visited since 12-3-07

 

The Last Warning

CO2, Peak Oil, Overpopulation

Planning for Survival

[Sequel: The Climate Change Controversy]

 

The universe is said to have started 13.7 billion years ago with a big bang, however the generally accepted theory is disputed on several grounds. The Hubbard deep field telescope has pictures that are 2 billion years short of the event, a remarkable achievement, but it is unlikely to get any closer.

When it comes to the stars we are on much surer ground, we know more about stars than we know about life at the bottom of the ocean, due to the examination of light they emit and knowledge of atomic interactions. From this we are able to work out their distance, their weight, their composition and speed of recession, even their life.

Astronomers have a good deal of fun telling us that we are made of stardust. There are said to be 3 generations of stars. The first generation, known as population 3, consisting only of hydrogen and helium, had a short life and if they were heavy enough they finished by exploding, creating the heavier elements as dust which condensed to form the second generation. The current generation (population 1) now had all the elements including carbon, oxygen, nitrogen etc. necessary for life to form, thus stars had to evolve and explode before life was possible.

Our sun was born some 5 billion years ago and the earth came a little later at about 4.5 billion years ago. Being hot, with many active volcanoes, the atmosphere was mainly CO2 that kept the planet warm, important because the young sun was 25% cooler than it is now. The first life to develop was a microbe, very different to us as it lived in CO2 and regarded oxygen as a poison. It is important to realize that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, that is, it allows sunlight to pass through it and hit the earth. 30% is reflected and would leave the earth, but as reflected light is at a lower frequency (infra red) where CO2 is no longer translucent, the gas warms up, retaining the heat on earth. We must also realize that some CO2 is needed, it is the carbon component which builds all trees and plant life.

There was no free oxygen in the early atmosphere and it was not until 1.5 billion years ago that photosynthesis produced oxygen using cyanobacteria and later from plants. For another billion years the oxygen reacted with rocks as recorded in Banded Iron Formations. It wasn’t until 0.6 billion years ago that there was sufficient oxygen to form the ozone layer allowing animals and plants to spread across the land. Numerous fossils tell the history of the resulting development right up to Homo Sapiens in the most recent two million years.

This development was interrupted by five extinction events, the big one took place about 251 million years ago. 95% of all animal and plant life was exterminated. New life forms developed. It took 100,000 years for life to recover. The most recent event was 65 million years ago. The dinosaurs were wiped out, mammals took their place.

Well might we ask, "How the bloody hell did we get here?" It does seem to be a sporadic, chancy affair, not repeated anywhere else in the universe that we know of.

 

In June 1999 the Ice Core data from Vostok, Antarctica was published. The core was 2.2 miles long and represents a huge achievement. Only a small amount of rain falls each year but is sufficient to trap tiny bubbles of air and dust which are analyzed with the results shown in graph (1).

The main points are: (1) The remarkable correlation between the greenhouse gases and the temperature over 420,000 years. (2) The four glacial cycles, about 100,000 years apart, are said to be due to variations in sunlight as the orbit of the earth changes. The temperature drop, down to -8°C, is the area of serious glaciation, with ice sheets covering most of Europe, Asia and North America. This had little effect on evolution, as climate in the Mediterranean would have been fine, but in the future it will force a population reduction of billions. (3) The most recent 11,000 years show an important change, a comparatively constant temperature over this period where many would have expected it to peak and then go into the next ice age. The next graph (2) (present time on the right) 

covers this period of 11,000 years, shows there are variations, e.g. there was the little ice age in which the Thames iced over so the orbit was still having some limited effect but there being no other cause it has been suggested that man caused it. For 11,000 years man has developed agriculture, cleared land and used fire. It is possible that smoke from the fires reflected the suns rays causing some global cooling, sufficient to balance the heating that would have melted the ice caps before we went into the next ice age.

These graphs do not prove that CO2 or the orbit or ocean circulation is the cause of global warming. It is noted that the temperature change precedes the CO2 but the effect is still the same. The scientific consensus is that greenhouse gasses account for at least half of the temperature increases and that they strongly amplify the effects of small increases in solar radiation.

While the temperature rise has not as yet been very great this could be due to the oceans functioning as a heat sink, delaying the atmospheric increase in temperature. There are indications that the oceans are now warming, reducing their ability to act as a heat sink.

Many people are confused by claims that global warming is a furphy, by the graphs that show a lot of spikes and irregularities, by the inadequate information given by our newspapers. That global warming is taking place is proved by the facts that the polar ice thickness has reduced by 40% and its area is shrinking by 4% a year. In 2000 a lake formed at the North Pole that had not been possible during the past 55 million years. The glaciers have been receding steadily for 100 years, (see graph 3 for recent 40 years.) 

Note: The four points above the zero line mean that in only 4 years out of 28 years did the volume of ice increase.

much heat has been consumed in this process but the temperature rise has been small because when ice melts the temperature remains the same. (It takes 80 calories of heat to melt 1 gram of ice but the temperature remains at 0°C.) While the ice caps exist, they help to hold the temperature down.

 

Graph (4) shows the most recent 1000 years and the rising figures due to industrial and population increases, and graph (5) below

 

shows the summer tree growth pulling down the CO2 but not coping with natural or man made CO2 which rises to 384 ppm, a higher level than any experienced during the last 600,000 years. The higher readings in the last 4 years may mean that the warming earth may be generating extra CO2. These graphs show that we are upsetting the balance of nature and we need to make corrections.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change accepts that the increased land and sea temperature changes are higher than have been recorded for 120,000 years and are 90% due to man’s use of fossil fuels. The IPCC is a large body of scientists reporting to the UN which is very conservative. It is clear that the IPCC’s next report, due out later this year, will recommend increased greenhouse action.

PEAK OIL

World oil production for 2006 was very slightly up on 2005, (about 0.18%, Oil and Gas Journal 18. 12. 05) suggesting that we have not yet reached peak oil. But this will be deceptive, what is important to many countries is the amount of oil they can import from countries that have a surplus. Looked at from this point of view, peak oil occurred in December 2005. The two main exporters are Saudi Arabia (24%) and the former Soviet Union (21%). Nine other countries supply between 7 and 5 % each. The wells in some 26 countries are in a state of depletion. This must get progressively worse as fewer new wells are being discovered. See graph (6) below.

 

Australian wells increased production in 2006 but this did not reach the levels obtained in 2000. Due to the increasing demand Australia has to import more oil, but over seas sources are unlikely to increase, while world demand will, hence the price will increase. India and China have both started to build two of the largest automobile industries in the world. India’s use of oil has doubled since 1992 while China became the second largest oil importer in 2004.

All the big discoveries of oil took place more than 30 years ago, and the discovery rate has fallen well below the consumption rate as shown in graph (6) above. This state of affairs cannot continue. As we are on the peak of the output curve we may notice little difference for the next 5 years but in 15 years time the supply will have gone down by 32%, the price will have trebled. So we must build alternative transport systems within 15 years starting immediately to avoid collapse in 2020.

We have built an amazing civilization, and it has been done using the power of oil. But by 2020 the available oil will have been reduced by 32%, so if we keep using it at the present rate, without building alternative systems, many businesses will become bankrupt, unemployment will soar, our financial systems will be in depression, and our civilization will not recover. The solutions to both global warming and peak oil are much the same. We must stop burning coal and oil and use alternative fuels instead. It should be realized that there is no alternative that has the power and convenience of oil therefore we will have to re-plan our lives to make simpler living possible. Our houses will have to be smaller and better insulated. They will have to be better located so that they are close to work and play. Flat dwellers should have the right to have an "allotment" for growing food. Our vehicles will be smaller and lighter, road speeds will be reduced, transport departments will have to re-write the law to provide for light cars and cycles and demote the V8 etc.

At the present time this is unlikely to happen. While many people will agree with these proposals we still live in the age of competition. Our economic system is designed to obtain maximum growth. Our advertisers tempt us to buy the biggest and most expensive. Our car manufacturers may produce a few smaller and lighter cars, but they spend most of their time and money producing next years models, which are larger and faster than last year’s and our children will buy these cars and kill themselves because they are not racing drivers.

Business is booming, we are exporting all our resources with little thought as to how future generations will cope, we are exporting more coal than last year, this represents more CO2 than our cars produce and Mr. Howard’s grants to greenhouse projects in no way compensates for the coal exported. Many will continue to vote for Mr. Howard because they think that he will maintain their jobs and the value of their investments little realizing that a policy of continuing growth leads to ruin, it is not sustainable. To reduce the serious effects of global warming and cope with a much reduced oil supply we must reduce and even eliminate our consumption of these fuels. Some governments (e.g. Sweden) have accepted this but most have only put up token changes. To stop using oil and coal would not solve the problem, as the CO2 would stay up there for the next 100 years or more. It is necessary to grow trees to absorb the CO2. The Kyoto agreement has not brought any improvement; Bush and Howard have rejected it. It is an inadequate solution because we need to reduce the CO2, not give permission to continue emitting it.

Population

Mankind is facing the same problem as the rats in a middle of a rat plague. If we were living 200 years ago we would find that the chances of any one of us reaching the age of 5 was one in 5. Women died in childbirth, men were more likely to die if they went to war, many died young because of poor conditions at work and at home. More people did not recover from disease. All these kept the population down – this was the natural order, you might say it was ordained by God or Gaia.

However during the last 200 years man learnt medical procedures, allowing millions to live or sue the doctor for the occasional one that dies. Mankind discovered how to use coal and oil to run machinery of all types, equivalent to an army of mechanical slave workers that allowed more of the population to have a higher standard of living and consume great quantities of resources causing increasing pollution. (see graph 7)

 

 We are now realizing that there is a limit to the resources we can use.

Water: is getting scarce, all the large rivers in the world have much less water flowing due to the dams that have been built for irrigation and electricity. Many no longer reach the sea causing trees to die off and increase global warming. Farmers are pumping water from bores, but the levels are going down by several meters in one year, to very alarming levels in India and other countries. New satellites with water sensors report reduced flows in almost all rivers and lakes.

Fishing: The world peak fish catch occurred a few years ago due to over fishing. Today some of the increasing CO2 produced by mankind gets absorbed by the ocean, which is getting acidic and warmer and is not good for fish. Bad news for the many peoples dependent on a good fish catch.

Agriculture: Australian agricultural output will be down this year due to drought, as in many other places. Agricultural land is being eroded and damaged by salt. Thus there will be less food to feed a growing world population.

Raw Materials: of every kind are being mined, processed and dispatched to make as much money as possible. No thought is given to the needs of future generations, it is just expected that they will find substitute materials.

A population level of 6.5 billion, increasing to 9 billion by 2050, see graph (8), 

 

is clearly excessive, especially when you realize that several million are starving now, much of this will be due to our financial system rather than lack of food. It follows that all responsible governments must follow a policy of reduced population. To those who object that this will result in too many old people for the young to support, I reply that this is a small problem compared with a world running out of water, food and resources.

The great majority of modern developed states have a birth-rate below replacement level. (Italy has one of the lowest in spite of the presence of the Vatican) This is due to improved education, especially for women. World population change per annum reached a peak in 1990 and has been tending downwards ever since. ( The total population still increases because of the low death rate.) Improved education also raises the standard of living, reducing the need to have large numbers of children.

Governments major policy must be to insure that all their children, especially girls, have a good education and that all schools teach a curricula that includes science, greenhouse gasses, alternative energy, reducing pollution, good nutrition, family planning, etc. Since our country has the highest per capita pollution rate in the world we should spend more on education and assist Third World countries.

1st World Countries need to provide more education (and spend less on armaments) and also help 3rd World Countries (realizing that a better educated neighbour is likely to cause less problems than one with an increasing uneducated population.)

What Should Government Policy Be?

Governments spend a lot of their time considering carbon tax and the trading schemes encouraged by Kyoto. While that is better than doing nothing, I reject this attitude because they give firms a license to pollute, it smacks of "business as usual", not recognizing the need for reform. It takes attention off the main objective, creating alternative energy and transport, ending the use of oil and coal. The cost of carbon tax and trading will simply be passed back to us, but we need to use much coal and oil in creating alternative superstructures, insisting on greater efficiency, expecting that renewable energy will replace coal and oil. We need to devise a policy which retains the best of our civilization, but make it more sustainable

Instead governments should clearly set out a policy as follows:

Set up a plan with targets at 5 year intervals, 50% to be achieved by 2020.

Require businesses to prepare their 5 year plans to change to alternative energy. Publish their plan on the WWW and give annual progress reports.

Geothermal energy and Concentrated Solar Thermal systems to be given top priority as they will be the base load generators of the future.

Subsidise solar panels and wind generators. Build at least one solar tower in each State. As sufficient power is produced, coal burning plant to be closed.

Where possible, coal burning generators to be converted to gas. Sequestration is unlikely because of the quantity of waste to be buried. If it cannot be done in 10 years then the company should invest in alternative energy instead.

New generating plant should have double the capacity of that being replaced, so as to provide power for trams, trains and cars, all more economical.

Car manufacturers to be required to build small light electric cars. V8s etc. to be prohibited. Enhanced value cars to include two batteries on trolleys with automatic contactors as they are slid into the car, a charging unit, powered by mains, solar panels or sun cubes fixed on your garage or house roof. Petrol Stations to be converted to battery charging stations. (you swap your discharged battery for a fully charged one and continue your journey) The consequent reduction of oil consumption should reduce the price rise of about 3 times by 2020 which should benefit agricultural and other heavy users.

Heavy transport will have problems. Rail should be upgraded and disused lines restored. In future it will be "local production for local consumption".

Whoever cuts down a tree must plant and water two trees in the same locality.

Note: The above targets do mean that all coal generating plants be replaced  by Geothermal or Concentrated Thermal plants by 2020 and then doubled by 2035. It also means that 50% of existing domestic cars  and light van fleets be replaced with light electric vehicles by 2020.

Open Letter to the P.M.

On 12 11 06 I sent an open letter to the Prime Minister drawing attention to Climate Change and Peak Oil and suggesting many changes of policy. This letter was sent to the Electoral addresses of all MP’s and Senators and it was perhaps an inconvenient time as the PM was about to go overseas and the Leader of the Opposition was about to be replaced. I have only received 8 replies and most of these were simple acknowledgements from their staff. I also sent a letter to GMH suggesting that the car of the future would be an enhanced value package as mentioned above. I thought that this would overcome the problems our manufacturers have in competing with o/seas firms but not even an acknowledgement was received. There are many firms well aware of the dangers facing us, who are taking corrective action in many ways, but the motor industry (which in the main continues to build fuel guzzlers) appears to be entirely ignorant of the oil position on which their industry relies or the need, which will soon arise, to provide for fuel rationing to preserve supplies for essential services. The price of oil has recently come down, due to a mild winter in North America. That only goes to show that the way to reduce the price of oil is to stop using it. We should not listen to appeals to reduce the tax, we need to reduce consumption so that priority services can be supplied while alternative systems are developed.

The letter included most of the suggestions made above, the need for financial reform, and the need to send a strong team to the UN and the US to promote these proposals. The letter concluded with a history lesson, designed for John Howard.

WHAT CAN WE DO ?

It is clear that our parliaments are not going to take adequate action, All parties are jumping on green sustainable programs but are ignoring the problems of Peak Oil. They are concerned about unemployment, the health of the big corporations. They ignore the fact that the great industrial complexes which currently employ many, and burn fossil fuels, are part of the problem. In fact, the need to build solar, wind and geothermal generators and the conversion of existing transport will provide all the employment needed, and more. But governments are susceptible to public opinion and I find that the public readily understands the problems and do in fact act in constructive ways. I have noticed two cycles and two scooters driven by electric batteries in my district. More low power cars are being sold. More people are buying fluorescent bulbs; solar panels are beginning to appear on roofs. Environmental housing is making an appearance, water is being recycled, A news item has recently announced that the geothermal project at Paralana should be producing electricity by 2009, the eventual capacity might be 8 times Sth Australia’s present consumption. This is very good news but still means that the distribution system must be upgraded to supply trains and trams and all the electric cars we are going to buy. But it is clear that much more needs to be done, to do this we must influence more people and get them to take an active part as follows:

If you are on the www its easy. You simply search the web for pages that you approve, then send letters to all your contacts giving the URL. You can send them this article: paste in this reference: http://www.users.on.net/rmc/lastwarning.htm

A short list of books is given at the end of this pamphlet. Buy a few and after you have read them make a present to your relative.

Write letters to the Editor, your M.P. and Senator, look for the unusual angle, e.g. advocate development of trains and trams because these are far more fuel efficient than road vehicles.

Join a local association. There are many such associations that are discussion groups, explore ways to make you independent, safer, etc. e.g. in Adelaide there is an organization that used to be named "Peak Oil", now called "Beyond Oil". See their web page

For improved education for children world wide, join "the World Campaign for Children’s Education and Sustenance" which you will find at "Concern for kids"

For a more direct help to education there are many charities. The author runs a Scholarship Fund for Liberian Children living at Buduburam refugee camp in Ghana. The time is coming when they will return to Liberia and build a comprehensive school. Current funds make this a distant dream. For details and photos go to Buduburam Report

Recently governments and oppositions have joined the bandwagon of climate control, the world wide droughts have convinced them that something must be done. The trouble is with their friends, industrial firms whose businesses are booming and who see no reason why they should change. Their financial masters see no reason for reform and will not see that in order to provide an enormous amount of infrastructure, i.e. generators and transport they need to supply capital at nil rate of interest. Many ordinary folk will continue to drive high powered cars, build expensive mansions. In short it is going to be almost impossible to make an effective change unless the world receives some very nasty shocks.

Such shocks may come sooner than you think. There is a report (Jan 07) from Wayne Madsen that the bad smell of gas experienced from Manhattan to New Jersey may be due to methane released from the rotting vegetable matter in the Hudson Submarine Canyon, because the ocean waters are warming up. Methane is 10 times more effective than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Officials were quick to point out that the gas would not harm you but had they read "Impact from the Deep" in the Oct. 2006 of Scientific American they would have worries. This article describes 6 years research into the cause of the 95% extermination 251 m years ago. At that time CO2 was over 1000 ppm. preventing oxygen from being absorbed by the ocean. Certain types of bacteria, living in stagnant lakes or deep in the ocean, if they get sunlight, and no longer controlled by oxygen, would produce Hydrogen Sulphide, poisonous to animals and plants. The H2S rises and attacks the ozone layer so we get poisoned and cooked. If we continue to create increasing amounts of CO2 we will reach the level of 1000 ppm. before the end of the next century, sooner if a volcano blows its top. We will have to stop using oil and coal before we get to this level. We had better stop now.

Then consider the position if some warlord were to descend on Singapore with an 8inch gunboat, and insist that tankers A, and B be redirected, they were heading for Perth and Adelaide, and Adelaide would find itself in the position that it only had 2 weeks supply to last for 2 months. Rationing would be too late. Workers could not get to work, businesses would close, banks might crash, investments vanish. Food distribution - difficult. A few such shocks, worldwide, may convince us all of the need to change our way of living, our bankers to reform our financial systems and all of us to find ways to stop using oil and coal.

Dick Clifford
Vice President
Humanist Society of South Australia

This talk was first presented to the Humanist Society Discussion Evening on the 13th of February 2007

 

FURTHER READING

The Weather Makers Tim Flannery Text Publishing

We are the Weather Makers Tim Flannery  Text Publishing

The Revenge of Gaia James Lovelock  Allen Lane – Penguin

The Sixth Extinction Richard Leakey Weidenfeld & Nicolson

World Wide Web

Type key words into Google search. You should receive various points of view.

The Simpler Way Prof Ted Trainer click here

This Pamphlet: http://www.users.on.net/rmc/lastwarning.htm/

Center for Youth Empowerment (Buduburam Ghana) Includes photo gallery Refugees own page Includes link to their new home in Liberia.

THE SEQUEL:  The Climate Change Controversy

Being the editorial written for the South Australian Humanist Post, March 2007

It is of course election year and this year our politicians will be trying to convince us that their method of combatting climate change is the only reasonable one, all others should be rejected.

So, I write this with the object of clearing up several of the many misconceptions held on this subject. Firstly, what has this to do with Humanism anyway? I will answer, everything, we often point out that this is the only life we have and therefore we had better make sure it is a good one. Likewise this is the only earth we have, other planets are a long way away and very inhospitable, so we had better look after the one we have. Religious people are often confused when they try to answer the same question. Some remember the doctrine of Stewardship but often don’t connect it with pollution. Others say God will look after us but don’t like the comment "God only takes care of those who look after themselves."

There are those who say "look the weather is lovely, sure there is a drought but no worse than we have had in previous years, surely what you say is greatly exaggerated?" To answer this I would start with the story of Dr Suzuki’s petri dish. A Petri dish is a glass dish about the size of a saucer. You fill it with water and nutrient. A microbe or germ culture is placed in it and if the temperature is right it proceeds to grow. The way it grows is of great interest to scientists. At five minutes to midnight one microbe is heard saying to another, "All this talk about us being overpopulated is ridiculous, look there is plenty of space" Midnight strikes, and the petri dish becomes a stinking, lifeless, mess. The biologist will tell you that this always happens unless the dish is cleaned up first. The Earth is one, big, in-side-out petri dish with a very thin film of water and gas as any astronaut will tell you. Even he is entirely dependent on that small part of it he took with him. It is not difficult to alter the atmosphere by amounts that can be catastrophic for most life forms. The readings of CO2 at the Mauna Loa observatory in the Pacific show the forests drawing down the CO2 in summer but in winter it cannot cope with the double whammy of the natural emissions plus our industrial and domestic output of CO2. The current levels peak at about 386 ppm where as from 600,000 years ago to about 200 years ago the trees kept the CO2 down to a level never exceeding 280 ppm. The temperature moves in step with the greenhouse gasses and scientists predict with the help of computer models that another 2°C and the climate will "tip" to a situation which is hotter, catastrophic to agriculture, and will never restore itself.

The solution is to build atomic power stations. There are countries without solar, wind and geothermal sources. Such countries should use atomic power in lieu of coal and oil. In Australia we do not need to do this. Those who argue for atomic power are thinking about water cooled reactors which are inefficient and expensive. The world has about 440 of them working at present. If the world were to double that, the energy capacity would only go up by a few per cent but the high grade ore would be used up within 10 years and poorer ores would need more energy to process. Other types of reactors are still experimental.

The high cost of developing an atomic reactor will take resources away from other greenhouse projects. We need to develop all types, including Geothermal, various forms of solar and wind power and all new inventions.

Alternative energy is more costly and does not provide a base load. Coal and oil have been very cheap, but we will pay far more if we don’t make corrections immediately. Geothermal energy will provide the base load in Australia for the next 100 years. The project at Paralana alone will be capable of providing 8 times South Australia’s present consumption. Salt Power Towers are being built o/seas capable of 10 megawatts, the heat in the salt lasts many hours so power is produced day and night. Solar cells are costly but have the advantage that they can be put on almost any roof so power is produced locally. While they feed the grid they reduce our dependence on the grid. Real subsidies should be provided. NEW! Green and Gold Sun Cube commencing production in South Australia. 600Kwh/year for AU$1,365.00 fixing extra. So cheap subsidies not required! <http://www.greenandgoldenergy.com.au>

Sequestration will solve the problem of coal fired generators. The ground in many places in Australia is unsuitable for sequestration. The huge volume of waste to be placed underground may make it a very temporary solution. The time it will take to make sequestration work is excessive. Owners and shareholders of coal fired generators should consider that the following policy might not produce higher profits than sequestration:
    1. Invest all spare cash in Geothermal energy.
    2. Convert to gas burning.
    3. Convert to several salt power towers.
    4. Failing the above disconnect the turbines and generators and ship them to Innamincka.

Coal and Oil used in Australia is only a small amount of world consumption. We must use oil and coal in order to compete. Per Capita, Australia is the highest user of oil and coal, it is therefore up to us to set an example to the rest of the world, manufacture and export greenhouse systems. We have to stop using oil and coal in order to survive.

There is plenty of Oil , it will take 35 years before we reach Peak Oil. Those who believe in large quantities of oil being available do so because they take into account the large quantities locked up in shales and sands in North America. Only recently have they found a solution by applying heat using gas. To burn the gas, then burn the resulting oil sounds like a double dose of CO2 production, but they have built factories in Canada where they have caused serious pollution to Canadian Rivers and the USA has indicated that they would prefer the gas. We are still in the position that Peak Oil is here and now, and that oil production will be 32% down by 2020 forcing us to use alternative transport which includes upgrading rail and tram, extending disused tracks, manufacturing electric cars, (also miniCAT cars which run on compressed air but need an electric pump). V8's and similar cars to be banned in 5 years time.

Electric cars do not have the range and power to drive in Australian conditions. They will be smaller, lighter and will carry less people. But some models will drive fast if so designed. Petrol stations will become recharging stations where you can swap your discharged battery for a fully charged battery and continue on your way. The overall cost per kilometre will be much less. They will be more suitable for driving in metropolitan conditions where most of our driving is done anyway.

Carbon tax should be applied to all fossil fuels on a world wide basis. This would make the renewables more cost effective, however this and Kyoto policies are palliatives to industry and don’t solve all problems. A carbon tax is giving a licence to someone to pollute, it encourages a "business as usual" attitude, not recognising the need for reform. We need to keep the main objective in view, the provision of clean energy sources and green transport. Because of the large amount of infrastructure required we shall need some coal and oil, any taxes would only be passed back to us making it more difficult to afford the infrastructure. All industries are expected to covert to green energy so that dependence on coal and oil should reduce to a low level in the first 5 year plan.

Coal and oil provide a large amount of employment. At the cost of the demise of civilisation. The new infrastructure will provide lots of employment, its maintenance will provide more. Education will be needed to cope with the new technology, TAFE will have to be upgraded, we should not rely on importing labour, especially from third world countries.

Financial problems: The increasing price of oil will make the use of petrol guzzlers uneconomic and cause hardship to those still paying them off. The need to build infrastructure as soon as physically possible will require the provision of capital preferably at nil rate of interest. It is essential to build new infrastructure within the next 15 years as it may be too expensive thereafter. These matters should be discussed with financial experts and plans prepared now.

Concentrating solar thermal technologies CST involves concentrating the sun’s rays to produce heat generating electricity directly or to heat a fluid to operate a turbine. It is a proven technology with nine existing plants feeding the Californian Grid.

Mr. Peter Andren, independent MP for Calare has sent me a report issued by CRC for Coal in sustainable development. He says: The report confirms that solar thermal technology can supply Australia’s base load energy needs and could be price competitive with coal supplied energy within 5 years if built to a large scale. This report had been shelved by the government but was leaked to the Canberra Times last year and is now on the WWW.

The report gives details of five high temperature systems, three of which are commercially available. It is possible to store some of the heated fluid which can be used 6 - 13 or more hours later when there is no sun.

Australia has a lot of sun, all that is needed is a large vacant area to take the solar collectors, situated away from coastal areas. The engineering details are well known, there are no adverse impacts, environmentally or socially. Why should the CRC for Coal in Sustainable Development produce such a report? A good question, but part of the report is concerned with the possibility of having a hybridised system which would have economies, as the same turbine generator system can be used. There would be similar economies in a hybridised CST and Geothermal system

The great advantages of these systems is that they have a large capacity, can be built far faster than most systems, can be exported to most places in the world and are the greenest of all systems. There is positively no excuse, Australia should build several such plants without delay.

Please remember that the many innovative reforms advocated here are recommended not only because of climate change but also because of Peak Oil and Overpopulation. If one problem does not eventuate, the others will! DC.