If we’re going to defeat climate change then we’ll have to think outside the square.
What if the ocean was planted with vast seaweed farms to soak up carbon and provide habitat for fish?
Tim Flannery environmental scientist
Press link for podcast: ABC.NET.AU
At the time of the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, the changing climate was a challenging, but solvable problem.
26 years later, the outcomes are becoming obvious and are we locked into a 1.5-degree average increase with two degrees almost inevitable.
If there is no urgent action very soon, remediation will slip beyond our grasp.
Prior to 1976 there had been no coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef.
Now back-to-back bleaching means there is no recovery time leaving hundreds of kilometres of dead coral. But there is some good news with new solar powered agriculture and industrial processes being developed. And South Australia has become a world leader in transitioning to renewable energy.
But with coral reefs dying before our eyes and climate changing everywhere fast, there isn’t a moment to lose.
This is Tim Flannery’s appearance at the Planet Talks, part of Womadelaide, April 2018.
Press link for more: ABC.NET.AU
An extract from the podcast
Tim Flannery: Thanks so much, Robyn, for that great introduction. Look, I’m very, very pleased to be here today, in large part because I’m here in Adelaide, in South Australia, and this state is leading not only the nation but the world in many ways as we address climate change.
Having lived here for seven years, I know that things aren’t easy, nothing is easy when we start undertaking these great transitions. There are political impediments, there are economic impediments, there is every other thing that you want to deal with. And sometimes it feels like you’re not making sufficient progress. But from the outside, South Australia looks like it has been going at light speed towards a future that we all want to get to.
When I came here in 1999 there wasn’t a single windfarm in South Australia. I think the first one was built in 2003.
Today on many occasions wind is producing 50% of your electricity and is a major export, and that is really only the beginning.
In this state, you have also developed a new means of agriculture, the first I would say really fundamentally new breakthrough in agriculture probably since irrigation thousands of years ago. And that is occurring at Sundrop Farms near Port Augusta where 10% of Australia’s truss tomato crop is being grown without using a drop of fresh water or any soil, it’s all hydroponics and the power of the Sun.
So what South Australia has showed is that the future of agriculture for crops like tomatoes is really in places that have abundant sunlight and access to seawater.
It’s an amazing feat, creating 200 full-time jobs in agriculture.
That in itself is a rarity.
But also you can see producing these tomatoes with so little waste that it is going to be the future of some crop growing, like tomatoes.
You have also just in the last few months put in the world’s largest grid connected battery, lithium ion battery.
Amazing to see that happen, just fantastic.
So again, congratulations.
You are about, in this state, to lead the charge into the hydrogen economy.
Plans were announced today for a hydrogen superhub at Crystal Brook, and you already have plans afoot to build a 15-megawatt hydrogen plant at Port Lincoln, which will be providing…my guess would be 10% to 20% of Australia’s nitrogenous fertilisers, from the wind, from the sun.
How incredible is that.
Today we make nitrogenous fertilisers through using fossil fuels, things like gas.
You are pioneering a new way in this state to do that. And as the hydrogen economy builds a head of steam, you will be contributing disproportionately to storage, to transport and the decarbonisation of transport, and to gas substitution.
So we are not going to be as heavily dependent on fossil fuels for those purposes as we were in the past.
So I just want to take my hat off to you guys, you are showing us all how to do it.
If the rest of the world was doing what you’re doing, we would have the biggest part of the climate problem on a very long way towards being solved, and that being the electricity generation sector, with big inroads happening elsewhere.
But the problem we have is that the world is way, way behind you here in South Australia.
I guess that’s good news for you because you’re going to be building new industries, training brilliant people who will go off and do what you’re doing now in other parts of the world.
It is fantastic for South Australia but sad for the rest of the world.