Fairfax Tech Column

Fairfax Tech Column

26.10.2018 Fairfax Tech Column 118


I have to get something off my chest. I believe in Anthropogenic Climate Change (ACC). Actually, that isn’t strictly correct. It is not so much that I believe in Climate Change any more than I believe in the fact our planet revolves around the sun. That may seem like a silly example – we all ‘know’ the planets in our Solar System revolve around the sun and we were taught that from the day we were born – but it was only several hundred years ago when Heliocentrism was the accepted model. Heliocentrism had planet earth as stationary and all other objects in the sky revolving around us. In 1532, Nicholas Copernicus had basically completed his manuscript describing the sun as the centre of our solar system but he resisted publishing it – as he confessed – so as not to risk the scorn "to which he would expose himself on account of the novelty and incomprehensibility of his theses." His manuscript was not completed and published until 1543, around the same time as his death.

Back to Climate Change caused by humans. In much the same way as Copernicus based his theses on data and facts and observations and came to the only conclusion that made sense, scientists today are observing and measuring and hypothesising with the only conclusion that makes sense. Humans are the difference. So when I say I believe in ACC, what I am really saying is that the facts and data lead to only one conclusion that is rational. We are responsible.

Luckily there are enough people in the world who accept the scientific facts that action is being taken – both on a large scale and by individuals.

I drive a purely electric car. Since 2005 I have driven a variety of electric or electric hybrid vehicles. The single greatest negative I hear against electric vehicles is range anxiety. Despite the variety of ways that this can be addressed from a factual point of view, people are still anxious – which is a feeling and therefore not easily addressed with data.

One of the largest stumbling blocks to owning an electric car in Australia is about to be removed after Chargefox announced it will build the first nationwide charging network after raising $15 million. As many would know, Tesla has an advanced network of Superchargers in Australia but they are limited to Tesla owners only. More electric cars are coming to Australia’s shores but the Tesla network will not be of any help to them. The Chargefox network will be open to all electric vehicles and deliver an additional electric range of 400 kilometres in just 15 minutes. Not quite as quick as filling up with petrol I hear you say? Correct – but having a 15-minute break every several hundred kilometres almost sounds like a good safety feature.

Analysis has found that Australia is the worst equipped developed country for electric vehicle owners. We have population density as a negative in this area but even breaking it down to the ratio of cars per charging point still had us at the bottom of the pile. Reports also found that, at 14.3 petrol stations per electric charging station, we have another ratio that puts us near the bottom. Australians are known around the world as being early adopters but in the case with electric cars, we are one of the slowest. This is probably a combination of our large distances with little population and lack of government subsidies.

With the Chargefox announcement though we may see that uptake increase. The number one decision not to go electric is the lack of public charging stations. Number two was the availability of electric vehicles. This is contrasted with a recent survey that said that more than half of the car owners surveyed would seriously consider an electric vehicle as their next purchase.

I look forward to the day when the ratio of charging stations to petrol stations is reversed and we view internal combustion engines in the same way we currently view vinyl records – no more than a cute quirk of the past.

Mathew Dickerson