not convenient right now?

Submitted by sproutingforth on Mon, 2007-01-22 09:30

We finally had the time to go and catch the tail end of the run of ‘an inconvenient truth’ at the V&A Waterfront, after having blogged about it and encouraged everyone else to go and see the film, it felt about time!

I’ve pondered on the title of the film for quite a while, not actively, but have been aware at how clever it is – dealing directly with most peoples’ reaction to global warming, particularly politicians who don’t really want to deal with it right now - it isn’t altogether convenient to realise that changes have to be made, that the earth and all who live on her, together, are going to have to deal with a crisis – gets in the way of the other important stuff - how annoying!

I’d expected the documentary-style film to take a ‘shock’ angle; to make me frightened, to ‘scare’ me into action. But in fact, the script writers have been fantastically clever about how they’ve put together a film that motivates and excites you to get out there and do something about what could seem daunting, and even downright debilitating, in the face of such irrefutable evidence.

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greening it up – fri 19 jan 07

Submitted by sproutingforth on Fri, 2007-01-19 10:57

Sub-Saharan Africa – facing the worst of global warming. Swiss scientists have produced a map showing those parts of the Earth that will face the worst climate change problems. Amazon and sub-Saharan Africa and the polar regions will be the hardest hit, whilst Europe, the US and Australia will be affected less. [News.scotsman]

The UN calls for a global summit on climate change to urge heads of state and government to start taking responsibility as climate change affects energy, energy security, economic issues and development issues. [United press]

US clamps down on climate bloggers The US Senate is apparently intent on imposing criminal charges, perhaps even jail time, on political bloggers with a readership of over 500 who ‘…incite grassroots action…’. Whoops! [Christopher Haase’s blog]

doomsday clock moves to 5 minutes before midnight

Submitted by turbosprout on Thu, 2007-01-18 13:59

Doomsday clock adjusted two minutes closer to midnight as deteriorating global situation sited on nuclear weapons and a new factor: Climate Change!

doomsday clock: pic: bulletin of atomic scientistsdoomsday clock: pic: bulletin of atomic scientistsThe doomsday clock is a symbolic clock face that represents the time left before destruction of the planet by nuclear explosion. It was conceived in 1947 by the Board of Directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a non-technical magazine founded by nuclear physicists after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The number of minutes before midnight, an arbitrary measure of the degree of nuclear threat, is updated periodically but has only been changed 17 times during the history of the clock. It was previously set to seven minutes before midnight in Feb 2002 after the events of 9/11.

The decision to adjust the clock was made in consultation with the Bulletin's Board of Sponsors, which includes 18 Nobel Laureates and reflects the failure to solve problems posed by nuclear weapons and takes into account Iran's nuclear ambitions and recent nuclear weapons tests by North Korea.

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tesla roadster part 3 - the south african connection

Submitted by turbosprout on Thu, 2007-01-18 11:14

I first heard about the Tesla Roadster last year, but was unaware of the connection between Tesla Motors and Elon Musk until last week. Actually, I'd never heard of Elon Musk until last week when I read Wikipedia's List of South Africans and stumbled upon this entry: "Elon Musk, Internet and space launch entrepreneur (1971 - )".

Now tell me you wouldn't be intrigued. Another SA internet entrepreneur turned spaceman? The parallels with Mark Shuttleworth seemed uncanny. And how come I'd never heard of him until now?

It turns out Elon Musk left South Africa in 1989 after matriculating from Pretoria Boy's High to avoid conscription to the SA Defence Force under apartheid. He was able to get to the US via his grandmother's Canadian citizenship and was awarded a scholarship at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned undergraduate degrees in physics and business.

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buying organic clothing - one of the best things you can do for the environment

Submitted by sproutingforth on Wed, 2007-01-17 11:51

Bono, his wife, & designer Rogan GregoryBono, his wife, & designer Rogan Gregory Increased environmental concerns worldwide have not escaped the notice of the fashion industry, which has been fast incorporating organic materials into its designs. Materials like hemp and bamboo are coming on strong, but organic cotton is by far the fabric of choice for most green clothing designers. According to Organic Exchange, a non-profit committed to expanding the use of organically grown fibres, global retail sales of organic cotton products increased from $245 million (R1.76 billion) in 2001 to $583 million (R4.2 billion) in 2005.

The problem with traditional cotton - by far the most used clothing fabric in the world constituting a $300 billion (R2,17 trillion) global market - is that producers use liberal amounts of insecticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers to grow it. Analysts estimate that cotton crops use about one quarter of all the agricultural insecticides applied globally each year. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seven of the top 15 pesticides used on U.S. cotton crops are potential or known human carcinogens.

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greening it up – wed 17 jan 07

Submitted by sproutingforth on Wed, 2007-01-17 10:51

Toxic waste dumped illegally in the south of Jo’burg is an indication of the lack of legislation the country has in place to deal with toxic waste. And as usual, no-one is taking responsibility – neither waste-disposal companies or the alleged dumpers, who will only suffer a fine of between R1500 and R20 000 when it could cost the council as much as R350 000 to deal with the problem. [M&G] Pikitup has recently launched an e-waste recycling initiative in Johannesburg and computers, cellphones, microwaves and other electronic equipment can be dropped at 25 Pikitup garden sites across the city []

Free State to use plastic number plates. The province apparently wants an increase to the maximum number of characters on personalised number plates and plastic plates for regular, special and personalised plates – have they stopped to think about the environmental repercussions? [M&G]

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tesla roadster part 2: the back story

Submitted by turbosprout on Tue, 2007-01-16 17:04

The Tesla Roadster represents a paradigm shift in motoring, and so its natural that it's creators are not your usual car makers. Surprisingly the roadster has it's roots not in the Motoring world, but in the IT world. The epi-center of US car design and manufacture is traditionally in Detroit, Chicago while Tesla Motors has as its home Silicon Valley, California, home of electronics geeks and internet entrepreneurs.

The founders, Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpanning, had no experience designing or manufacturing cars before they embarked on creating the Tesla Roadster.

Eberhard was the creator of the Rocket eBook, a handheld digital book (e-book) reader that was available in the late 1990's but was ultimately shelved by the company that bought him out after it never really took off. After Eberhard had flogged the company for millions he was in the market for a flash new sports car but, being the practical sort, he wanted something that was fast but also economical. He quickly realised that no such car existed and that with the combustion engine, fuel efficiency and high performance are mutually exclusive.

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greening it up – mon 15 jan 07

Submitted by sproutingforth on Mon, 2007-01-15 09:56


A coalition of 45 African states, including SA, has claimed their right to nuclear energy and undertaken to ‘promote the safe and accountable use of nuclear energy’. [newscientist] In the wake of pressure to control greenhouse gas emissions, this is regarded as a cleaner source of energy. James Lovelock advocates that this is the only green solution, but the jury is out amongst greenies and there are concerns about Eskom’s pending pebble-bed station. [living on earth]

Obasanjo calls for action on climate change and has asked for international assistance to help Africa deal with the devastation. His concerns include the need for urgent action to prevent Lake Chad from drying up. [IOL]

tesla roadster part 1: the hype, the specs

Submitted by turbosprout on Fri, 2007-01-12 13:01

Incredulous. Skeptical. Stupified. Amazed. Converted. Evangelist.

These are roughly the states of mind that you rapidly transition through as you first read about the Tesla Roadster. You go from "I don't believe this" to "I've got to tell everybody about this" in just over the same time it takes for the Roadster to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (around 4 seconds).

There is no doubt the Tesla Roadster is going to revolutionise personal transport: electric car and sexy never went together before now. It is desirable and good for the planet at the same time and I can't think of any other big ticket items that have merged "I need to own this" with "You're trendily saving the planet" before.

It's no wonder the kudos poured in at the end of 2006 with the Roadster scooping some big awards:
- Time Magazine: Best Inventions 2006 - Transportation Invention

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greening it up – thurs 11 jan 07

Submitted by sproutingforth on Thu, 2007-01-11 11:50

It's almost all about oil

At home government’s proposal to include 4,5 % of biofuels in transport fuel by 2013 has been slammed by local environmentalists who say that biofuels are anything but carbon neutral and that growing an extra 3 million hectares of grain and oilseed crops can only have a massive environmental impact. [IOL]

Ross P KettleRoss P KettleMajor world leaders continue to fly in the face of global warming with Bush lifting the drilling ban for Alaska, so opening these fish-rich waters to oil and natural gas development [yahoo], while Tony Blair opts to sit on the fence with his rejection of the need to set a personal example on greenhouse gases by taking breaks closer to home. [ecorazzi]

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