The Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released outlines of it`s 5th assessment report into climate change. The report is the rather snappily named – AR5. It is a synthesis of three working groups and provides a comprehensive scientifically based assessment of current and predicted future climate trends, what this means for the planet, what effects this will have on human beings (and skiers!) and what can be done to mitigate them.
The working groups:
WG1: The Physical Science Basis
WG2: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability
WG3: Mitigation of Climate Change
The decision to produce a Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) was initially taken by the members of the IPCC at its 28th Session (09-10 April 2008, Budapest, Hungary). The report has taken over six years to produce. This highlights both the depth into which investigations, impact assessments and studies have been carried out and in my mind also reflects a blink of an eye compared to the time required to produce a wholesale shift in attitudes towards positive change for the planet.
Humans have an insatiable thirst for energy. It is one of the key drivers for socio-economic progress. What would we do without electricity, heating, transport and technology? As more countries begin to strive for the same creature comforts and opportunities enjoyed by the developed world the pressure on the planets energy system is increasing at an alarming rate. In order to keep up with demand our old favourite fossil fuels are exploited to the max. This provides vast profits to those companies engaged in the extraction, refining and distribution of those resources and a great deal of economic security for countries blessed with them. Therein lies one of the biggest conundrums – how do you drive effective change when the people needed to be the drivers are the ones with potentially the most to lose economically? A prime example of this is Australia, a country blessed with plentiful supplies of coal, but also with the potential to be at the forefront of solar and wave powered renewable energy development. Tony Abbott, Australias current Prime Minister, whilst opening a new coal mine in Queensland is quoted on ABC News as stating:
Coal is “good for humanity” and will be the “world’s main energy source for decades to come”
The use of finite non-renewable resources (in human timescales anyway!) is suicide for the planet as we know it. The resources by their very nature cannot be replenished once used. Even disregarding the arguments and scientific evidence pointing towards the onset of warming created by the burning of these resources to produce greenhouse gases it is totally inconceivable that a huge swath of the decision makers are blindly marching along to the same old tune. Wakey, wakey..rise and shine…once it is gone..it is gone..then what are we going use to power our computers so we can check Facebook?
Investment in renewables and clean energies is key but it is not the whole solution. People need to be smarter, less wasteful and more open to change. Education is therefore paramount. We need to be a little bit more caring towards the energy we produce. Treat it like your best buddy, try to get it to hang around for a long as possible, don’t treat it like somebody you can`t wait to see the back of. Be energy conscious. Conservation is hugely important. Better insulation and more efficient boilers/heat flows for houses in cold countries. Better design of buildings in warmer climes to reduce reliance on air conditioning. Rethinking of transport policies and location of workers in relation to workplaces.
It is time we figured out a sustainable energy cycle for our wee blue planet, one that vastly reduces the production of Greenhouse gases..especially if we don`t want it to get even bluer…
If we as humans have been ingenious enough to create moving pictures on a flat screen, the technology to talk to someone on the other side of the planet and the ability to clone sheep then surely if we put our heads together we can come up with a viable green energy strategy ..and for those more mercenary souls ..the company or person that develops a genuinely sustainable energy flow will no doubt become wealthy enough to buy an apartment in each of the worlds top ski resorts.. because hopefully it will occur before the last nail is driven into the coffin of the ski industry!!