Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Environmentality- 30th January 2013

Hello Environmentality Listeners,

Jaime and Smokey were treated with a visit from Dr. Imad Khan. Dr. Khan is an energy expert with extensive consulting experience in many fields such as electricity modeling and financial risk management.

Today we chatted about the National electricity market and were surprised to discover that electricity prices are set every 5 minutes! The national market can be divided into 2 markets, the east and the west. The Eastern Seaboard market consists of 5 states: QLD, NSW, VIC, TAS and SA. The market is based on demand and supply principals, The Australian Energy Market Operator issues the demand; demand is then matched a day ahead by generators.  The great news is that renewable energy will always be dispatched into the grid.    

How does the energy market ties into environmental goals? Dr. Khan explains that although the market was never designed to incorporate environmental goals, recent government mechanisms such as the carbon price and the renewable energy target has favored green technologies. Solar panels one such example of how government policies can affect the market. Rebates and feed-in tariffs have now enabled solar to become self sustaining, bringing down the cost to be a competitive and cost effective alternative energy source.   

So can pricing be used as a method to reduce consumption? The short answer is yes, increases in prices have lead to a reduction in demand, and we are now making the effort to switch off the light or turn the off appliances at the power point. Yet Jaime highlights that the majority of costs in the energy bill are fixed, Dr. Khan clarified that the greatest component of energy prices is the distribution charges. So how can we use pricing to encourage people to save? Is greater transparency the key?

Not surprisingly the discussion soon drifted to technology and how it has assisted environmental goals. Dr. Khan explains that smart meters can actually help reduce electricity consumption by distributing the load when appliances are in high demand. This means that electricity use will be more efficient; however Dr. Khan also raises the potential privacy concerns with smart meters.

What about the relationship between climate change and current weather events? Dr. Khan highlights that although the science has evolved to a point where we can accurately predict the weather, more research is needed to hone into current events and climate change. Research conducted by Professor Fred Hilmer was discussed, a link to one of his articles can be found here   

For the link to The great disruption by Paul Gilding as recommended by Smokey, click here

There’s a lot of information here that needs to be digested, it certainly took us a while to get our heads around energy markets. If you can take away one message from today’s show we hope that it is this: the best thing we can do is to switch off, by switching off we are reducing demand and hence potentially driving cost down.

If you have any questions please leave a comment below. We’ll be more than happy to forward any of your questions to Dr. Khan.

Don’t forget to tune in every Wednesday from 12pm to 1pm for the live show and as usual we would love your feedback on the show, blog or guest!

To hear the full show, listen here

Tracks played today:
The Cure- Friday I’m in Love
The stone roses- the story love song
The Panics- Endless Road
The love braid- Surfing New South Wales

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Environmentality- 23rd January 2013

Dear Environmentality Listeners,

We would like to apologies for the delay in the blog, we appreciate your patience and are hoping to get things back on track within the next week or so!

Today we were suppose to have Sean Willmore from The Thin Green Line Foundation, unfortunately due to some administrative error we mixed up the date and were unable to talk to Sean today. However we do look forward to having Sean on the show in the near future!

Instead Smokie, Jaime and Ahmed talked about a range of issues and as usual managed to get side tracked.

The Desalination Plant came up again with recent decision by the Baillieu government to not use the water unless under extreme conditions. Citing Kenneth Davidson, Jaime and Smokey highlight that it would be easy to reconfigure the desalination plant to recycle water. A link to one of Kenneth’s articles can be found here

The misconception of the health impacts of drinking and using recycled water was further discussed as Ahmed inquired as to why we are not using more recycled water when other countries are already doing it! Lifting the water restrictions and Melbourne’s water consumption continues to be a debatable topic as Jaime contentiously suggest that we should have permanent water restrictions, what do you think about Jaime’s suggestion?

It was good to reflect on Barack Obama’s inauguration speech and his commitment to climate change despite the dysfunctional situation in the current US political system. Gun control in the US and America’s love of guns was further discussed as Obama starts his campaign to rein in gun use in light of the series of deaths involving guns.    

We continued to digress by talking about Julia Gillard’s appointment of Indigenous and former-Olympian Nova Peris as the lead candidate in the Labour Party’s Northern Territory Senate seat.    

A link to today's podcast can be found here.

Tracks played today:
Buzzcocks- Whatever Happened To?    
Th’ Faith Healers UK- Sparkling Chimes
The Pixies- Allison
The Pixies- Blown Away
The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra- The System
The Temper Trap- This Isn’t happiness

Environmentality- 16th January 2013

Dear Environmentality listeners,

First of all, we’d like to extend our apologies for some of the technical difficulties experienced at the start of the show but we managed to persevere nonetheless! Also apologies for the late blog, we had some problems uploading the podcast but that’s all fixed now!

Once again we had our wonderful resident gardening expert, Jodi Jackson in to discuss helpful tips for seed saving. According to Jodi, the art of seed saving is a great, cost effective way to grow your own plants. Now it isn’t as hard as it sounds because plants are naturally designed to set seeds and by saving those seeds you’re not only helping your hip pocket but also helping to keep plant diversity alive. 

Harvesting seeds can be tricky but there are many different ways to do it. Take for example, Kale. Part of the cabbage family, Jodi was able to share with us that she harvests its seeds by ripping the leaves off.

Some important things to remember about harvesting seeds are: 
Courtsey of
  • This can occur annually, bi-annually, seasonally depending on the plant
  •   Don’t try to save everything and to share seeds around with family and friends 
  • Finer seeds such as lettuce have a shorter shelf life of about 1 year

Often people wonder which seeds to save and according to Jodi, saving seeds can be subjective and she’s shared the following three handy tips to help you identify which plants are the best.
Save seeds from:
  •   The healthiest plants
  •  Those that bear the biggest fruit
  • Those that produce the best colour/shape – brightest colour, shape of leaf, shape of fruit etc