A discussion with a protestor at St Leonard’s Station

Here’s what happened to me early April at St Leonard’s Station, (which is just north of Sydney for non Aussies).  I had an encounter with a young man returning from the carbon protest.

I’m a kiwi, and I was visiting Australia for a few days to attend a training course at Macquarie.  The course was due to start on Monday 4th April.  I had come over on Saturday 2nd April.  I was sitting in the Oporto restaurant at St Leonard’s eating my burger and I watched him walk past.  He was carrying a placard.  He wasn’t demonstrating – just walking by.  I saw the black bold words “STOP CARBON POLLUTION”.  I thought to myself; I’d like to have a chat with him.

I let him walk by, and casually finished my burger.

As I left the station via the exit by Coles Supermarket he was leaning on the wall opposite, waiting for his friend to do some shopping.  So I said “Hi”, and asked him what demonstration he had been to.  He said he’d been to the one to stop carbon pollution, the one in favour of the carbon tax.

So I asked, “What’s the problem with carbon then?”.  His answer, “It causes global warming.”

So I said, “Really, how much carbon is in the air, but of course it’s not carbon, it’s really just carbon dioxide you really mean eh.”  He said, “About 1% I think.”  I said, “No, much less than that.  It’s about 1/25th of that, presently around 390 ppm, or 4% of 1%.”

And then I asked, “So is CO2 the only, or main greenhouse gas?”.   “No” he said, “water vapour is also a greenhouse gas.”

So I asked, “How much of the greenhouse effect is attributed to water vapour and how much to CO2?”  He said, “About half each.”  “No”, I said, “About 90 to 95% is due to water vapour.  The last 5 to 10% is due to other GHGs.  But CO2 is the main one making up that last 5 to 10%.”

We talked about CO2 being essential for photosynthesis.  He thought plants had plenty enough CO2 and would manage fine with less.  I said plants would do better with more than the measly 0.04%.

At this point he accused me of being a ‘denier’.  To be expected I guess, given what was happening.

I admitted that I was sceptical, but I hadn’t denied anything yet in the conversation.  So we continued.

I asked, “If Aussie did introduce a carbon tax, how much do you think it might cost the economy?”  He had no idea.

I asked, “And if you did actually manage to reduce CO2 production how much do you think global temperatures might drop?”  He said, “I don’t know.”

So I had to tell him those answers too, “Well, it’ll cost you billions, and the temperature change would be measured in hundredths of a degree.”

Ignorant and brainwashed!

This entry was posted in Climate Science, Economics, Environment. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A discussion with a protestor at St Leonard’s Station

  1. Samborambo says:

    I think you’ve fudged the numbers a bit here. It’s not 95/5 or even 90/10. Water vapour vs GHGs more like 60/30 with ozone making up the balance. See the AMS Bulletin 78 page 203:

    Currently 30% of greenhouse warming resulting from GHGs. GHGs have increased around 50% since pre-industrial levels.

    “It’ll cost you (Australia?) billions”. Can you quantify this, taking into account industry creation and energy security? The “losers” from a sustainable energy economy, in the short term anyway, are those that have a substantial investment in unsustainable energy. That’s industrial processes that have evolved around oil products, oil companies invested in large production schemes, food production involving large proportions of oil products.

    I can’t stress that last point enough (digressing here). We are feeding the world’s 7 billion on borrowed food (produced by means of oil products such as fertilisers and chemical processing). What happens when the world hits 9 billion while oil peaks 10 years earlier and everyone wants to eat like a westerner? Its not going to happen.

    Unfortunately the losers are also everyone who owns a fossil fueled vehicle which is, basically, everyone. That’s the only reason I can see why unbiased members of the public (such as yourself) would oppose preserving our only habitable environment.

    Anthropogenic carbon emissions mostly come from fossil fuels. For the sake of preserving our energy security, stopping localised environmental damage from oil and gas production and ensuring we can keep feeding everyone in the near term, even if the mainstream opnion on climate change was misguided (and I don’t believe it is), supporting climate change for the alternative motives still has to be a good thing.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *