Bring on sustainable prosperity

30 Apr, 2012

The ABC’s documentary “I can change your mind about climate change” has been both lauded and criticised by believers and non believers alike.

Whatever your view, several things struck me about the documentary and the debate which followed on the ABC’s Q&A program.

Personally, I was left with a strong sense of optimism that the debate even happened, let alone that it happened in such a public forum. Full credit to everyone who participated, and the makers for at least attempting to show both sides of the debate.

It puts climate change and renewable back on the radar at least for a little while perhaps ironically, given Nick Minchin’s comments today that “public concern about global warming peaked in 2007 and has been in decline ever since”. The Illinois University’s CarbonCaptureReport suggests similar statistics on its monitor of Climate Change and everyone I talk to is pretty tired of feeling worried, guilty or helpless about the issue. However, the airing of this debate will undoubtedly skew the trend upwards for a while.

Secondly, I certainly took the opportunity to consider my own views, motivations and actions after listening to some of the participants. It was good to be reminded of that good old human characteristic called confirmation bias; a behaviour that leads us to look for information that confirms our beliefs and to distort information that challenges them.

Like every other human, Im susceptible to it – although I make no secret of it being a  PV industry advocate – however, it pays for everyone to remember  to try  to be as objective and pragmatic as possible if we are to have a rational debate.

It also highlighted the fact that the climate change debate is unlikely to ever be resolved and most poignantly, that policy-makers are highly unlikely to solve it. There will always be a range of views, no matter what ensues, because debate is as much about personal values as it is about evidence, like it or lump it.

At the end of the day, I was also buoyed by the idea of pragmatism, in finding common ground in a debate which can mobilise action for members of society with a variety of motivations and still get results.

Where Nick Minchin and Anna Rose both agreed was that the debate should arguably be about energy, not just climate change.  When (not IF) green energy, and particularly solar power, can be shown to be cost effective and cost competitive, we will have a common plank for forward progress along which we can all walk.

Nick Minchin’s ackowledgement that “there are a range of reasons why we should become less reliant on fossil fuels; energy security, understood health risks and the fact that the fuel source is finite” was music to by confirmation biased ears.

Those on the inside of the PV industry can smell economic parity; we can see it and taste it in many parts of the world, including Australia’s Retail market and we know how fast it is going to accelerate. It won’t come without bumps and wobbles and it isn’t a silver bullet. But it is grossly under-estimated and with their own confirmation bias I suspect the deniers are failing to open up to what’s really going on around them.

This is the massive, most understated and most exciting success of this program. 

Nick Minchin is an intelligent fellow, so he will get it when he see’s the numbers and could become a huge PV industry advocate.  I suspect this is the easy bit.

Clive Palmer could as one caller suggested re-invest  in solar (with a bet each way?) and become Australia’s next big solar player; which certainly sounds like less of a folly than his current plan to build Titanic II. Perhaps the harder bit.

And Anna Rose can focus on building her case for Climate Change, because the world (imho) needs messengers like Anna to keep shouting out.

Everyone wants to preserve our way of life and solar has a great role to play in preserving our economic and environmental way of life; bring on sustainable prosperity.





About the author

Nigel Morris
Nigel Morris

Nigel is the Director of SolarBusinessServices. After almost 20 years working for other companies SbS Director Nigel Morris, established the company in 2009 with a view to providing other organisations with the benefits of his wide experience in the renewable energy industry.

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