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Recommended actions related to Peak Oil and Climate change (esp. Byron Shire) PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 24 June 2005 03:43

Global Warming is real, its coming and its likely to hit us a lot harder than is being let on.

Be careful about the reports, scientists are not certain what exactly is going to happen but what they almost all agree is the increase in uncertainty. In other words, we are participating in a global experiment, where the complex interactions of oceans, winds, sun, atmosphere etc lead to changes to our shire that are hard to predict. As a result we have to plan and act based on a reduction in our knowledge of what will happen.

Take for example rainfall, the average annual rainfall might stay very similar, but if its distribution is uncertain then I personally have to plan on the likelihood of being flooded in longer & more often by bigger storms, and have to install larger raintanks to last through longer droughts.

I'm what is called a "techno-optimist" but unfortunately, while there are solutions to Global Warming, the chance of either our national or state governments paying more than lip service to it is low, and the chance of the US doing so soon enough to set a good example to China and India is vanishingly small. So we have to figure out how to deal with the pretty drastic consequences.

When (not if) the antarctic ice-cap melts, sea-level is likely to rise around 5 meters, add another 7 meters when the Greenland glaciers melt. 12 meters of sea-level rise puts most of Byron, all of Brunswick and much of Open Shores under water (check the excellent topographical maps at your newsagents), check the estuaries as well, Mullumbimby is below the 10m contour. Also, its not just the contour line, since these refer to average high water mark, not the level that storm surges will raise it to. While predictions currently put the sea-level rise from Greenland could take several hundred years, these predictions are revised closer each year. And the Antarctic seems to be melting faster than anyone predicted with now a 1 in 20 chance of a complete melt in the next 200 years.

Over the same time period, we are running out of oil, and prices will probably rise dramatically (2 or 3 times) in the next few years. This will not just impact personal transport, but boost the price of anything that has to move a long distance.

So what can we do about it. I've grouped my answer into actions you can take to prevent it, what you should do if you agree with me that its almost inevitable, and what you should be asking politicians (including our council) to do.

Personal actions to reduce your contribution to global warming

The time for personal action is now. The longer we delay these actions, the worse will global warming will be.

  • Switch from coal to clean energy. for your home or business. You can do this at www.climatefriendly.com

    or with green power.
  • Drive a smaller car, for less miles, car-share etc. Switch to a diesel car and run it on biodiesel - it will be available soon from North Coast Biodiesels. This will help reduce the impact of peak oil related price rises as well.
  • Buy as much as possible locally, especially food from the Organic Farmers market.
  • If you own land, look into turning some of it into carbon-sequestering forest. There are likely to be opportunities to get paid to do this.
  • Install solar hot-water, and consider solar-electricity (its currently more expensive, but that could change).
  • Offset the remainder of your emissions, i.e. pay someone else to turn CO2 into carbon. Local business Climate Friendly is leading the way.
  • At every opportunity, encourage your politicians to take it seriously - council, government departments, state and national politicians. Write letters, sign petitions, let them know that you care about this issue and will be voting Green if they don't pay attention. The federal government in particular needs to break ranks with their masters in Washington and ratify Kyoto. NSW Labor in particular needs to be upgrading railways not roads.

Businesses too have responsibilities and options

  • Take the same actions as individuals, i.e. reduce transport, and offset emissions.
  • Reduce your dependence on products from longer distances, and find local outlets for your products.

Personal actions to deal with the consequences.

Unless the politicians and industry get their act together - which is unlikely, you are going to have to deal with the consequences. Luckily many of the options for helping reduce your personal impact, are also good options for coping with price rises from peak-oil. Especially smaller, diesel cars and generating your own power.

  • Seriuosly consider selling any property below 10m contour line, don't forget, you have to sell not just before the sea-level rises, but before the fear of it depresses prices.
  • Buy a diesel car - and run it on biodiesel.
  • Buy a water tank - Rous Water isn't taking global warming seriously and planning for the range of possible rainfalls, so expect shortages if the rainfall turns out on the low side.

And lastly what you could be asking our local council to do.

Apart from encouraging the council to take all the actions recommended for businesses and individuals, and letting them know you support paying more rates if it costs more. I would suggest a couple of political actions be recommended.

  • Take all the actions a business is recommended to do above (buy local, offset carbon, use biodiesel).
  • Require realtors to notify people of the potential risk of substantial coastline changes, and require such notification before any property sale. Make it clear to state and federal governments that this is prudent "full-disclosure" given their failure to act.
  • Copy the trend of mayors in the US, another country with a head-in-the-sand government. In the US local mayors started coming together to support meeting Kyoto targets locally, the trend spread and recently the US Conference of Mayors unanimously passed a resolution requiring their cities to try and meet Kyoto targets.
 

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