Author Archives: Phil

Earth Hour: is it a waste of time?

Earth Hour is on tonight 28 March 2009

Earth Hour is on again – tonight 28th March at 8.30pm. The event asks people and businesses to turn off lights and appliances for one hour. It ran for the first time in Sydney only a few years ago. Since then the idea has been picked up by many other major cities around the world.

But looking beyond all the hype, how useful is it really in helping to tackle the problem of climate change?

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The Cars That Ate China, Part 1 (how Western auto makers are scrambling to feed the beast)

Are cars killing China (and the world)?

At the recent Sydney Film Festival I saw a great new documentary called ‘The Cars That Ate China’. In this podcast the director Stefan Moore discusses the background to the film and we hear a clip with Joe White, China correspondent for the Wall Street Journal.

Joe takes us to the Beijing car show and explains how foreign car makers are piling into China to make a killing in the last big score in car manufacturing.

Audio: Listen to The Cars That Ate China interview and movie podcast – part 1, Joe White and the Beijing Car Show.

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Peak oil: the world’s looming oil crisis

In case you hadnt noticed, the price of oil is on the march. And there’s analysts saying we’ll look back at 2008 in the years to come and think we were lucky. That petrol was cheap.

So what is happening with oil?

There’s no doubt the world’s demand for oil is increasing in a big way. What is in contention is the world’s supply.

A growing number of experts are saying we won’t be able to keep up with the world’s insatiable demand. And in fact, we’ve reached a tipping point. The term they’re using is ‘peak oil’.

In this interview, Michael Lardelli from the University of Adelaide sounds the alarm bells. Listen to the interview with Michael Lardelli on peak oil.

New environmental radio show on 2ser (107.3 fm) in Sydney on Thursdays 9am

Australia’s no. 1 environmental podcast is launching a weekly half-hour program on Radio 2ser. (107.3fm in Sydney.) It’s Thursdays 9 to 9.30 am.

We also have a number of other media channels on the go:

Check out The Environment Show’s online community and social network. The site allows you to meet other like-minded souls, create your own groups, post ideas on the environment, ask questions, put up photos of pristine natural environments you’ve travelled to, and promote your environmental cause or enterprise. Like facebook, only better.

(Actually, we have an Environment Show facebook group for the diehard facebook fans, but we think our official site (on ning) may be better. Check them out and decide for yourself.)

And at the Environment Show, we’re interested in visuals as as well as audio. You’re welcome to join our community site and post photos directly to it or join the Flickr site for The Environment Show Community. Show off the pristine, natural places you’ve been to. And any shots to do with environmental issues or innovations.

Catch you on the airwaves. The first shows cover peak oil, planning cities for people and permaculture. And we’ve lined up a weekly check-in with Ben Cubby, environment reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald. Hope you can join us. Cheers, Phil.

‘Sharkwater’ will change how you think of sharks

Sharks have had a pretty bad rap for a long time. Now a new film, busts the myths about sharks and highlights the dire situation for shark populations around the world.

Rob Stewart, an underwater photographer, set out to show the beauty of sharks in his film ‘Sharkwater’, but stumbled instead onto the billion dollar shark fin industry. He found sharks having their fins cut off and their bodies thrown back in the ocean on a large scale. All to supply the demand for shark fin soup in Asia.

I went to see the film, then tracked down the director – who was in Paris on his way to Cannes – to flesh out the story. Click here to listen to the interview with the PR Manager for sharks, Rob Stewart.

Check out the trailer and the making of the Sharkwater film.

And if you want to help, you can adopt a shark through the Nature Conservation Council. They’re one of the few organisations campaigning to protect sharks in Australia.

Just add water (to food labels)

Here in Australia we know we should be watching how much water we use for things like showers, gardens and washing cars.

But really, it’s a drop in the ocean compared to how much water goes into the products we consume.

Now an Australian academic has proposed that the amount of water used in making food and other items be clearly shown on product labeling. Listen to the interview with James Hazelton.

To see how much water goes into making different products, check out www.waterfootprint.org.

Biofuels: blessing or curse?

In many developed countries food prices have skyrocketed. So much so there’s been riots and demonstrations in a range of countries from Cameroon and Senegal to Haiti, Mexico and Egypt.  One factor is believed to be the increasing use of crops to produce biofuels rather than food.

So is biofuel an important solution to our transport energy needs. Or is it creating problems the world doesn’t need?

To find out more about biofuels and the situation for biofuels in Australia, I spoke with the CSIRO’s biofuels expert Deborah O’Connell. I started by asking where biofuels come from.  Listen to the biofuels interview.

Grow your own says The Green Gardener

Josh Byrne is a presenter on the ABCs Garden Show. He’s also written a book called ‘The Green Gardener’.

Josh reckons people have seen the light and are now using their backyards to grow food. In this interview, he talks about how to go about grow your own, making your garden sustainable and the role of permaculture in his work. Listen to the Josh Byrne Green Gardener interview.

I caught up with Josh at the Australian Permaculture Convergence.

Back to the backyard: the permaculture answer to peak oil

Permaculture is real counter-culture. Thats what I thought after attending the Australian Permaculture Convergence last weekend.

It combines traditional farming techniques and thinking about nature with modern technology to enable people to live differently to how most of us live. To live in a truly sustainable way.

In this interview, I tracked down David Holmgren, the co-originator of permaculture, at the conference.

Interestingly, having originally developed the idea in response to the oil crisis of the 70’s, David reckons permaculture is the answer to our looming energy crisis. With peak oil, permaculture is more relevant than ever.

More on permaculture on David’s site.

Cataret Islands: world’s first climate change refugees?

As the world continues to debate what to do about climate change, the people living on a small atoll to Australia’s north are about to become our region’s first climate change refugees.

The Cartaret Islands, north east of PNG, are only a metre above sea level. Each year tidal surges on the island get bigger.

The tides have damaged the islands’ fresh water sources and food growing areas. To the point where the people of The Cartarets are now planning to evacuate to nearby Bougainville. It’s estimated their island will be unihabitable by 2015.

Phil spoke with Charlotte Sterrett, Climate Campaigner for Oxfam Australia, to find out more about the situation and what can be done. Listen to the interview.