During the first session we looked at "The Concept of Sustainability" which was first discussed in The Limits to Growth, published in 1972 by the Club of Rome. This report concluded that the finite nature of the natural environment meant that the world economic system could not expand indefinitely. An issue that is constantly raised today in discussions about that state of the planet we are leaving for future generations. We also heard how Sir David Attenborough reiterated this theme at the World Economic Forum in Davos. In his opening address he urged political and business leaders from around the world to make a renewed push to tackle climate change before the damage is irreparable.
January's extreme heat was an obvious topic for discussion and we were not surprised to hear that Australia sweltered through the hottest month in its history in January, with scientists concerned that extreme heat is hitting faster and harder than expected. We also read about a senior Australian firefighter who says climate change is contributing to bushfires so horrendous that homes and lives cannot be protected with fire seasons that are much longer and more severe.
When discussing sustainability and climate change there are so many negative stories however John does also look for positive stories. To our surprise we read about an Australian 'start-up' that hopes to have its electric engines propelling light commercial aircraft within three years, while promising flights that are cheaper to operate, better for the environment and more comfortable for passengers.
Australia's energy system was also another obvious topic for discussion and we focussed on an article titled, "What would Australia look like powered by 100% renewabl-e energy?" Obviously big on wind and solar but also lots of different technologies in different locations, such as pumped hydro, wave and tidal energy, solar thermal with storage, batteries, sustainable bioenergy and more. Industry and transport would need to go renewable too.
An article about Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenage activist who has inspired 'School Strikes 4 Climate Action' all over the world, led to a thought provoking discussion about school students taking action about climate change. We will be continuing to monitor the nature and impact of student engagement and activism related to climate change.