Aquaflow in Multi-Biomass Venture

Nelson-based algae company Aquaflow, whose progress we have reported on frequently in past posts has announced another engagement with an overseas company. This time it has signed a major agreement with Texas-based CRI Catalyst Company, a provider of catalyst and process technology to the global renewable fuel market.

The focus of this partnership is on a multi-biomass approach, mixing algae with cellulosic feedstocks to produce petrol, diesel and jet biofuels which are ready for use in the existing transport system.  The algae, with their unique chemical qualities, add value to cellulosic biofuels. Continue reading “Aquaflow in Multi-Biomass Venture”

The Anti-Science of the Republican Party Terrifies

Paul Krugman in a New York Times column on Sunday gave voice to the fear that must haunt any aware observer of the anti-science tide currently sweeping through the American Republican party. “It should terrify us,” were his words. I’m not an American, but it certainly terrifies me, all the more for the recognisable lineaments which seem to be manifesting themselves in the Australian right and are unmistakeable in the New Zealand ACT party which is in coalition with the government and apparently welcome back next time.

Krugman looks at two serious contenders for the Republican party nomination to run for President, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. Continue reading “The Anti-Science of the Republican Party Terrifies”

Dismaying Australian Politics

Sunday’s Guardian carried a telling editorial on the poisonous political climate currently holding sway in Australia in relation to climate change. It opens with the observation that 1700 miles from Canberra the indigenous peoples in islands of the Torres Strait fear that climate change may soon overwhelm them, with communities vanishing under rising seas. Their concerns haven’t a show of being heard in the prevailing clamour against Julia Gillard’s government’s plans to curb pollution generated by the nation’s big companies.

“When parliament returned recently, there were 2,000 protesters outside, equipped with placards bearing slogans such as “ditch the witch”. The opposition leader, Tony Abbott, partly distanced himself from such language, but demanded Ms Gillard scrap her planned carbon tax and call an early election. And last week lorry drivers converged on Canberra to demand an instant poll.” Continue reading “Dismaying Australian Politics”

New Opencast Mine Permitted

News today that resource consent has been granted to Perth-based company Bathurst Resources for opencast coal mining on 200 hectares in the Mt Rochfort Conservation Area on Denniston Plateau, northeast of Westport. It will become New Zealand’s second largest opencast coal mine after Solid Energy’s nearby Stockton mine.

The commissioners said that the consent was granted “not without some considerable reservations and anguish” and that they “do not wish to provide any indication that future consents will be granted to undertake further mining in this area.” But the economic benefits easily carried the day:

“The most and almost overwhelming factor that we had to consider is the enormous financial benefit that the mine will bring to the Buller district and the West Coast region.” Continue reading “New Opencast Mine Permitted”

The Power of Non-violent Civil Disobedience

In a post on the Guardian website Bill McKibben reflects on civil disobedience after his stint in jail last weekend. He had thought he might be writing a blog post from jail:

“But frankly, I wasn’t up to it. The police, surprised by how many people turned out on the first day of two weeks of protests at the White House, decided to teach us a lesson. As they told our legal team, they wanted to deter anyone else from coming – and so, with our first crew, they were… kind of harsh.

“We spent three days in D.C.’s Central Cell Block, which is exactly as much fun as it sounds like it might be. You lie on a metal rack with no mattress or bedding and sweat in the high heat; the din is incessant; there’s one baloney sandwich with a cup of water every 12 hours.

“I didn’t have a pencil – they wouldn’t even let me keep my wedding ring – but, more important, I didn’t have the peace of mind to write something. It’s only now, out 12 hours and with a good night’s sleep under my belt, that I’m able to think straight.” Continue reading “The Power of Non-violent Civil Disobedience”