Saving our planet 2021

Saving our Planet!

OK, I admit it. That is a big title. But also a big topic. So what do I mean?

Australia was recently named the country lagging behind every other country in the world for climate action. In a review of the 193 United Nations countries, Australia was ranked country 193. If you didn’t catch it then here are some sources:

Code Red Climate Warning Australia

Code Red Climate Warning Australia

Following on from that ‘walk of shame’ moment, this week the United Nations passed down a pivotal report indicating the following:

  • The planet is getting hotter
  • It is due to human activities
  • the rise in the past 50 years is bigger than any variation in the past 100,000 years
  • we probably have at most 5 years to address this
  • all fossil fuel based power generation must be terminated before 2030

So what is Australia doing?

Nothing seems to be the answer. None of it makes sense. The arguments seem to be:

  • We can’t afford to do anything
  • China and other developing nations are worse than us so we won’t do anything until they fix their issues
  • Renewables alone can’t be the answer so we will stick with coal
  • And tax or otherwise financially penalise renewable energy sources for generating useful environmentally friendly power
  • And can we force them to not provide any power to the grid at all? What a great idea!
  • We licensed power generation to the private sector so it isn’t a government problem any more
  • Technology will save us. Please, someone else invent it and give it to us for free, or at least very cheap.
  • If in doubt, see any of the points above rather than take meaningful action

The answer to clean energy

Whether they like it or not, governments are in the position of providing direction. And they need to. Other wise without leadership or a vision for the future all you have is the past and that is not good enough. And if the government isn’t in the position of picking winners, then by default they are picking losers.

Or as Einstein once said, “The solution to a problem requires better thinking than that which created the problem”.

So more of the same is a recipe for disaster.

And even the likes of Elon Musk and Bill Gates don’t have the revenue and resources to do it on their own. Nor should we all sit back and just watch and hope they can. Tesla is aimed at taking petrol off the road. But petrol isn’t the only polluter so we also see Tesla tackling primary renewable energy problems like storage (big batteries). So this is not business just for profit, but profitable business for the good of the planet. And intentionally so. I hope to see a lot more of this.

So I choose to be part of the solution. The alternative is to be part of the problem. So what can I do?

  • run an ethical business that contributes to the greater good
  • reduce, reuse and recycle in my business and at home as much as I can
  • reduce power consumption, petrol consumption, pollution as much as I can
  • speak up about the need for positive and responsible action

The down side

The United Nations report shows that not taking action might already be a disaster. And for one I don’t mind the news outlets pushing a story because it makes a good headline. As raising attention is part of the process of moving toward a position of deciding to act. Here are a few examples:

So that is just the Australia centric version and from a wide range of media outlets.

We design electronics products and ambient temperature is a factor in things like battery life. So we are aware that Australia is a hotter than average environment and take that into account when predicting things like battery life. It also affected incandescent bulb life when those were still the main source for lighting. So Australia is already very close to the 1.5°C tipping point for disaster being at 1.4°C already. Least action on the Climate Crisis and closest to disaster. Maybe some correlation there?

The United Nations report shows that the warming is definitely our doing and not an extreme but natural aberration. The graph below shows the gap between the observed and the margin for errors now makes it clear we are doing this to ourselves.

Human Influence is causing Climate Crisis

Human Influence is causing Climate Crisis

The up side

However we also have options and could act if we had the will to do so. Things in our favour are:

  • large land mass that is not densely populated
  • so lots of areas available for solar farms, wind farms, hydrogen generation plants etc.
  • lots or natural raw materials for making batteries, renewable power generators, semiconductors
  • and as a geologically stable continent we would be an excellent place to make semiconductors which would also fit the sovereign capability argument
  • surrounded by sea so tidal and wave power are also options
  • modern cities with good sanitation and other amenities
  • we are rich by world standards so we also have financial resources ie. we can afford to. In fact, we can’t afford not to!

We don’t have a lot of water so hydroelectricity is not going to be the major contributor to the solution but can still be in the mix. And overseas we have seen gravity used as a source of potential energy storage by lifting weights up mountains or using old mine shafts. As the flattest continent on earth this is also limited but we should be using every good idea available.

From my perspective we should be considering:

  • making batteries here rather than shipping materials to China
  • making semiconductors and other critical items needed to do electronic controls for power generation and power management
  • researching new energy generation and storage technologies
  • taking the lead in solutions

And that is just in the energy side of the equation. There is also food production, packaging, transport and materials in general to consider so lots of room for invention, innovation, solutions and contribution across the board.

So while this is a big problem, we Aussies are adventurous and have shown we will take on challenges others might shrink back from. I for one, hope we take on the climate emergency and show the world we really are prepared to be part of the solution and not just part of the problem.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In AustraliaRay Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years.

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