About Brian

Brian Loffler is a member of the New Internationalist Co-op in Adelaide, where he's been involved since 1981. He works mostly on expanding the supporter network in Australia for the New Internationalist's independent journalism and fair trade campaigns.

Salamander LED solar torch and powerbank. Prepare for next blackout…

There’s a severe storm. Power lines are down and the lights go out. The ground floor is flooded. What do you need most? A reliable, rechargeable torch and something to charge your phone. We’ve got you covered. It’s the POWERPlus Salamander, a bright LED flashlight and emergency powerbank all in one solar-charged package:

Continue reading

24-hour solar on demand: an update on Solastor plans for Port Augusta

In June 2016 I reported on the launch of the Solastor 24-hour solar-on-demand project that was planned for Port Augusta in South Australia. At the time of the launch the plan was to have a pilot plant in operation by the end of the year. In November 2016 Solastor advised that they were likely to go ahead with the main project rather than doing the pilot first.

Today I checked in with Steve Hollis, CEO of Solastor, for an update on progress.

Brian:  Your Port Augusta plans outlined in your June 2016 launch were for 1,700 collector tower modules which were expected to generate 110MW in winter and 170MW in summer. Is that still the plan?

Steve:  The proposal is now to stage the project starting with a 100MW power station with 800 modules. This would do just under 50MW for 24 hours in winter and over 70MW in summer. More importantly, it will do 100MW for shorter times per day (peak hours) which is when the need is greatest.

This configuration could (would) be “cut and pasted” 5 times to give 500MW and completely replace the old to power station. Continue reading

A new model for the future of independent media

It’s a huge day for our colleagues in the New Internationalist office in Oxford UK. That’s where the magazine’s editorial team is based and where New Internationalist books and the famous One World Calendar are produced.

Today they are launching their #factsandheart Community Share Offer. It’s a fascinating new model for the ownership of independent media, and a chance for supporters of the New Internationalist to become co-owners.
Continue reading

We need to talk about undies

Yes, your undies are a very private thing. Comfort and style are immensely important, and no doubt you’ll have a strong personal preference. But we do need to talk about undies.

Do you know what nasties are riding along with your favourite undies?

Residual chemicals in clothing

It’s a significant issue in clothing, particularly for people with sensitive skin, and especially in underwear that hugs our skin so closely. So much so that Choice recommends:

wash any new clothes twice before wearing, although washing won’t remove certain types of chemicals

Continue reading

A chat with Sir Tim Smit – co-founder of the Eden Project

Today I had a chat with Sir Tim Smit, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of the Eden Project, ahead of his forthcoming presentation for the Planet Talks at WOMADelaide 2017.

In the prologue to his book, Eden, two sentences stand out, and they sum up the spirit of our chat: “Neither do I make any apology for being optimistic about the future. I am.”

Continue reading

Why we’re so enthusiastic about our Fair Trade partnerships

I want to share with you a few of the reasons we’re so enthusiastic about our Fair Trade partnerships, and why we’re eager to have your ongoing support. Continue reading

New plans for solar thermal at Port Augusta

On 7th June 2016 another important step was taken towards decarbonising the South Australian economy. Solastor Australia announced detailed plans to build a solar thermal power station at Port Augusta.
Continue reading

Please take a seat – it’s Angelique Kidjo at WOMADelaide

Telling the WOMADelaide crowds to sit down is a tall order. There’s so much dancing on stage and in the crowd.

But just occasionally there’s a performance of such subtle beauty and dynamic range – such as with the performance of Ravi Shankar and Anoushka Shankar six years ago – that WOMADelaide organisers insist the crowd sit on the grass and focus.

The big sit this year will be to bask in the magic of Angélique Kidjo with guitarist David Laborier and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

This extract from a classic interview for the New Internationalist magazine illustrates just how many strings The Grammy award-winning musician, writer and UNICEF goodwill ambassador has to her bow. You can read the full interview here.

NI: You left Benin in 1983 to study jazz in Paris, and ended up finding Africa elsewhere: in jazz music in France, then the blues of the US, the carnival and candomblé of Brazil, the salsa of Cuba. Is this testament to the resilience of African music? Continue reading

Tigray, Ethiopia: a gift of water is a gift of life

Graham Romanes has had a deep connection with the people of Ethiopia over many decades and now leads the NGO WellWishers. He writes:

“I was very privileged to visit Tigray at the end of November to inspect 10 of the well sites in our 64 wells program for 2015.  The program is on target to finish construction of the 64 wells by the end of January 2016. The number of Ethiopian villagers who will now have fresh, clean, safe and accessible drinking water for the first time is over 17,800. A fabulous contribution made by WellWishers supporters to the lives of so many people.

Continue reading

Two and a half cheers for the COP21 climate talks outcome

George Monbiot got it about right with his assessment of the COP21 outcome:

By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster.

But no matter what, the Paris Agreement does mark a turning point, and sends by far the strongest signal yet to banks, investors and industry. One might ask where they have been looking in the past decade if they haven’t already read the signals. Has it been gross negligence or haven’t they read their own disclaimers that past performance should not be taken as an indicator of future returns on fossil fuels? How can it be that they’ve wilfully ignored the risk of stranded assets?

As May Boeve – Executive Director of 350.org – put it:

“This marks the end of the era of fossil fuels. There is no way to meet the targets laid out in this agreement without keeping coal, oil and gas in the ground. The text should send a clear signal to fossil fuel investors: divest now.”

Continue reading