Below is an 11 minute interview with Dr. David Maenz about his new book The Price of Carbon. Unlike all climate change books we have reviewed in the past, The Price Of Carbon is the first one to pull together the serious science of Global Warming from Earths formation until today, explain the three likely outcomes of Global Warming, and then detail the PRACTICAL solutions to the issue.
This book is definitely not a casual read but for the educated person that is still open to thinking about this critical issue, it will be an eye opener:
[00:00:00] Climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity today. It will change what our future on this planet will look like whether we act or not but how we move forward to avoid the how do we move forward to avoid the most serious impacts? Dr. David Maenz of Saskatoon has wondered the same thing and has recently written a book called The Price of Carbon. He joins me on the phone from Saskatoon. Welcome to The Prairie Naturalist David.
[00:00:28] Well thank you Jared. Thanks for having me on.
[00:00:30] David can you start by describing why you wanted to write this book?
[00:00:35] OK I was in a position that two and a half years ago where I had time on my hands and I had read widely in the area of climate change and to be quite frank had some frustrations with what was out there especially books that were targeted for more general public. The science I mean it’s solid and it’s well understood economic policy to drive down emissions. Again these are areas that are very well established yet if you go to what the public knows and what has been published previously I’d say the disconnect between how solid the science was and how solid the economic pathways was and the understanding the general public and at times political leadership to act to actually put in place policies that were effective in driving down emissions.
[00:01:35] So who’s your boss kind of aimed at?
[00:01:38] General audience. Again that’s what I wanted to do was to put something out there that distilled the vast body of hard science into a package that was accessible to a general reader without dumbing it down. There are a few books out there that I would call sort of climate change for dummies that don’t really accomplish that much. And you know I wanted to treat your audience with respect and give them a good solid package that objectively and apolitically covered the subject and that’s a challenge.
[00:02:17] Yeah for sure.
[00:02:18] I know with the climate presentations that I do you get a lot of feedback or a lot of kickback on the line and this is just a hoax and this is just something made up and it’s fake by the lefties and all this kind of stuff. And how how how do you respond to that kind of criticism?
[00:02:39] OK I think the way to respond to that is you know most people have a lot of respect for the scientific profession in general and they have respect for their medical professions when they go for a test for instance blood tests they assume that professionals are running the tests very well and they assume that the results are correct and this is the same type of reverence I would say for science that has that should be just naturally in place. If you look at the body of evidence that’s been put together by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change there’s 10,000 authors to these reports that come out every five years and the world expert from right around the globe has studied the issue inside out have reached a consensus of opinion that the activities of man have led to an elevation in the concentrations of critical greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the thermal absorptive capacity of these gases is well understood and you can draw a very simple cartoon figure of that explains the greenhouse gas phenomena a very well and it’s accurate. So I would just tell people that the science is settled. It’s very well advanced and you know the consequences of inaction are accurately modeled for the future.
[00:04:15] So one of the solutions that you propose in the book is you see coming from the forestry sector can you tell me a little bit about that?
[00:04:23] Oh yeah okay. The way that carbon cycles naturally it is not a static thing so you’ll have carbon dioxide in the atmosphere it’s taken up by biomass and it’s also taken up by dissolving in ocean waters and then the carbon will be released from biomass and from the oceans it give you kind of a steady state effect and what’s happened over the last oh about 80 years or so we’ve reached an imbalance in natural imbalance with Forestry’s where the rate of deforestation and forest degradation has exceeded new plant growth soil forests have actually been a source of emissions globally and it currently accounts for about 8 to 9 percent of global CO2 emissions. What has to happen is that that forested area has to be reforested or that new land turned into forests by planting new forest or aforestation. This will increase the biomass of vegetation on the planet such that the forest actually start to withdraw carbon. And this is vital to all of the models that end up limiting future service surface warming as specified in the Paris agreement. So the natural world if you will have to recover to the point where the biomass of forest starts to act as a carbon sink and draw down atmospheric CO2.
[00:06:05] Makes sense. You also write about the importance of energy efficiencies. How does that play into reducing our emissions?
[00:06:13] This is vital and it’s the it’s the low hanging fruit if you will. Energy efficiencies. There is tremendous opportunities right across economic sectors to simply use less energy and accomplish the same thing. An obvious one that happened and is happening as we speak is this the changeover of lighting to LED systems and the LED systems use a sevenfold less electrical energy than conventional incandescent light bulb as an example. So that that transition. It’s extremely low cost and out of that that can happen right away. And if you look at use of electronics as an example there’s tremendous opportunity for energy efficiencies there. Within any industries again the tremendous opportunities for energy efficiencies. What happens then is less electrical energy or other types of energy are used and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with that production of that energy goes down. So energy efficiencies. That’s the the first and the least cost opportunity for abating future emissions.
[00:07:37] You look at LED I was just that PeavyMart the other day and LED light bulbs were for two dollars. I mean it doesn’t get a lot cheaper than that to really save that energy.
[00:07:48] Yeah that’s and that’s just one example reconfiguration of building control systems is another example that gives you an extremely fast payback on your investment and there’s been studies that indicate within a year if you have an older building that does have control systems in it for lighting and for heating and air conditioning updating those control systems will give you a tremendous boost in terms of energy efficiency used by that building with a very rapid payback. But what’s happening in Europe just as an example here they’ve had carbon pricing mechanisms in place starting in 2005. And real emissions have gone down dramatically in Europe in France between 1990 and 2014. Emissions have gone down by 29 percent and it is a good news story that’s often just that people aren’t aware of it. And what’s happened there is that the cap and trade system that’s been in place for some time what it does is it then provides an economic incentive for people and industries, large buildings etc etc. to do things such as adapt higher efficiency systems that make those investments with a very rapid payback and it works.
[00:09:17] David we only got about a minute and a half left here and I’ve got I’ve got a big question for you so I don’t know if it’s fair to say to ask you this the the the I’ve read you told me about the IPPC IPCC recommends a 40 percent cut in emissions from advanced economies by 2030 ramping up to 85 percent by the mid century to really avoid huge warming issues. Can we accomplish this and how does Saskatchewan fit in?
[00:09:42] Boy very very quickly we are not on that trend yet right now. If you look at global policies were actually going to see a slight increase in emissions based on global policies right now. So right across the globe the ambition to combat climate change has got to increase and Saskatchewan has got to be part of that solution. We have within this province some of the highest per capita intensity of emissions on Earth. Sixty seven tonnes of CO2 are admitted per person here and a lot of that has to do with the oil and gas sector. There are opportunities to reduce emissions from that sector and there’s also opportunities to implement cost effective carbon pricing in Saskatchewan that will allow us to start to meet our regional obligations to the Paris agreement.
[00:10:35] That was that was very succinct thank you for that David. So you’ve got your book launch here in Regina happening on Wednesday February 28 at 7:30 at Bushwhackers in Regina and then you’re going to get McNally Robinson’s in Saskatoon on Wednesday March 7th at 7pm correct?
[00:10:52] That’s correct.
[00:10:53] Perfect so people can come out and learn more about your book and pick it up and any.
[00:10:59] Yeah and hopefully we’ll have a lively question and answer session at the end of the presentation.
[00:11:04] Perfect. I look forward to being there.