Blog - New Internationalist Australia - Fair Trade, climate disruption and social justice news

A curious story on the West’s fatal attraction to Asia’s education system

Education testing
September 12th, 2017 by

In case you missed it, there’s a fascinating piece in the New Internationalist magazine – Bad Education: Time to fix it – that’s being widely read.

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WOMADelaide 2017

WOMADelaide 2017
August 17th, 2017 by

The sprinkling of rain at the start of this year’s WOMADelaide didn’t do much to quell excitement. A rather good lineup, delicious food stalls, and friendly crowd in Botanic Park all returned to the four day world music festival.

I find it difficult to quantify WOMAD weekends; they’re reliably wonderful experiences and each year the highlights are unexpected, but this felt like a particularly good year. (more…)

Renewable energy: solar thermal power for Port Augusta

SolarReserve
August 16th, 2017 by

For the past five years we’ve been tracking the superb renewable energy activism of the Port Augusta community in South Australia in their quest for a solar thermal power station.

2016 marked the end of six decades of coal-fired power generation at Port Augusta and now we finally have the announcement of a replacement that will provide dispatchable renewable energy, using CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) technology.

It’s quite brave leadership from the South Australian State Government. They’ve had to put up with a year of denigration and ridicule from the Federal Government for an ambitious transition-to-renewables program. But they’ve pushed on relentlessly, culminating in the announcement of the world’s biggest battery storage last month and now the solar with storage plant announced this week.

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WOMADelaide 2016

WOMADelaide 2016
June 28th, 2017 by

The music may have been and gone, but the memories come flooding back when I look over the photos from a wonderful weekend of WOMADelaide in 2016.

Here’s how I experience WOMAD each year, what does yours look like? (more…)

Finkel and the Australian climate deadlock: still not heading towards zero emissions

At least we got cheap electricity...
June 16th, 2017 by

In their submission to the Finkel Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market, the Climate Council made it clear that a rapid transition to net zero emissions is the priority:

To protect Australians from worsening climate impacts (eg more destructive storms, intense heatwaves and worsening bushfire conditions) and in line with our Paris Agreement commitments and carbon budget constraints, Australia needs pathways to transition as rapidly as possible away from coal, oil and gas to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

But the Finkel review has little to say about our Paris Agreement commitments. Instead it focuses on ensuring a reliable electricity grid and reducing the price of electricity.

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

Salamander solar torch powerbank
May 11th, 2017 by

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:

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

Solastor: Jiangyin plant in operation
March 31st, 2017 by

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. (more…)

Five paradoxes about the state of the media

NI CSO
March 23rd, 2017 by

We are living in a time full of threats – and unprecedented possibilities, especially when it comes to the state of the media. Let’s consider five paradoxes, in no particular order.

Is print dead or reviving?

Rumours of the death of print magazines and newspapers have been circulating for years – but many of us are still here. What’s more, we are seeing signs of a renaissance in independent, alternative print magazines and hyperlocal newspapers.

The internet, that great disrupting technology, has prompted print’s decline, cannibalizing the revenue of publishers. After all, why buy news in print when you get it all for free online? The proportion of readers actually prepared to pay for news online (nine per cent) cannot replace those who used to buy print.1

But the internet has also been amazing for media like ours. In the days before the worldwide web, we never imagined that two million people a year would be reading our content and getting our kind of journalism, rooted in social, economic, global and environmental justice. (more…)

Snowy Hydro gets a boost, but ‘seawater hydro’ could help South Australia

Cultana, South Australia
March 18th, 2017 by

The federal government has announced a A$2 billion plan to expand the iconic Snowy Hydro scheme. It will carry out a feasibility study into the idea of adding “pumped hydro” storage capacity, which it says could power up to 500,000 homes. The Conversation

Hydro is one of the oldest and most mature electricity generation technologies. And pumped hydro storage – in which water is pumped uphill for later use, rather than simply flowing downriver through a hydro power station – is the dominant form of energy storage globally.

But there are limitations to how much freshwater hydro can be accessed, so it’s worth looking at what alternate approaches are available. One promising prospect is to use seawater instead of rivers. This tactic could potentially help South Australia resolve its highly publicised energy problems. (more…)

A new model for the future of independent media

New Internationalist Community Share Offer
March 1st, 2017 by

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.
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