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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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The wind, sun can save us

There are basically two approaches to mitigating the climate crisis. There’s the ‘every-little-bit-helps’ approach which many well-meaning and concerned people and communities are committed to. The Masterton District Council has produced a list of 76 ways to tackle the effects of climate change.

The other approach is to focus on those areas where the most significant change can be effected by governments most economically.

The simple and proven reality is that wind and solar power can together make more of a difference than anything else. Belching farm animals, electric cars and tree planting are, by comparison, fiddling while the world burns.

The recent landmark report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] makes very clear the case for solar and wind.

As Damian Carrington wrote in the Guardian on 20 April: “… solar and wind power are by far the best option, with the potential to cut a staggering 8bn tonnes from annual CO2 emissions by 2030. That is the equivalent to the combined emissions of the US and European Union today. Even more startling is that most of that potential can be achieved at lower cost than just continuing with today’s electricity systems.”

It is equally significant that nuclear power and carbon capture and storage [CCS] simply doesn’t compare. Each has just 10 per cent of the potential of wind and solar, at a much greater cost. This, of course, is while European countries are dithering about the use of nuclear power generation. Germany is closing its last three nuclear plants with other countries following suit, while France and a swathe of other nations are investing heavily in nuclear power.

Individuals may have little influence, but there are plenty of examples of people power – but it needs a mass movement, with a simple premise, to force governments to act. Rather than blaming farmers, forest owners, consumers, etc, it makes much more sense to concentrate our efforts on using our bountiful amounts of sunshine and wind as effectively as possible.

In the Wairarapa, we need councils, companies and homeowners to install solar panels on every existing and projected roof, with the necessary incentives to ensure it happens.

This, of course, won’t be enough. We need councils and suitably recompensed landowners to set aside areas for solar farms.

Make them as unobtrusive as possible, but ignore the not-in-my-backyarders. Or, better, tell them to think about their grandchildren.

And we need many more of those majestic wind turbines that our northern neighbours have had stalking their mountains for some years now. Don’t like the look of them? At least it will significantly enhance the chance of a sun continuing to set behind them.

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Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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