Charging station reflected in Holden Volt
MELBOURNE — Early this year, Victoria’s first solar-powered electric vehicle (EV) charging station was opened for public use at the CERES Community Centre.
Solar modules donated by solar provider Q-Cells Australia capture energy from the sun to power greener electric vehicles.
The CERES charge station is fitted with aChargePoint, which is the interface between the electricity source and the car charging apparatus.
The CERES charging station is part of the Victorian Electric Vehicle Trial, a government initiative that will help to roll out much more efficient transport options, to improve air quality in our cities and above all, to create new job opportunities for Australians.
By Mary Catherine O’Connor | June 20, 2012, 2:54 AM PDT
If you haven’t noticed, the news media is in a bit of a flux period — to put it very kindly. Old school content delivery models are dead or dying, even though many readers still want to crack open a paper each morning (look at the outcry over the New Orleans Times-Picayune’s plans to go to a three-day publishing schedule for proof).
To keep pace with changing demands for news form factors, the Knight Foundation is offering a total of $5 million to individuals or groups with the smartest ideas for new ways to package and deliver news. The contest is being held in three rounds, with three themes. The first round of winners, which collected a total of $1.37 million, was announced this week. The theme: using existing networks (such as Ustream or Twitter) to create new ways for informing and engaging communities.
• Peepol.tv – An aggregation engine for live mobile video streams of breaking news, using a searchable world map interface.
• Recovers.org – An online organizing platform that helps disaster-stricken communities launch recovery efforts through a website that generates relevant information, donations and volunteers.
• Signalnoi.se – This was designed to help newsrooms remain competitive by monitoring what is resonating with readers and make smarter editorial decisions about which stories get covered and promoted. It does this by analyzing social networks and competitor sites.
• Watchup – Watchup is an app for the iPad that speeds the search for relevant video content by offering a curated playlist that aggregates news reports into a simple interface.
• Behavio – An open-source platform that will help programmers build apps with smarter sensors, create tools for journalists that uncover trends in community data and launch a mobile application that allows individuals to explore data about their lives.
• Tor Project – This protect journalists and their sources and allow them to communicate more safely by using the organization’s secure Web browser, an anonymous upload utility and other tools. It can be difficult for journalist to communicate safely with sources thanks to threatening (or threatened) government regimes or criminal organizations.
The second round of the contest is focused on data, and the foundation is accepting applications through noon ET June 21. The topic of the third will be announced later this year.
In past years, the Foundation’s support has helped launch important new journalism tools, such as DocumentCloud, which helps journalists analyze, annotate and publish original source documents. It’s used by more than 200 newsrooms nationwide. And it supported Ushahidi, a crisis mapping tool that helps organize and activate aid in disaster areas.
Image: Flickr/NS Newsflash
Renewable energy — once a mere blip on the world’s radar screen
— has finally gained a foothold, notably in the countries that compromise the Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Governors known as the G20.
By Kirsten Korosec | June 12, 2012, 4:15 AM PDT
Extract from: http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/intelligent-energy/renewable-energy-scorecard-how-the-g20-nations-stack-up
Extract from: http://theconversation.edu.au/marine-parks-a-buffer-for-marine-species-and-the-fishing-industry-
Carlos Duarte does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.
The Conversation provides independent analysis and commentary from academics and researchers.
The new marine reserves will take in just a fraction of Australia’s massive ocean resources.Carlos Duarte
Australia’s brand-new marine park proposal has great historic precedent. For hundreds of years, ocean managers have found that reducing fishing can repair fish stocks and benefit not just ocean species, but surrounding fishing industries.
Fixed Tuna traps, catching blue fin tuna in their migration into the Mediterranean, have a thousand-year tradition in the Mediterranean. The highest reported catches were reported in 1568, when two traps reported catches of 14,000 and 7,000 tuna each. But there were very low catches between 1700 and 1730. The King of Spain, alarmed by the decline, commissioned an inquiry. It recommended a three year no-take moratorium and the release of female blue-fin tuna. Soon after, the catches recovered¹.
The two great wars in the 20th Century, when fishing almost stopped over large areas of the European seas, provided ample evidence that a moratorium in fisheries lead to rapid rebuilding of robust fish stocks. Closing areas to fish extraction is a compelling tool to restore depleted fish stocks.
The Atlantic Cod stock in Georges Bank, one of the largest fish stocks in the ocean, collapsed in the late 1980s. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans kept providing financial incentives to build cod fishing boats and processing plants, despite warnings of imminent collapse. The Canadian cod collapse had devastating social and political consequences extending over two decades. Twenty years after the 1993 no-take moratorium was established, there are now, for the first time, encouraging signs of recovery of the Canadian cod stock.
Based on available evidence, the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 called for the establishment of marine protected areas consistent with international laws and based on scientific information, including representative networks by 2012. The Commonwealth has just delivered on this commitment: Environment Minister Tony Burke has created the largest network of marine protected areas in the world. With 3.1 million square kilometers, this network will expand four-fold the current protected area and will exceed the ocean area protected globally outside Australia. Hence, the area protected by Australia is bigger than all other protected areas elsewhere that together add to about 2 million square kilometers.
Shutting down fishing in the Mediterranean centuries ago did wonders for the long-term health of the fishery.Michele Molinari
The Commonwealth plan includes three types of marine areas. These are designated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) into categories II, IV and VI. Category II, Marine National Parks, are large natural areas set aside to protect large-scale ecological processes and elements, with environmentally and culturally compatible spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities. Category IV areas, Habitat Protection Zones, are designed to maintain, conserve and restore species and habitats. Category VI, Multiple Use Zones, are designated to protect natural ecosystems and use natural resources sustainably, when conservation and sustainable use can be mutually beneficial.
Category II excludes commercial and recreational fishing, Category IV allows forms of commercial and recreational fishing that are compatible with the specific target species and habitats to protect, and Category VI is compatible with most uses.
Hence, the network has multiple goals. It builds additional resistance and resilience for fish stocks, protects fragile and critical habitats – such as shallow and deep coral reefs, seagrass meadows, kelp beds, shoals, and submarine platforms – and conserves the wealth of marine biodiversity in Australia’s waters.
Marine reserves can actually benefit adjacent fisheries. Adults and juveniles can emigrate across borders, and export eggs and larvae. This “spillover” should be welcomed by fishers. But marine reserves remain controversial. Critics contend they should not be implemented on a larger scale until more and stronger experimental proof of their efficacy is available. Fishers worry that reducing fishing grounds will decrease catches. They are also sceptical of whether people will comply with closed-area regulations. You will have heard all of these arguments since Minister Burke’s announcement.
The proposed reserves will protect a huge range of habitats.Carlos Duarte
However, a call for “more evidence” cannot be a perpetual scapegoat to adopt a precautionary approach to marine conservation. Indeed, a review published already 10 years ago reported increase in commercial fish abundance or catch per unit effort between 5 and 68 fold associated with marine reserves, with a tendency for fish size to increase as well. Evidence available shows a consistent tendency for the benefits of marine reserves to develop within two to five years of establishment and to continue to build for decades, including improved commercial fisheries in the periphery of the MPAs.
So how much marine area is being “locked up”? Two-thirds of Australia’s marine economic exclusive zone remains open to all uses. It is a vast expanse of ocean that, properly managed, should be able to deliver the wealth Australia expects and needs from the ocean.
Since my arrival to Australia a year ago I have been very impressed with the skills and competence of state-based fisheries managers. They correctly take pride in that Australia’s fisheries are the best-managed fisheries in the world. I concur.
However, in a world of change, fisheries managers cannot fully control the fate of fish. For instance, in a paper now in press in Global Ecology and Biogeography, my colleagues and I demonstrate a very large increase in larval fish mortality as a result of increased UVB radiation over the southern hemisphere.
Global pressures, including anthropogenic global change, and natural variability, including climatic oscillations, can lead to failure of the best fisheries models available. Natural variability, indirect anthropogenic pressures and both commercial and recreational fisheries can align in a perfect storm, with catastrophic consequences for fish stocks. Evidence indicates that, once collapsed, fish stocks may take decades to recover.
Fisheries managers can’t have total control over their stocks. Sensible management can help.
A network of marine parks provides a buffer against such “perfect storms”. It provides a safe and stable operating environment for all: conservationists, fishers – both commercial and recreational – and oil and gas industry.
The creation of the largest network of marine reserves is a game changing initiative of profound consequences. So much is at stake, as a model for a sustainable ocean for the world, that the Commonwealth must take all possible steps to ensure success. This must include:
· generosity with those affected
· willingness to listen closely to the critics of this network, who often have legitimate insights, and a commitment to spare no efforts to bring them on board
· the humbleness required to acknowledge the limitations of the science and the associated uncertainties
· a monitoring plan which will rigorously audit whether the network will achieve the desired outcomes.
At Rio +20 next week, the Australian delegation can proudly look their counterparts in the eye. If Australians, a society of relatively-wealthy, informed and responsible citizens, cannot lead the world in taking this game changing step, who can?
Tim Mazzarol -Winthrop Professor, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Marketing and Strategy at University of Western Australia.
16 June 2012, 9.12pm AEST
Infrastructure is one of those unusual words that have many meanings.
For example, we hear people talking of “hard” and “soft” infrastructure, with the first being a reference to roads and bridges.
Tim Mazzarol -Winthrop Professor, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Marketing and Strategy at University of Western Australia.
IBM: Fast broadband to rake in $1 trillion for Australia by 2050
Productivity and revenue gains to come from faster broadband speeds, according to new report. Spandas Lui (ARN) 14 June, 2012 15:24
The availability of faster broadband in Australia has the potential to generate $1 trillion in revenue for the country by 2050, according to a report from IT vendor, IBM.
The A Snapshot of Australia’s Digital Future to 2050 report written by IBISWorld and commissioned by IBM, highlights Australia’s natural resources boom will pass in the next 30 years, making room for a “developed resources” economy.
The country will be known for exporting services such as tourism and business services with super-fast broadband will playing a crucial role.
IBISWorld classifies super-fast broadband as connections with download speeds of 100Mbps and above.
In forming in the base of our digital future, such high-speed broadband will boost productivity growth to 1.7 per cent and bring in more than $1 trillion by 2050, according to the report.
To put these figures into perspective, Australia’s productivity growth is currently at 0.6 per cent and brings in just $131 billion in revenue.
The report analysed the impact of broadband on 509 industries and found 10 per cent of them would not function without the “new utility” that is high-speed broadband. Around 17 per cent will use it to drive changes in their business and 70 per cent will reap productivity gains from it.
“Today, even with our present ‘pony express’ form of broadband, the value of the Internet to the Australian economy rivals iron-ore exports,” IBISWorld chairman, Phil Ruthven, said in the report.
He noted the rollout of superfast broadband has been in Australia was slow compared to other countries in the Asia-Pacific region but feels the National Broadband Network (NBN) will help catch up significantly.
Key beneficiaries of fast broadband include the health, retail, and mining sectors.
But the report predicts 15 industry classes risk becoming obsolete if they fail to reinvent themselves in the new digital economy. These include newspaper publishing, printed media wholesaling, and motion picture exhibition, though collectively they’re not huge contributors to the Australia economy.
Medium-sized businesses with revenue of $1 million to $100 million have the opportunity to thrive the most in Australia’s digital future. They will be able to take advantage outsourcing innovations, which results in lower demand for capital, provided by super-fast broadband
A couple of months ago when I was chatting about my plans for RenewEconomy with a senior journalist friend, he considered the name and turned to me and asked: “You’re pro-renewables, aren’t you?”
By Giles Parkinson on 15 June 2012.
It wasn’t the detail of the question that startled me so much as the tone, as though he was seeking my views on gay marriage, or euthanasia.
And I wondered how it was that renewable energy had become a morally contestable issue.
4 June 2012, 4.27pm AEST
The Australian government today has announced a series of marine reserves that will make Australia a world leader in ocean protection. The reserves will cover over 3 million square kilometres, or nearly a third of Australian waters. Commercial and recreational fishing will be restricted or banned, and other activities such as mining and gas recovery will be limited.
This is a wonderful news story about which every Australian should be proud. It will protect habitat for juvenile fish, prevent damage to coral reefs and sea grass beds, and increase the outlook for many large species such as sharks, whales, tuna and marlin. Research on the impact of reserves has shown that they are more effective than expected in driving the recovery and sustainability of fish populations.
Unfortunately, the news cycle has been negative. The conservationists are unhappy, because the proposal does not go far enough. The fishermen are unhappy because the compensation may not be large enough. And another author on The Conversation is concerned that the reserves will not protect the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef because coastal development and gas exploration continues outside of these reserves.
I am sure that all these people have a point, but let’s remember which problem we are addressing. The degradation of oceanic ecosystems affects all of us, and commercial fishing is a large part of the problem. As fishing boats get bigger and more sophisticated, fish that were formerly protected by living in remote areas or deep waters are now regularly harvested. Some fishing practices, such as trawling, damage the sea bed grasses and coral that provide habitat for juvenile fish.
The overall impact of oceanic fishing is a decline in fishing stocks and a general decline in the health of oceanic ecosystems. The ocean is a shared resource. We all need to look after it.
So although the reserve system might have been larger and done more to protect our fisheries and marine ecosystems, I still think this is impressive, world class effort. Let’s praise the government for taking a bold move that makes Australia a world leader in the conservation of marine environments.
And although the compensation may not, at this stage, seem like enough for the fishers who have to face uncertainty and job losses, let’s not forget that this policy contains substantial payback for that industry.
Protecting our fish stocks into the future will mean that some fishers will be able to pass their livelihoods on to the next generation. This might not have been the case if overfishing and habitat destruction continued at current rates.
And for those who say that this will hurt our economy, remember the huge impact of tourism, and consider that this may only increase in a world where healthy marine ecosystems are getting harder to find. The reefs, the whales, and the magnificent clear waters of this great southern land will continue to attract tourists long into the future.
The next step is to turn toward the land-based conservation measures that will protect our oceans. Coastal development, pollution and rubbish need to be controlled. These are not affected by the marine reserves, but nothing is stopping us from addressing these issues in due course.
Tony Abbott, of course, wants to complain as well. He is quoted as saying that he is “Instinctively against anything that damages recreational … and commercial fishing.” But his instincts are wrong.
Research supports this initiative, and fishing outside of the reserves will be more successful and more sustainable because of it.
14 June 2012, 3.33pm AEST
David Booth receives funding from Australian Research Council for research relevant to marine parks. The Conversation provides independent analysis and commentary from academics and researchers. We are funded by CSIRO, Melbourne, Monash, RMIT, UTS, UWA, Deakin, Flinders, La Trobe, Murdoch, QUT, Swinburne, UniSA, UTAS and VU.
Founding Partner of The Conversation.
Hard numbers: less than 1% of the world’s oceans are protected but marine scientists think 20% should be off-limits to fishing. AAP/Lloyd Jones
As a marine scientist, I welcome Senator Burke’s brave decision today to roll out Australia’s marine park system. This puts us on a par with other leading nations like the US and UK who have established large ocean reserves within their jurisdiction. A major element is that the parks are to be formalised all around Australia, not just in iconic places like the coral reefs of the north-east.
Despite anti-park lobbying, parks are vital in protecting marine biodiversity against the ravages of overfishing. There is clear world evidence that parks are effective, just as there is strong evidence that overfishing is a major destructive force facing marine biodiversity, yet less than 1% of oceans are off-limits to fishing. World scientific opinion is that more than 20% of the oceans need to be fully protected from fishing.
However, with marine park zoning the devil is in the details. While regions of high conservation concern have been covered, only a small fraction of the parks are at the highest level of protection (dubbed “Marine National Park Zone”). These are no-take areas where fishing is prohibited. Elsewhere in the parks, in over 80% of their area, fishing can continue.
Particular parks deserve comment
The Coral Sea Park is huge and significant, but no-take zones are restricted to its eastern half, with fishing allowed along the entire western half of that park (where recreational fishing is likely to be concentrated). For instance, in the southern region, complexes such as Wreck Reefs support impressive coral reefs and have high historical significance (the wrecks of the Matthew Flinders expedition abut the reefs) but are afforded the lowest level of protection.
The Central-Eastern Park harbours a unique string of seamounts that thrusts upwards from the deep ocean to shallower than 2000m, and span 4 degrees of latitude – only one seamount complex here has been offered full protection from fishing, despite CSIRO studies revealing important biodiversity! In addition, inshore zones are extensions of current State-based Parks such as Jervis Bay and Solitaries in NSW. While important (fish don’t recognize state/federal jurisdictional boundaries) in both cases the Commonwealth zoning allows fishing extraction.
The South-West and South-East Parks have high protection no-take zones that span the coast outward to the Park edge, which affords cross-shelf dispersal of key organisms and both shallow and deeper-water assemblage protection.
The North network covers Australia’s top-end where consideration must be given to balancing the needs of commercial fishing, as well as jurisdictional boundary issues with Indonesia. However, the very small (10% of the Park area) fully-protected Marine National Park zone is inadequate, especially given high by-catch from prawn fisheries in the region.
One issue that has been raised is the proximity of oil and gas leases to the new Marine Parks. This is of concern and needs to be properly managed to ensure parks are protected. However, it also represents an opportunity for partnerships with these industries to support both park management (costs of adequate enforcement will be a vital issue across the huge expanses of ocean) and research programs that increase our understanding of marine processes relevant to park design and effectiveness.
By Chris Nelder | June 13, 2012, 3:00 AM PDT
Over the past several months, I have detailed the implications of the gradual shift from conventional to unconventional oil production, particularly its upward pressure on the cost of oil production. As it has been a little over three months since I presented my model for oil prices, this week I’d like to review what we know about unconventional oil, and offer an outlook on oil prices for the coming years.
The unconventional non-solution
First, we know that tight oil production, like that in the Bakken Formation of North Dakota,is a treadmill. The constant drumbeat of highly-placed editorials about incipient U.S. energy independence is strictly political fodder, with no sound basis in data. Yes, in theory, it’s possible that we could double the output from the Canadian tar sands and the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, quintuple the number of wells that have been sunk in the Bakken so far, and pull off some biofuel miracles. But local resistance to that drilling program will be fierce in some areas, and its cost will eventually prove prohibitive. And it won’t end there; to maintain that level of output, we’ll have to keep drilling like hell, with increasing risks to the environment and public tranquility.
In reality, despite the technological achievements that have enabled production from these difficult resources, the world is losing the race against the depletion of mature conventional oil fields. And the pace of that depletion is accelerating: it’s now an estimated 5 to 6 percent per year for OPEC, and 8 to 9 percent for non-OPEC. Unconventional oil cannot compensate for a drag of that magnitude for very long.
Further, even if the U.S. were to follow the path to so-called energy independence, it would likely cut the lifespan of our remaining oil in half, leaving us to struggle for decades afterward with greatly diminished domestic production at the very time when global oil exports are declining fastest and becoming intolerably expensive.
We also know that the shift to unconventional oil has moved up the floor of oil prices to around $85 a barrel, which I estimated to be the marginal average cost of profitable production worldwide. A report from Bernstein Research, covered in May by the ever-capable Kate Mackenzie for the Financial Times, suggested that the real floor was even higher at around $92 a barrel in 2011, on its way to $100 a barrel this year. This fits with the stated objective of OPEC members to defend a $100 price target.
But there is also a ceiling around $125 a barrel for the global Brent benchmark (roughly equivalent to $105 for the U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate). This is why world oil prices have been bouncing around the “narrow ledge” between that floor and ceiling since the beginning of 2011, as shown in the following chart.
In short, unconventional oil doesn’t scale; it’s expensive, and getting more expensive every year; and its risks are increasing.
Finally, we know that we’re losing the race for vehicle efficiency, and probably will lose it forever. Emerging markets, particularly in Asia, have been outbidding the U.S. and Europe for oil since 2005, exerting a constant upward pressure on oil prices even as demand from the developed world continues to decline. Our response to this has not been a materially significant shift to greater vehicle efficiency, but rather a gradual shift from personal to public transportation, shrinking economic activity, and the “nearshoring” of manufacturing.
All of these factors augur higher oil prices as we move into the future.