Atmosphere of Hope

41qPJWkMXzL._AA324_PIkin4,BottomRight,-56,22_AA300_SH20_OU35_On Monday evening I went to a very interesting and thought provoking book launch. It featured Mayor Brad Pettitt interviewing Tim Flannery about his new book Atmosphere of Hope.

Tim pointed out it is 10 years since the release of The Weather Makers, and felt it was time to reflect and see how we are dealing with the Climate Change challenge. The Weather Makers was one of a new breed of book on climate change, with others by the likes of Clive Hamilton, George Mombiot, David Spratt and Philip Sutton. The thing they all had in common was the very visceral way they presented their case, and I used all of them as resources my studies on Sustainability.

So how has society gone in the last 10 years, well for Tim it was a mixed bag, on the one hand ice sheets in Antarctica are now breaking away from their rock base and high mountain glaciers in PNG are doomed to be a thing of the past. On the other side he is confident that COP21 talks in Paris will secure very real results with pre conference commitments showing a real intent to change. He was enthusiastic about Third Wave initiatives of working with nature to sequester carbon, with projects as varied as a new type of concrete that absorbs carbon as it cures to a type of rock that when crushed absorbs carbon.

When it comes to proposed big geo-engineering solution such as spraying sulphate aerosols into the stratosphere or iron fertilization of oceans he is scared of the negative aspects of these proposals and the geo political nature of how they may be managed, but says we need the research because they may be the only way humans can continue to inhabit this planet. That is very, very scary.

I started by saying this was a thought provoking talk and since Monday evening have been dwelling on it. I have not had chance to read the book as yet, but would like to make some observations. In those 10 years Australian Governments have done little to deal with climate change, this is primarily because the carbon cycle and political cycle are at opposite ends of the time spectrum, one takes hundreds of years the other goes from one news report to the next. I have no faith in governments being able to address this, my faith is with people. The huge uptake of solar PV started at grass roots level and resulted in lower prices, which results in cheaper clean power. The Australian Government, without notice scrapped the Climate Commission, of which Tim was chair, so the community funded its return as the Climate Council in quick smart time and the divestment movement has had spectacular wins in stopping banks fund dirty energy. The real future of life on planet earth is in the hands of people, not politicians.

After the Fremantle Local Government elections I’m really looking forward to reading Atmosphere of Hope to see how Tim’s experiences in his high level work compare with mine at a much smaller grass roots scale.

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