I had lunch with my younger son (in his early 50s!) today and, as nearly always, the issue of climate change came up. Getting other people’s perspective is important when you are concerned about a serious issue, and this conversation really proved that point.
He alerted me to a physics Professor at University of California, Berkeley, called Richard Muller, so after I came home, I looked him up.
This video – “Richard Muller: I was wrong on Climate Change” – covers the significant part of the conversion process.
And there were additionally two areas which my son drew to my attention, which had arisen from Professor Muller’s research, which were a new look at the place of nuclear energy and the role of prediction.
What follows is my personal summary of the gist of the conversation and you are welcome to fact check and correct!
Firstly, we start from the fact that we need to transition away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible, since the continuing release of CO2, in increasing quantities, guarantees rising global temperatures.
Clearly two of the greatest emitters are China and India – both of which were allowed more latitude over their rate of emission reduction, because their economies, while catching up fast, are less advanced than are most others in the developed world.
Muller’s research indicated that safe storage of plutonium might be more readily practicable than has been thought, which would provide these two countries with a viable alternative to coal, with sufficient nuclear energy resources without the accompanying pollution.
As an aside, nuclear energy has always been linked to nuclear bombs, which has led to the reluctance of those countries which already have a nuclear arsenal to allow others to have access to nuclear capacity – witness the stoush USA and Syria, for example. In my view, the rate at which our emissions are increasing puts us at considerable risk of annihilating ourselves quite successfully, without waiting for a nuclear bomb to do the trick!
So – introducing the currently excluded nuclear source – while not providing an overnight solution – would reduce the need to develop more coal-fired power stations.
The second issue raised was the reliability of predictions.
Certainly, the early research done by Exxon and Shell carried predictions as to the extent of the rise of carbon levels, which have been shown to be accurate.
To some extent, predictions about changing weather patterns have also appeared to be borne out. The point is not so much that climate change will cause certain weather phenomena but that the change will facilitate more severe outcomes. The jury is still out on that, although the bush-fires appear to support the argument.
While we ought not to cause alarm – because, like a startled rabbit, frozen in the headlights, alarm can lead to inaction! – we do need to take far more action to reduce emissions than we are doing.
And the first step to reducing emissions is to stop digging up coal, drilling for oil and fracking for gas!
Whether we use or export the resulting product, it is the shared atmosphere of our planet which is polluted. The east coast of Australia is currently enduring the results of the catastrophic bush-fires!
And it is not a good look, Scott Morrison, to say the volunteer firies want to be out there doing their job, so you would not consider paying them – while you go off to enjoy all the Christmas parties to which you have been invited and they grab a few more hours sleep and go out in the heat and the polluted air for another long day of saving others!
You are failing to do your job, while they are putting their own lives and livelihoods (for how long will their employers grant them leave?) at risk. Thoughts and prayers are of no use if not backed up by actions!
Australia is a relatively wealthy country – although that wealth is very unevenly distributed! – and we should be doing more to pull our weight and make up the shortfall in emissions reductions by other less well-endowed countries, not asking for special accounting tricks!
And just one last point to be stressed – pollution in general.
Our oceans are sick, our landfills are overflowing and yet efficient recycling methods are available but not being established. Why?
We have lots of unnecessary over-use of resources for packaging and too much use of non-reusable plastic. These are issues that could be addressed by governments in planning, policy-making and legislation.
I hope out politicians will come back from their Christmas break, brimming with clear ideas on these issues!
Forget protecting religion.
Start protecting the planet!
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION FOR ALL:
Reduce waste and pollution, recycle all that can be re-purposed and work with others to ensure a future for generations to come!
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