Australian scientist & author of “The Weather Makers” on new book “Atmosphere of Hope”. Despite what he knows, Tim Flannery explains new “natural” based tech that may prevent climate catastrophe.

Can our desire to overcome [the climate crisis] drive humanity’s next great waves of positive technological economic and social revolutions, or will we be plunged into the dystopian collapses and terrors of civilizations past?

That’s the question asked by Dr. Tim Flannery in his new book “Atmosphere of Hope: Searching for Solutions to the Climate Crisis”.

Flannery rocked the world with his 2003 book “The Weather Makers”. For a while, the Australian government hired him to coordinate climate communications. He left to form the Climate Council, with community funding. Flannery is also with the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, at the University of Melbourne. He’s trained as a specialist in mammals and palaeontology.

Dr. Tim Flannery

We’re about to hear Tim Flannery speak about his new book, at the Town Hall in Seattle, on November 12, 2015. I thank Mike McCormack of talkingsticktv for this recording.

Download or listen to this Radio Ecoshock show, the full speech with question and answer period, in either CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB).

Or listen right now on Soundcloud.

Tim begins this talk with a climate reality check. He outlines an overview of climate science, and the huge challenges facing us. Flannery doesn’t try to sugar-coat our situation, and admits that from about 2008 to 2013 he was somewhat depressed about the prospects of severe climate change, and our lack of appropriate response.

However, in 2007, following his publication of the Weathermakers, Tim was called to the Caribbean island owned by multi-billionaire Richard Branson. From that was born the $25 million dollar Virgin Climate Challenge for the best invention to remove carbon dioxide from the air. Flannery tells us Branson himself was doubtful humans will get themselves out of this civilization-wide problem.

During the following years, the Virgin Challenge received about 11,000 entries. Reading through many of these, Flannery tells us he began to see hopeful signs toward solutions to lower carbon in the atmosphere. In this talk he mentions several, including carbon-negative cement (it removes CO2 as it hardens); fibre and plastics that can be made directly from CO2.

There is also a type of rock (Serpentinite) that can remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Perhaps this fairly common rock could be crushed and used as beaches (as the seas rise) to capture more carbon dioxide. This is known as “carbon sequestration by mineral carbonation”. Serpentinite has been used by a Dutch firm to make allegedly carbon neutral shingles for houses.

We need to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The first way is to cut emissions drastically. That must be done, but it will not reduce carbon dioxide already there, and already too high.

The second way, Flannery says, is to use geoengineering techniques, like spraying sulfur into the atmosphere to deflect sunlight. But this has grave risks for weather systems, he says.

Flannery tells us there is a “third way“: solutions to save nature without wrecking nature. Although these ideas mimic nature or use nature’s tech, they do require some energy to deploy them. That energy would have to come from solar, wind, or perhaps burning biomass?

I recommend this talk as inspiring, and it will teach you new things. Personally, I did not find enough in the talk to convince me we have a way out, yet.

My thanks to Mike McCormick of talkingsticktv, and host of the Mind Over Matters radio show for this recording. Mike produces a lot of worthwhile original material.