Tuesday, July 25

Malawi Catholic church firebombed

Twenty people were injured in a deliberately set explosion during Mass at a church near the Malawi capital of Lilongwe.Reuters reports that a man dressed as a choir member set off an explosion at the St Francis Church in a township outside of the capital Lilongwe, igniting a ferocious fire that injured at least 20 people.Police spokesman Willie Mwaluka said the blast on Sunday appeared to have been deliberately set."We have dispatched our explosives experts to the scene to investigate whether indeed this was a bomb or simply petrol carried in a bag," Mr Mwaluka said."The motive by the suspect is unknown, because he is still at-large. He ran away during the stampede," he said.Mr Mwaluka said the man arrived at the church carrying a bag and dressed as a choir member. Other choristers detected a strong smell of petrol but before they could raise the alarm the suspect lit a match and the bag exploded.Malawi Home Affairs Minister Bob Khamisa condemned the incident and ordered police to thoroughly investigate the motive."Places of worship are sacred and should be the safest places for society. I want to assure Malawians that government will tighten security in all public places," Mr Khamisa said in a brief statement.Relations between members of the different religions in Malawi have been largely harmonious.Catholics make up around a fifth of Malawi's 10 million people. At least 70 percent of Malawians are Christians, while about 20 percent are Muslims. The remaining 10 percent are members of traditional sects. Click here for the article
The community effected is not connected with our Support group.

For the latest pictures from Malawi visit the Malawi web site or click here.

Sunday, July 23

Hot Rocks

The question of greenhouse emissions and global warming highlight the pressing need to develop alternative pollutant free sources of energy. Sun, wind and water play only a minor role as an alternative energy sources, satisfying 18% of the world energy needs.

Recent studies indicate the possibility of an abundant renewable energy supply just below our feet, in the form of hot rocks. We are all familiar with molten rock breaking through the earths crust to spew lavy into the atmosphere but in such a state it is far too hot and difficult to harness as a viable energy source.However just below the earths surface there are vast pockets of hot granite rocks with enough heat to drive steam turbines and generate electricity.

Dr Doone Wybong from the Australian National University and his geophysicist colleague, Dr Prame Chopra, have spent two decades searching for clues to the whereabouts of this energy source, which is as old as the earth itself. If they are able to locate reasonable reserves of theses rocks, our energy problems would largely be resolved.

How does the idea work? The technology is ingenious !!

Water is injected into a borehole and circulated through a "heat exchanger" to hot cracked rocks several kilometres below the surface. The water is heated through contact with the rocks and is then returned to the surface through another borehole where it is used to generate electricity. The water is then re-injected into the first borehole to be reheated and used again.

The heat used in this hot rock energy process is eventually replaced by the Earth; it can be classified as renewable energy.

Heat mining for the future?

For further technical data and the complete interview click here.

Wednesday, July 12

An act of kindness

A close friend is recovering from surgery and treatment. It’s been a stressful worrying time and his wife recently recounted an incident to me which highlights the positive effect of continued acts of kindness.

The headlights of their car were not working, so they stopped at Eltham Auto Barn to purchase a globe costing $10. Although parts are not fitted the Store attendant asked a young chap present “would you like to help this women fit the globe”. Our Friends medical position was unknown to them.
The young man proceeded with enthusiasm, realising the old globe has badly melted into its socket requiring the entire assembly to be dismantled involving 40 minutes of tedious work. The husbands frustration at not being able to help his wife soon subsided.

Afterwards the young man told them how much he enjoyed working on cars, thanking them for an opportunity and refusing any monetary reward.

It lifted our friend’s spirits immediately and it was evident in its afterglow a few days later as the story was recounted to me.

Here is a poem about it -

An act of kindness

Kindness of an ordinary man
To strangers he does lend a hand
Can foresee a pressing need
Spirit sowed a thoughtful seed

Globe had melted in headlight
Help from stranger will reunite
Cars model was the one he knew
Problem sorted, cars lights renew

Kindly man swaggers off
Head held high, spirits aloft
Time no issue you understand
Youthful man a man so grand

The moral of a bleeding heart
Compassion knows, intended part
Rewards a giver, tis plain to see
Help to human family

Wednesday, July 5


Have been tagged by Vee from Toronto and have to reply on my blog.

I am thinking about
I enjoy thinking about different things concurrently. I try and suspend judgments to what to think about, but I guess retiring from work in about a year time is a recurrent theme.

I said.
As we become obsessed with control and a fear of the loss of control, we become unhappy as we strive for the unattainable

I want to.
I want to go on learning new things every day

I wish
For peace.

I hear
The changing cycle of nature.

I wonder.
About the meaning of life.

I regret
I don't think about regrets, rather I like looking back on my life and thinking about the different choices.

What I am
I am wiser as I an older.

I dance
poorly and prefer to sing

I sing.
in the shower, at church, and occasionally elsewhere.

I cry.
Over life's tragedies.

I am not always.
Easily satisfied.

I make with my hands.
Very little as I am not a handy person.

I write.
What I think.

I confuse
Not something I worry about occasionally with wrong numbers. I don't mind being confused, it's the first stage in new learning.

I need.
Company and friendship

And finally
Best wishes

Saturday, July 1

Water Use

Apart from the 70% of water used in agriculture, another 7% is consumed by Industry and despite reduced usage over recent years quantities used in manufacture for individual items remain subtantial as my poem indicates.

Water serves our nations folk
40litres to make one can of coke

It’s our lifeblood; in things so real
50 litres to make one kg of steel

Time to satisfy your sweet appetite
120 litres makes one kg sugars delight

Faithful newsprint records our daily fate
280litres makes one kg paperweight

Car tis freedom your travellers delight
300,000 litres to for fill delight

Based on these Facts
40 Litres of water is used to manufacture I can of coke
50 Litres of water is used to manufacture I kg of steel
120 Litres of water is used to manufacture 1 kg of sugar
280 Litres of water is used to manufacture I kg of paper
300,000 Litres of water is used to manufacture 1 automobile.

Water is more valuable than Oil

Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.

Our planet earth is a very watery place as the sea occupies over 70% of the Earths surface.Coincidentally, water makes up 70% of our human body mass.

The bulk of our fresh water resides in the polar icecaps, which are gradually melting due to global warming. Fresh water sources are from surface catchments, lakes and rivers and underground sources, and water as a finite resource has been largely taken for granted in the developed world until fairly recently.

Our cradle of civilisation began with the birth of agriculture, allowing stored grains to be used as required without the need of a nomadic lifestyle in search of seasonal food. Civilisations great leap forward however came from the use of irrigation, allowing many varieties to be grown with less dependence on seasonal rainfall.

Our Pioneers were blissfully unaware of the consequences of large scale irrigation in arid areas and its resultant salination effects over time on the soil. In Australia away from our dense populations on the eastern seaboard, the country is fragile, dry and one without the rich volcanic soil seen in many other parts of the globe, except for a few isolated pockets. This is the legacy of 4 billion years under the sea which washed out most of the soils nutrients. The aboriginals occupied the land prior to colonisation for 45,000 years but the early settlers reshaped the landscape in the shadow of British farming practices, with extensive tree felling and overgrazing by sheep and cattle. The combination of tree felling and irrigation raised the water levels causing salination problems in many parts of the countryside: miles and miles of desolate, salt filled land with pools of salt water render land unusable. Similar outcomes are prevalent in parts of the USA, Egypt, Iraq and Pakistan, all effected by salination.

Irrigation impacted adversely on our largest river system, the Murray, which flows along the eastern side of South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria borders. Irrigation from the Murray sustains this region which produces 50% of Australia’s fresh fruit and vegetables, but at a terrible cost to the river and its eco system. Irrigation water drawn from the Murray has resulted in so little water remaining in the once mighty river its flow was insufficient to carry any fresh water into the ocean.
This environmental position for the river if allowed to continue would have a devastating affect on its biology, eliminating most species.

Fortunately there is a ground for cautious optimism today as both our Commonwealth and Sate Governments have put aside substantial funds directed to restoring an environmental flow of water to the Murray river, but at the time of writing no conclusive settlement has been reached.The new water deal will see 120 billion liters of water returned to the Murray River from farmers in exchange for funds for upgrades to irrigation and other farming infrastructure. Some irrigation systems loose up to 40% of water to evaporation. The deal has been welcomed by Farmers but remains bogged down because of interstate rivalries involving the "unbundling" of state water rights.

The framework will not be implemented until agreement is reached with other states on issues such as the value of water. Under the Bill rivers will be legally entitled to a certain amount of water known as an environmental water reserve.The bill demands a review of the state's water resources every 15 years, in part examining how events such as climate change and bushfires affect levels.

Today there is also an industry being built up around water. The idea is that water rights could be traded, like other commodities; ensuring users pay a market price for those facilities to be made available. The rights would only aggregate in total to the level calculated as sustainable by respective country authorities. I like the idea rivers will be legally entitled to a certain amount of water known as an Environmental Water Reserves as I think it’s another practical way of entering a covenant with nature. It’s vitally important for Australia as it is even more so, for the developing world. To day the developed world still uses around 70% of all available water for irrigation

Overall we are learning from past mistakes and per capita use of water in Australia has reduced by 20% per year for the past few years. I think farming and looking after the environment go hand in hand. Both can co-exist as an expression of long term sustainability. It's often Farmers who are the ones most interested in preserving their environment to farm in a sustainable way.

Notwithstanding some of these positive aspects of reduced agricultural water usage the provision of fresh drinking water remains one of the largest challenges for the world to day. But that’s another topic.