Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Finished my first semester of university today.

Today was the last exam of my first semester of Environmental Restoration. I'm proud of my self. I don't know why I never thought I could do it before. Hooray for using our brains.
Learning little things can be very good for us. Learning big things may be more daunting, but little things lead to big. Gradually everyone on the planet needs to learn the necessary skills to lead a sustainable existence. We in the 'over-indulged' nations need to learn to live with a little less.
Buying things is not the way to make yourself feel good. Being with friends or doing something positive for you or your community is much more rewarding than buying some frilly piece of stuff that will mean nothing in a few weeks when it's out of fashion.
Changing people's behaviour is not going to be easy, but it needs to happen soon. And the changes need to stick.

I look forward to a day when we won't be called 'greenies' because everybody will be living environmentally.

Perth frogwatch tadpole exchange.

For some years now my garden has produced many hundreds of tadpoles. Each year we have at least four batches of motorbike frog tadpoles. Many have gone to new homes in ponds around this area.
Alcoa has been sponsoring the research of frogs and observations by the public to help find where they live in the metropolitan region and whether the chytrid fungus is affecting our local populations. Included in the research money was an allowance for someone to look after the tadpole exchange. Unfortunately this exchange is not being paid for anymore, though the research continues.
I contacted someone at the museum, letting them know that I am quite keen and willing to look after the list of people with tadpoles and those who want some. Hopefully I will hear back soon.

The web address to obtain tadpoles locally is...
Frog Watch

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Food miles.

When you drive your car home from down the road with some asparagus, ginger or other fruit and veg it may be th end of quite a long journey for those items. A lot of machinery may have brought you to those vegetables. Tractors, trucks, aeroplanes, more trucks then your little car driving it home for tea. Many foods travel halfway round the planet to get to us, including those things that we consider 'fresh'.
Supermarkets now have to label the country of origin on their fresh produce shelves. This gives us the chance to choose whether we want to buy food that has used a ridiculous amount of fossil fuels before they were delivered to our local store, such as asparagus from Argentina or garlic from China and Mexico.
By electing to buy locally grown fruit and vegetables you will be reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from transport vehicles and supporting your local economy. The food will be heaps fresher too as it will have generally only been picked a day or so earliler.
Next time you go shopping have a look at where things are from; you could be suprised.

Vicki's list of things you can do for the planet.

Eat organic if you can afford it. If not just eat more vegetables. Fresh ones - not boiled to death!

Grow some of your own vegetables - no food miles (see previous post) needed to bring it to your door and they are fresh.

Buy locally grown foods - keeps local economies healthy.

Find a local community supported farm and support it.

Ride your bicycle or take a bus/train sometimes - public transport can be amusing at times.

Plant trees for shade - helps to reduce the heat island effects of paving and bituminsed roads. Deciduous trees or vined pergola on the north side of your house will keep your house cooler in summer, reducing the need for earth-unfriendly air-conditioners.

Plant local plant species to support local reptile, bird and insect populations and keep biodiversity in the suburbs.

Get stuff from op-shops or at roadside chuck outs. Reuse something someone doesn't want anymore. It saves the energy needed to produce another one.

Write letters to politicians. Hassle them with the knowledge that we are informed and want real action on climate change.

to be continued...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Huge flower wasp at Samson Park.

The largest bit of bushland in Fremantle is Frederick Samson Park. There are some magnificent tuart trees, some marri and even jarrah. The wildflowers are pretty good in spring and there are 13 kinds of fungi there. I went for a little wander about the other day and came across a beautiful grass tree (Xanthorrhea preissei) in full flower; its spike was all bent and twisted. I realised there was a large (3 cm) black and white striped flower wasp on it. Not only that but he had his girlfriend with him. The female has no wings of her own, so she needs him to come and collect her and take her to the flowers. She normally hangs about on the ground collecting caterpillers, or digging for beetle larvae and the like. She lays her eggs on the grubs, for the larvae to eat when they hatch.
It's not often you see them together. I felt very honoured to see such an amazing sight. Of course I didn't have my camera! Duh.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Environmentally smart driving tips.

Smarter driving tips.

Pump up to cut down
Under inflated tyres create more resistance when your car is moving, which means your engine has to work harder, so more fuel is used and more CO2 emissions are produced. Simply check and adjust your tyre pressures regularly and also before long journeys. This will also help to increase the life of your tyres. Under inflated tyres increase CO2 but over inflated tyres can be unsafe so check your car manual for the correct tyre pressure. Remember, a car with a heavier load may need different air pressure in the tyres.

Less clutter in your car means less CO2
Clutter in your boot is extra weight your engine has to lug around. By removing it, you could reduce your engine's workload. This will burn less fuel and cut your CO2 emissions so unload any items you won't need for your journey before you set out.

Driving at an appropriate speed reduces CO2
Speed limits are the maximum lawful speeds which may be driven in ideal circumstances. Drivers should never exceed the speed limit. Staying at or within the speed limit increases driver safety. It also reduces CO2 emissions and saves money on your petrol costs. At 70mph you could be using up to 9% more fuel than at 60mph and up to 15% more fuel than at 50mph.

Less stopping and starting means less CO2
Every time you stop then start again in a traffic queue, the engine uses more fuel and therefore produces more CO2. Keep an eye on the traffic ahead and slow down early by gently lifting your foot off the accelerator while keeping the car in gear. In this way, the traffic may have started moving again by the time you approach the vehicle in front, so you can then change gear and be on your way.

Over revving accelerates emissions
Modern car engines are designed to be efficient from the moment they are switched on, so revving up like a Formula 1 car in pole position only wastes fuel and increases engine wear.

Using your gears wisely by changing up a gear a little earlier can also reduce revs. If you drive a diesel car try changing up a gear when the rev counter reaches 2000rpm. For a petrol car change up at 2500rpm.

Idling is wasting fuel
When the engine is idling you're wasting fuel and adding to CO2 emissions. If you're likely to be at a standstill for more than 3 minutes, simply switch off the engine.

Shamelessly swiped from : http://www.dft.gov.uk/ActOnCO2/?q=tips_and_advice

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Day of the Hoverflies.

There were many, many hoverflies in the garden on Saturday. They were landing on flowers and foliage with gaps of only centimetres between them. One umbel on the elderflower had 8 or so on there. The weather was warmer and drier than it has been, the flush of hoverflies was amazing. We were watching as they flew to and fro across the fence. The air was full of them.
Perhaps some were blown in with some of the northerly winds we've had lately.
In the bush near Canning Dam Road there were also a lot of them, so it wasn't just a suburban phenomena. There was some pink boronia flowering out there along the creekline. I didn't realise they got to about 2 metres tall. Pretty!

The Stems at The Fly by Night Club.

Nothing to do with gardening, I know, but The Stems have always been my favourite local band, so I was really pleased to see them play again the other night. They were excellent, yet again.
Richard Lane is still my favourite, even with his salt and pepper beard - quite funky really, I thought. I love his organ interludes and the lovely Rickenbacker guitar.
There was a bunch of sweet young things dancing down the front, 60's chicks in full regalia, beautiful. It was pointerd out to me that this was the first time my friend and I had seen them legally..they broke up before we turned 18. Our fake id's had worked a treat back then.
I was little surprised not to recognise a few more folk that were there.
It was great fun.

Friday, November 2, 2007

These Come From Trees.

A guy in the US has created these nifty stickers for putting onto paper towel dispensers to raise folks' awareness about how much paper they are using to wipe their hands.
I bought a bunch and will be gladly sticking them about the place.
Great simple idea.
Check out the blog here.