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Lindau09: The making of a climate movie

It’s Wednesday in Lindau and I’ve spent a chunk of the past 24 hours recording sections of the film about climate change that we’re making here.

Yesterday afternoon, I had the pleasure of talking with Mario Molina and Sherry Rowland about their work on ozone and their views on science informing policy. We were joined by three young, enthusiastic scientists who are working on various aspects of climate research – solar technology, biofuels and ocean health – and are here at Lindau to interact with the laureates.

Molina and Rowland have a lot to say on the issues of ozone and policy, of course. When they called for a worldwide ban on CFCs, following their discovery that CFCs were destroying the ozone layer, they were, in many respects, pioneers. But though their efforts ultimately led to the phasing out of CFCs, their results – and outspoken views – were initially greeted with caution from the scientific community. I asked them what the young scientists working on climate change can learn from their experience.

Rowland was adamant that young scientists should not be afraid to speak up on the implications of their research. I queried them on how far researchers should go in speaking up. Would they, for example, now call for a worldwide ban on the use of coal, given that coal is such a significant contributor to the problem of climate change? They both responded that a worldwide ban would be appropriate, if carbon capture and storage (CCS) was available. Molina added that we should be cautious of building new power plants that will tie us into using coal for the next 30-50 years, unless we have developed CCS technology.

I met the young researchers – Brandy and Brian from the US, and Faroha from Pakistan – again this morning at 730am to catch up on their experiences at Lindau so far. They all got a lot out the session with Rowland and Molina, who were both thoroughly engaging. Of course, I can tell you all of this on the blog, but it will be much more convincing to see the film once it is on Out of an hour of filming, I’m guessing that five minutes, at most, of yesterday’s session will make it into the final cut.

After hearing talks on sustainability and energy from Harry Kroto and Walter Kohn, this afternoon, I recorded some of the narrative links for the film. The face-to-camera pieces are by far the trickiest!

The next piece will be recorded Friday as we make our way by boat to Mainau island – home of Countess Bettina Bernadotte – where a panel on climate change is being convened. I’ll be back with an update from that on Friday.

Olive Heffernan


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    Hank Roberts said:

    Olive, did you write “was” but mean to write “does not become” or “were not” in the following sentence?

    “They both responded that a worldwide ban would be appropriate, if carbon capture and storage (CCS) was available.”

    Doesn’t make sense as written.

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    Olive Heffernan said:


    Thanks for your comment and apologies that the meaning wasn’t clear. What I mean is that they said that the use of dirty coal should be banned globally, if CCS becomes available. In other words, use of CCS should be mandatory on all exisitng and newly built plants, once the technology is ready to be deployed . I guess the rationale behind that stance is that we’re not currently in a position to stop using coal altogether – and realistically China is unlikely to want to – so calling for a cab fullstop is unrealistic. But what we’re seeing now is the commissioning of new coal plants, such as by the UK government, without a legal requirement in place that those plants must use CCS if it becomes available. So their stance would suggest that needs to be addressed. I hope that’s clearer.

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