Monday, July 27, 2009

Climate Change Institute Open Day

Today, I attended the ANU's Climate Change Institute Open Day. There was a mix of natural and social science presentations ending with a 1 1/2 hour panel discussion featuring Tony McMichael, Warwick McKibbin, Kylie Catchpole, Andrew McIntosh, Brendan Mackey, and Ian Fry. I've found that seminars related to climate change often attract questions from climate change activists or deniers which aren't at all interesting, but I was very impressed today by the quality of both the questions and the responses of the presenters to them. I asked Andrew Blakers about what he thinks about thin-film photovoltaics (PVs). I often hear about how advances in this area are bringing down the cost of PVs but on the other hand the fact that some of these technologies use relatively rare and sometimes toxic elements is a potential issue. He deemed them a "sideshow". Which is more or less the response that a consultant friend in Hong Kong gave me when I asked him the same question last October.

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