Monday, February 06, 2006

The Weather Makers, by Tim Flannery

I’ve not read that many books by Tim Flannery, but what I have read so far I’ve liked very much. He comes across as a very humane author. His writing style is simple and open. You never feel like he’s trying to pull the wool over your eyes. At the start of this book on global warming, he even says that he understands why some people might remain sceptical about global warming, seeing it as another spook created by scientists and specialists to drive ideological agendas.

Flannery himself has come to the point where he believes global warming has become a critical issue. The evidence that we have, unwittingly, heated up the atmosphere through our energy use, is irrefutable. Alarmingly, even if we start on the road to making the required cuts to our emissions, we have put so much carbon into the atmosphere that it will still heat the planet no matter what. What we can do now is try to stop it getting too hot.

The book is split into enviromental, scientific, economic, political and personal sections. The author takes us through what burning so much fuel has done to the atmosphere, how it has affected the globe’s plant and animal species, plus the political and personal action we need to take in order to slow things down.

Most shockingly, it is we Australians who are the worst polluters of all! Check this out:

‘Australia has the hightest per capita greenhouse emissions of any industrialised country - 25 percent higher than the US when all sources are accounted for – and Australia’s growth in emissions over the last decade has been faster than that of other OECD countries. The Australian delegation to Kyoto argued that this is due to Austalia’s special circumstances – which include a heavy dependence on fossil fuels, special transport needs (being a large, sparsely populated contintent) and an energy intensive export sector. This all adds up, they stated, to a prohibitively high cost of meeting its Kyoto target, and therefore concessions were needed.’

Tim Flannery is not suggesting we turn our world upside down in order to make these necessary changes to reduce our emissions. He’s not some extremist greenie. He says that with a few small changes we can make enormous differences to our atmosphere. These are changes which would probably be good for us personally as well, like taking up bike riding, or walking instead of using your car. He cites many major companies that have re-structured their businesses to be more green, and have actually made a profit.

On this subject, I saw a National Press Club speech given by L. Hunter Lovins, who advocates an idea called ‘natural capitalism’, and she also listed many businesses that had made a profit by going green, investing in new technology and re-structuring. Indeed, as Tim Flannery says, it’s incredible to think that we’re using this archaic technology – burning coal – to create electricity. Shouldn’t we be developing world class solar panels and wind power to sell to the world? It’s what the world is going to be screaming out for in the years to come.

This is a helpful manual that will give you all you need to know about global warming, how dangerous it is, and what you can do to help reduce it. This is one conservative movement worth getting involved in, even if it’s just in the smallest way.

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