IITaV Dinner, August 2012

“Climate Change – Real or Not” was the topic of discussion at the Indian Institutes of Alumni Victoria, Australia’s (IITaV) successful dinner held jointly with Engineers Australia on Saturday,

18 August in Melbourne. The meeting was presided over by Dr S Behera, Consul General for India in Victoria. In his speech Dr Behera mentioned that India has one of the world’s lowest emission rates of Greenhouse Gases per capita. He elaborated on the Indian government’s position on Climate Change and the steps taken by the Government of India to address the challenge of Climate Change.

 

Professor David Hood, Engineers Australia’s National President, spoke passionately about the seriousness of unchecked carbon dioxide emissions, and the impact that increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere are having on the planet’s climate.   He said that the science of radiative forcing, how increasing concentrations of greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere force heat radiation back to earth, was well understood and accepted by every national academy of science.  As a result of these emissions, the average temperature of the earth’s atmosphere and oceans has already risen close to 1 degree Celsius since the beginning of the industrial revolution.   The increasing energy being trapped in the earth’s systems manifests itself as increasing atmospheric and oceanic activity and interaction – our weather.    While the extent and severity of global warming on single weather events was still uncertain, it is highly likely that we will see increasing frequency and intensity of severe weather events along with increasing length and severity of dry spells, loss of ice mass in the Arctic and Antarctic, melting of glaciers, and consequent sea level rise which he said could be as high as 2 metres along the east coast of Australia by the end of this century.

 

Professor Hood said that the impacts of human activity, including climate change, the loss of ecosystem services, and the current mass extinction of the earth’s species that is now well documented, are all compounding to such an extent that a disruption to our economic system now seems inevitable.   He pointed to the work of the Club of Rome, a group of scientists, anthropologists, economists, and business experts who in 1972 published a report, “Limits to Growth”, pointing out that continued economic growth on a finite planet was simply impossible. Subsequent research over the past decade has shown that the Club of Rome was right.   The natural systems of our planet are now unable to repair or restore the damage that our economic growth is causing.   To avert this impending disruption a major change in our lifestyles and our economic construct will be necessary.  “We have a choice”, he said.     “We must either marshal the political will to substantially mitigate the damage we are causing, or face the disruption and somehow survive it.”   Hood believes that we can change the way we make development decisions to ensure that natural and social capital is rebuilt, rather than being destroyed with every new development that is approved.   He pointed out that even six star Green Star rated buildings were still impacting negatively on the planet, just a little less so than before.  But, he doubts that our political leaders have the will to make the necessary changes.

 

Professor Hood said that while there are many examples of good moves in the right restorative direction, particularly in countries like India and China, he believes these are simply a case of too little too late.

He is optimistic however that the “great disruption” will bring out the amazing ability of human beings to rebuild and reinvent the way we manage our living systems – a new economy will emerge based on values unlike those of today where material possessions, and a higher speed of material flow from mines to landfill seems to indicate national wellness.

 

Professor Arun Kumar, President of IITaV, welcomed the guests and explained the mission of IITaV. Indian Institutes of Technology are the premier institutes of engineering education in India. The Association’s aims are to promote professional networking with business, academia and government; strengthen business, academic and government relationships between Australia and India; establish and enhance the IIT brand in Australia; promote and assist the professional development and welfare of members and facilitate social interactions between members.

 

The dinner which attracted high profile interest featured brief talks by Stephen Durkin, the Chief Executive Officer of Engineers Australia and Ms Rohini Kappadath of Pitcher Partners, sponsor of the event.  Strong support from RMIT University, Swinburne University of Technology who exhibited their innovative electric car, the members of IITaV and guests made it a memorable evening. Indian Voice newspaper was represented by the editor Raj Dudeja.

 

 

 

Dr Raj Rajakumar, Vice President of IITaV, was MC for the evening. Thank you to Ravi Singh, Events Coordinator of IITaV and his team, Abaran Deep, Secretary of IITaV and Committee members for the hard work which made this special event successful.

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