Barnaby Joyce no longer believes that humans have had nothing to do with climate change – but we must continue to mine coal in order to help poor Indians and coal miner unionists. He is impatient with those who don’t want anyone ‘to turn the lights on’ because it will contribute to global warming. Or so he told us on the TV last week.
But meanwhile in a calmer, more rational world, economics is shifting the game. Look at the item below about the construction of enormous solar energy farms in China, India and elsewhere. An article this morning reported that domestic installation of batteries will likely quadruple in Australia this year and that prices are falling rapidly – while power on the grid is set to double.
The Music Trust’s scheme to engage Australian contemporary singers and songwriters in advocacy for climate action is coming together. We will report as things develop. Meanwhile, for this edition of Loudmouth, here are some stories to provoke your thoughts.
World Science Festival: How music and science combine to monitor climate change
At the World Science Festival in Brisbane, music researcher Dr Leah Barclay told the 100 Ways To Listen project that artists and scientists working together could unlock the secrets of climate change.
“The way we think about music and the way sound artists listen, can really influence and inspire how scientists are responding to climate change,” she said.
Recording sound from different environments allowed music scientists to monitor climate change, by using hydrophones and binaural microphones that mimicked the same technology as the human ear.
“Dramatic changes in aquatic ecosystems can go unnoticed simply due to visibility,” said Dr Barclay, whose hydrology piece featured recordings of the world’s water systems collected over a decade.
This non-invasive technique called acoustic ecology enabled the researchers “to listen to an active and healthy reef and hear active fish and snapping shrimp” or the increased traffic of Humpback whales, she said.
A lack of noise or increased noise levels could be indicators of the ecosystem’s health.
“Listening from the perspectives of environmental changes, but also listening from trained musical ears, there’s true possibilities to respond to some of the greatest challenges of our time,” Dr Barclay said.
Sonic environment recordings were launched at the festival and arranged into music for augmented reality river walks, surround-sound presentations and virtual reality.
“These experiences are designed to inspire people to engage with the environment, to listen to the reef, to listen to climate change and to understand those implications,” Dr Barclay said.
The augmented reality river walks of more than 100 soundscapes along South Bank are available for download via 100waystolisten.com/soundwalks
Why doesn’t Australia have electric buses?
Battery operated buses in Antelope Valley Transit Authority in California have been put in service with the expectation of saving about $60,000 per bus per year.
Transport for London says electric buses cost more to buy but are much cheaper to run. Within a fairly short time, the savings pay for the extra purchase cost. In London, it all began 11 years ago, with a hybrid bus. Transport for London has now bought hybrid, battery-electric and hydrogen cell buses from eight different manufacturers – so there is no major supply problem.
It has committed by 2020 to the use of electric or hydrogen buses for all 300 single decker buses in Central London, and the use of hybrid buses for all 3,000 double decker buses in the same area. All-electric IrIzar i2e buses were introduced in central London that operate for fourteen to sixteen hours—six hours drive time in typical traffic conditions—between overnight charges of six hours). All vehicles on two main routes will be electrically powered.. This is part of the Ultra Low Emissions Zone scheme. (Information from Wikipedia)
Numbers that give the game away: Australia’s pathetic solar record
While the Australian government, with its eyes fixed steadily in the rear-view mirror, assures us that coal is king, other countries are getting on with solar.
At this time, Australia’s large-scale solar generation capacity, nationally, is 240 megawatts (MW). New construction approved will lift that to 720 MW. A single project in India, allegedly hungry for our coal, generates 648MW (see below). China’s total capacity last year was 77 gigawatts (77,000MW), or 320 times that of Australia. Its population is 57 times that of Australia.
By 2020 China – which is now the world’s top clean energy investor – hopes to be producing 110GW of solar power and 210GW of wind power. By 2030, China has pledged to increase the amount of energy coming from non-fossil fuels to 20% of the total, cutting smog levels, carbon emissions and creating 13m jobs in the process.
In the past few years, the title of “largest solar farm in the world” has been a rather short-lived distinction. In 2014, the Topaz solar farm in California topped the list with its 550 megawatt (MW) facility. In 2015, another operation in California, Solar Star, edged its capacity up to 579MW. By 2016, India’s Kamuthi solar power project in Tamil Nadu was on top with 648MW of capacity. As of February 2017, Longyangxia Dam solar park in China was the new leader, with 850MW of capacity. These images show how the solar park grew over a four-year period. By January 2017, solar panels covered 27 sq km of Qinghai province. According to news reports, there were nearly 4m solar panels at the site in 2017. The rapid expansion at Longyangxia coincides with China’s fast-growing solar power sector. In 2016, China’s total installed capacity doubled to 77 gigawatts. It is unlikely that Longyangxia will remain the largest solar park in the world for long. A project planned for the Ningxia region in north-west China will have a capacity of 2,000MW when it is finished, Bloomberg reported.
Last para is from Eric Hilaire in The Guardian.1
We have to take carbon OUT of the atmosphere
Eelco Rohling of the ANU writes in The Conversation: ‘Since the Industrial Revolution, we have emitted CO2 at least 100 times faster than it’s eliminated… Analysis by my colleagues and me suggests that staying within safe warming levels now requires removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
‘In our research, we considered 1℃ a better safe warming limit [rather than the currently agreed objective of 1.5℃]because any more would take us into the territory of the Eemian period, 125,000 years ago. For natural reasons, during this era the Earth warmed by a little more than 1℃. Looking back, we can see the catastrophic consequences … Sea levels were up to 10 metres higher than present levels. Today, the zone within 10m of sea level is home to 10% of the world’s population, and even a 2m sea-level rise today would displace almost 200 million people.’
If emissions remain stable after 2020, we would need to remove 700 billion tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere and ocean. We don’t yet know how to do that. To implement any such scheme would require revision of international legal structures and policy and ethical frameworks. But there are material rewards for nations that take the lead.