Monday 28 July 2008

Carbon Dioxide - finding out is a problem

I've been blithely quoting stats on my CO2 usage for a while now and you may (or may not) have wondered how I was calculating them.

I've got a spreadsheet. This will probably not surprise you.

I was updating my little spreadsheet yesterday, and hit the problem that is probably the biggest reason more of us aren't doing more: it's just so hard to work it out! I've been using estimates from various sites for a lot of my stats and I decided to dig a bit deeper.

As far as I know, my biggest CO2-releasing activities are:
- electricity usage at home
- petrol usage in my car
- co-generation which heats my water
- flying around the globe so much

I set out to tackle them in that order. So, here's how I worked out the home-electricity thing. My power comes from Mercury Energy.

Mercury Energy is somewhat coy about how much CO2 is produced by their power generation. I followed a tortuous path from the Mercury Energy website's blather about the environment, which told me precisely zip except that their power is generated by Mighty River Power....

.... so off I go to Mighty River Power's Generation page, which at least told me that they had a bunch of hydro stations (yay!), some geothermal (more yay!), a "biomass energy" station or three (a what?) and a co-generation plant, and that they were thinking about wind. So far so sweet and all but still no mention of CO2.

Some random clicking within the Mighty River Power site brought me to their Reports & Documents section, and from there to the 2007 sustainability report (large PDF).

And there, on page 18, in teeny font, was a CO2 breakdown by plant type! Hooray! And even better, on the following page, they've got a CO2 usage measurement for their corporate activities.

So, they generated 5,339 GWh of power and created 385,061 (love that 1) kg of CO2 in the process.

Armed with that data and a recent power bill I can now calculate that my 8 or so kWh per day results in about 0.58kg of CO2 being released per day into the atmosphere. This is data that should be on my bill, rather than requiring me to hunt through so many pages online.

So my questions to the internet today are:
  1. is there any way to get this data about all the power companies, easily and online?
  2. how does your CO2 production from your home electricity stack up?
  3. and do you agree, that this data should be on our bills?
(Interestingly, I originally ran the calculation on 2005 data by mistake, and on that data I would have been producing only 0.48kg of CO2 per day. Unless I'm mistaken, that means Mercury have been getting LESS green over time. I've done my little bit today by signing up for online billing.)

Saturday 26 July 2008

Once in a decade storm? and eating locally

(Image nicked from MetVuw)

Man, it's windy. The Metservice site is down so I can't tell how windy it is, but I can't see the North Shore and the rain is going sideways. The Herald was getting all excited about the weather earlier, saying the lows would be a new record. But they've been getting increasingly excitable about the weather since this new "weather blog" thing with Philip Duncan started up. Are we really such a boring country we need to blog about the weather? Er. On to other topics...

My building creaks in the wind. It's like living in a giant tree. I suppose that makes me a little bird in a nest. In a normal wind it sounds a slow creeeaaaak..........creak......... creak....... Today it's creakcreakcreakcreakcreakcreakcreakcreak.

But I'm pleased to see that the White Lady is open for business despite the weather. Mmm, dodgy cheeseburgers. I wonder what they taste like when I'm sober.

Speaking of food: I've been buying my groceries at the Britomart Farmers' Market for the past few weeks; I'm trying to "eat local, think global" now that I'm back home. Because it's the middle of winter, only winter veges are available and I've been forced to be a more adventurous cook. No pasta and tomato sauce can be made when there are no tomatoes or pasta! I made this beef rib stew with fore ribs from Te Kainga farm and baby carrots and potatoes from the market the other night - it's delicious.

So go, buy food there next weekend.

And while you're doing good for the earth, go have a look at - they're a group trying to get a non-car harbour crossing sooner rather than later. I for one would like to walk across the bridge without paying $70 to do it as part of a half-marathon.

Enough! it's dark and stormy outside so I'm going to snuggle down, watch LOTR again, eat stew and drink the rest of the bottle of red wine that I had to open (sigh) for the stew. And maybe it will be less than two months until my next post.