By Tracey Carpenter
“The massive expansion of coal mining and export planned in Australia, and praised by Labor and Liberal politicians, is enough to take the planet beyond the point of no return on global warming if it were to go ahead.”
That is the message that Bill McKibben, award-winning author, co-founder of 350.org, delivers in his current Do the Math campaign tour across Australia. His film “Do the Math” will be screened in Bathurst at Rahamim next Friday June 14 at 6pm.
“Climate change is basically a big maths problem, involving the quantity of carbon we wish to burn and the capacity of the atmosphere to contain it,” Mr McKibben says. “The question is how much more can we burn before we’re in trouble?”
McKibben was driven to organize the Do The Math tour after watching the string of extreme weather events that ravaged much of the US this year, from the devastating wildfires in Colorado, to record drought across much of the country, to the seemingly endless heat-wave that broke over 17,000 temperature records.
While the abnormal weather helped drive America’s concern over climate change to its highest level since 2008 — 70 percent of Americans now say they believe global warming is a reality — the message didn’t seem to break through to politicians. The words climate change weren’t mentioned during the presidential debates for the first time since 1988.
Even the most conservative governments in the world have agreed that global warming should be limited to no more than 2°C. Scientists say to meet that target we can only emit an additional 565 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But the fossil fuel industry has 2795 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide in their reserves, nearly five times too much — and everyday they spend millions of dollars looking for more.
McKibben points his finger at the fossil fuel industry as the key culprit. “Unless we can weaken the power of this industry, we’ll never see the sort of climate progress we need.” The Do the Math campaign calls on individuals to review their investments, their superfunds and savings and push for a divestment from fossil fuels industries and to invest instead in renewable energy, and ethically and environmentally responsible enterprises.
“What this math shows is that the fossil fuel industry is a rogue industry,” says McKibben. “You can have a healthy fossil-fuel balance sheet, or a relatively healthy planet – but now that we know the numbers, it looks like you can’t have both.”
Do the Math screens in Bathurst– at Rahamim, 34 Busby St, on Friday 14th June 5.30pm (entrance by donation). A discussion on sustainable investment options will follow the screening.
Tracey Carpenter is President of Bathurst Community Climate Action Network