Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Enough Trees in Australia to neutralize CO2 produced?

Another day...another bit of quick research, calculations and theories :D

Living in Australia if you travel at all, you travel a lot because of the sheer size of the place and distance between populated areas. One thing I have done a bit of over the last few months is planting trees, giving away free trees, encouraging people to plant a tree (it really is a rewarding, feel good experience) and taking care of a small garden/helping others with their own gardens.

As some will recall I am employed in the environmental sector - I'd felt office-bound for too long and the whole tree planting experience was good for my mind, body and soul (tried not to be cliche but seems there's no avoiding it).

One thing I started to notice during this recent activity was tree plantation efforts of others. Driving up the highway one thing you see is a lot of trees and young saplings that have just been planted or well on the way to becoming healthy adolescent trees.

I'll mention at this stage I'm talking about Australian native trees, they survive well in the absence of water (thanks to adapting to the local weather).

On one of my more recent trips on the highway I got thinking..."wow there are a lot of trees, I wonder if the numbers of trees in Australia and their ability to absorb and utilize CO2 represents a significant figure - Something to counter argue the need of the carbon tax".

As with yesterday's experiment, the passing of the Government's Carbon Package has driven me to do some research. And here is what I discovered:

According to one acre of trees stores 2.6 tonnes of CO2 per year. And according to Google's Public Data Explorer (World Bank World Development Indicators) there are 1,493,000Km2 (368,928,334 acres) of forests in Australia.

This means 959,213,668.4 tonnes is already being absorbed by trees in Australia (theoretically speaking). If you divide this by 23 tonnes (CO2 per capita - As given by...wikipedia) a population of >41mil would have their contributions to CO2 neutralized this way. Australia's Population is <23mil.

Given this information, how a tax on Carbon pollution for Australia came to be  becomes...just more frustrating a thought. On one hand the Government expects us to reduce Carbon Pollution, on the other hand they encourage an ever-increasing population...which is a real problem. The Australian Government encourages this with financial benefits, leave entitlements, etc. The population rises, trees fall victim to urban sprawl (2010 forest coverage is down considerably from 1990) and our standard of living is sacrificed. Point in case? The Carbon Tax. A tax imposed on this generation for living in the transitional period between reliance on fossil fuels and the emergence of a clean technological era which can be proved as being the natural order of things anyhow. 

Sure organic decay also contributes to greenhouse gas concentrations (however small the scale) but 'forests' aren't the only plants in the Country - We are also a country of keen gardeners.

Given this information just makes me question the need and true purpose of a Carbon Tax. How about you?

Australia subject to Carbon Tax. Unnecessary?

Well the Australian Labor Government's 'Carbon Package' was voted in favor this morning. I have mixed feelings about the whole situation.

One thing this decision has done is prompted me to finally make a blog entry I've wanted to do for quite awhile, but it never happened before due to various reasons (mostly laziness :P), until now.

I am a firm believer that technology is steering "us" towards more sustainable living as it is...without taxing people. If you've read my blog for awhile you'll have seen entries about energy efficiency and use of resources.

Today I will post some amateur, independent...and well rushed research I have conducted - The difference in energy demand between VHS/VCR and DVD technology. Enjoy, and if you know people that would be interested, could learn something or need something like this for homework by all means feel free to share :)

Okay here it is...

Aim:      To determine the differences between VHS/VCR and DVD technology in terms of energy

Method: Play 'The Big Lebowski in both VHS and DVD formats on compatible playback devices whilst
             gathering data on energy consumption from a power meter device (as found in stores)

The DVD set-up: DVD Player connected to power through a power meter

DVD playback maintained a power consumption rate of 5 Watts, skipping chapters did not result in an increase of energy demand.

 The VCR set-up: DVD Player connected to power through a power meter

The VHS tape (ex-rental)  reaches this classification screen at 13m:18s in...

 The power consumed during Fast Forwarding (and Rewinding for that matter) runs at 9-10 Watts. 
Note: I did not time how long it took to Fast Forward to this point

VHS playback maintained a power consumption rate of 8 Watts

Conclusion: To play a DVD (in this instance...variation would presumably exist between difference
                    brands/models) requires 3 Watts LESS than it takes to play the VHS format.
                    The VHS tape requires rewinding after it has been watched for re-viewing

Further notes:

1. The Big Lebowski has a running time of 119 minutes
2. The tape length of a 'E-120' VHS cassette is 173.7 metres (570ft) - 18.8m of tape is involved to reach the 13 minute mark (to the classification screen, as above).

I hope you have enjoyed this

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

'Bali Boy' - A reflection

It's been in the national news here in Australia for about a week now - A 14 year old Australian male got caught in Indonesia with 3.6 grams of cannabis bought from a peddler on the streets and is now held up in prison. I'm not sure if the news broke elsewhere in the world so for overseas visitors I will try to paint the scene to make this all relevant.

The Australian Government made the efforts to get the boy released a top priority - Every day there has been updates, the boy is repenting (oh wow someone caught up in the law regrets their actions and getting busted AFTER the event), he claims he was 'pushed' into buying it like he had no other option, and now the legal representative is trying to worm him out by using his age and seeking out loopholes in the countries law - He might be able to get leniency if he admits he has a drug 'problem' (habit?).

At this stage I'll point out that, to me, going down this avenue blows the kids credibility to bits...first he was forced to buy it...and now he has a drug problem?!? Give me a break I doubt he was pushed into it if he was dependent on the substance.

Moving on, another Australian tourist in the area claims that around the time of this kids arrest he was harassed by drug dealers - I find this to be of no consequence, he didn't buy it which demonstrates if the kid didn't want the marijuana he didn't have to buy it.

Well that's the I want to talk hypocrisy. This kid gets caught breaking the law overseas. A law that exists here (minus the nature of the penalty). This kid faces 'up to' 6 years imprisonment in an Indonesian prison...which would suck, majorly but hey, those are the breaks.

In Australia someone caught and convicted of possessing marijuana is subject to life altering consequences ranging from fines, prison time, inability to travel overseas, etc

So why is this individual receiving special treatment?

One thing this situation HASN'T done is created any intelligent discussion on drug law in Australia - Which is simply absurd. I was hoping it would, but no.

The news has even boasted about how the boy has been contacted by Ex-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (as the foreign minister), current Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and the member of Parliament from the boys electorate (who also happens to be the controversial Climate Change Minister) Greg Combet. What's this got to do with anything? Well these Australian Government Officials have spent time speaking with a known criminal - Whether you are compassionate to the boy and his situation or not the fact is these officials have spent time on the issue - Time is money and tax payers finance these peoples time. That's right, tax payers are effectively supporting someone caught with drugs overseas.

The whole situation just makes me wonder what the hell the real objective is. Rescuing a boy from a situation he got himself in which others aren't so lucky to be pardoned/excused/forgiven for?

Admit the cannabis laws are stupid - Now is their opportunity to set things straight, to be fair and to make things right. What are the chances of this happening? I'd probably die of shock if anything changes as a result of this incident...but I can live in hope.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Advertising - Banks, Charities, Booze and Insurance

Today I logged into Facebook, had a quick look to see if anyone said anything original, shared anything entertaining or enlightening, or if anyone had posted on my wall or anyone had requested friendship - You know, the usual...I spent about 5 minutes there :P

One thing jumped out at me, a 'sponsor' ad for my financial institute. They have turned 100 years old (or are going to shortly) and are offering $100 to those that sign up two different account types with them by the end of the month AND use their card 5 times by December 14. It turns out you have to apply in-branch and it applies for the first 10,000 customers only - Meaning if they all take up the offer, the bank is giving away 1 million dollars...Brilliant.

This really irritates me. I mean it's my bank paying money to run an ad, trying to capture more clients and doing this by giving away funds. I've been a member of the bank since I was like 3, that's just over 20 years. I'd rather they look after loyal clients like me than run with these gimmicks.

I understand some believe that you have to spend money to make money and that this will be a good investment in the long run but I have different thoughts on the matter. If customer satisfaction were to be increased and clients of the bank seemed to be well of financially, these people would be more inclined to recommend the bank to their friends, family, peers, work colleagues, etc and anyone else that might ask.

I got thinking about other advertising that I can remember off the top of my head.

Red Cross Blood Donations - I saw this on Windows Live Messenger. The first thing I did was open a chat window with a friend that is Anti-Microsoft and asked him if he figured the Red Cross paid for the ads or if Microsoft gave it to them for free, or gave it to them and claimed it on tax somehow. He figured the latter, I still wonder...

Everything else I notice tends to be for Alcohol and Insurance...oh and Fast Food too I suppose.And I tend not to notice ads on websites...