Commonwealth’s Climate One: Paul Gilding and Richard Heinberg

Commonwealth’s Climate One: Paul Gilding and Richard Heinberg

By Alison van Diggelen, host of Fresh Dialogues

Climate One‘s Greg Dalton brought together a pair of climate experts yesterday at the Commonwealth Club to discuss the “Great Disruption” – Is it the end of the world as we know it? What will happen to the global economy when the world stops denying the realities of climate change?

Australian environmental business expert Paul Gilding, and Senior Fellow at the Post Carbon InstituteRichard Heinberg shared their wisdom in a lively dialogue with Dalton. Gilding’s latest book is The Great Disruption and describes how to fight-and win-what he calls The One Degree War to prevent catastrophic warming of the earth. It has even received a favorable review by Tom Friedman in his New York Times column. Heinberg’s tenth book is The End of Growth and describes exactly why this decade will be worse  than the Great Depression; he predicts future global growth will be a zero sum game thanks to resource, climate and financial limits. Despite the rather apocalyptic theme of both authors, the near capacity audience was treated to some upbeat comments from Gilding coupled with some more cautionary responses from Heinberg. Here are some of the highlights:

On Change

“People’s ability to change is quite impressive – witness World War 2- we can end the denial and decide on a different future…the debate is how to act not whether to act.” Paul Gilding.

“During WW2, the enemy was visible. The U.S. has a larger capacity for denial. We will have to hit a wall before seeing change…it”s like a slow motion crash.” Richard Heinberg.

On Carbon Tax

“In Australia, a carbon tax is going through Parliament. The price is low…but every balance sheet will soon show the cost of carbon. (In OZ) The debate is over.” Paul Gilding.

On the Trigger

“The price of energy, food and transport will be the trigger point. Government must put in place the framework for change.” Paul Gilding.

On Clean Tech

“Exciting things are happening in renewables. Solar will be cheaper than coal within a decade. Then the game changes dramatically.” Paul Gilding

What a stimulating way to spend your lunch hour. Thanks to Greg Dalton for orchestrating a memorable – if sobering – event.


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