28 Oct 2009

Bee-eater Recap

Missed the bus today, so I went to the library, and then the bee-eater Merops ornatus came into my mind. I really wanted to find out the missing part. Somehow I asked myself, what if not every bee-eater has a tail shaft, as I supposed? Maybe the drawing was a juvenile. By looking on the chest crest, which the drawing poorly shows, it turned out to be an adult. Either mature sex has a tail shaft1, but the male's often break when nesting. Since the original picture showed an insect at the beak, the bird might indeed be one of the nesting pair. So, I was wrong. The world is just so big. p/s: Oh ya, if you wondered why there was a "Recap" after the flight post, see this.
Reference: 1Pizzey, G 2007, 'Tropical kingfishers, bee-eater, dollarbird', in The field guide to the birds of australia, Updated and rev. 8th ed. edn, HarperCollins ; Publishers Group UK [distributor], Pymble, N.S.W., pp. 328 p.

24 Oct 2009

Biofuel Awareness: How Green is It?

Biofuels are good, as people say. But why? Being an undergrad, I felt an urge to understand. And in the end, I found biofuels are not necessarily good. First, we have to understand the reason of biofuel production. It seems that fossil fuel is the main factor. Not only that we're running out of fossil fuels, they also release greenhouse gases (GHG; in this short essay, CO2 will be the primary GHG discussed. ) that is claimed to be the main contributors of global warming. Therefore, we need something to substitute fossil fuels in order to fill our hunger for energy and mitigate the negative impact of our fuel production. Here comes the suggestion, why don't we use plants or animal waste as fuel feedstock? Biofuel feedstock, which is the material for production, can be anything that is derived from the biosphere and can be oxidized to produce energy. However, if its net energy per biomass (GJ/t) produced is not able to compete with the net energy produced by fossil fuel, we discard this feedstock and find another one. In addition, if carbon output is more than carbon input during production, we also discard the feedstock.These two main considerations, net energy value and net CO2 emission, generally judge the "green" quality of a biofuel. For example, the popular corn-based and soybean-based biofuels are currently hot in USA. However, these biofuel that are derived from food crops (I am sure you eat a lot of corns and soybeans annually) have various negative impacts to the environment, such as (1) high GHG emission due to excessive use of nitrogenous fertilizers and use of fossil fuel during production (transportation and power generation for biorefinaries), (2) pollutions caused by pesticides, and (3) competition with food market. In short, these kind of biofuels will not be "green" enough before their negative impacts are outweighed by advantanges. In conclusion, all you have to know (as part of the public) is:
  1. We must bear in mind that biofuels also have negative impacts on Earth;
  2. We need to find solutions for these negative consequences to enhance the "green" value of biofuels;
  3. We are not eliminating all negative impacts of biofuels, instead we are mitigating them and trying to outweigh them with the benifits of biofuels;
  4. Biofuels cannot stand alone to sustain our energy needs, i.e. a cocktail of alternative renewable energy sources (e.g. solar+nulear+wind+biomass) is more feasible.
"Alright lads, tuck this tube into your backsides when you wanna fart. I need some methane for biofuel."
p/s: Thank you Prof. Gasparon for the idea of methanol from sheep.

18 Oct 2009

Blog Action Day - Airport Recap

Firstly, I beg the apologize from Blog Action Day team (if anyone do check this blog) for being late. I didn't even have the time for the blood donation, sorry Red Cross too. Anyway, I am posting up my stuff now. A few days ago, lecturer Mike gave us a homework which I think only a few Earth science student did. We were to check individual carbon footprint and the carbon cost for a single flight from Brisbane to Melbourne. Interesting. I wanted to do this before but was convinced by laziness. Now, time to get things clear. My calculations were based on user-friendly websites, so I don't think the precision is good. I'll check the figures someday when I am available. (Now...where did I put my paper...Here you go).

World population: 6.8 billions 1
World CO2 emmision: 17.5 Gt/yr 1
so, Individual CO2 emmision: 2.57Gt/yr

What the?! Nope, some people, such as Americans, spend a lot more CO2 than others. If we're to live on the basis of an average American, we will need 5 Earths to support ourselves 2. Anyway, it's still notable that we spend so much carbon. Instead of using the classic Hamburger Scenario to explain the scale of an individual's carbon footprint, I will talk about flights.

Humans & Flights, 2009 Myth Guy's Capture
One-way flight from Brisbane to Melbourne: 0.3 tonnes CO2 3
One-way flight from Brisbane to Kuala Lumpur: 1.1 tonnes CO2 3
Typical mature woody tree mass: 3 tonnes CO2 4

Seems okay, yeah? No. The flight carbon costs are based on one time spending. However, no hardwood tree could reach such mass (3t CO2) within a year. In short, if I want to sequester the CO2 I spent on flights by planting tree, I have to wait several years for the tree to grow before I am "permitted" to fly again. Eat less hamburgers and fly less. You may argue that feet can't match flights, but it can match automobiles within short distance. So walk!

1Worldometers.info 2009,
Worldometers, viewed 13 October 2009, http://www.worldometers.info/.
2Stenberg Michael 2006, _The Planet_, Charon Film, Sveriges Television AB.
3Carbon Planet 2009,
Flight Emissions Calculator, viewed 18 October 2009, http://www.carbonplanet.com/shop/flight_emissions_calculator.
4CRC for Greenhouse Accounting 2003,
The Tree Carbon Calculator, viewed 18 October 2009, http://svc237.bne113v.server-web.com/calculators/treecarbonresults.cfm.

16 Oct 2009


Merops ornatus, 2009 Myth Guy's Drawing
做笔记的时候,画画成了乐趣的根源。想到高中三年以来的,冠宏老师的教导的确让我获益良多。求学时候往往会想到老师们。没有他们,我是谁? 当然,还没有学Bee eater,而且这幅只是用电脑画爽的。其实不标上什么,在笔记中就没什么实际用途。很多技能,都托老师们的福。谢谢! p/s:我照着课本画的,不过我想尾羽最特别的羽毛不见了……

4 Oct 2009

10月2日 - 黄金海岸游记

一个星期的休假,总觉得应该去走走,见识见识。在寻找地点的时候被黄金海岸(Gold Coast)后的火成岩山脉吸引了,不过由于没有公共交通工具而打消了念头。打算来一次便宜的旅程,所以还是老老实实地去了海岸一趟。


在国外,已经习惯一个人乱闯(其实在之前游学的时候就已经养成了)。不好意思问人,就硬着头皮闯。路牌、印象、知觉,都成了好像探险游戏中的暗示。这里的火车和KTM差不多,不过应该是由于人稀而显得宽敞——至少你不会被人推进车厢。 两小时的车程,籍风景解闷。


不会走,就跟大队。这好像是他乡中的求生道理,嘿嘿。到了海滩,人倒也不多。我向右拐,朝南走。因为这里的规矩限定人们只能在旗与旗之间游泳和划浪,所以一路走能看见“多人”、“少人”的规律。 如果你连续走两小半(大概10公里),可是海滩却平平无奇,你也许会体会到我纳闷的感受。

Silver gull, Larus novaehollandiae, 2009 Myth Guy's Capture











The leaf of Eucalyptus, 2009 Myth Guy's Capture









不要问我,我也不懂是什么。碰了碰他,他也好像懒得理我。 最后到了一个岬角。终于,给我发现了比较丰富的生态。海岸太平,也不是寒暖流交汇处,所以缺乏生气。不过在岬角的石缝间,至少有些滤食性生物装饰。我吃了吃午餐,就在那里摸索。





















3 Oct 2009


明月几时有?把酒问青天。 今天中秋,不是伤感,也不是寂寞。就只能引中学学的苏词,用小学学的“非笔墨所能形容”。我想,也许是一种淡然的领悟。领悟着他乡月下的生活。

1 Oct 2009

Her Lazyness

Australia is a lazy land. A lazy artist. She draws with pouring colours. She builds with scattered rocks.

Evening, 2009 Myth Guy's Capture

Shore, 2009 Myth Guy's Capture

Yet her laziness makes her ancient and beautiful.