Here is a transcript of a lecture by George Monbiot about climate change and what we need to do. The latest scientific evidence suggests that we need to cut emissions to zero by 2030 to avoid significant increases in the sea level over the next century, George describes some options that will form part of a solution to this problem. Below are my comments on what I consider the most interesting (the ideas that I hadn’t heard of before), I recommend reading the full article for the rest.
- Have a carbon ration for each citizen. Wealthy people who want to use more resources could buy carbon rations from poorer people on an open market. That way people who use less than their ration still have an incentive to save more because the extra savings are worth money! As everyone would then have a financial incentive to reduce emissions there would be a lot of new development of methods and technologies for eliminating or compensating for carbon emissions, capitalism works!
- Build battery powered cars with interchangeable batteries. The idea is that you rent a battery from a fuel company, and whenever it runs low you go to a service station and swap it for a fully charged battery (for a small fee). If doing this the service station could use cheap night-time electricity to charge the batteries, and the batteries that are charged could be used to put electricity back into the grid at times of peak demand. A common idea is to have Prius+ type vehicles charge from the grid when not being used and then sell electricity back to the grid at peak times. Implementing such a system for millions of homes is technically challenging and expensive. But having a much smaller number of service stations sell larger quantities of electricity back to the grid is easier to manage.
- Reduce air travel by 90%. I wonder how much of this can be achieved by using high-speed trains for all national travel systems and for most travel within the EU. I have often travelled between Amsterdam and London by train, it’s much more civilised than flying.
- Classic quote from George on John Howard: “if Howard believes a slight reduction in consumption is a recessionary measure he ought to see what a total reduction of land area would be as a result of the melting of the west Antarctic ice sheet. The two things are just completely out of proportion..”
George Monbiot also has recently released a new book Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning.