Should we act?
A development in China. All buildings have solar photovoltaic cells. Wouldn’t it be great if Australia could catch up with the rest of the world when it comes to renewable energy.
What is going on in the world of climate change? There is growing concern from all corners of the globe about this very emotive threat. At one end of the spectrum we have scientists telling us that civilization could be reduced to mere breeding pairs. That’s right up there at the doomsday end of the spectrum. At the other end is a minority, advocating that climate change is going to be good for all of us. That is the “denial” end of the spectrum. Somewhere between those points lies reality.
We need to critically consider both sides of the argument. It seems that a comparison between The Great Global Warming Swindle and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change would be an interesting way of assessing the risk. Remember that the overwhelming majority of science would agree with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
What does the Great Global Warming Swindle have to say? This was a documentary recently screened on the ABC suggesting that the theory of human induced climate change is flawed. The documentary states that the major driver of our planet’s climate is the amount of solar radiation that the Earth receives from the sun. It stated that atmospheric CO2 is not an important green house gas, and in fact exists in such tiny amounts that its effect is unimportant. Because the sun is so important, and CO2 so unimportant, we can keep burning coal until it runs out. The Great Global Warming Swindle does however acknowledge that our planet is getting warmer and that sea levels are rising.
What about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change? What about all the governments across the planet taking action? They argue that atmospheric CO2 is increasing at an alarming rate, pointing out that atmospheric CO2 has rapidly increased since the industrial revolution, and is now higher than it has been for the last 400,000 years. They believe CO2 is a significant greenhouse gas that plays a major role in determining the global weather systems. We face a temperature rise of between 2 and 6 degrees. Mankind is responsible for 7 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, and that figure is on the rise. They conclude that we must stop burning coal and urgently address our increasing emissions across the board.
The predicted effect of a warmer planet is that SE NSW will get hotter and drier. The one thing that the Great Global Warming Swindle and the IPCC seem to agree on is that we are getting hotter. Therefore, by looking at both sides of the argument, I can assume that SE NSW will get drier. This would seem to be a reasonable conclusion.
What is the effect of a drier region? One of our big industries is agriculture. How many people across SE NSW are employed either directly or indirectly in agriculture? I don’t know, but it would be very interesting to find out how many jobs would be threatened by a 2 degree warming, let alone 6 degrees. Sea level rise will also impact on the tourism industry. Shorter ski seasons are going to have a profound impact on mountain regions in the South East. We are going to have to look for new opportunities to provide employment and economic stability for the long term. We need an industry that will diversify our business structure, initiate local investment, and increase our local training opportunities. We need to insulate our community from climate change, whatever the cause.
Even if you are a die-hard climate change sceptic you would have to agree that renewable energy, carbon sequestration and energy efficiency is great business to be attracting to our area right now. These industries are growing and will get more lucrative as we get hotter and drier. The benefits of being proactive about climate change are there whether or not you believe it is a human induced problem. Debate over details of the cause does not help with the fact that we must adapt to a changing climate.
What if you believe that the IPCC argument is valid. You would then accept that we should reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. The quickest way to do this is reduce our energy consumption, and produce our energy from renewable sources. That is what our 50/50 by 2020 target is all about. Will a community target really make a difference? I reckon it will given the strong local support and the rapid expansion of 50/50 by 2020 across SE NSW.
Clean Energy For Eternity want to facilitate SE NSW in becoming a Centre of Excellence for renewable energy, and we want to demonstrate what can be achieved through energy conservation. We want to put SE NSW into a position of leadership in tackling climate change, and work with other communities who are doing the same. Our community has already identified itself as a willing participant. We are looking at the start of a clean energy revolution, climate change mitigation is big business and we want our community to be part of it!
We should act. NOW
On 8 August, a public meeting was held in Cooma, at the Monaro High School, to discuss climate change, and a strategic approach to facing the challenges that it will bring.
The meeting was organised by the Cooma Clean Energy For Eternity group, and 200 people in the audience listened to a range of talks from students, scientists and local Clean Energy For Eternity groups from Cooma and Jindabyne. The Bega Clean Energy For Eternity group presented a panel discussion looking at ways to adapt to climate change, and reduce our CO2 emissions. REAL Monaro were included in the panel discussion, and the mood was one of optimism.
CEFE feel that climate change is such a serious threat that it demands individual, community and political action. Ways in which we could change our attitudes towards energy consumption were discussed, and it was stated that renewable energy was by far the quickest way to reduce our dependance on fossil fuels.
The focus of the discussion by CEFE was about how being proactive about climate change could allow SE NSW to tap into enormous opportunity. Setting ourselves up as a centre of excellence for renewable energy and energy conservation would allow us to attract business, jobs and tourists to our region, at a time when it would be most needed.A target of 50/50 by 2020 was voted for, and the motion was passed by an overwhelming majority. One person voted against the motion.
It is clear that a desire to tackle climate change is uniting communities across SE NSW.
Other shires that have now agreed to these targets include the Bega Valley, Eurobodalla, and Snowy River. The three councils in these regions have voted to adopt the 50/50 by 2020 target. The Cooma-Monaro Shire council will be deciding on Monday whether or not to support the target.
Clean Energy For Eternity believe that the 50/50 by 2020 target is challenging but achievable. This is the sort of target that we must strive for if we are going to limit the impact of climate change to a manageable level. Now that we have decided where we need to get to, we must decide how we are to get there. Over the next couple of weeks, a working group will be set up in Cooma-Monaro to come up with a strategic approach to meeting the target.
CEFE meets with Peter Garrett and Mike Kelly, 2nd August 2007, Bega
Clean Energy for Eternity groups from the Shoalhaven to the Snowy River had an opportunity to sit down and talk with Shadow Minister for the Environment and the Arts, Peter Garrett and ALP candidate for Eden-Monaro, Mike Kelly. It was a timely meeting, as CEFE is in the final stages of preparing a hard-hitting questionnaire for all candidates, seeking concise information on promises, policies and personal views related to their response to climate change.
CEFE is very clearly a non-aligned community group with no affiliation with any political party. However, it is part of our community responsibility to engage political representatives and learn how they can assist us in meeting our collective targets of 50/50 by 2020. We will value the opportunity to talk with Malcolm Turnbull whenever possible and will be making further contact with his office.
We were glad to quiz Peter Garret on what he’d do if in Government. Garrett mentioned the proposed revolving fund of $10,000 for greenhouse retrofitting of existing homes, but stated the ALP will reveal more detail on its climate policies in the lead up to the election. The lack of detail particularly on the MRET target is delaying investment in the renewable energy industry. The sooner these national targets are in the public domain, the quicker industry can activate millions of dollars worth of investment in tangible solutions to climate change.
Peter Garrett and Mike Kelly showed interest in the concept of CEFE setting up a ‘centre of excellence’ in climate change, though Garrett pointed out that while we are ‘ahead of the game’ there are several regions moving fast on climate change.
Garrett left the meeting inspired by the passionate response our community has had to climate change and encouraging us to continue our efforts to engage practical action at the grass roots. He was impressed by CEFE’s ability to take our positive message on climate action out to a wide audience, empowering ordinary people to participate in developing solutions to this global crisis.
CEFE will continue to engage in open dialogue with politicians in the lead-up to the Federal election and push for genuine leadership and a comprehensive national strategy on climate change.
HOW LUCKY DO YOU FEEL?
When thinking about Climate Change, there are a couple of really important questions that we should all be thinking about.
The first is whether or not climate change is real, and if it is real, is there anything that we humans can do about it?
The second question if it is real, how much of it is due to man’s dependence on fossil fuels? What are the best and worst case scenarios?
There is no doubt that there is uncertainty here. We therefore should consider all options.
Let’s first consider the best case scenario. Imagine that Climate Change is not real, that the sceptics are correct and we have nothing to worry about. The IPCC have got it wrong, the National Scientific Academies of all G8 countries have been fooled, and that people like Tim Flannery, Arnold Schwartznegger, Rupert Murdoch, Richard Branson, Malcolm Turnbull, Peter Garrett , the Greens, environmentalists, Al Gore and Clean Energy For Eternity have just got it plain wrong.
In this case, the only problem with dealing with climate change is that we are going to spend money unnecessarily. We will be improving the sustainability of our lifestyles, living more comfortably with less waste while dealing with a problem that doesn’t exist. If Climate Change isn’t a problem, and we ignore it, we all live happily ever after.
Let’s now consider the worst case scenario. The most extreme would be a 6 degree warming by the end of the century – creating economic, political, social, environmental and health problems the likes of which have never been seen before. This degree of warming makes “An Inconvenient Truth” by Al Gore look sugar coated.
In this case, tackling Climate Change is still going to cost money. Lots of money. The difference is that this will be money well spent. We end up with a sustainable existence, and can hand over a planet in reasonable shape to the next generation.
What about if we ignore a real threat, and that outcome is at the worst end of the predicted spectrum. You may criticise Clean Energy For Eternity and say we’re being alarmist, but there is nothing that isn’t alarming about the worst case scenario. Even some of the middle-of-the-road scenarios aren’t too comfortable!
When faced with uncertainty, the only choice is action, whether or not you are sceptical about climate change. The cost and risk of inaction far outweighs the cost of action, and the stakes are high. Being pro-active now could save both money and lives. How lucky do you feel if you back inaction?