Views from the Australian Institute of Packaging
Change the Climate, Change the Planet
If you set your motor car on a long straight road that has a gradual downhill slope with a clear entrance to a cliff the outcome is clearly in your hands. Accelerate savagely and you may run out of petrol before reaching the cliff, but if you continue at a slower pace [normal driving practice] you will be still mobile at the cliff's edge.
That correlation was the message derived at the October meeting of the Australian Institute of Packaging in Victoria when Alex Kanaar, Environmental Sustainability Manager Visy Recycling who is part of Al Gore's climate change leadership program run by the Australian Conservation Foundation (www.acf.org.au). There are 250 Australian ambassadors for the program making up 10% of the global population of persons trained personally by Al Gore. As with many things Australia is once again punching well above its weight!
With the aid of selected visual examples and specific graphs Alex was able to demonstrate that the world is accelerating savagely and that has become normal driving practice. Human induced global warming and climate change can not be denied; but by altering driving habits a stop before the cliff's edge is possible. The burning of fossil fuels is responsible for demonstrable increases in carbon dioxide emissions that have changed the earth's atmosphere and nature's control mechanisms. The absorption of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere have been traced back six-hundred and fifty thousand years and plotted to gauge the effects on our climate. Not all is reversible but repetition is preventable.
Since the Industrial Revolution, a mere two hundred years ago, the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased from 280 ppm to 383 ppm and it continues to increase by two parts per million every year which has escalated the average temperature. [Nature determined that earth's average temperature should be fifteen degrees Celsius] In the century just passed the average temperature of Australia has increased by 0.9 degrees, but if we continue to drive as normal it will almost double again by 2050 with catastrophic results.
Many examples of destruction of natural and man made resources directly attributable to climate change were provided by Mr Kanaar. Some considerations: -
Seven out of the ten hottest years in Australia have occurred since 2001
3250 square kilometres of ice in the Antarctic was lost in one month. Cliffs of ice 250 metres high were filmed breaking away and falling into the sea.
Many Pacific Island nations are under threat from rising sea levels and a new category of refugee results. Climate Change Refuges will need to be resettled in a very short period of time.
Storms have increased in duration and intensity by more than 50% since 1970.
More severe bush fires have occurred in Australia and elsewhere. [But is it all climate change or in part mismanagement by Governments?]
Ocean temperatures are higher than ever before and devastations like Hurricane Katrina can be expected.
But it is not all gloom and doom and many industry and personal procedural changes are available. Alex Kanaar recited statements from the Chief Executives of Australia's big businesses each agreeing that climate change needs to be addressed, and if properly handled can not only be beneficial to the planet but deliver the "triple bottom line" profits. As he said "we already have the fundamental know-how to solve global warming"! He then espoused many techniques and technologies that are available or in development stage.
As would be expected, a spirited question time followed, and Alex was able to give credible answers to even the most sceptical audience participants. One unfortunate conclusion is that many Politicians are ambivalent to the long term welfare of the nation and the planet. Solar power is just one example for in the land mass of nearly eight million square kilometres only 1225 or 0.0153% covered in solar panels would generate all of the electricity needed by Australian industry. In a country that can not agree on daylight saving we would expect state differentials; and this is know to apply in the price paid for co-generated electricity sold back to the grid.
In conclusion Mr Kanaar summarised Visy Recycling's and his personal approach to combating climate change. He travelled to and from Sydney and paid a carbon offset surcharge but would have saved that driving his hybrid car to commute to the airport. [The issue several hundred cars parked in the open air around the airport, and the expansive roofing, reflecting the sun's radiation back into atmosphere was not raised in question time]
There are many resources available to assist in managing greenhouse gas emissions but unless everyone makes a personal effort the planet will continue to be degraded with more deleterious results than previously encountered or currently envisaged. For more information on action that can be taken to help solve the climate crisis challenge visit www.acf.org.au.
On behalf of the audience members Ralph Moyle the Southern Branch Chairman thanked Alex Kanaar and presented a gift of appreciation. No doubt the messages delivered during the hour and a quarter that Alex was presenting was contemplated by all as they made their way home.
Written by Michael B Halley FAIP
Thursday, 2 October 2008
Reviewed by Alex
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