I spoke with Dave Morley (a surface water management expert from Merredin) tonight about water management, gold mining and his feelings about the Merredin report vs the remarkable change in the federal government's climate change position. Our report looks surprisingly prescient, as we claimed that the government would have to consider carbon taxes within a few years and that technologies that were only plausibly useful would become economically practical given such a policy shift.
He feels that the report will be well received by the council and had already selected what he thought were the most likely options for Merredin.
We also chatted about Peter Andrews' theories and and book and I suggested Dave get hold of the book. Dave has many similar theories to Andrews and has had a similar struggle with the locals concerning his ideas. However, when we were there he showed me and Lynne some fields he had just restored - in three years he had restored a dead field to growing canola (one of the most salt intolerant crops around). Farmers in the area are beginning to clue on to him, as for $450 (for grader) to $1600 (for dozer) per km of trench he can restore 50 hectares of land. I'm hoping that he'll get some new ideas from Back from the Brink and get a chance to try them out.
The federal government's shift from climate change rejector to tentative acceptor is welcome news. I am rather cynical about the timing - firstly his change fits his push for nuclear energy; and secondly he was clearly becoming a minority for his position. I wonder if he'll apologise to Al Gore.
People sometimes ask me why I'm against Australia using nuclear power. I'm against it because we have such an amazing wealth of sustainable energy options here that I feel that we should save the nuclear power for more deserving applications (such as space flight). It's the same reason I feel so strongly about solar thermal domestic space heating --- if the sun is shining on your house, why are you heating it with a one in a species' supply of fossil fuel.
Nuclear power has also demonstrated to not be economically competitive with sun powered technologies (direct solar, wind and biomass) in several countries. It is slow to bring on line. It is centralised.
I find it amusing that government is all for personal rights when it comes to (for example, roads vs rail), but when it comes to the basic needs, the government has been pushing for more and more controls. A suburban block collects enough extractable sun power to meet around 90% of a 4 person families needs (as demonstrated recently in the no money experiment in QLD). That includes electrical energy, domestic space and water heating, food production and transportation energy (bike). If Australia society transitioned to such a low impact lifestyle the government would lose a lot of its current control. They are almost certainly aware of this, and hence their rejection of any technology that leads to personal independence.
After musing on these thoughts there was a Lateline special on climate change and sustainable energy. Brazzale gave an excellent interview basically covering these same points in a well thought out way.