Jul 24, 2012 - 1:00am
Warren Robertson* has often found himself the outsider looking in, observing society. Driving overnight trains in regional Sydney his clock went counter to others’ – when they went to work, he went to bed. Now he is watching the climate debate and once again feeling like the odd one out.
At the pub or at retired rail workers gatherings when climate changes comes up many of his friends say “’oh that garbage, ‘and they don’t want to talk about it,” he says. “I think they tend to be skeptics. People get some pretty strong views.”
Most people engaged in the Climate of Nation research felt climate change is real. But most did not understand or support the carbon legislation. Warren does wholeheartedly.
“Everything has a price to it and polluting the planet hasn’t had a monetary value until now,” he says.
“We are only a small country. Some might say it’s insignificant what we do, that it won’t matter. That may be so, but we have a responsibility to do something.”
Warren’s awareness of climate change crystalized in recent years.
“Riding the trains, as you’d come from the Blue Mountains into the Sydney Basin, you’d see all that haze. Especially in the mornings, you’d see all that haze and thinking ‘geez we live down there.’”
Pollution over Sydney eased up as vehicle standards improved, but Warren remained concerned. “You can’t see carbon but you can see the others, so we do something about them.”
Another reminder was during the railway construction around Green Square.
“They had to go through soft silt – because there is an ancient sea bed under Botany. That’s only 1 meter above sea level. Most of Mascot is not much more than that. My mother lives in Mascot," he says. “I know something like significant sea level rise is not something that’s going to happen overnight, but we should be thinking about it.”
In retirement Warren has also done some travelling - California, where he was impressed by endless wind farms and Belfast – which has made him think.
“They are taking climate change pretty seriously in some parts of the world, much more so than we seem to be here,” he says. “We were in Belfast last year, at a ship yard, the one that built the Titanic, I can’t remember the name of it now, and they had the most enormous propeller blade I have ever seen in my life. It was for a wind farm. And I’m thinking this country over here should be building wind turbines, we’re really losing the plot.”
“There are no visible signs around us that we are addressing any serious carbon issues,” he says.
“I’d like to see fairly major [wind and solar] projects … so that we can move away from coal as our major power generation source. There have to be incentives for industry to produce things in a more environmentally friendly way; we need to be cleverer about the way we do things.”