Just back from the Kerferd Oration at Latrobe Uni in Beechworth. Tim Flannery gave a talk, which I recorded and hope to transcribe in the near future. His basic theme was:
Global warming is an air pollution crisis.
Humanity has dealt with two air pollution crisis’ before, Acid Rain caused by burning sulfar intensive coal, and the hole in the Ozone layer caused by the release of CFCs into the atmosphere. Both were successfully dealt with.
This crisis is even more urgent than the last IPCC predictions foresaw. All the indicators are much worse now in 2008 than the IPCC thought they would be.
One of these key indicators is the rapid decline in Arctic Ice.
Only by dealing with carbon releases from the coal industry will we remove enough carbon from the atmosphere to avert catastrophic global warming. We’ve already passed the so-called tipping point, now it’s a matter of ensuring the climate doesn’t go beyond the “point of no return”, sending us into a situation that no amount of carbon emission reduction can fix.
Dealing with the coal industry means embracing clean coal. “It’s the only alternative”.
Agriculture will benefit from Carbon pricing. The best thing people can do today is keep the political pressure on government to make sure the Emissions Trading Scheme is not eroded.
A couple of things I noticed about Flannery’s lecture were
- the prevalence of Gaia theory, he really does see the earth as an organism that can heal itself in time.
- The belief in a solution within the current economic paradigm, ie. he only touched on the issue of consumption most briefly, didn’t mention the need to live with less or how to achieve this, and even said he couldn’t see us as a species agreeing to use less energy.
- His reliance on technological fixes, in particular clean coal coupled with technologies to draw carbon from the atmosphere.
I hope to have a rough transcript online in the next couple of days. Flannery will also be writing Septembers’ Quarterly Essay.