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Monday, March 31, 2008


Trouble in Geothermia:

Staufen, in the Black Forest, was proud of its innovative geothermal power plan that was supposed to provide environmentally-friendly heating.

But only two weeks after contractors drilled down 460ft to extract heat from below the earth, large cracks have appeared in buildings as the town centre subsided about a third of an inch.

That’s not how Tim Flannery imagined things: “All of this would require a new city in the desert - let’s call it Geothermia. What might it look like? I imagine a solar collector towering over a low-rise city, providing shade and conserving soil moisture. Perhaps the infrastructure would be underground. Geothermia would be a city not of thousands but of hundreds of thousands - a place with its own critical mass.” Too much critical mass, as it turns out:

Michael Benitz, mayor of Staufen, said: “Will the earth continue to sink or is it going to stop? If it stops now, then we will have got away lightly. But if it continues, it could turn out to be quite bad."

A similar experiment triggered a series of earthquakes near Basel in Switzerland last year.

Safer to live in the charming hamlet of Atomica.

(Via Liam B.)

Posted by Tim B. on 03/31/2008 at 09:53 PM
(75) CommentsPermalink


Jeremy Bruno considers Earth Hour:

I don’t think people are drones or idiots, but I do believe that we are misguided and give far too much credit to the changing public face of environmentalism to ploys like Earth Hour. The rise in the price of fuel, the crashing large-home market and a looming recession are far more likely to reduce energy consumption in this country.

Way to look on the bright side, pal. This must be what Al Gore is talking about when he says: “We can solve the climate crisis.” Meanwhile, sing along with Earth Hour the band:

On Saturday night we were heading to the Jack Johnson gig, I told my sister it was earth hour between 8-9pm ... She said “I’ve never heard of them. I hope they’re good"

Posted by Tim B. on 03/31/2008 at 06:31 PM
(33) CommentsPermalink


Kevin Rudd, April 2005, on emerging nations:

And our view is that if we have such strong economic relationships with the emerging economies of China and Japan, that frankly we should be in there as well. Remember, our whole future is going to be shaped by this region with the emerging economies of India, China, Japan and others.

He thinks Japan is an emerging economy? Does Rudd imagine all those adorable little Toyota Priuses are made by third-world artisans carving nickel metal hydride battery packs from driftwood? No wonder he believes it so easy for Australian manufacturers to build hybrids. Someone must have wised him up, because lately Kevin isn’t so hot for Japan:

Japanese officials are incensed that the Mandarin-speaking Mr Rudd appears to be favouring Beijing, but has virtually ignored Japan since taking office four months ago …

Oh, well. China probably makes cleaner cars anyway.

(Via Chris P.)

Posted by Tim B. on 03/31/2008 at 06:02 PM
(30) CommentsPermalink


L. Ling-chi Wang urges restraint when the Olympic torch visits San Francisco:

Even if the protesters succeed in using the Olympics to score political points, they will be setting a precedent and run the risk of turning this honored event into a special-issues sideshow - where promoters of every pet issue will seize the opportunity for exposure of their cause. Interest in the goals and spirit of the Olympics will fade, and the international community will be the poorer for it.

Ling-chi Wang is a professor emeritus of ethnic studies at UC Berkeley.

(Via Joseph L.)

Posted by Tim B. on 03/31/2008 at 11:03 AM
(35) CommentsPermalink


FIA president Max Mosley, whose organisation last year fined Formula One team McLaren $100 million, is no stranger to handing over large sums himself. For Nazi-style sex romps! In other F1 news, previous FIA president Jean-Marie Balestre has died at 86:

He studied law in Paris followed by a stint as a journalist on a number of leftwing publications. Once the second world war started he told of becoming involved in the organisation of an anti-German “action group” in Paris.

He subsequently served in the resistance, he said, and when, in the late 1970s, photographs began to circulate of Balestre wearing a German uniform, he took unsuccessful legal action to suppress their publication. By way of explanation he claimed that he was a double agent.

According to British reports, Mosley - similarly fond of German costumes - is a quintuple agent.

Posted by Tim B. on 03/31/2008 at 10:35 AM
(30) CommentsPermalink


Stephen Stratford sends news of Earth Hour’s triumph in New Zealand:

Transpower spokeswoman Rebecca Wilson said power consumption on Saturday night during Earth Hour was 335 megawatts compared to an average of 328 megawatts for the previous two Saturdays.

According to Earth Hour spokesman Charlie Stevens: “Earth Hour wasn’t ever going to be about the (electricity) results.” That’s not what they were saying prior to Earth Hour, which evidently was more about free ads for a novelty night in Melbourne restaurants.

Posted by Tim B. on 03/31/2008 at 09:09 AM
(34) CommentsPermalink


Beclowned enters the US presidential race, courtesy of Dean Barnett:

Without leaving you in any further suspense as to how the brouhaha ended, suffice to say McCain’s critics beclowned themselves in the extreme. Turns out Admiral Ziemer’s 1996 speech borrowed from a speech that McCain gave in 1995.

(Via Grant H.)

Posted by Tim B. on 03/31/2008 at 08:01 AM
(19) CommentsPermalink

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Surrounded by a sandstorm, an Australian soldier in Iraq takes the opportunity to dance like Peter Garrett. His irreverence towards our minister for the environment - and his far superior rhythmic sense - may make pacifist Pete angry.

The clip is part of a sandtastic YouTube series depicting our dancing Diggers. Morale in Iraq is obviously high. As for angry Pete, that photograph was taken in 1995 at a protest against French nuclear testing - which Garrett apparently believed was something to do with Sydney police. I wonder if millionaire Pete ever apologised to the cop he was screeching at.

Posted by Tim B. on 03/30/2008 at 11:13 AM
(48) CommentsPermalink


Nukes are quietly - also safely and cleanly - making a comeback:

After a hiatus of nearly three decades, nuclear energy is booming. Seventeen power companies in the U.S. are making plans to build more than 30 nuclear plants.

Support for nukes within the US has grown from 49 per cent to 64 per cent since 1983. Electricite de France is looking to up-nuke the UK:

EDF ... has said it wants to build at least four nuclear plants in the United Kingdom.

Five nuclear plants are currently under construction in China, India and Iran; they could be followed by plants in Bulgaria, Morocco, Vietnam, Egypt and South Africa:

Thirty other nuclear plants are currently being built in 12 countries ...

Australia should join this exciting global trend.

Posted by Tim B. on 03/30/2008 at 11:10 AM
(65) CommentsPermalink


“At 8:30 last night I was on a bus heading up Oxford Street, Paddington and happened to go by Clover Moore’s electoral office,” reports citizen journalist macho man. “No Earth Hour for Clover. The lighting box hanging from the awning was on as was the decorative lighting in the window. Doesn’t Clover care about our planet?”

Given that Clover spent Earth Hour in a brightly-lit Sky News studio, we can only conclude that she doesn’t. She’s probably a creationist.

Posted by Tim B. on 03/30/2008 at 10:51 AM
(13) CommentsPermalink


Further to an earlier post on political losers turned winners:

Taxpayers are paying failed Labor candidate Mike Bailey $12,500 a month to provide “strategic advice” to State Government minister Tony Kelly.

Mr Bailey, a weatherman also employed to read weekend weather on Channel Nine, was handed the four-day-a-week, taxpayer-funded job after he failed to beat Joe Hockey in the seat of North Sydney at last November’s federal election.

Shortly after the election, Bailey campaigner Kirk McKenzie wrote:

Perhaps you think [Bailey] was on a promise. Nope - and the Federal ALP was not even promising to fund his campaign. He was to rely for funds on the Party’s local branch and the support of his friend, Tony Kelly, Labor’s NSW Minister for Lands ...

What will Bailey get out of this? Probably nothing - except great respect for his commitment, and hundreds of new friends.

And $750 every working day. For advice.

Posted by Tim B. on 03/30/2008 at 09:28 AM
(29) CommentsPermalink


The Sydney Morning Herald and the Age were busted last year after claiming their before/after Earth Hour shots were taken on the same night - when they’d been taken two nights apart, to exaggerate the Hour’s miraculous effect. The Age is at it again this year:

Did you see the front page of The Age this morning? It has two pictures of the Melbourne CBD with ‘before’ and ‘after’ labels. And it’s quite a noticeable difference. Read the fine print below though and you see that the ‘before’ photo was actually taken on THURSDAY night – not at say, 7:30pm last night.

At least now they admit their scam, although only in small print. Reader G.B.H. spots something else about Fairfax’s coverage:

Perhaps it is worth noting that Earth Hour had its greatest impact in Queensland - where there is no Fairfax newspaper. Time for The Age to do the decent thing ...

UPDATE. Reader Allan J. suspects Fairfax-style picture tricks in Queensland’s Sunday Mail:

You’ll notice in the “before” photo, the leaves at the top of the picture are much brighter. Plus some of the buildings have identical lights lit yet there is a massive difference in the overall brightness.

Posted by Tim B. on 03/30/2008 at 08:31 AM
(17) CommentsPermalink


It’s never a good idea to take on a retired Marine:

The elderly man was walking with a grocery bag in each arm when the boy approached him with a large knife, [Santa Rosa police Sgt. Steve] Bair said.

The boy said, “Old man, give me your wallet or I’ll cut you,” Bair said. The man told the boy he was a former Marine who fought in three wars and had been threatened with knives and bayonets, Bair said.

The man then put his bags on the ground and told the boy that if he stepped closer he would be sorry. When the boy stepped closer, the man kicked him in the groin, knocking him to the sidewalk, Bair said. The ex-Marine picked up his grocery bags and walked home, leaving the boy doubled over, Bair said.

He’s 84 years old.

UPDATE. A correction: not a Marine. Our oldtimer served with the 101st Airborne.

Posted by Tim B. on 03/30/2008 at 04:27 AM
(118) CommentsPermalink

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Earth Hour’s finest moment:

Organizers of the Singapore Grand Prix have chosen Earth Hour to debut megawatt-using streetlights that will be used to illuminate F1’s first night race later this year.

The lights (300 times more powerful than normal street lights) are being tested today when much of the world is turning their lights off for one hour to symbolically bring attention to the growing environmental crisis.

UPDATE. Earth Hour sadness:

It’s sad, how the streetlights didn’t go out, and how my family kept the lights on even though I tried to convince them. I get tired easily, never keeping up an argument. They turned them off at 8:30, and we ate dinner like that. We could have at least had dinner earlier. Well, I burst, and of course, went to do that in my room, where it could actually have a good dark comparison. Then I started to listen to a song that got me thinking about the situation I was in. I had turned on the waterworks and didn’t even know why until I actually thought about it.

I knew, because it was out of disappointment to my family and the city, so it was not dark for Earth Hour. It was very disappointing. And then, it was how I could not help, them, us. I felt helpless… I still am helpless. I also saw failure in myself, constantly.

But according to someone who doesn’t believe in measurement, the night was a triumph:

Earth Hour spokesman Charlie Stevens branded the night a success, regardless of the result on meter boards.

"We are really happy with the result, but Earth Hour wasn’t ever going to be about the (electricity) results.”

No. It’s about a little emo girl, crying in her room.

UPDATE II. In related news ...

Doomsday cult members leave cave hideout

Posted by Tim B. on 03/29/2008 at 09:46 PM
(37) CommentsPermalink


These graphs - from the National Electricity Market Management Company - seem to indicate an increased Australian power demand (green line) during Earth Hour (commencing at 20:00 in the second sections):

New South Wales



South Australia


(Via Ceni)

UPDATE. An engineer checks the data:

I have just looked at Qld, NSW, and Vic. Qld dropped the most power during Earth Hour, and it appears to be greater than normal. On average the drop is around 250 MW, in this case it is 400 MW… While Qld appears to have done well, NSW’s power usage actually went up for the first half-hour (7,777 MW to 7,862 MW), before dropping 112 MW… Vic remained more or less constant, with a drop of only 90 MW during the hour.

UPDATE I.5. Further from our engineer:

Based on the past, NSW should have dropped around 560 to 580 MW in that hour, and Vic should have been around 220-300 MW. Neither state even made average. It happens I guess (history shows some very big and very small numbers), but it will make those with the Green streak feel a little uneasy. I think the extreme ones will get quite a bit upset.

One of the things that jumps out to me, at least, is that the base load power is huge. Qld and Vic need 4.5 to 5 GW of power everyday, and NSW needs at least 6.5 GW. Imagine trying to replace that with solar and wind!

And in Canada: “Earth Hour had practically zero effect on the electricity demand in the Province of Ontario. While electricity use was barely below forecast, it was actually up slightly from the previous hour!”

UPDATE II. South Carlton before ...


... during ...


... and 40 minutes after Earth Hour. Spot the difference!


(Pics by Andrew R.)

Posted by Tim B. on 03/29/2008 at 02:55 PM
(76) CommentsPermalink
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