Saturday, April 25, 2009


This is my response to this article "BP backs Jatropha as a biodeisel feedstock"

we don't "need" cars, we want them.
Without cars/transport, our lives revert to about a 50km radius, with very few trips outside this. Society is conditioned to living in a larger radius than that. Our food is grown in other hemispheres, most people live more than 50km from work, friends and family. A lot of people live hundreds of km from major hospitals.
Until society constricts back to a smaller radius, man made fuels may be a bandaid fix, but we really need to focus on "relocalising", or "transitioning".

Whole cities, even countries, not just people, need to restructure, so that all necessities are within a reasonable distance. Unfortunately, for state government, this means no mega hospitals, instead build up a resilient network of smaller hospitals. The same goes for educational institutions, like child care and Uni. For Coorporations, this means more cottage industries, more local general stores, etc, instead of humongous Westfield Malls. On a personal level, we need to build our community's resilience and diversity. Don't invest your life in a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom house on 400m2, in an estate that is 1/2 an hours drive from schools, shops, and doctors. (I think we are all on the same page there. lol)

If you are already invested for life, make friends with neighbours, grow vegies/herbs guerrilla style on the nature strip, on one of those stupid traffic slowing islands or on your roof. Rent out an unused room, or invite gran to live with you in return for free childcare. Work from home. Carpool, or do the shopping for your elderly neighbour, to get the most out of each trip. Use your local convenience store, (if its not already 7/11), it might be more expensive, but you are paying for the convenience, and when they go out of business, you will have to spend more on petrol to get to mega mart anyway.

We are investing in the wrong things. (Why spend billions of $$ on Clem7 for example?) We need to focus less on preserving our current lifestyles, and building a system that will be resilient in the face of energy descent, so that the impact is positive rather than doom and gloom.


  1. Thanks for your comment on Envirofuel and also for your rebuttal. Sadly, most people don't go to that level of effort.

    In the two years I've been running Envirofuel I've come to agree with you, in the city context at least. So much positive change could occur if people were willing to give up their cars and begin to provide for themselves.

    Of course massive infrastructure changes are required before that becomes viable and we therefore rely on Government to facilitate the change. Having just spent a week in Canberra and having observed the masses of bicycle commuters there I've seen the changes good cycling infrastructure can make. I'm sure improvements in public transport would result in a similar changes in commuting habits.

    As a keen cyclist I am in the process of converting to bicycle transport and will probably be devoting what spare time I have to growing bicycle commuting locally instead of updating Envirofuel. As my knowledge has grown I've become disillusioned with biofuels and don't think the general public should rely on alternative fuels for everyday transport. The answer, as you say, is in changing habits and expectations, not in finding alternatives.


  2. hey thanks luke, keep up your work with cycling, check out for more info and to link up with likemindeds

  3. I am frustrated by both Anna Bligh and Campbell Newman using reductions in GHG emissions as an excuse to build more politically popular infrastructure for motor vehicles.

    The more roads they build, the more lanes they add, the more congestion they bust, the more it encourages people to drive. Is there anyway we can get a more robust means of GHG emissions accounting to counter the circular arguments presented by our politicians to justify more "congestion busting" roads?

    From BBC's annual report:

    In partnership with the Queensland Government, Council is developing a common,
    intelligent, integrated road network management system to improve the coordination of the
    city’s 7000 kilometre road network. A pilot of the traffic signals component of the project
    was conducted at Indooroopilly in 2008 and demonstrated how traffic can be streamlined by
    synchronising traffic signals on both Council and Queensland Government-owned roads. The
    Indooroopilly pilot demonstrated a saving of approximately 3800 tonnes in carbon emissions
    per year through the reduction of travel time.

    Do you think they took into account all the additional trips that will be made now that traffic isn't as bad? I doubt it.