days out from the NSW elections
Politicians in denial on global warming
15 March 2007
In a recent
interview on the ABCs Lateline, our Prime Minister answered
a question by presenter Tony Jones on what Australia would look like
at the end of the century with a possible temperature rise of between
4 and 6 degrees (transcript
Well, it would be less comfortable for some than it is now, but,
Tony, I think it's very, very hard for us, in 2007, to try, with that
kind of mathematical accuracy, with great respect to the scientists,
to sort of extrapolate what things might be
evenings 7.30 Report, climatologist James Hansen from NASA,
a respected scientist, gave some clear answers to Kerry OBrien
If we get warming of two or three degrees Celsius,
then I would expect that both West Antarctica and parts of Greenland
would end up in the ocean, and the last time we had an ice sheet disintegrate,
sea level went up at a rate of 5 metres in a century, or one metre every
20 years. That is a real disaster, and that's what we have to avoid
O'BRIEN: You said just a couple of weeks ago that there should be
a moratorium on building coal fired power plants until the technology
to capture and sequester carbon dioxide emissions is available. But
you must know that thats politically unacceptable in many countries
China, America, Australia for that matter, because of coal
industry jobs and impact on the economy.
HANSEN: Well, its going to be realised within the next 10 years
or so that we have no choice. We're going to have to bulldoze the
old style coal-fired power plants. We can burn coal, provided we capture
the CO2 and sequester it, and we're working on technology that would
allow us to do that and we should have been working a little harder
but, nevertheless, we will have, within five to 10 years, we will
have that technology. In the meantime, we should be emphasising energy
efficiency so that we dont need new old style coal fired power
plants. We're just not doing that.
the NSW Government doing to avoid this disaster? Yes, you guessed it
approving more coal mines and plans for a third coal loader in
Newcastle. And a desalination plant powered by electricity from coal.
who think that geo-sequestration of CO2 can be made to work should consider
this: the capacity of Australia's coal (export) industry is limited
to the extent its clients can safely, successfully, and in time before
2025, have geo-sequestration of CO2 in place. As a matter of urgency,
proper assessments of this limited potential have to be completed before
any decisions on new coal mines and coal loading facilities at ports
rock formations for geo-sequestration will mainly be depleted oil and
gas fields off-shore. So there will not be too many sites available
for Australias coal customers. CO2 dumps on-shore will be even
more dangerous than nuclear waste dumps.
the factors to be considered for deep sea burial of CO2 will be the
availability of drilling rigs. Just now, as we are entering the second
half of oil, we'll need more and more drilling rigs to squeeze out the
rest of the oil. Geothermal projects will need drilling rigs, too. Stark
choices will have to be made.
who doubt that renewable energies are the way to go, Mark Diesendorf,
from the Institute for Environmental Studies at UNSW, describes in his
paper A Clean Energy Future for Australia (PDF
here) how a mixture of energy efficiency, biomass power, wind, solar,
geothermal and natural gas as a transitional fuel can replace coal.
about the Federal Governments proposed nuclear program? Youll
be surprised to learn and this fact is hardly mentioned by anyone
in the nuclear debate that annual emissions under this proposal
would actually increase. That is because Howards 25 nuclear power
plants would be just packed on top of untouched coal plants only some
of which would be retired mainly because by then theyd
be falling apart anyway.
meantime, coal miners in Newcastle fear for their jobs. So what is the
NSW Government doing about it? Yes, you guessed it, giving 80 per cent
of a recent rail carriage contract to an overseas supplier. That job
should have gone to the rail workshops in Newcastle.
back to the drawing board! Its just 10 days until the state election.