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03 December 2006

The Weather Makers

After seeing "An Inconvenient Truth", I picked up Tim Flannery's book at the airport on my way to South Africa, which discusses the global warming problem in more detail. It appears to be grounded in the same set of facts that Al Gore uses in his film, but documents some incontrovertible evidence of the effects that the phenomenon has already had on our environment, as well as some of the potential scenarios as time progresses. Tim writes very well, and I like his style of writing, even though some may classify the content as alarmist. I am convinced that man is having substantial impact on our planet and that unless we start acting collectively to moderate some of these impacts we will certainly leave the earth in a worse shape than it was previously. That is certainly not the legacy that I would like to leave - remember, "Leave a legacy worth leaving"!

Being an Australian, Tim cites examples in Australia, but also uses the example of the Karoo flowers (Namaqualand) and fynbos, both of which he sees as potential casualties of global warming. He is no fan of the Australian authorities, which up to now have made light of the phenomenon, and have refused to ratify the Kyoto protocol (along with the US), and furthermore bullied the surrounding island nations to drop many of their supportive positions. However it is starting to appear to me that the government may find the environment increasingly becoming a political issue here, and may well have to change their exclusively pro-business (mining / energy) stance as an act of self-preservation in the run-up to the elections late next year. This ridicule is only second to that which Tim reserves for the current Bush administration, whose actions (warmongering excluded) border on the criminal! However much more encouraging are the actions of companies such as BP who have or are a fair way on the road to re-inventing themselves as business transforming from being perpetrators to defenders of the cause.

As with Al Gore, Tim concludes his book with a number of fairly simple actions we can take individually to decrease our contribution to the release of greenhouse gasses by up to 70%, and I certainly intend doing something about those, while continuing to monitor the developments in research.

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