Tim Flannery and the nuclear question

22 August 2006

Listen to the podcast

Tim Flannery. Photo by Adam Bruzzone.
Tim Flannery. Photo by Adam Bruzzone.

Eminent scientist and author Tim Flannery urged the Australian government to put climate change on the agenda claiming that Australia was "the worst of the worst" in terms of combating global warming, adding that serious questions needed to be asked about whether nuclear power could be part of the solution.

"We've been the principal players in this world of chaos," he told a sold-out Sydney Ideas audience last night at the Seymour Centre. "We need to get this issue on the table." He said that when the issue was raised with the current Federal Government, "what we get is a hissy fit, an angry denial and that is simply no longer good enough."

Flannery painted a bleak picture of what the global future held: no ice in the Arctic Circle by the summer of 2050, or even as early as 2016; a rise in sea level by half a metre a decade; mass migration from coastal areas; and the extinction of polar bears in southern parts of the Arctic. "We have entered a new climatic regime," he said. "This is the sort of world we're creating for our children."

Flannery outlined the basics of why the world was warming so rapidly, and called for a carbon tax to combat climatic change to "tax the pollutant," he said, and make alternative energy sources more financially attractive.

He also told the Sydney Ideas audience that "no uranium mines" was a "failed policy" as Australia had 40 per cent of the world's known uranium resources and was already exporting 10,000 tonnes of "yellow cake" a year. Flannery told the audience there were "fundamental questions that need to be asked" about nuclear energy and how it could be used in the "least damaging way".

Tim Flannery is the author of The Weather Makers and We arethe Weather Makers (Text Publishing). His Sydney Ideas talk last night was also the Annual RIHSS-Gleebooks Public Lecture.

The next Sydney Ideas lecturer is Paul Ginsborg, professor of Contemporary European History at the University of Florence and author of the controversial Berlusconi: Television, Power and Patrimony and an expert on contemporary Italian culture and politics. He will appear at the Seymour Centre on Wednesday, 30 August, 2006 at 6.30pm as part of the University of Sydney's international public lecture series.

Full series program.

Contact: Katrina O'Brien

Phone: (02) 9036 7842

Email: 3856282e410b5025303a221105025a311f30294a2b371068285a