My daughter in law said to me recently when I came up with a pearl of wisdom when dealing with a fractious grandchild, “can I have a series on GrandPa says” to help with the kids. So while I am writing my Picture book on GrandPa says I woke up with some thoughts on how to tackle one of the big hot button questions in life, Climate Change.
As one of the over 60s in Australia I have seen a lot in this world. I have seen mankind at its best, with amazing advances in medical science. Amazing leaps in “Star Trek” technologies. Self sacrifice and selfless service at multiple levels of society.
I have also seen mankind at its worst. Multiple wars. Terrible crimes against humanity and individuals.
Over the years I have seen multiple horrendous bushfires take life and property with the latest bushfire disaster becoming highly politicised and the community polarised by this disaster. The chants of “We want action and we want it now” grow louder.
But what does this call for action actually mean? How does Australia with a contribution of 1.3% to Co2 levels make a difference to the world wide climate? How do we take action that doesn’t destroy our economy sustain our nation and our children’s future and with it our ability to fund the research needed to make the great advances in knowledge?
So let’s look at some hot button issues.
The “Climate Extinction” mantra is to close all coal fired power stations and ban all coal exports.
So don’t let facts get in the way of an emotional argument but to close all our power stations in 2 years would put us literally into the dark ages considering our electricity is 75% dependant on Coal
(Reference: Australia’s primary energy consumption is dominated by coal (around 40 per cent), oil (34 per cent) and gas (22 per cent). Coal accounts for about 75 per cent of Australia’s electricity generation, followed by gas (16 per cent), hydro (5 per cent) and wind around (2 per cent). https://www.ga.gov.au/www.ga.gov.au › scientific-topics › energy › basics Basics | Geoscience Australia)
But that doesn’t mean we can’t do something. So here is a step by step plan to reducing our coal dependence without turning the lights off.
- Replace all “dirty” coal powered stations with “clean coal” technology. Victoria has ageing coal generators as well as in the Hunter Valley. Replace them now. This has the immediate result of reducing our Co2 levels while we find the “long term” solution.
- Make all of our coal export licences linked to a “clean coal” power station. Example, India has a growing need for cheap electricity generation (coal). Insist by contract that their new power stations (which are being built every 9 days) is using “clean coal” technology.
- Lift all bans on gas exploration. Our gas generation for electricity is just 16%. Victoria is sitting on potential gas fields in Bass Strait and on land. Let’s make it happen. Set a goal to replace 25% of coal generation with gas powered sites. Again, we reduce our Co2 levels.
- Lift the ban on Nuclear power generation. Before everyone’s brain melts, nuclear is the “cleanest” base load power you can produce. Solar and Wind are weather dependant and whilst contributing to our reduction in Co2 levels, they can never truly replace base load power. Nuclear is a long term project. It will take 20 years to build one. We should build two or three in parallel using the best modern technologies and safety features and with it, build state of the art disposal/storage centres of spent fuel rods. In 20 years, we will reduce our coal powered electricity component by at least 50% if not more. If we plan it right, we could be coal free in 30 years and still have “cheap” electricity to make our industries highly competitive.
- Expand BioMass solutions. Utilises burning off Methane from rubbish dumps. Put our piles of rubbish to good use.
- High Temperature waste-to-energy incinerators. Europe have a number of these plants that due to the high temperature completely destroys all the waste and generates substantial power. Solves two problems. Decreasing rubbish into landfill and cheap “green” power.
- Encourage self funding of solar. The current subsidies is distorting the power market and creating enormous problems in the maintenance of the grid as well as problems for Solar installers. Removing subsidies does not remove individual capacity to “self fund” solar on the roof. The economic benefits stack up. We are planning to “go solar” this year and it will pay for itself in about 8 years. Our power bills in the mean time will drop substantially.
Australia is a vast country and our dependence of motor transport (especially trucks) is indispensable. So we need to triple our research funding into new technologies for replacements to oil dependant fuel.
- E Vehicles – considering the large distances we travel, only inner urban drivers “love” these vehicles. To sell these to the broader market a few things need to happen.
- Better battery technology – longer lasting. Higher torque. Here is the test, can you drive off road for 8 hours in the middle of the bush and still have enough reserves to get home. At the moment. No. If you are doing a 1 hr city commute and then plug in it is probably doable.
- Cheap in home charge points linked to Solar /Wind and battery systems. One of the downfalls of an EVehicle is that you are charging from the grid (coal fired electricity) so it becomes yet another virtue signalling exercise without making any practical difference. Charge points need to be not connected to the grid.
- Hydrogen – this seems to be a viable replacement for diesel (example California buses seem to run okay on them). How do we make Hydrogen a nation wide (world wide) source of cheap and clean fuel for cars and trucks?
- Uber E Vehicles – we all love our cars. But do we all need one in the garage? If we had access to cheap E Vehicles via Uber (or whoever the company is) that can take us to the shops, drop us off and pick us up (and our shopping), all possible.
The Little Things
We can all do little things to make a difference.
- Walk/Cycle to school rather than get dropped off in the car.
- Walk to your local shop rather than drive
- Replace your old inefficient dirty car
- Recycle your rubbish. (Do you have a compost bin at home?)
- Don’t waste power. (see list below)
- Save water. (There is a whole website about this)
- Do you need to buy the latest phone if your current phone still works?
- Turn off the TV and devices and talk to one another for an hour.
A final message about hope. The world is not going to end anytime soon. For someone who has seen “Star Trek” technology become reality, mankind’s ability to create, innovate and solve problems is enormous. No doubt there are challenges around our drought/fire cycles but together we can make a difference doing our little bit and the big stuff as well. I don’t need to superglue myself to the road to provide some answers that will help.
There you have it.
GrandPa says …
Use energy wisely — and save money too!
- Change to energy-efficient light bulbs
- Unplug computers, TVs and other electronics when you’re not using them
- Turn off the lights in rooms you are not using
- Wash clothes in cold or warm water (not hot)
- Stop using clothes dryers and Hang-dry your clothes instead
- Install a programmable thermostat
- Look for the Energy Star label when buying new appliances
- Winterize your home to prevent heat from escaping and try to keep it cool in the summer without an air conditioner
- Get a home or workplace energy audit to identify where you can make the most energy-saving gains