Carbongeddon, Clean Energy and an Electric God
Tomorrow the World will end! Australia is putting a price on the carbon contained in hydrocarbon fuels such as coal, petroleum and natural gas. $23 a tonne of emissions on 294 organisations that emit 25,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide or the equivalent in greenhouse gases. And if you believe Tony Abbott that means Carbongeddon will destroy Australia and probably be the end of the world. Town’s like Whyalla are believe to be the first to sink beneath the earth with the rest of us to follow.
But I don’t believe Tony Abbott, I find him to be a man of limited ideas, fewer policies and a desire to wreck the place if he can’t run it. I think both you and I will wake up just fine tomorrow and go about our regular Sunday routine. With the added plus of knowing Australia has taken a bold step in reducing pollution and doing our part in protecting the planet. I will leave the economics to those far more qualified (I struggle to even get my taxes right) and leave the politics to the politicians.
The goals of the Government are these – Firstly, the establishment of a carbon price. Secondly, support for renewable energy. Thirdly, to support improvements in energy efficiency. And fourthly, to store carbon through changed land-use practices.
The second and the third of these are to me the most exciting, it fires in my belly something we can all relate to and promote the one thing that is guaranteed to create jobs and build a sustainable economy. Innovation!
Aussies are an innovative bunch by nature, from the Hills Hoist to the Victa Lawn Mower we have found ways to do things in a more efficient way. But we also do it in our every day lives, from the Ancient Indigenous Axe head recently found that was over 35000 years old shaped from a simple stone to the coat hanger aerial in the shape of our nation we find a way to solve our daily problems by thinking outside the square and having a little fun with it too.
Transport is obviously a key area that must be addressed in reducing pollution and finding more energy efficient ways of moving around. From Gas to the newer Hybrid vehicles like the Australian built Camry or the world renowned Hipster car the Prius technology for moving around has become greener and cleaner.
But for many these cars are boring, they still use petrol (at a lesser rate than a conventional vehicle) and thus don’t really solve the long term problem. Hydrogen is an exciting prospect but the technology is still in its relative infancy before it could be mass produced, although in the long term it is one of the best solutions. Electric vehicles are another excellent alternative as they offer the chance to reduce running emissions to virtually nil when charged by renewable power such as Solar, Wind, Wave etc.
But what if I told you about the potential for a vehicle that NEVER needed to be recharged or refueled, no gas, no petrol, no emissions and no pollution at all. And to further sweeten the deal this was no boring vehicle with all the sex appeal of a Dunlop Volley, this was a race machine, that looked amazing and left most vehicles in its… well sheer lack of smoke!
The Mugen Shinden (Electric God) is a vehicle with such a potential. Mugen a Japanese company founded by the son of Mr Honda of automotive fame is known for its innovation and now with the Shinden they have entered the clean energy future. This particular bike was raced at this years Isle of Man TT in the electric bike race and took a close second with TT legend John McGuiness on board. Lapping the famous mountain course at an average speed of 160km/h this is not for the faint hearted. But what makes this bike different to the winner of the race and other electric bikes is its ability to recharge its batteries on the go. So how does it do it, mobile fuelling station, Jerry can strapped to the back of the rider? No the Shinden captures the energy created when braking and then regenerates it into usable power to top up the batteries. While far more powerful and complicated, think of it as you would your car’s alternator charging up your battery. Imagine if you only filled up your tank as often as you replaced your battery!
Producing 120hp and a huge amount of torque as soon as the throttle is cracked this engine could power small and medium cars and as Mugen engineers told me during the week of the TT the engine is only working at 40% of its potential. All they have to do is turn the dial and this 200kg motorcycle could be pushing out the sort of power your average HSV V8 owner is more than proud of, with far more torque.
The power regeneration system is still being developed and as a race bike it was only designed to cover 60km. But when you reach speeds close to 300km/h economy was not the aim of the day. What makes this even more remarkable is that the regeneration system is less than 6 months old. Mugen Engineers hope by next year to double the distance the bike is capable of and halve the weight. In a commuter application the technology could carry a rider across Australia without the need for either a fueling stop or an exhaust pipe.
The potential is not just there, it is becoming a reality. Cars and Bikes that you and I could own that would have you waving to the Service Station attendant as you drive on past, only needing to replace the battery once or twice in the life of the vehicle and NEVER having to charge it. Imagine now if an Australian company making vast wealth from the mining boom & especially ones paying the Carbon Price decided to offset this by investing in such technology. So instead of waiting on the German’s or Japanese we were building such vehicles for everyone right here in Australia. Thousands of jobs, a strong/diverse economy, drastically reduced emissions even when accounting for the manufacturing process and a product to export to the rest of the world.
I don’t see the Carbon Price as the looming Carbongeddon that Abbott does, because unlike Tony I believe in Australia’s ability to innovate like we have done a million times before. Tomorrow we don’t wake up to a wiped out Whyalla, we wake up to a new dawn of both a cleaner environment and an exciting future. Bring it on!
Wedding Crashers and Carbon Kooks (gay marriage & carbon tax)
“Well known radical feminist” was the description delivered at a rally against Same Sex Marriage in Canberra this week.
But who was this radical feminist they were speaking of, Germaine Greer? Maybe Eva Cox, although personally I don’t find her that radical. No the target of the comment was Finance Minister Penny Wong; Che Guevera in a Pant-Suit she is not! A more bland centrist you could not find, she is common sense with a clever hair cut. But Senator Wong is exactly the kind of “evil” this crowd was rallying against. The hatred is also directed at people like Dr Kerryn Phelps, former head of the AMA and recipient of the Centenary Medal for services to Health and Medicine. Also a Member of the Order of Australia, a mum of two children and her partner is woman. Would the world really end if they were allowed to tie the knot under Australian law? I think not!
Keynote speaker, Rebecca Hagelin from the conservative US Heritage Foundation told the audience, if you allowed gay marriage, “anything” such as polygamy and marriage between paedophiles and children ”could be called marriage”. I have many problems with this statement, it is simply false to begin with, it equates the union between two adults with that of sex crimes and in doing so undermines the suffering of all those, including LGBT people, who have been the victims of paedophiles and it comes from an American, whose organisation lobbied for the war in Iraq, calls Maggie Thatcher a hero and has links to jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The think tank was also responsible for the “Contract with America” taken on board by US republicans in the 1990’s that resulted in much of the deregulation that caused the Global Financial Crisis.
Of course it wasn’t just an “intellectual” rally, others like Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce, were eager to point out it isn’t just Gay marriage he has a problem with. “If someone wanted to introduce legislation calling ‘camels’ ‘horses’” that would be equally as ridiculous.” Never to be out done when it comes to statements of brilliance MP Bob Katter offered up. “Gay is one of the most beautiful words…no-one should have the right to take that word off us.” Bob, nobody is trying to take gay away from you, in fact they want you to be able to express “gay” in a way you feel comfortable and that is recognised by the law. In the past you have also expressed alarm at having laws taking away your right to “go horse riding”, “catch a fish for dinner”, “light a campfire” and “boil a billy”. Change boil to another word Bob and your lifestyle starts to sound a little Brokeback Mountain. Which is fine Bob, as I said, nobody is trying to take “gay” away from you, whatever boils your billy!
Meanwhile outside on the lawns of our Parliament House, the temperature was rising faster than Bob’s campfire. Well in actual fact the people at this particular rally contest that any temperature rise is caused by them or any humans, but something was making them awful hot under the collar. Angry Anderson took to the stage telling the Anti Carbon Tax rally to “maintain the rage” and muttered something about a higher power, while fresh from their gay ole time inside the building Katter and Joyce raged against “socialism” and got all Advance Australia Fair to the great joy of the audience. Much like inside it was left to others to offer up the intellectual side to the debate. “I can see a lot of people that I agree a very great deal with. I can see some people that I probably don’t agree with on everything,” opened Tony Abbott. Not quite JFK or FDR, but I think there is a real gem in there somewhere Tony. And of course the banners and placards were back, “JU-Liar” “Bob Brown’s Bitch” and what’s a patriotic rally without fitting out a picture of your Prime Minister in a Nazi uniform.
What was clear from both rallies was that older people will get out and have their say. And what are 60 somethings worried about in Australia, pension rates, hospital beds, golf course accessability? No, what gets these folks off the lazy boy recliner, throwing the Women’s Weekly at the floor in disgust and raising a “Ditch and Witch” banner, are a few Gay folks wanting to walk down the aisle and a policy designed to protect the environment.
Conservatives find the whole idea of conservation nearly as disgusting as they do two adults just asking for a “fair go”. Of course by the time we have actually crawelled our way into the 21st century and legalised Gay marriage for their Lesbian grand daughter and face the real impact of climate change these folk will be sleeping the eternal sleep and their only legacy will be a shift in the Australian political debate.
A shift that takes us closer to the US style “tea party” movement and the grubby politics it leaves behind. Where calling your Prime Minister Hitler, a bitch and a witch is how you get your view across and vilifying people you do not know nor understand is accepted, even inside the walls of the peoples Parliament. The attendees of both rallies will neither pay the carbon tax (I didn’t see Twiggy Forrest in attendance) nor be compelled to marry anyone Gay. But they attack both as if their very life depended on it and one can only think the media has very badly informed these people, some politicians have lied and our ability to communicate intelligently lost to an angry mob.
If you are a wedding crasher or a carbon kook it’s time to put country first, do a little reading and leave the Nazi accusations for the only people who deserve them…, Nazi’s!