Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Is It Really Worth The Risk?

My son and I were last night pondering the crisis we are currently experiencing across Australia. Massive floods in Queensland with some areas under 12 metres of water. Devastating fires and loss of life in Victoria. Extreme temperatures (44 Degreed C or 111 Degrees F) in NSW and Victoria. Today in Sydney it is raining and mild. Very strange weather. How much proof of climate change do we need before those in power make the decisions needed to address the problem?

I then watched a wonderful Australian Story 'The Heat Of The Moment' about Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg who has been trying to flag the plight of a dying Barrier Reef due to coral bleaching caused by rising water temperatures. He has been trying to flag this problem for over 10 years. Still today there are so called experts claiming that this is a natural cycle and people like Professor Hoegh-Guldberg are alarmists. I found myself getting very angry at the arrogance of the then Minister for the Environment, Senator Robert Hill who left a conference on the risks to the reef dismissing the claims as alarmist overreaction.

I remember seeing the simple whiteboard presentation below last year. Using the premise "What is the worst that could happen" it compares the risks we face from doing nothing about climate change versus those we face by taking action (even if the global warming claims are wrong).

Professor Hoegh-Guldberg's studies indicate that we could lose the entire Great Barrier Reef within the next 20 to 30 years. Is that possibility really worth the risk?
Australia is a relatively small contributor to CO2 emissions on a global scale but that is no reason to not take action. A glimmer of hope has been flagged this year with the election of the new President of the United States, Barack Obama when he committed to "roll back the spectre of a warming planet," in his in his inauguration speech.

Lets hope that the Australian Government follows the US in the fight against global warming as enthusiastically as we followed them in the fight against Saddam.

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