Harnessing the power of air pressure

The Responsible Hour no. 460 | Podcast notes

The Sustainable Hour is constantly on the lookout for new ideas to solve the climate crisis. Today, in our ongoing quest to find the #ClimateGrail – meaning: a promising or revolutionary solution to the climate emergency – we find something new and promising in Tamborine Mountain in Queensland: an air pressure innovation and company called Joule Chamber.

The game-changing idea about storing energy with air pressure is presented by Joule Chamber’s CEO Scott Howison. Together with a small team he has worked for two years on their patented technology for capturing, storing and releasing energy against all the odds.

At the fundamental level it works when mechanical energy is applied to transformable geometry to open a vacuum space. Atmospheric pressure or pressurised artificial atmosphere inside a secondary chamber, or under mass, works against the transformable geometry to collapse the space. This creates an environment where mechanical energy goes in. This energy can then be released to do work immediately, or it can be locked and stored for later use.

The chamber can be any size, small or large, and many chambers can be connected without limitations. It can have many shapes. The most efficient shape has an expanding sphere as its primary chamber. The secondary chamber can be any shape. It can store energy anywhere along the grid from production to consumption. It can be used as an alternative to pumped hydro without the topographic challenges. It can partner with wind turbines to adjust for varying wind speed. It can deliver rapid power for peak energy periods to sustain supply.

For the home it can hold daily energy needs using a motor to receive solar during the day and delivering clean electricity at night. For vehicles it can collect energy using braking with immediate thrust capability. It can also provide on-demand light-weight energy for robotics.

Here is a video about how it works, and you can find more information on www.joulechamber.com

Surrounding the ‘Climate Grail’ interview with Scott, we play three short clips from the iconic film ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ from 1975.

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Phil Gardiner is a sheep and grain farmer from Moora in Western Australia. He explains why he has started a petition via Farmers For Climate Action demanding that fossil fuel companies be banned from buying up farm land for the sole purpose of offsetting their carbon emissions. This land is then not available for farmers. Phil is interviewed by our roving reporter Rusty.

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Mik Aidt kicks us off today with a reminder about tomorrow night’s global launch at the main Geelong library where people will be gathering to listen to a former corporate lawyer, Robert Hinkley, who’s got a brilliant idea: Make companies into good responsible citizens, and don’t ask them nicely if they’d please do a little better – NO, put it in writing in the Corporate Law. Make it mandatory. Robert explains his idea about adding eleven words to a section of corporate law which will hold company executives responsible for their decisions that lead to severe damage of our environment. More about this on www.supportthecode.au

No more avoiding your responsibilities, BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Total, Chevron and those 16 other large fossil fuel companies who – according to a new study published in the journal One Earth – will be responsible for AUS$8.1 trillion in drought, wildfires, sea level rise, and melting glaciers among other climate catastrophes expected between 2025 and 2050. This is the first time researchers have quantified the economic burden caused by individual companies that have extracted – and continue to extract – wealth from planet-heating fossil fuels.

The ice is melting. Our planet is losing 1.2 trillion tons of ice every year now. Climate scientists are screaming and crying that we’re on the verge of the abyss. Meanwhile in Melbourne (Naarm) earlier this week, three climate scientists were arrested for disrupting traffic in a desperate attempt to realise just that. Fossil fuel firms owe climate reparations of US$209 billion a year, reported The Guardian on 20 May 2023. This prompts the question: Who are the real climate criminals?

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The songs we play are country singer Dolly Parton‘s new ‘World On Fire‘, where she outlines her climate concerns through her first rock song, and Beckah Amani‘s ‘Smoke and Mirrors‘. The video for this song was filmed in Mount Tamborine in Queensland. ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ is one of the 22 songs that are waiting for YOUR vote on environmentalmusicprize.com – to decide which one of the 22 artists should receive the 20,000 dollar-prize.

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Colin Mockett‘s Global Outlook this week begins with last week’s bombshell from the World Meteorological Organization. Their report predicted that the combination of heat-trapping greenhouse gases and an El Nino weather pattern is almost certain to push global temperatures to record levels inside the next five years. The report said that the chance of temporarily exceeding 1.5 degrees has risen steadily since 2015, when it was close to zero.

Between 2017 and 2021, there was a 10 per cent chance. Now it’s 70 per cent. The agency’s secretary-general, Professor Petteri Taalas, said: “A warming El Nino is expected to develop in the coming months, and this will combine with human induced climate change to push global temperatures into uncharted territory. This will have far-reaching repercussions for health, food security, water management and the environment.” Which means, of course, that our politicians will ignore this and put more funding into carbon-capture technology as recommended by their fossil fuel lobbyists.

Now to Indonesia where Joko Widodo’s government has a plan to completely rebuild the nation’s capital, Jakarta, 1,300 kilometres from its current site. The new city is to be called Nusantara, and President Widodo is looking to build a new city from scratch.

It’s going to be a city of the future, not designed around cars. It will be green and walkable capital city land and built from the ground up. Nusantara won’t be just any planned city, the president said, but a green metropolis run on renewable energy, where there are no choking traffic jams and people can stroll and bike along verdant pathways. The new capital, which is known in Indonesia by its abbreviation, I.K.N., is planned to adapt to a warming planet. “We want to build a new Indonesia,” Mr. Joko said. “We want a new work ethic, new mind-set, new green economy.” This is another area where we’ll be keeping an eye on the new city’s progress for you.

To Europe where the spring has brought intense fires in Spain and Portugal and flooding rains to northern Italy and surrounds. Days of rainstorms have unleashed “apocalyptic” floods and landslides in northern Italy, Croatia, Bosnia and Slovenia. Italian Civil Protection Minister Nello Musumeci called for a new nationwide hydraulic engineering plan to adapt to the impact of increasing floods and landslides due to climate change. He said that drought prior to the floods had exacerbated the crisis. “When soil remains dry for a long time, instead of increasing its absorption capacity, it ends up cementing and allowing rainfall to continue flowing over the surface and causing absolutely unimaginable damage,” he said.

There was a bit of good news for the environment, though. The rains also forced the local Formula One Grand Prix to cancel. Not because of its damage to the environment, nor because its track was flooded. It was because the region’s emergency crews were already stretched too thin.

Finally, a new report from the United States which said that Americans don’t eat enough beans, even though beans solve a lot of world problems being addressed by much more complicated and expensive solutions. And here’s a surprise: the report wasn’t sponsored by Heinz, it was jointly funded by the United Nation’s food and environmental bodies.

It turns out that there’s a simple way to provide plenty of protein that doesn’t require animals or plant-based startups, and that’s beans. Beans are high in protein, efficient to grow, and can even improve soil health. They cost less than conventional or new plant-based meats, and they’re increasingly getting attention among foodies.

There’s a global campaign to double bean consumption by 2028, with the opening statement saying, ‘the answer to the question of how we can get inexpensive protein without sacrificing animals or the planet is simple: Beans is how. Beans are suddenly environmental and healthy. Who would have thought that “Cool Beans” would end our roundup for the week? But they did!

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That’s it for another week. We hope that you have gained inspiration from it. Until next week, if you haven’t already, try to find YOUR grail – YOUR role – in the climate revolution. And let others know who are the people who must be held to account, who are responsible for the damage they are causing to our atmosphere. Be the responsible difference.

“The first advantage [of the Joule Chamber] would be home storage for electricity. If you had something that was the size of a standard garden shed, that sort off size would hold between eight and ten kilowatt hours, which is about the average home’s usage. Something that size – that’s made of rubber and metal, and can connect to solar and store the energy for a household – would be the number one application.”
~ Scott Howison, CEO, Joule Chamber

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We at The Sustainable Hour would like to pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land on which we
are broadcasting, the Wathaurong People, and pay our respect to their elders, past, present and future.

The traditional owners lived in harmony with the land. They nurtured it and thrived in often harsh conditions for millennia before they were invaded. Their land was then stolen from them – it wasn’t ceded. It is becoming more and more obvious that, if we are to survive the climate emergency we are facing, we have much to learn from their land management practices.

Our battle for climate justice won’t be won until our First Nations brothers and sisters have their true justice. When we talk about the future, it means extending our respect to those children not yet born, the generations of the future – remembering the old saying that, “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.”
The decisions currently being made around Australia to ignore the climate emergency are being made by those who won’t be around by the time the worst effects hit home. How disrespectful and unfair is that?

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→ Geelong Times – 24 May 2023:
Code calls for corporate responsibility on environment
“An event to be held in Geelong next week will launch a worldwide push to legally prevent businesses from causing environmental damage.”

→ The Conversation – 23 May 2023:
Study finds 2 billion people will struggle to survive in a warming world – and these parts of Australia are most vulnerable
“Research from the Nature Stability journal has sought to quantify the human cost associated with global warming. According to the study, two billion people, including many Australians, will find themselves living in dangerously hot places within this century if global warming reaches 2.7℃. Areas of particular concern are throughout northwest Australia, including Darwin, Broome and Port Hedland.”

→ One Earth – 19 May 2023:
Time to pay the piper: Fossil fuel companies’ reparations for climate damages

→ The Guardian – 20 May 2023:
Fossil fuel firms owe climate reparations of $209bn a year, says study
“Groundbreaking analysis by One Earth is first to quantify economic burden caused by individual companies.”

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Farmers’ livelihoods under threat from gas companies

My name is Phil Gardiner and I’m a fourth generation grain and sheep farmer from Moora in Western Australia. 

Today I’m writing to you to ask you to sign an open letter calling on Climate Change Minister, Chris Bowen, to stand up for farmers whose livelihoods are under threat from big multinational gas companies buying up farmland to ‘offset’ their emissions.

Sign my open letter here.

Woodside, one of the largest gas companies in Australia, has been buying up farmland around my community so it can ‘offset’ the climate pollution it creates from extracting and selling gas [1]. 

This is nothing more than a way for them to band-aid over their pollution without actually having to reduce emissions. It’s terrible for the climate, it’s bad for farmers who are facing competition from huge gas companies over land, and their quest for sequestration have been shown to mismanage the land. Will you sign my open letter and support farmers to continue providing food and fibre into the future?

Right now, the federal government is working on a policy to reduce emissions from Australia’s biggest emitters. Called the ‘Safeguard Mechanism’, they are trying to limit the amount Australia’s top polluters can pollute. 

The Government plans to allow big polluters to purchase unlimited ‘offsets’ to meet their emission targets. This means they can keep digging up and burning fossil fuels – the main driver of climate change – as long as they ‘offset’ those emissions somewhere else.  

Not only does this not do much to stop climate change, but I am concerned this will encourage more companies, like Woodside and others, to buy up productive farmland that we use to grow the food and fibre that feeds Australia, turning it into offsets for their polluting business. 

Land prices are already sky high, making it hard for our kids to take up farming. I’m worried this will only make things worse. Sign the open letter today asking Minister Bowen to limit the use of offsets and protect our farmland.

Thanks for your support.

Phil Gardiner

If you know any friends who might be interested in this, please feel free to send my email to them or sign the open letter and send them the link.

[1] Woodside buys farms to offset emissions – Farm Weekly, August 2021

Newsletter from Farmers for Climate Action

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Events we have talked about in The Sustainable Hour

Events in Victoria

The following is a collation of Victorian climate change events, activities, seminars, exhibitions, meetings and protests. Most are free, many ask for RSVP (which lets the organising group know how many to expect), some ask for donations to cover expenses, and a few require registration and fees. This calendar is provided as a free service by volunteers of the Victorian Climate Action Network. Information is as accurate as possible, but changes may occur.



List of running petitions where we encourage you to add your name

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