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Atmosphere of Hope

By Melissa Kane, Eco-friendly mum

An atmosphere of hope is certainly how I felt after listening to Tim Flannery speak at the Write Around the Murray festival recently. Tim discussed his new book of the same title. I highly recommend reading his book or listening to the podcast at http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2015/09/30/4322635.htm.

I am a keen sustainability advocate, but I find looking at the big picture of climate change to overwhelming and depressing. Instead I concentrate on the little things that I can contribute to.

The good news, according to Tim, is that a lot of people have been doing lots of little things, from changing light bulbs, buying energy efficient cars, insulating their homes and cities installing bike lanes and this has accumulated to a big impact.

For the first time in the recorded history of the International Energy Agency, fossil fuel growth has decoupled from economy growth, which means the economy grew (even in the era of carbon tax) and fossil fuel consumption stalled. This should have been front page news, it’s impact is so important.  So congratulations everyone, all our little efforts have combined to a big impact.

Tim talks about the three pronged approach to the future which include:

  • the first of course, is continuing to reduce emissions, through global agreements and continuing with developing and using renewable energy
  • the second is tech savvy, geo-engineering, manmade schemes to slow the rate of global warming, helping to strengthen Earth’s system to self regulate, such as injecting sulphur into the stratosphere
  • the third way encompasses drawing CO2 out of the air and sea at a faster rate than occurs presently and storing the recovered CO2  safely, in essence carbon capture technology including; building artificial trees that capture CO2; producing and using biochar; farming CO2  absorbing seaweed; constructing buildings from carbon-neutral cement capable of capturing CO2; using crushed olivine (a mineral that absorbs CO2  as it weathers) to seed beaches; some cutting edge technologies even have the potential to transform CO2  into plastics or hydrocarbons.

The message from Tim was one of hope, if appropriate investments are made, we could be drawing 4 gigatons of carbon from the air each year, that’s 40% of current emissions by 2050 and that’s very close to the target we need to achieve. So keep doing the little things, it’s all helping, and know that there are so many mind bending solutions to come in the future, remain hopeful.