tv Book Discussion on Atmosphere of Hope CSPAN February 1, 2016 6:45am-8:01am EST
we will be aiming more likely that about 2.7 degrees. it's not enough but it's good, but good start. we know we want to stay down below two degrees. how are we going to do that? i started thinking about the drawdown from the atmosphere and i met richard branson in 2007. he invited me to his home in the british virgin islands and he had his -- we start but the problem. richard expressed skepticism that humans could act fast enough to reduce emissions. he just thought it was a good happen. he thought what he could do was offer a prize to help foster technology and would have the potential to draw at least one part of carving out a deficit every year. we start this thing called the virgin challenge. i sit on the judging panel.
we've had over 11,000 entries so far and they've open my eyes to the world of possibilities that exist to draw co2 out of the atmosphere. all of them are at small scale relative what's required to do a big tendency to but that you have a cumulative potential. there's two main streams in what i call the third way technologies, technologies that can fix it out of the atmosphere. one is biological. you can also take plant matter and make things with the prior to the advent of the fossil fuels industry, make most of things we need directly from trees, from their sap. that i think another option for drawing co2 out of the atmosphere. a third option is the development of, take plant
matter or farm waste, the cardinals did it for quite a long time. all of those technologies are sort of small-scale. in 2013 and wounded thousands of globally so that's a long way from a gigaton. but the approach is there at least. when you go to the oceans and look in the oceans you see something quite different from when. the land area is putting a big burden on already but the oceans offer better opportunities, even though there's many more unknowns. one opportunity concerns seaweed. there's a proposal just been published luscious as if we could cover and i present the world ocean in seaweed farms we could draw the equivalent of all carbon emissions out of the atmosphere on an annual basis as well as provide enough fish and oysters to feed a population of 2 billion is enough high quality protein of you.
i thought that sounds fantastic but mr. thinking about how big is 9% of the world ocean? turns out about four and half times the size of australia. a big area to cover. secondly, seaweed is great, there goes 30 to 60 times faster than land-based plants but what we do with all that seaweed? you've got to turn into something useful and think it is to get out of it and put it somewhere. it turns out there are some options. bio digesters are well-known technologies of taking farm waste attorney to do nothing. you can burn the methane for electricity. for those who do that comes out of the smokestack, if you're floating seaweed farms, down into the shallow sediments and because of the overlying water, visio two states into stable state. it's not trying to skip over time. it will eventually form a solid. when you think about it, it's the ocean floor that is the
ultimate repository for all the excess ear to do it. it precipitates out in the form of limestone. that takes many, many thousands of years. there's a whole other stream and the third way technologies ago basically the chemical strength. sounds terrible but there's no the good with i can think of for it. that covers a huge range of technologies from carbon negative concretes, concretes that absorb co2 as i said, in take no co2 to make. concretes are about 5% responsible for the 5% of global emissions of co2 currently. dealing with the end of which is a very high potential, in my view, thing to do. they are also rocks in the earth's crust which absorbs co2. these rocks are formed at mid-ocean region but did he get
incorporated. they are mined for various purposes. there's a company in the netherlands that takes these rocks, grinds them up, puts them in roofing paints a people having negative carbon roofing think that absorb co2 straight to the roof. to our proposals to use these rocks at a beach scale, on beaches. and they will absorb co2. one of the problems with that approach is of course it takes fossil fuels to quarry rocks and crying for. i'm kind of a big proponent with a window with a hammer on a. take clean energy and break them up. if we can do it, we can make a difference. at the far end of the options, other possibilities, and exciting technologies can i tell them i hand a little mobile phone cover, plastic but which
was made from atmospheric co2. currently is the most expensive mobile phone cover in the known universe. you will not want to quantify went with the technology exists to let us do that now. too much of the extra their breakthrough was announced. a companies said that they could make carbon nano fiber strickland from atmospheric co2 at a fraction of the cost of current production methods. that is an extra their thing. carbon nano fibers will be a big part of the future. they are lighter and stronger than just about any other substance we have. at the moment we use them to manufacture aircraft because they're so expensive that as they get cheaper it does to competing head-on with steel and those are heavy emitters of co2. imagine to get problem and turned into a solution that competes with other problems. there's a lot of power in these
technology. they are all, however, a long way from the moment. some of the art test.com some of the more demonstration power plants. others are industry stage. it wasn't even a name for these technologies to let us think of him as a whole. i think they will be a huge part of our future. they have to be. c-2 is going to get out of the atmosphere unless we use them. we no co2 will be driving ever more adverse changes as the decades gone. there's a great opportunity for people to build new industries. we will need a number of different tools but it think it's important we do. i think that by 2050 these technologies at a very conservative estimate might give us the capacity to be drawn about 40% of current emissions out of the atmosphere every year. that's not counting some of the things like seaweed farming. that's taking a conservative view across the portfolio. when i think of 2050, i sometimes run into a problem.
it's a lack of imagination. the only way i will come to terms with this is play a trick on myself and say, why don't you imagine you will be living in 1950 instead of 2015? you try to imagine 1950s to 2050. if you that it's amazing what you see because 1915 in washington it would be horse-drawn power on the street, you would have a very, very rudimentary electricity grid providing lighting economic ills. there would be a war going on in europe with cavalry charges. there's no tanks on the battlefield. the first biplanes are not dangerous for combat, just for a bit of surveillance and the generals are saying are they as good as the horses we used used for surveillance up until now? there's not a single communist state in the world. the whole of the mess you look at to understand where you were on the planet was color-coded to represent the great european empires that had been there for
centuries. 35 years later that looks like an antique. 35 years later this nuclear power. there's jet aircraft. there's half the world pretty much living under communism. the horse is retreating from its last vestiges probably in minnesota and some of the farms out there. it's a different world. 35 years on. the ones we we have is that -- the one certain we have is it is increased. when you think about 2050, we have to give space for our imaginations in order to foster the vision and enterprise we need to solve the problems that we know are going to be there for our children and their children. thank you very much. [applause] >> it's a far cry from the rain
forest. >> it is, that's right. spent tell us a bit about your past. how did you get to where you are? >> i started off being a very porcine in some ways. i went to a catholic boys school, and i wasn't all that happy to. it was one of the old school to run with a strap, you know? i didn't do very well so i couldn't do a science degree. instead i went and did english and history degree. i found i loved it. i really loved history. i learned how to use primary sources and documents, and i loved writing and reading. i was going to be a teacher at the end of that time, but i remember precise a group of 15-year-olds in this thing teachers have been my hero. it would take so much courage to do the stuff. at that time in australia it was
-- my old mentor said to me, they are so desperate for geologists and might even take you. why don't you go and see what they say of the university? so i went there and i was accepted as a student. had to do some catch-up courses in geology. from there i went on to get a ph.d in paleontology and then i got a job at the australian museum as a curator of mammals and is the best i ever had. sometimes a what if i ever left a. from there i went on and had a stint at harvard, conduct was chilly, became a museum director. started working with government also local issues, environmental issues, climate related issues and that was with the beginning to shift away from pure research to what i do know. i still tried to do some pure research.
>> where in your career to the climate issue become something that was significant to you? >> i had known for the '90s it was an issue really, but my time with focus on my research. you know what it's like when he really focused upon your research and you tend to read the literature for the area and nothing much else. it was nagging away at me. i had seen things indicated that worried me. i was working then as a field ecologist in new guinea. that was a bit of an early warning sign. been in 1999, to a conference in japan with the most extraordinary men called professor steve schneider from stanford university, a statistician who really has worked on i'm itching for a long time. in one lecture steve changed my life. he just laid it out in a way that was so compelling i couldn't turn away.
i couldn't look the other way. i knew that i had to do something. i was a museum director at the time working and cover. i realize no one understood issue. even i didn't understand properly. i started reading all the back issues of science and nature and looking for the climate articles trying to get a handle on what does thing was. this was an advanced by the way of the third assessment. i realized i had to write something that the all those and came up with the widow makers, and that was it. >> never looked back. >> i haven't been able to get away from it since. >> what do you think we can expect in paris in december? >> well, i think we know reasonably well what we will get. i should just say i was pretty deeply involved in the copenhagen meeting so somehow that unfolded. there were flaws i in the syste.
things are different in paris. we've got a bottom up approach which really is the brainchild of president obama. remember when he met with the leaders of five other countries in copenhagen, things are going nowhere and he would. he just took a one page to them and said can we at least agree on these? the webpage says go back to work countries look at what kennedy missions made consistent with her own economy and fudge those together for some future meeting. that's where we are now. what you get out of paris we can already see. it's already a success. the unequivocal unilateral pledges are on the table that will get us on the path consistent with 2.7 degrees. china and u.s. are leading on the. we need a few things for to happen. we need to develop the poorest countries on the planet to allow them to survive and adapt to what will be what will appear to change. we need a short review period. at the moment the process is such that countries make a
pledge not for 2020 and the it's all out by 2030. that's a 15 years, too long. we need to have three review period so as technology changes, as governments change, countries can become more ambitious. i'm hopeful but i think it's a big job still. >> as i think about climate i think about it in two parts, 1.0 as a direct impact of humans on the planet whether it's overharvesting, that kind of thing, and 2.0, the indirect impacts, climate or a certification of the ocean. i'm always curious about when climate 2.0 overtakes one point over do you have an opinion wind indirect impacts will be greater than our direct impacts? you think about it that way? >> i do. i do, and i'm going to go out,
i'll talk about some science but never published it at all. i think the early in backs when 2.0 overtook, might have been about 40,000 years ago or even earlier in the northern hemisphere as the great herds vanished. because what may have happened if this is a hypothesis that hasn't been tested. i think what might happen was those great herds kept the tundra fairly open environment so that ate a lot of the education that it wasn't a big regulation at that time every summer there was soil that was fair, one early and the plants would grow and then they would be beaten down again. once they vanished i think it became the end of these layers which have carbon in them. if you look back at the warmest bikes that follows the golden compass about 20 parts per
million of its youtube are missing from that spike that were there in previous interglacial periods. i wonder if that 20 parts per billion or so didn't disappear into the tundra, big dogs and permafrost and also into the oceans spewing this is mammoth visit to the grasslands as opposed to the tundra lands speak with right. that's a naked hypothesis but i think impacts maven a bit early to even think of conventionally today your. >> tell me a little about the role that humans point in discussing climate in australia when you were a museum director. >> museums have been completely central to our understanding of climate change impacts on biodiversity. their studies around the world, probably the best example isn't are mostly but from the u.s. i think it was an analogous --
working in california early in the 20th century who did some very extensive surveys on mountain ranges over there. they had been repeated in the last 10 or 20 years, and we have been able to see how things have changed. mammals have moved hundreds of meters upslope from where they were. that's just one small example but i think as we go on and look at the broad impacts as a whole rather than just climate change, what we will poin find is we han archive and museum selections with an unparalleled level of -- what was actually happening do everything from shrinking genetic pools to have a toxic metals, heavy metals uptake, through to changing co2 that was in the atmosphere, sort of
things i have been thought of yet. i think we will see a really interesting history written through the records we have accumulated in museums today. >> are museums in austria a pretty healthy situation or are they something like museums and other countries, including like this one? >> i know you reckon you've got a tough job. it in south australia i had a bloody tough job. china to you why? that little museum that i had very typical of us just museums, it's based on the old british museum. to both natural history stuff and even a collection of -- everything right into. it's sitting in an isolated city, its nearest neighbor 600 kilometers away with a population of 1 million people. that's your tax base to support the museum. can you imagine supporting a place like this washington only had 1 million taxpayers and it?
it would be a really tough job. the only way we survive is we got the premier drunk occasionally i do pledged a little bit of money and we reminded in the morning about that. that's seven years gave me just about in to be honest with you. a lot of museums are in the same position. they struggle. for me keeping research of life was the key. we had to keep them maintained that the exhibitions, we can get other people to pay for them. to our sponsors who want to do that by the hard work as you probably are finding this will is just keeping the road from falling in over your research capacity. >> to me museums are very much to of the 19 -- tools of american century. was other tools have been long since replaced by technologies that we find yourselves into his situation to be th be in the hof these collections which are irreplaceable. you can never go back and get
them again. the experts that wrap themselves around those collections and yet the challenge of keeping these entities up and running in a world that is technologically being disrupted at tremendous rates is an interesting challenge. will begin to in our strategic plan, tuition. one, the impact of the planet, never to come solutions impact on museums. museums can be a part of associate if you can figure out to keep them in good health to become part of the toolkit for the 21st century. >> the money that is required, actually its. i remember when i was a director of the museum when i first arrived we had the minister for transport was also responsible for the museum through some haphazard visit -- this is a good but accessible, i really want some money to hire for my review researchers and everything gets some money from university so to make joint appointment. she was a very lovely woman, diminished at the time she went away and came back and said i've
got a solution. we are building a new runway at the airport. i'm going to shorten it by one meter and the money i will say doing that will give you -- which was fantastic but it just showed me how small it was and yet how hard it was to get that money. i think people don't appreciate museums. museums in some way are the own worst enemies. i remember when i first went to the museum, went out and asked him the curators if they give a public talk on what to do. there was one have been studying beetles to some obscure kind of beetle. nothing too flashy, for 60 years. i went down to his office and said what you get a public lecture? the fella rushed off like a cockroach in the light. it was kind of terrifying to do. >> changing something a little bit, as a curator of science when the challenges talk about climate change, there are many
but one of the challenges is the sheer numbers of the gigatons of carbon which is invisible and measuring the future in water two degrees of warming or gigatons of carbon. have you found any other metaphors or techniques that actually have traction with people who don't already know what a ton of carbon is? >> the own way i've been able to make sense myself is analogy, we would say what would it take to get a gigatons outputs a geek that of carbon is about four gigatons of co2. roughly the analogy for us to is a good one. but the imagination, it's hard to imagine. with a talk to people sometimes that's all you need to know about the dig a ton of carbon is that, of atmospheri atmospherica default of atmospheric carbon which is of significance in terms of country function. so planting those trees will change our climate, change the face of a showed. having a gigatons of carbon in
the atmosphere register to it's big enough to register. >> interesting enough the approach has two parts, biological part and chemical approach is a mimic of the planet. these are natural processes that i see adjudicative atmosphere and comes back out, and longtime friends. you try to present this idea of how to speed this process up using technology. >> that's right. when i started at along with a good dose was quite confused about the proposals because we called many of them geoengineering. geoengineering covers at least did cover a wide range of possibilities for putting software into the stratosphere to planting trees. it didn't make sense to me because proposals like putting software into the stratosphere, it's a band-aid solution. they mask the problem.
the problem -- the trouble with them is people look at him seriously now, they really constitute the second way. the first what is to reduce emissions. the second option is to put software into the stratosphere. at the moment china, the government of china has four research teams looking to geoengineering proposals. that terrifying, a wealthy individual could do it and say the plan. they are instantly affected. so they were reduce the temperature instantly. but they are highly dangerous. if china does put software into the stratosphere, there's nothing to stop them from doing it because there's no global treaty regulating this, 1.4 billion people in south asia will have their monsoon rains affected by that. so i think the second alternative for what is really
dangerous. i tried in the book to separate that off from the third way which has disadvantages that is very slow, like it takes 20-30 years to build industry that sort of skill. we know from solar and wind come in the 70 they generated electricity thousands of times the cost of electricity from burning coal. they are not competitive after 40 years of hard work. it's going to be the same with these technologies. they are slow. the virtue of the note is that you strengthen those system to self regulate it gets almost the definition of a third way technology. if it strengthens or mimics it in some way and also helps it, that is a third way technology. so i'm really, i think we did have that definition very clear in our minds. the reason i wrote this book was to set the definition of. you to listen to people speak no, they don't love you
distinguish between these two approaches and they really are different, they are the second and third ways. >> do you think that you can literally pull out of the atmosphere? >> carbon fiber, or sco to in the shallow sediments of the ocean depths or whatever it happens to be. >> now we would ask anyone who would like to ask a question, can you go to the microphone? there's a microphone on the aisle. your question will be recorded, and heard by everyone in the room. >> thank you very much. -- also involved with a small island state issue of climate change. we went there for the. the following questions.
first, what is your evaluation of the impact of moving from a chemical fertilizer to natural fertilizer divided of course technology available and we can get that to the scale of small farmers? second question, particularly in china, what is impact of dividing by two the consumption of energy for air-conditioning? impact on climate change. and third question is the impact of desalinization at smaller scale than we have today, but it seems technologies emerge. with those see application benefit from the money which
most of the country seem to commit now? is there any policy to go that way, and what do you think should be done in education, promotion, which are the leading countries? thank you. >> thank you for the question. in terms of the substitution of natural fertilizers, chemical fertilizers, many other fertilizers at the moment are made from fossil fuels and our possibilities of manufacturing them direct from atmospheric co2 or from other sources. those sort of technologies are being held back at the moment because fossil fuels are cheap and abundant and all the plants that does that is already, it's paid off so they can produce stuff very cheaply. the one way forward i can see indeed with it is introducing a price on carbon. if you price carpet into that equation you didn't give a competitive advantage for more natural fertilizer which i think is a good thing because we're
not contributing fossil fuels. the second thing you asked me about i think was air-conditioning and urbanization. that represents both a threat and an opportunity. so we see very strong organization globally but particularly places like china and india. that contract of carbon emissions because people are getting access to electricity and so forth they have had in the past. it's also an opportunity because as we build cities, we can build in a lot of efficiency. as i said, working with city to make a more efficient as a $2 trillion a year industry at the moment. one of the biggest industries on the planet. if we focus our money, development lead on those solutions, i'm quite confident we can rein in emissions. i think we are seeing the beginning of that with the iaea figures i talk about. the third issue you raise is one of desalinization more to scale up using renewable energy. that's something we are seeing
right now. now. we have invented and australia called for clean energy finance corporation. it's a $10 billion bank really that coat and vest with unrelenting institutions to reduce emissions. wenone of the things that's been funded there is the largest farm in the southern hemisphere which is one purely from solar panel. it does all its heating, cooling, desalinization. it's incredibly efficient. so that we think is the begin and australia at least of -- linked to solar which will be extremely important to the country short on water. can you imagine solar panels get cheap enough african farmers can use them to desalinate water? the whole world changes so it looks if you can do that.
>> thank you so much for speaking with us today. like you mentioned would you cut the election that is so complete couldn't turn away, that's exactly how i felt when i read the weather makers so thank you so much for the. i'm with you sustainable energy utility. obviously, we will need these carbon sequestration technologies. has there been research done on how quickly we can use them? if we slammed on the break and put in reverse too quickly and suck out the 100 parts per million in a year, will that be detrimental just as much of putting more carbon into the atmosphere? >> that's a really good question. we haven't got to that level of sophistication yet. there is one project where the question has been asked, and it concerned the sequestration of carbon dioxide as snow in antarctica. it turns out the surface of the antarctic continent, the average
temperatures about minus 57 degrees. suitable set of atmosphere at mind is 75 put a decrease. sometimes temperature in antarctica dropped out of minus 90. that's no one's because it isn't buried. in tha that particular technoloy companies you had about half of the installed wind capacity germany has, you could be pulling out by using these chilling boxes using wind power come you can be pulled out about i get a of carbon a year. scientists that did that study did ask, what would happen if co2 concentrations over the antarctic dropped to precipitously, would that cause problems. and they came up with a few the this is all of modular is all of modular technology under the was a problem with it simply slipped out of it. we could cut off some of the answer off the we saw what happened. i think it's a really excellent
question and we are just at the very early stage of this. i also don't think we will need, we will need an answer the question at least person she. i get a is such a massive amount and we're starting with almost nothing today. >> that first of all i just want to say i am a dual u.s. australian citizen i really appreciate everything you're doing down there. my question is on tipping point. you mentioned with the paris agreements with everything that has been pledged by that we look at about 2.7 degrees. we need to get down to two degrees. i guess there's potential for ratcheting up those targets as well but you also talk about pizza that has been sequester potential to the theory with community on coming out of the last ice age. we know permafrost is already starting to melt and methane is being released from the. you talk about with your third
way the are a lot of these technologies that you still see her 20, 30 years off into the future. i was wondering from your perspective, what's the current state of the sites in terms of tipping points and uncertainty about that and how much is any defect in two we go from here? >> that such a great question. and cottages begin by saying this institution he is at the forefront of global research and one of those questions. scott is in the audience and you want to speak, has been studying this exact issue of when have we seen these tipping points breached and seemed very, very fast warming? i try to cover up in this on my latest book and other different issues. one with the gulf stream's. one was the amazonian rain forest and a third was the release of plant rates. i get -- i guess my greatest
concern, i talk in the book about some ominous development in that area, there's been some mass release of methane from the arctic seabed. >> that's the methane that is kind of underwater? >> because sea levels are the new underpass the accuracy and shallow areas, permafrost areas which are still frozen so it's a permafrost under the water which is seemingly releasing this methane. on land there's been a couple of large crisis develop which seem to have informed a release of -- about 100 meters depth in the permafrost. there are ominous signs, resides may be a change, but global methane, actually does a dip in the methane around 2005-2006 were methane concentrations
decreased slightly but then they climbed. i agree it's a risk but how do we manage that risk. the only way we can manage it is to make sure we reduce the warming. the more we reduce at the less exposure to that mr. . >> one fall of. has there been anything in terms of the uncertainty of the timing of any of these events are still just completely kind of a crapshoot in terms of whether and when tipping points might utter? >> i think the science around the gulf stream collapse, even in 2005 they were saying the chance of that were only about 5% a century and that hasn't changed much. so the amazonian rainforest collapse we are not analysts are busy we were that in 2005 to the
early global models suggested that the might the a rapid dial from the whole amazon rain forest temperatures increased and would be a release of carbon as a result. new model suggested to more public a situation and while the big impacts in eastern amazonia and we can see them already in parts of brazil, the western amazonia may be more significant. there's other scientists who disagree with that and say the early ones should be taken socially. there's more uncertainty there. it's just so, i think the model is so difficult, you know? in the arctic, for example, just one sector, yes, it's warming. there's more seate co2 in the atmosphere but also promotes plant growth on the tundra which acts as an insulating layer to the tundra. so it's quite a complicated situation. there's probably other researchers who have a better handle on it than i do but my reading of it is still a lot of
uncertainty. >> good evening, and thank you so much for your presentation to us in writing the book. i look forward to reading it. i visited australia for the first time of years ago and found it to be a wonderful, beautiful country with people who were fun and engaging and very interesting to be around as well. >> great, thank you. >> but my question has to do with what you were talking about in terms of geoengineering. and it led me to think that we think about the stratosphere and our atmosphere really, we are thinking about something that's a, good. there are no boundaries to it's like a common inheritance to all of us. so do we need to begin to think about treaties that taken the
entire global perspective and how it affects not only one but i'll? something all should jointly. and a president might be the ozone issues. there maybe other precedents, i don't know but is that an area imaginatively anyway as well as practically we need to begin to think about in terms of addressing i'm a change speak with look, it certainly is, in my view. just talk about where we're at with at the moment. the u.n. conventional biodiversity issued what was effectively advancing we should be doing any ocean fertilization experiments because the dangers were just a quick. that was back in about 2003 i think it was. since then there's been a number of quite significant ocean fertilization initiatives. some taken by private
individuals. some by small communities which about a spectacularly large impact. at the same time that's been happening there's been a series of talks called the london protocol talks which have been going on for 15 years trying to broker some sort of treaty with the beginnings of a treaty to deal with stratospheric ozone change. for example, what they call modification. technologies that get between us and the sun somehow like sulfur does and the atmosphere. they are not going anywhere. earlier this year a really brilliant thing happened in this country. your combined academies of science in engineering reduce report on few engineering which is one of the most thorough pieces of work i've ever read on the. it really laid the foundations for an approach to a global treaty. it's impeccable. if the u.s. president got behind that, could we initiated
discussions to safeguard ourselves by means of retrieving some unilateral action? i think that that is pretty probably right for that to happen but it does have to come from the president of the u.s. in my view, that academies report provides think of what you need some of that level to push it. >> thank you for that research. i'll look it up. and just visit also the i'm a member of the safe alliance for climate solution which is working in northern virginia at the local level to find solutions related to this because we think the local level is essential to addressing the issue. what we are finding is the faith groups are really becoming quite active in this now, and, of course, pope francis encyclical has been a major help to that. and i take hope in that, that there so many different voices joining now and working
imaginatively and hopefully with one another, that this will provide impetus as well for finding solutions and working together and thinking all, even at the local level. so thank you. >> thank you. >> next in line. >> thing for a really interesting talk. i'm an economist and we think about technology, one of the things i worry about a little bit is javon paradox of the issue that as technology and prices get cheaper would actually sometimes use more of things rather than less of things. so today that speaks for a need for public policy to go along with technology. my question is, in discussions with investors come in juniors coming thinkers, the folks who are thinking about the technological solutions, how much awareness and discussion is about the need to have the technology and the policy that can mesh rather than be in opposition?
>> the question was about i just talking to one another look at new technologies, whether they are aware of the need for regulation i guess or some government policy at least which make sure that they don't lead to more consumption, i guess that was -- look, in my express of talking with his people, everyone recognizes it's really early days. we are taking the most tiny infant steps in this moment in this direction. so those issues of regulation i agree with you, a policy, haven't really come up yet. but could i say they will probably be more important in some areas than others. at the moment, possible technologies that take a solution, take a problem, co to come and turn it into a solution, i don't know whether you can have too much of that stuff. made in 30 years time it will be
different but at the moment i'm not sure. could i just mention one at this, the range of technologies approach is astonishing. just a month ago a group of south korean researchers announced that they discovered, using coffee drinks to capture atmospheric -- we'll all be drinking when it comes to do in getting this out there. it's astonishing that someone had done that. it's an approach i never thought i. we are at such an early stage at the moment, it's like it's like when it was a million possibles out there. we knew a couple would win but we did know which ones. that sorted out feels right now in the third way approach. i appreciate what you're saying but i think it's probably too early yet to have answers of there. >> that may make my question all difficult to match. thank you for showing today.
my only question was almost a follow-up on this. as developing nations, especially in sub-saharan africa, that are invariably linked with the false of industry as a green technologies and more sustainable technologies become available, what is being done to ensure that the investment is in the interest of the people there speak with that's a fantastic question. is really, really important. the question really is what's being done at the level of say the paris meeting to make sure that the investments that are required to bring clean energy to sub-saharan africa are there. at the moment unfortunately not much is being done at that very high level, but there's quite a lot of change within africa itself. i work with a number of groups in south africa of some of the stuff that i monitor some of the other things that are going on. there is a real recognition out
in africa and in india incidentally that the only people are going to get this electricity at a graceful price is if we resort to distributed generation models. this is very much like what's happened with mobile phones. we don't have a carbon network across africa but it has a cell phone. they are using them in an innovative ways. we think electricity will be the same, that we wanted small-scale generation units whether they be sold with batteries or perhaps solar with some other storage mechanism and wind power. or even biomass as part of a distributed region so you of groups that will be linked in a small electricity network. we think that can happen at scale. there are companies and governmengovernmen ts giving is really serious about at the moment. unfortunately, gobblin, not as s happening at the highest levels as should, but i think it's a
pretty good question because unless we solve the question we're going to be way over carbon budget. there's no way we can deprive people of the opportunity for cheap power, for electricity. but we have to do it in a way that lowers the emissions. >> thank you. >> i worked at the undp on the change mitigation team in new york previously, and to simple questions. where does animal livestock play into the debate and consumption of it? what are people saying about it and how they change, i think one of the biggest challenges of human behavioral change, how are people addressing a quick second question is, do you have faith in the entire system for my grandfather uses a meetings are cheating. we waste hours and take minutes.
i feel like, i covered the negotiations and hate us just that i wonder if we are just all running in circles and chasing our tails. >> beef is easier. can i start with beef? i'm no expert on the livestock side of things but my general understanding of meat production is that, well, first of all large -- a natural part of the ecosystem that does a lot in the past so in north america unit 60 million buffaloes producing lots of greenhouse gases but also eating grass. at some level livestock production consisting of the people suggest have current production levels you have a very sustainable livestock industry. so maybe we've got to eat less
meat. nude as part of a solution. there's also efficiency gains happening all the time to get into the doctor in australia is financing a whole lot of initiatives in the rural sector, take for example, nothing from livestock waste products and turn into energy. there's things that can be done. the copper process, my god, i spent three years of my life sharing -- chairing the copenhagen council, the most cynical i've ever done. and get it was great. we had a wonderful meeting with the biggest meeting of business effort to do with the climate issue in copenhagen where the cop 15 was held for a bit of a trial run. we came up with some great stuff. but everything fell apart so badly towards the in. one of the problems was this magnificent -- no problems in
copenhagen we had about 40,000 people. there was all discussed from the third world, no smoking. they had to walk about a mile to get somewhere to smoke. it was something we never anticipated. was probably a big factor in the fact we didn't go so far. i think the cop process is really hard. i hope that there is is different i hope paris is the last cop. it should be. it should be the last cop and go on a post-cop and see things in a different way. >> one thing that i hear brought up often in the context of conversation of climate change is the issue of access to water. i've often heard that comparison, that water may soon
be like oil in terms of its value into the potential to spark conflict. i wonder what you make of those kind of claims and what your forecast is on that issue. >> the issue raises about water and accessible to water in future. there's no doubt that the climate systems are change and we are already seeing big impact in places like sub-saharan africa a really poverty for substantially impacting on people's lives because of those parts o were people in of access to the technologies to ameliorate some of that. in australia we are seeing big impacts from water. it's from a lack of water availability. i think personally it's a big concern. it's going to force legislative changes in places like california, for example, where the water regulation is all over. that's going to be to change and the governor recognizes that i think the people will come to be viewed that it will change in
time. but there are some technological fixes, desalinization using solar or wind is a good example, or even wave power. wave power is the great power. you can use the pressure generated from ways directly to do some of that water. i think it is a big challenge in the future but i'm not entirely hopeless in terms of thinking about water in a climate affected future. >> we have two people. after the questions are answered to move sign some books out in the foyer. >> thank you. i loved the weather makers. it was an excellent book but i don't think the average person in the united states read it. and have to read the issue of politics. most of the people in this country don't even believe in evolution. how are they going to come to grips with climate change? to say nothing of all the republican candidates for
president. i know that australia has had a bit of a right turn politically. how are we going to deal with the political issue so we can get to all these wonderful technical solutions that are obviously waiting to happen? >> well, if i knew the edge to the question i would sleep well at night, i tell you. it's a really tough one. i can only talk from personal experience about these in my country. ostrow is a country of 23 million people. so we are smaller than the u.s. and we're fairly homogeneous at some level. what we've found is that through the climate commission ended the climate council we have been able to reach a lot of people for a couple of years. i went out every fortnight into were awestruck of talk to people about climate change. of course, there were some skeptics who would tear up armatures of walk up with a was
a hell of a lot of people who are interested in open to understanding. people using social media. our climate council, they've got a $3 billion budget your that is testament to me that australians care about this issue. not all australians but a lot of them do. we found we have been able to slowly change the dialogue about climate change. you are right we took a turn to write in australia two years ago but we had a two and ostrager we change our leader would not have an election. americans who understand what a democratic coup is. but the parliamentary election system is how we do it. we just had a change of leader even though there was no election and his more aggressive on climate change. we think that there's a way forward. we try to work with middle, with reasonable people who are open to discussion, open to a true
dialogue about the issue and that's what our climate council tries to do. it's slow and tedious and hard. it's like technology. it takes a long time to get anywhere but i don't think there's any shortcuts in this topic i think it's all going to be hard work. unfortunately, that's the way it will be slower but i do have faith we will get there in the end. >> final question. >> hypothetically, if we were to find a cheap way to harvest co2 from the atmosphere and make a lot of profit from it, the owner with a lot of people get into it, how long in this hypothetical scenario would it e for that to take a significant impact on global warming? >> well, it depends on how fast you can do it. but just to give you a sense of it, if you want to reduce
atmospheric carbon dioxide by one part per million unique to take about 18 gigatons of co2 out of the atmosphere. that is a staggering ally large amount. we are now about 120 parts per million about what we were in the preindustrial level. you have to take 18 gigatons out of the atmosphere every year from one to 20 years to get back to where we were in the 1900s. if people could do that and make a profit from it, i honestly can't see that they that would give states that mr. hsu to shorty. they being 50 years it will look different but at the moment i figure so far over that anything will be a help rather than a hindrance. >> thank you, guys so much for coming tonightcome and help me get a warm round of applause for tim flannery. [applause]
>> i will now turn tens microphone off and set them up at a table where you can sign some books. thank you so much for coming tonight. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> on sunday february 7, tv is like with author and journalist eric burns on "in depth," or live monthly call-in show. he has authored many books focus on politics, american history and the press. his most recent book, but gold and black at the relationship between teddy roosevelt and his
youngest son. other recent titles include invasion of the mind snatchers on the impact of television on the baby boom generation and all the news unfit to print, look at many of the most high profile mistakes in american journalism. last year he appeared on booktv talking about his book 1920, the year that made a decade roar. >> the greatest misunderstanding about 1920s that it was the first year of the most carefree and wealthy decade we have ever had in this country. it wasn't carefree because americans still lived under the shadow of the great war which, of course, is what world war i was called then. a conflict at once so brutal and nonsensical that we could not help but fear it would break out again. as the case of exploding force demonstrated, this time it might even break out on our own soil. ..