Experts say that it would only take one generation to save the planet. If that generation grew up being taught the right skills and knowledge, imagine the amazing things we could achieve. Children are never too young to start learning better green habits and one group of special kids is a shining green example for the next generation.
Brisbane’s Bulimba State Primary School is teaching gardening and recycling as part of their curriculum and trying to make the school greener for the community. 40 to 50 students volunteer everyday to water trees and flowers, weed gardens and pick veges. The school boasts many flowers, worm farms and gardens with vegetables, fruit, herbs and has planted over 200 native trees around the school.
By 2010, the school also:
Installed solar panels on the roof, feeding back into the electricity grid.
Built a self-composting bush toilet.
Installed a 250,000L water tank for use in gardens and some toilets.
Put a paper recycling bin in each classroom. Kids also bring in newspapers from home. Recyclable paper is sold to a business that makes insulation, earning the school $120 per tonne, which goes back into environmental projects.
Uses food scraps for compost and mulch for the gardens.
Encourages kids to use less packaging for their lunches, reuse containers and not waste food in their lunchboxes.
Started the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program.
Was awarded a $69,000 grant from Boeing to help other schools develop environmental projects.
Every change you make to be greener, however small, makes a difference to your planet and your health.
Queensland, the sunshine state, is also being promoted as the solar state, but how much of this new Qld Government campaign is true? The reality of Qld’s renewable energies, especially solar, is sadly mostly illusion.
So what is true?
Only about 2% of Qld’s electricity comes from renewable sources
Historically, our energy comes from burning a by-product of sugar production
88% of Qld’s electricity comes from mining and burning coal, which is Qld’s giant industry
The remaining 10% of electricity comes from another fossil-fuel source – gas
The state of Qld emits more greenhouse gases per person than anywhere else in Australia (and Australia emits more greenhouse gases per person than any other developed country)
While Qld’s coal reserves are massive, they are not limitless, but our solar, wind, biomass and geothermal energy resources are mostly limitless, and definitely more sustainable and valuable than coal in the long term. The government’s collective small measures to cut emissions does appear greener to Queenslanders, but is just distracting us from the larger issue of Qld’s carbon addiction. Qld may be the Sunshine State, but we are not the Solar State by a long shot, and to promote Qld as such is deceptive and misleading to the public. The reality is, the government is yet not serious about this issue. Australia is a mountain of coal surrounded by a sea of gas, but sunshine should be number 1.
In April 2010, the government vowed to double solar energy use across Qld within 5 years, from 250MW to 500MW, which would be 4% of Qld’s current power. So small changes are happening, but are they happening is it fast enough?
A few things that are happening include:
Since its big solar push started in July 2008, around 32,000 homes and small businesses have installed solar systems
Not-for-profit group Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) has issued a 200-page report to help Qld join an Australia-wide effort to produce all our electricity from renewable energy in just 10 years
Renewable energy technology is already being used in many places around the world, and has been for a long time, so it is more than possible and available
Qld could transition easily to Concentrated Solar Thermal power, which could generate around two thirds of all our power
This technology uses mirrors to reflect the sun’s power onto towers, storing energy in molten salt for up to 17 hours, which then heats steam to drive turbines
When combined with wind and hydropower, this would give Qld more than 22,000MW of electricity – well beyond the 14,000MW Qld will need by 2020
Consumers could pay around 6.5c/kW hour extra, which is similar to the rise we could expect for non-renewable energy now
The only obstacle to this transition will be political, from the government and from big mining companies, who are still transitioning from the ‘old economy’