – the route you would normally take; or spend a comparable amount on solar power and energy storage, distributed throughout the network.  This was the question posed by Professor John Bell, of the Queensland University of Technology, and Warwick Johnston, a leading solar analyst with Sunwiz, when they sought to find out if there was a better way than the traditional response of building more poles and wires to cope with rising peak demand.

Using Queensland network operator Energex as an example, and its forecast peak demand growth of 1.25GW over the five years to 2014/15, the study analysed the existing approach of spending $2.6 billion augmenting the grid, or investing a comparable amount in either 25GWh of storage, or 1.25GW of solar PV and 10GWh of storage.  The study concluded that a combination of battery and solar PV produced a far better outcome, because of the ability to generate revenue from the energy produced, and the use of battery storage to resell energy. Over a five year period, the net present value (NPV) of the poles and wires solution was negative $2 billion, while the NPV of the solar/storage solution was negative $750 million. But because these could produce revenue over a 20-year period, the solar/storage had a positive NPV of $2 billion over a 20 year period.

Bell and Johnston say the main take-home messages from this are that the integration of distributed PV and battery storage into the existing energy system has the potential to be cost effective now, and it underpins the case for reform of the National Electricity Market, to ensure that distributed generation is fairly treated and that network providers are encouraged to opt for the solutions that have greater market benefit, rather than simply being least upfront cost.

[…]

>>Read the full article by Giles Parkinson on Climate Spectator.

>>Read about VEIL’s work on Distributed Systems.


Open Survey: Melbourne Bike Share Impact on Individual Travel Behavior

Posted in Research, Seeking by Kate Archdeacon on December 14th, 2011


Photo by Daniel Bowen via flickr CC

CALL FOR MELBOURNE BIKE SHARE USERS!

Xin Yang is a postgraduate student studying in Master of Urban Planning from the University of Melbourne, currently conducting a research project on Melbourne Bike Share (MBS) program, “Evaluating the Impact of Melbourne Bike Share (MBS) Program on Individual Travel Behavior”. If you have ever used the (blue) MBS bikes before, please take just a little time (10-15 minutes) to participate in a brief online survey to have your say on your experiences with those blue bikes, and how you think things could be improved. Your time and assistance is greatly appreciated!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8Z63993


Local Harvest Australia: Connecting and supporting local consumers & producers

Posted in Movements, Seeking by Kate Archdeacon on December 14th, 2011

Local Harvest is a new national initiative aiming to help people find local sources of food and grow their own.

A directory of sustainable food in Australia
A national directory for finding food co-ops, swap meets, community gardens, farmers markets, box systems, organic retailers and more by simply entering your postcode.

Helping you to produce your own
DIY alternatives for food production and meeting essential needs, including resources for growing and making your own.

Local Harvest Challenge
Take up the Local Harvest Challenge, where for one week you attempt to reduce the ‘degrees of separation’ from your food. Based on the Household Action Challenge run in previous years.

There is a fantastic similar resource existing for the USA found at www.localharvest.org on which this project has been based.

Local Harvest will launch in February 2012, and is currently has a funding call-out on Pozible.  Check out the website to find out more.


City Square Seminars: Climate Change & Environmental Politics

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on December 12th, 2011

13 December , 2011
7:00 pmto8:30 pm

Melbourne Free University at City Square in collaboration with Occupy Melbourne