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Author Topic: Appearance before the Australian Senate environment committee  (Read 6261 times)

David Gould

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Hello,

Here are links to my appearance before the Australian Senate Environment and Communications References Committee inquiry into extreme weather events.


part 1:  
 
part 2:  


The youtube links also include links to the transcript and my submission.

Please pass it around if you think it might be useful.

David Gould

Jim Hunt

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Re: Appearance before the Australian Senate environment committee
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2013, 11:18:06 AM »
Hi David,

Thanks very much for those two videos. I note that you say:

Quote
I believe that, given leadership, we will rise to meet this immense challenge. we will make the impossible possible.

I feel I should point out that some of your fellow countrymen do not share your apparent optimism that such leadership will be forthcoming!

Will Renewable Energy "Solve Global Warming"?

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Our Tweedledum-Tweedledummer choices of government will evade imposing on emitters a price anywhere near the actual externalised costs they are currently getting away with.
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one - Albert Einstein

frankendoodle

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Re: Appearance before the Australian Senate environment committee
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2013, 03:17:47 AM »

David Gould

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Re: Appearance before the Australian Senate environment committee
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2013, 06:16:01 AM »
I am a short-term pessimist, long-term optimist. Globally, a massive effort will be made to minimise the amount of warming that we face, probably starting some time in the late 20s, early 30s. This will be too late to prevent three degrees, but it might be enough to prevent four degrees. While technology will not 'save us', it will help reduce the scale of the damage. I do not think that billions will die because of global warming, simply because we will not let that happen. But part of that is for everyone to do their part, which is what I am attempting to do. Optimism will not get us anywhere without activism.

Jim Hunt

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Re: Appearance before the Australian Senate environment committee
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2013, 12:31:14 PM »
David - I'm a "born optimist, but political pessimist". I heartily agree with your sentiment that:

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Optimism will not get us anywhere without activism.

Apropos the cartoon, how much do you anticipate sea level will ultimately rise under your most optimistic/activistic "three and a bit degrees" scenario?
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one - Albert Einstein

David Gould

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Re: Appearance before the Australian Senate environment committee
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2013, 03:16:39 AM »
Jim,

The scientific literature is varied on this, with some suggesting a minimum of three metres and others suggesting up to 25 metres. However, the 25 metres of sea level rise would be expected to take 500 years or more.

So the worst case scenario would seem to be 5 metres per century for five centuries, which is pretty catastrophic - two to five times the expected rate this century, for six full generations.

Significant disruption to agriculture through flood and drought is by far the more immediate danger, however.

At three degrees it is very bad. But given that two degrees is not achievable, in my opinion we need to focus on a target that we can potentially keep temperature rise to.

FrankD

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Re: Appearance before the Australian Senate environment committee
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2013, 07:50:21 PM »
David, thank you for fronting those senators. Oz remains so mired in stupid faux-debate about the scientific realities that the frustrations of actually discussing the policy ramifications induce a state of permanent facepalm.

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I am a short-term pessimist, long-term optimist.
I think that describes me as well. I was the author of the quote Jim referred to and I think it would help to provide a fuller version of the comment:
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By the 2050's you might start to see significant reductions in Australia's emissions. It would be sooner, but our Tweedledum-Tweedledummer choices of government will evade imposing on emitters a price anywhere near the actual externalised costs they are currently getting away with. I would guess in the 2050's, the transition will be relatively swift (due to the economic factors rather than environmental or political).

I agree generally with where you are at, but I think it will take a bit longer. My time frame is based on what I see as likely allowing minimal financial impost. When existing plants are "lifed" over a 20 to 40 year timeframe, economics will dictate increased use of renewables. I do not see Australia being an early adopter of GenIV nuclear technology, so it would not happen quickly even if we went that path (and who is prepared to spend the political capital to convince the Australian public its necessary?). One of our current options favours charging about $3.50 per ton of carbon when the price is floated in a few years, and the other favours diverting public revenue to spare the polluters having to pay to clean up their own mess. No Australian party is remotely credible on this issue. Maybe we should start one? :D

I found it interesting that your comments about the consequences of necessary actions (such as inevitable recession) were taken by the senators as advocacy of those consequences. Its a bit like a patient thinking their oncologist has just told them that making them nauseous and bald is supposed to help their cancer...mind you an old-unreconstructed-shop-steward like Doug Cameron is hardly going to run at anything that will cost the jobs of "his" workers, and Chairman Smug MBA, is wedded to an Friedmanian model of a perfect market and the infinite growth miracle. Even Christine Milne was more interested in fishing for a soundbite about denial that to face the fact that someone - like, say, Christine Milne - needs to remind people who accept the science that if they don't do anything about that then their acceptance is of no practical use.

BTW, my local Green senator does catch the bus - I see her often on my daily commute. It's not that politicians actually leading would convince anyone to review their own consumption practices, but that attitude of "as long as they do not, why should I" prevents any further reflection. Just like people who say Australia shouln't cut its emissions until China does...Baffling.

Bob Wallace

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Re: Appearance before the Australian Senate environment committee
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2013, 12:27:45 AM »
Quote
Globally, a massive effort will be made to minimise the amount of warming that we face, probably starting some time in the late 20s, early 30s.

I suspect your time line is too far in the future by about ten years.

In making my guess I'm assuming that the sorts of extreme weather events we've been experiencing continue, that we don't have a series of temporarily-cooling volcanoes, that the Arctic Ocean melts out in the next 2-4 years, and that the world doesn't experience another major financial collapse or major war.

I'm basing my guess on the fact that people are getting more and more concerned about climate change and starting to ask their governments to do something about it.  And on the fact that the economic barriers to moving to renewables have pretty much fallen. 



David Gould

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Re: Appearance before the Australian Senate environment committee
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2013, 07:39:24 AM »
Bob,

I hope that I am out by that much in that direction. I have my doubts, though. There is no real push for change that I can see. People still vote with their wallets and the simple truth is that taking serious action is going to cost a lot. The scale of the problem is massive, and yet people still talk about magical technological solutions - for example, on the day that I was appearing a friend who is on our side sent me a link to a breakthrough on hydrogen, basically saying that everything was going to be all right because of it. He has no conception of how long it would take or how much resources and energy we would need to expend to change our entire transport network to hydrogen.

I think that my short-term pessimism is going to run for at least 15 years at this point. I hope not.



FrankD,

I hope that you are wrong about this. I agree that every gas or coal power station built now is expected to be there for 30 years or so. But we could shut them down a decade earlier if we chose to. People investing in fossil fuels today really need to be aware of the principle of buyer beware. It is not as if no-one is telling them that they should be getting out of the business.

As for forming a political party, I would not know where to begin. I am a very shy person who is not too good in the social situations necessary to succeed in politics. I was extremely nervous at the hearing. But something does need to be done in this regard and I would be happy to talk about it.

Neven

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Re: Appearance before the Australian Senate environment committee
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2013, 10:52:21 AM »
I was extremely nervous at the hearing.

None of it showed, David!  :)
Il faut comparer, comparer, comparer, et cultiver notre jardin

Jim Hunt

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The Australian Climate Commission report on "The Critical Decade"
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2013, 08:42:18 PM »
Almost on topic, The Australian Climate Commission have released two reports on climate change in what they refer to as "The Critical Decade":

http://econnexus.org/australian-climate-commission-report-that-heavy-rainfall-has-increased-globally/

The rainfall bit emphasises my take from England, but they report on agriculture, bushfires, drought and SLR as well of course. They've also produced this video to emphasise their points:



Personally I reckon they're a decade or two too late, since as we were discussing earlier it looks like at least three degrees is now already "baked in".

Better late than never?
« Last Edit: May 03, 2013, 01:26:39 AM by Jim Hunt »
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one - Albert Einstein

ritter

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Re: The Australian Climate Commission report on "The Critical Decade"
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2013, 06:31:23 PM »
Personally I reckon they're a decade or two too late, since as we were discussing earlier it looks like at least three degrees is now already "baked in".

Better late than never?

Yes, we fell asleep with the cigarette hanging out of our mouth and its embers tumbled onto the couch. Now that the house is on fire, I guess we should consider kicking the habit!

It will be interesting (in a gut wrenching way) to watch what happens as governments and politicians wake up to the "oh sh!t" moment.

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Re: The Australian Climate Commission report on "The Critical Decade"
« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2013, 07:30:36 PM »
It will be interesting (in a gut wrenching way) to watch what happens as governments and politicians wake up to the "oh sh!t" moment.
Probably it's around then that's a good time to get off the ride and walk away from it.

While it seems clear to me that governments are not going to be less informed than we all are (and arguably more), it also seems likely that the basic split in beliefs between a substantial risk of imminent collapse - and no insurmountable problems for decades at least - will persist there.

That means policy will mostly be driven by the perception that there are decades in which to act.

Until it is clear beyond doubt that there is not, which I think is around the time the wolf comes crashing through the door.

ritter

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Re: The Australian Climate Commission report on "The Critical Decade"
« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2013, 07:42:42 PM »
It will be interesting (in a gut wrenching way) to watch what happens as governments and politicians wake up to the "oh sh!t" moment.
Probably it's around then that's a good time to get off the ride and walk away from it.

While it seems clear to me that governments are not going to be less informed than we all are (and arguably more), it also seems likely that the basic split in beliefs between a substantial risk of imminent collapse - and no insurmountable problems for decades at least - will persist there.

That means policy will mostly be driven by the perception that there are decades in which to act.

Until it is clear beyond doubt that there is not, which I think is around the time the wolf comes crashing through the door.

I agree completely. I just wish I knew where to go once I jump off the ride.

Reminds me of: Little pig, little pig, let me come in....