by Michael Mobbs…

1 degree was due to black roads, dark roofs and lack of tree cover

18 June – Are you marching in step with the wrong crowd?  If you’re besotted with Kyoto dreaming, probably.

What do you make of these facts?

  • At Observatory Hill, Sydney, a weather station beside Sydney’s Harbour Bridge, the ambient or background temperature rose 1.5 degrees in the last 100 years. Of that 0.5 degrees of that was due to climate change, and 1 degree was due to black roads, dark roofs and lack of tree cover
  • In the years 1965 to 2001 – 36 years – the number of very hot (above 35c) days per year in Sydney’s coastal areas rose by 22 per cent, but in western Sydney (where most new housing is being built) they rose by 250 per cent – from 5 to 15 days
  • The design of roads, roofs, and trees in the landscape is increasing the temperatures of cities, subdivisions, houses, offices faster than climate change
  • The higher the city temperatures the more aircon used and the more coal-fired power burnt
  • None of Australia’s red tape – BASIX, Greenstar, NatHERS, NABERS nor any “planning”, “environmental” or “climate change” legislation – provides any regulatory controls over the use of black roads, dark roofs or lack of tree cover in any residential, subdivision, office, commercial government or road building project
  • None of the flock of sustainability reports by government agencies and NGOs (eg Climate Institute, Total Environment Centre, Australian Conservation Foundation, World Wildlife Fund, a drover’s dog) has any policy, and little data, about black roads, dark roofs or lack of tree cover
  • Nothing in the Kyoto, greenhouse, carbon trading or other “models” will stop the increase in temperatures due to black roads, dark roofs and lack of trees.

You might say, “Well, that’s not as damaging as burning coal or gas or land clearing, or industrial food production”.

Pardon?

Is it facts we wish to base our discussion of climate change on?

Or is it fashion and jargon and what everybody’s looking at that is going to occupy our attention?  If you want fashion, etc then ignore the facts above.

If you want to deal with the facts, to stop putting off action until there’s some world-wide love-in about carbon trading and international agreements struck late at night in heroic circumstances, then wouldn’t you:

  • Change the colour of our roads to a paler colour, like in some existing white freeways
  • Harvest rainwater where it falls on roads to enrich, sustain and grow robust green trees to overshadow the roads
  • Make pale roofs mandatory.

In case you think this is some perverse, talking-out-loud by a misguided, out-of-step bloke from the bush, I wonder if you know who said this:

“People should paint their roofs white and drive “cool” cars on pale-coloured roads to avoid devastating climate change”

Those are the words last month of Obama’s man for climate change, US energy secretary and Nobel prize-winning physicist Steven Chu who advised Prince Charles and a group of 19 other laureates meeting in London on 25 May 2009.

Get it?

Yes, like a fresh breath of air, Obama is resetting the agenda on climate change.  But he and his advisers have their feet on the ground, too.

They’re dealing with the here and now of black tar, dark roofs, and even the colour of cars (which, if they are dark need much more aircon to keep them cool).

I might take the climate change and treaty makers more seriously if they showed an interest in the here and now of our cities.

I’m as tired of all the “planning” (for what?), “climate change” rules (for what?) and reams of red tape which are pitched at such a high level of generality that they never come to ground as I am exhausted by the debate about what is causing climate change.

These red-tape-makers and these debaters never deal with this week’s patch of black tar being laid in my local streets, or last week’s fashionable dark roofs pitched over the poor sods’ houses out in western Sydney where the temperature is being pumped up by treeless black roads, or next week’s climate change conference held in hotels and offices with dark coloured roofs which require more air con to cool them down.

As a kid on my Bathurst Burr’s farm I’d bring in the sheep for shearing or other things, riding my horse this way and that to head off one of them when they looked like they might run this way or that.  Generally, however, they moved as one, apparently believing in safety in numbers, and doing what every other sheep did.

I know what sheep look like, how they move.  The climate change debate reminds me of those days and those sheep.

Gee it would be good to see a few break aways from the mob of sheep in this tedious climate change debate.  For now I’ll just clap Mr Chu, the breakaway for Obama, and hope the rest of the flock can find the wherewithal to follow his lead.

michael@sustainablehouse.com.au

The Bathurst Burr – A burr under the saddle of government, red tape and sustainability police

NOTE:  Xanthium spinosum Linnaeus, originated in South America (probably Argentina), and has been declared a noxious weed in all States. Infestations occur  frequently along water courses. It is rarely grazed by livestock because of the long spines. The burrs are one of the most common contaminants of wool. The burrs attach to the coats of animals and to other fibrous material by their hooked spines. – from the Victorian Department of Primary Industries, Information Notes