200712

Where too 2008?

CEFE have been working hard for 18 months to raise awareness about climate change and start some community based projects for reducing our regions emissions. This has set a solid platform for us to get larger scale solutions on the ground in 2008.

We will be continuing to work at meeting the first part of our target, a 50% reduction in the consumption of energy. We can continue to live a comfortable lifestyle whilst reducing our consumption, and there are some quick and easy gains to be made. We will be working on our shire action plans to meet 50/50 by 2020, and will be encouraging Mike Kelly to set up Eden Monaro with the same target. If we can get Eden Monaro set up with a target, we will be making a strong statement. We will be focusing on 3 major projects in 2008.

The first is LifeSaving Energy. This is a campaign to get every surf club in the country set up with renewable energy, and after meeting with SLS Australia last week, I am now confident that we can start moving forward in a strategic way to getting 305 surf clubs set up within the next 2 years. This will put surf clubs on the front line when it comes to tackling climate change, and I hope will be a great way of inspiring more community action.

Community solar farms are high on the agenda for 2008. There is a lot of interest in a macro solar farm, and we are planning a pilot 10 hectare farm in the near future. This is a great opportunity for a partnership between business, community and government. If a successful model can be developed, it can then be emulated around the shire, and if we can manage one solar farm per year, it puts us on track to meet 50/50 by 2020. The big advantage of a solar farm is that it can be set up quickly. However, it may not be the cheapest way of reducing our emissions.

If you want bang for your buck, a wind farm is the way to go. We have had some wind mapping done on in the Bega Valley local government area, and there are a few locations where there is enough of a wind resource to make a wind farm viable. A community owned wind farm offers great investment opportunity, although this will take several years to set up. We will be busy in 2008.
Matthew Nott CEFE

Site for the new Bega Hospital

There are many effects of a warming planet. One of them is rising sea levels. Currently sea levels are rising at 3.3 mm per year. This is much faster than worst case scenario predictions made five years ago. Three things contribute to rising sea levels in a warming planet. The first is thermal expansion; as water warms, it expands.

The second is melting glaciers; the majority of glaciers around the world are melting at an alarming and unprecedented rate. The third is melting water from polar ice caps. Each factor contributes equally to rising sea levels, although the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic icecaps will become the dominant cause of sea level rise over coming decades. At the current rate, sea levels will rise 3.3 cm each decade. It may not sound like much, but when this rise is combined with an increased frequency of adverse weather events we will start to see, within a decade or two, significant coastal erosion and a loss of beaches. The problem is that, as we get hotter, the rate of sea level rise increases. This may cause catastrophic sea level rises. James Hanson, Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for space studies, has been warning of the dramatic collapse of the Greenland ice shelf any time in the next 100 years. He sees the evidence of the start of run-away melting in Greenland and Antarctica and anticipates that “sea levels might rise by a couple of metres this century, and several more the next century.”

No matter what parameter we look at, whether it be rising atmospheric carbon dioxide, melting ice caps, rising temperatures or sea level rises, global warming is happening at a rate that is surprising most scientists, and we would be foolish to ignore worst case scenario predictions. The most optimistic outlook is a 2 degree warming by the end of the century. The last time it was 2 degrees warmer was 125000 years ago when sea levels were 4 to 5 meters higher than they are now. If we are planning for the new Bega Valley hospital to be utilised for the next couple of generations, we would be wise to consider the possibility of significant sea level rise. We should consider building the new hospital 6 meters above current sea level.

Matthew Nott