TRANSCRIPT https://www.abc.net.au/rn/backgroundbriefing/stories/2009/2592909.htm PODCAST https://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/rn/podcast/2009/06/bbg_20090614.mp3 There is a way out, says Paul Gilding and he talks about how he again found optimism. Paul Gilding: This is why. Because human ingenuity is absolutely extraordinary. And when we put our minds to it, we do incredible things. We are extraordinary as a species and we are able to transform situations and problems into solutions in amazingly quick time. But we don't do it until a crisis hits. So I would describe, if I were to summarise a couple of million years of evolution, we're slow, but we're not stupid. We are slow to respond, we deny, we avoid, we try and get distracted but in the end we're not stupid, and we can work out how to fix things, and we are going to fix this one. We're not going to fix it in time to save all the Pacific Islands, we're not going to prevent major conflicts, we're not going to prevent sea level rise from occurring, but we are going to fix it, because we're capable of fixing it, and everything in history says that we are capable of fixing it. I think this crisis that's coming, I would think seeing its here now we don't see it yet, but we will see it. This crisis that's coming is going to trigger the biggest transformation in civilisation's history, and I don't mean in Western civilisation's history, I mean in the history of humanity as a species on earth. This is going to be fast and furious and incredibly exciting. It's going to happen soon in an economy very close to you, and you are going to see amazing things happen, and we're going to look back and say, 'That wasn't so hard. Why didn't we start it earlier?' That's another conversation. But we are going to look back and say 'That really was quite simple.' Now I give you as an example - it's not a good example but it's the best example we've got. That is the Second World War. Denial, avoidance, the data was clear, very fateful of what was coming, 'No, it's not. No, it's not. No, it's not. Oh shit, yes it is, it's here.' Now what happened then was just as an example, to give some numbers around it, in the US, right, they went from 1.4% of GDP being spent on the military in 1939, '38, '39, to 37% by 1945. This is not percentage of government spending, this is percentage of GDP focused on the war effort. Just in the four years after Pearl Harbour they had a tenfold increase inflation adjusted in the amount spent on the military right, on security issues. They transformed the auto industry to producing guns and cars and tanks right, for the war effort, right to be an armaments manufacturer. In nine months. right? So specular transformations can occur when we decide to act, right? And so we are absolutely capable of it. The challenge we have is we're going to have to do it that fast, and then we're going to have to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere to turn it around again, which we're also capable of doing, which I'll come to shortly, but we are going to have to turn around that fast. I think it's important that we learn to celebrate the unknown of the future, right? This is going to be an amazingly exciting time and most people want to know how it's going to unfold and how we're going to fix it. And I'm here to tell you today that we don't know how it's going to unfold, and I find that amazingly exciting. This is the biggest opportunity for creation right, in humanity that we've ever had, and we are going to do extraordinary things, but we don't know what that looks like, but we do know some things about how we're going to get there. The other reason we're not going to collapse is we know how to fix it, right? Let's be clear on this. We can totally fix this issue with all currently invented technologies. We don't need to invent anything new to fix this. Nothing. Now we are going to invent some new things, we're going to do it faster and cheaper and da de da de da but we don't need to do any of that, we know how to fix it, we know how to do zero CO2 energy for example. Right? We know how to do it actually quite cheaply, relatively speaking, I mean yes, it's going to be more expensive than coal without a carbon price for now, but I think it's very hard not to accept that when you're given a choice between your power bill going up and destroying civilisation, I think it's a reasonable trade-off, right? Including if you're in poverty in China, by the way, because if you're in poverty in China and your choice is to be rich for ten years, which is glorious as we were told by the Chinese President some years ago, being glorious for ten years and then having your civilisation collapsing is not a good outcome for them either. And this is actually very important, that we know how to do this and we know how to do it at a little bit more of a cost and it'll become cheaper anyway, but the point is, even if it costs twice as much or three times as much, you can't argue that we can't do that. And we know how to do it, I mean for example last week they announced another 200 or 300 megaWatt power station in California, with solar thermal power, right? Baseload solar thermal. So really complicated technology. I had one when I was a kid, it was a magnifying glass, I magnified the sun into a concentrated area and I used to light bushfires with it, you can't do that any more, it's illegal apparently, but I used to light bushfires with it, they weren't very big I wasn't very good at it but the magnifying glass was amazing, it concentrated the solar power into a very small area and the leaves started burning - really excellent fun. So that advanced technology, now applied for heating water rather than lighting fires in the backyard of the house at Adelaide, is going to be used to heat water and create steam to drive turbines, again a very old technology. Now how do we store it? Really complicated: salt. Right? Salt is good for you, salt is the storage mechanism for solar thermal heat, right? And molten salt is what it becomes, and then you get the molten salt you reheat the water, you drive a turbine at night. Really simple stuff, and it's about 20%, 30% more than competitive technologies which emit carbon. So, easy stuff. Cars. We're going to have electric cars. Electric cars and battery-changing stations. You drive into the service station, a machine comes out, takes your old battery out, puts a new battery in, you go and buy your pie and your coffee, probably be a tofu burger and a glass of water from a whatever it is. If you're lucky. But the point is that we can do that. It's going to take a few minutes, and it's not going to cost you any more money, right? Because electricity is a much more effective, more efficient transmitter of energy than petrol is. So even with coal, right, you save money and save emissions with electric cars, we're not going to do it with coal for reasons that are obvious. And if you have any doubts that we can do this, I mean just think about these things: I mean just astronomical. I mean the human brain has problems, it keeps on going to sleep and I can't see what the time is, but the idea that I can have the internet in my pocket like this, in my shirt pocket, right, when 20 years ago that was incomprehensible. And we're going that dot com thing, right, just for fun at the time, created this so think about the dot com boom, think about that and what I call the dot com boom on steroids with military support. Right? That's what we're going to have. We're going to have the most amazing array of technologies and incentives and passions, driven towards solving this issue. These guys did that because they thought it was really cool, right? And it was really cool, and it was really fun, right? to be in that revolution in technology driven out of California and they did amazing things, and they really enjoy the disruption they caused to old companies. That was their entertainment. Right? Disruptive technologies, right, throw this up in markets works incredibly well, it's a very powerful way of driving change, and that's our model, but it will be in steroids with military support because they will now be doing that sort of approach, but they'll be saving the world at the same time. Right? So to be rich is to be glorious in California, they've got a 90% CO2 reduction target. And they are going to drive amazing things as a result of that if they can out-compete the Chinese which I think is now a bit of a question.