13 October 2020

What must climate and energy policy really achieve? It's time for a ...


by Ian Dunlop and David Spratt, first posted at Pearls and Irritations

The Australian Government is dangerously out-of-touch as climate change accelerates and a cascade of tipping points risks unstoppable global warming.

The glaring omission from the spate of announcements on the Federal Government’s latest attempt to structure a climate and energy policy, and in the media commentary, is the absence of clarity on what it is designed to achieve.

Minister Angus Taylor set the scene in the First Low Emissions Technology Statement 2020: “History shows that we solve hard problems through enterprise and innovation. —- The global race to reduce emissions will be no exception”.  A good start, but what is the problem to be solved when the Minister insists “you cannot set targets without a plan to get there”? Rather, strategy is based on “technology not taxes”, and “the Government’s efforts will focus on new and emerging technologies with the potential for transformational economic and emissions outcomes”.

09 October 2020

Surviving the age of extreme heat

by Alex Smith 

This is the introduction  to a new book, Surviving the age of Extreme Heat, by RadioEcoshock host, Alex Smith, featuring his interviews with leading practitioners.

Nobody alive or dead has ever seen anything like the heat waves here on Earth in the current century.

No human has ever lived with carbon dioxide levels this high in the atmosphere. That carbon load continues to climb as motorized life and fossil-powered electricity spread across the globe. The human cloud of greenhouse gases finds an echo as disappearing forests release their carbon on every continent.

In my home on the west coast of Canada, 2018 was our second year of Fire Emergency. Over 700 large fires burned through the mountains. Gigantic out-of-control blazes lit up the night, and then buried the day sky with thick smoke.  Day was turned into night. Thousands of people were evacuated, turning on their vehicle headlights at ten in the morning.

Our annual family camping trip to a nearby lake in the mountains was smoked out. I was imprisoned indoors for weeks with two HEPA air-cleaning filters running 24/7. Two fires popped up within a few miles of the Radio Ecoshock studio. We had our photos and clothes packed, ready to evacuate at any minute. The stress became stressful.  I was not sure I would still have a studio to make each week's radio program.

02 October 2020


Photo: Unsplash
In Australia, denial mounts. The recent “Gas-Led Recovery” and “Technological Roadmap” announcements of the  Morrison government confirm the continued influence of the fossil fuel industry and its lobbyists.

by Ian Dunlop, first published at Pearls and Irritations

Since the Industrial Revolution, fossil fuels have played a central role in the development of human civilisation. Without them, the explosion in population, economic activity and wealth creation would never have occurred.  Not surprisingly, those in control of the industry have gained enormous influence over the direction of global and national affairs.

Australia is particularly well-endowed with fossil fuels, notably coal and gas, less so oil.  As a result, our economy is heavily dependent upon those fuels, both for domestic energy supply and in generating export income, far more so than most other nations.  Coal and LNG comprising around 23% of Australia’s export income, with fossil fuels supplying around 94% of Australia’s primary energy needs.