July18, 2015: Whoops, I Spoke Too Soon

Snow on the Greeny Flat on the day we left for our trip.

Nice Weather for Inuits.

After last week’s Newsletter entitled ‘Nice Weather for Eskimos’ I was gently reminded by one of our Canadian readers that they’re not called Eskimos any more. The correct term for the indigenous people of the far north of North America is Inuit. Thanks for the reminder and I apologise if I offended anyone. Meanwhile it seems I spoke too soon when I said that the weather had been a tad chilly. On Friday morning we woke to find snow on the Greeny Flat which was an exciting event for Cintia who was raised in Brazil and had only seen snow once before in her life during a trip to Japan. After the twenty years I spent shovelling snow for six months of the year in Montana, it wasn’t quite such a novelty for me although I was reminded of how snow can make the most ordinary things strangely beautiful. I’ve posted the rest of the photos I took in our Gallery here. We only had 10mm or so of snow but there was much more in Berrima… enough to cause the Hume Motorway to be closed in both directions for a number of hours.

All of the above made me feel a little better about heading off on our trip to Brazil. In fact I’m writing this Newsletter from the guest bedroom of Cintia’s parent’s house in Sao Paulo. Her father’s 70th birthday is coming up so we’ve come over for that and I will also be heading up to Montana for my son, Sam’s, 21st.

I’m fully aware of the irony of building an energy positive house and then taking a plane trip half-way around the world. We’re probably generating as much carbon on this trip as we have saved in a year of living in the Greeny Flat. I haven’t done the calculations to find out. I thought about purchasing carbon offsets through the Alternative Technology Association’s Community Climate Chest but I find the whole concept of buying carbon offsets quite challenging. If we did purchase carbon offsets for this trip, it doesn’t make the carbon we are generating on this trip go away. It just means that the money is used to help reduce future carbon emissions. My feeling is that those future carbon emissions should be happening anyway not because we’re choosing to take a carbon-intensive trip.

Perhaps the most effective thing about carbon offsets is the increase in the price. I think it was going to cost me about $500 to buy the offsets (I may still do it). That’s enough to help make me stop and think before taking the next carbon-intensive trip. Once again, I’d like to think that I would stop and think before doing that anyway, not just because of what it takes out of my wallet but because of the wider environmental impact of my choices.

Anyway, here I am in Brazil… feeling a bit guilty about it, but keen to enjoy it as much as possible. Having made the decision to come, the very least I can do is to make the most of it. We just arrived a couple of hours ago so I have nothing to report yet but keep an eye on future Newsletters for updates.

Australia Falling Further Behind On Renewables

The titles of two separate articles from the Energy Matters Blog sum up the sorry tale of the the Abbott Government doing everything possible to ruin renewable energy investment in Australia while the rest of the world, even the USA, is making great progress. Click on the links below if you’d like to read the full articles but the headlines pretty well sum it up. My great hope is that the Australian public will appreciate the utter stupidity of Abbott’s promotion of fossil fuel energy over renewables and not only vote against him at the next election, but vote resounding in favour of a renewable and sustainable future.

PM Abbott’s War On Australian Wind And Solar Continues

Obama Administration To Boost Access To Solar Power

Kiwi Grows a Church

This beautiful, living church was grown in NZ by Bryan Cox in just four years.

This beautiful, living church was grown in NZ by Bryan Cox in just four years.

I usually write these Newsletters about Green Buildings but this one takes it to a whole other level. As reported on the Bored Panda website, Kiwi Bryan Cox grew this lovely living church in just four years. He built a steel frame and then trained trees to grow over it and create a delightful interior space. There’s not much in the way of insulation or water-proofing but on a nice day I’m sure it would be delightful to be in. You can see some more pictures on the Bored Panda Blog here.

For now the jetlag has got the better of me and I’m going to have to get some sleep. More from Brazil next week.

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