Tuesday, 26 February 2013

A Garden Tip

Thank you, Michael, for mentioning that straw can be a useful additive in the garden, for improving the soil's water retention properties. I live in the sand-belt area and getting moisture into my soil is a mammoth task. Where does all the rain go? Last night it rained solidly, but this morning only the top few centimetres of soil were damp.

However, last weekend at the Ashburton Festival, there was a children's farm unit, and because Michael had mentioned to me the idea of getting straw from a horse stables [complete with horse poo] I approached the children's farm operator and was told I was welcome to the straw [and the poo] at the end of the day. We raked up a trailer full, covered it with a tarp and happily drove home.

Yesterday I dug about a quarter of it into a small area of my vegie patch, which was actually quite hard work, until I discovered that layering it was easier, and then joy oh joy, it rained all night! The straw obviously made an appreciable difference as this morning's investigations showed that the rain had penetrated quite a long way down in that area. I shall dig in the rest of the pooey straw as soon as I am able, and shall then plant my next crop.
Of course I put extra straw around all the strawberry plants, to keep the snails away and the berries clean.

The children's farm operator was happy for us to take it, as it meant that he didn't have to rake it all up and dispose of it himself. I'll be on the look out for more petting farm events later in the year.

Comfort Enhancing Tip!

In early February I had my roof painted white. It looks a bit as though snow has fallen, and the effect inside the house is almost the same in that the white paint reflects the sun and keeps the roof cavity much cooler than it was before the painting. This in turn keeps my old, badly-designed, west-facing house much cooler.

I have some storage space in my roof, and I had occasion to go up there one hot day in January. It was 60+ degrees, and I didn't stay long! Since the roof has been painted, I've checked it a few times and the hot day temperature seems to be around 32 to 35. That's a huge difference, and one that I'm mighty glad of. 

On most days the house itself peaks at 27, which is very easy to live with. As you know we've had several hot days on the trot recently and by the end of each hot spell the house had reached 31 inside, but it fell each evening when the windows and doors were opened up to catch any breezes. An ordinary fan inside helped the comfort level, as we don't use the old air-conditioning unit that was in the house when I bought it. It would use nearly 5 times the energy that the modern units require.

In my travels around Melbourne I've seen many newly painted roofs, but only one other white one, and SO MANY BLACK ONES. What a SILLY colour to put on a roof in this country. Good colour in Scandinavia, maybe, or Siberia!

So here's another tip: if you are about to consider a roof job, please think about ordering white paint. It looks rather nice, costs no more than any other colour, and has the most amazing cooling effect. 

Lighter Footprints at Ashburton Festival

Lighter Footprints joined other community groups at the Ashburton Community Festival on Sunday 24 February - the last weekend of the Sustainable Living Festival.

It was another welcome opportunity for Lighter Footprints to sign up new members to our email list and engage with the public. As always our message is that climate change is exceedingly dangerous, that we are close to tipping points that will push us into irreversible climate change and that political parties need urgently to step up policies that push a rapid transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Pushing the change to renewable energy will be a theme at the next Lighter Footprints monthly meeting,  this WEDNESDAY 27 FEBRUARY, at the usual venue, where building community support for wind energy will be major topic.

At the festival, we shared  our spacious marquee, organised by the efficient  Mariette Tuohey from the Ashwood College Permaculture Food Garden and Petra Kahle from the Winton Road Food Forest, with numerous sustainability groups.

A local bee keeper and his family selling Ashwood honey added a special buzz - safely contained - to our section of the footpath.

Many thanks to Mariette for her coordination and to our own enthusiastic and indefatigable members who volunteered their time on a hot Sunday to push the climate change message.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Lighter Footprints meeting with Josh Frydenberg, Member for Kooyong

Josh Frydenberg meeting with members of Lighter Footprints, Carolyn Ingvarson, Convenor, Ken Coghill, Lynn Frankes and Lynne Holroyd 1 February, 2013

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Permafrost, Josh Frydenberg and Lighter Footprints

On 1 February 2012 a small group of Lighter Footprints members, including our Convenor, Carolyn Ingvarson, met with Josh Frydenberg, the Member for Kooyong.

Lighter Footprints requested the meeting in response to the front-page story At the edge of disaster in The Age on 28 November which reported that the Arctic permafrost was melting.

We recognised this to be an extraordinarily dangerous development, suggesting the earth is on the brink of dangerous climate change that would be "irreversible on human timescales". http://www.theage.com.au/national/at-the-edge-of-disaster-20121127-2a5xe.html 

See also The top of the world is melting, a feature story on the Age published the same day http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/the-top-of-the-world-is-melting-20121127-2a5ne.html

Large scale thawing of the permafrost would release vast amounts of greenhouses gases such as methane from frozen organic material stored in the permafrost. It is feared this would set off a self-perpetuating feedback loop would cause global warming to spiral out of human control.

Our main message to Mr Frydenberg was that neither major political party has a policy which is sufficiently responsive to the dire warnings climate scientists are now giving us.

It is quite clear that the earth is more sensitive to greenhouse gases than politicians have understood. These dangerous changes, which include a record melt of Arctic summer sea ice last year, are occurring after less than one degree Celsius of global warming since pre-industrial times

Our present course of "business as usual" will take us past the two degree "guardrail" that has been agreed on at international negotiations as the level we must stay below to avoid dangerous climate change. The melting of the permafrost is a clear signal that we are already in exceedingly dangerous territory.

We asked for stronger climate change policy from the Liberal Party and for leadership on this issue from Mr Frydenberg who has said that he accepts the science on climate change. He said he and his party were committed to taking effective and immediate action to tackle climate change.

Mr Frydenberg was referred to the David Roberts “Climate Change is Simple” youtube video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7ktYbVwr90 and to the article “Climate Change Going Beyond Dangerous – Brutal Numbers and Tenuous Hope” by Kevin Anderson.  http://whatnext.org/resources/Publications/Volume-III/Single-articles/

We also presented him with a copy of Climate Code Red, the book by David Spratt and Philip Sutton which details the various feedback mechanisms which would tip the climate into escalating warming beyond our control. See our link to the website of the same name on this page

We may not have agreement with Mr Frydenberg about what constitutes effective action on climate change but we were given the opportunity to fully express our concerns and felt that they were heard.

YouTube - Videos from this email

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Energy Saving Tip

Tuesday night's meeting with Simon was very helpful in that he [oh so patiently] talked us through posting, previewing, editing and publishing blogs on this website. 

Here's my first post!

I think adding tips about using less power/energy in the home and at work would be a good way to help everyone to reduce their consumption and peg their power bills somewhat.

So here's a good idea: put into the kettle only as much water as is needed for number of cups of tea or coffee you want to make, stay in the kitchen getting cups/mugs ready and the tea or coffee and sugar, by which time the kettle will be coming to the boil. Turn it off immediately, instead of letting it go on for the extra seconds until the auto switch off kicks in. 

Doing this regularly will lower a household's consumption of energy. Over the three months of a power bill, the reduction should be clearly noticeable.

Maybe other readers would like to add comments about other energy-saving ideas that householders can adopt. I know I'd be pleased to hear of other ideas.

Strategy Planning Day 2013

Lighter Footprints Strategy Planning day was held on Sunday 10 February at Balwyn Library. We set the framework for the group for 2013. Come to the first general meeting and join with us.

Monday, 11 February 2013

State / National Action Group Meeting 14 February 2013

The first meeting for 2013 of the Lighter Footprints State / National Action Group (SNAG) will be held on Thursday 14 February at 7:30pm.  If you are interested in participating in the work of this action group this year which will include election time forums, lobbying politicians and letter writing campaigns you are welcome to attend this meeting.  Please contact lynn@timsbookshop.com.au for further details including the location of the meeting.