12/12/2007 - 22:00

Imberger lets the genie out

12/12/2007 - 22:00

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The head of the University of Western Australia’s Centre for Water Research, Jorg Imberger, is one of the state’s best known scientists, so when he starts talking, smart people stop to listen.

Imberger lets the genie out

The head of the University of Western Australia’s Centre for Water Research, Jorg Imberger, is one of the state’s best known scientists, so when he starts talking, smart people stop to listen.

At the recent WA Business News luncheon forum on the environment, Professor Imberger held his tongue for a considerable time as the various concerns of business were aired around the table.

But when he spoke, he definitely grabbed the room’s attention – though what he had to say was probably not what those in attendance wanted to hear.

Professor Imberger believes it is too late to neutralise climate change by tinkering with industry – with bigger hurricanes and the melting permafrost likely to release far more carbon dioxide into the air than anything man is responsible for.

“The genie is out of the bottle,” he said. “The whole thing is wrecked, basically.

“No matter what we do now we can’t make a difference.”

Sequestration, clean coal and going carbon neutral are irrelevant, Professor Imberger believes, because it is too late.

“Get ready for change,” he said.

“You are going to have 500 million refugees on your doorstep, you are going to have no biodiversity left in the next 50 years.

“That is the feedback that has come in and we have no control over that anymore, no matter what we do.”

Professor Imberger said his view was atypical of that which generally expected man’s hard work and ingenuity would ultimately find a way to solve this global problem.

“Unless you start sequestering the carbon out of the atmosphere and competing with the permafrost melting – that is just physically impossible,” he said.

Rather than being a merchant of doom, however, Professor Imberger said he was a realist who believed business would be better off putting resources into how we would deal with the impact of climate change rather than pretending it could be stopped.

The irony is that, in general, business has only just come on board with the climate change message.

Listen though it may, it could be hard for business to believe it’s all too late.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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