Change and Climate Change

"Ice masses are melting rapidly away. If the rate of thawing continues, civilisation near the sea may be submerged and profound changes be wrought in climate, soil, sea and the race itself.”

This was reported by Brisbane's The Courier Mail in 1947. But you could easily think it was quite recent. You can access the article by clicking here:

Whole Earth Seems to be Warming Up

Who knew what and when (in brief)?

Svante Arrhenius was a Swedish scientist who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry. While Alfred (Nobel) was still accumulating the prize dollars by blowing things up, Svante was doing calculations on atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. In 1896 hepublished a paper predicting the increases in CO2 levels in the atmosphere would substantially alter the surface temperature.

In Australia, the Braidwood Dispatch and Mining Journal on 17 July, 1912, wrote:  

"The furnaces of the world are now burning about 2,000,000,000 tons of coal a year. When this is burned, uniting with oxygen, it adds about 7,000,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere yearly. This tends to make the air a more effective blanket for the earth and to raise its temperature.The effect may be considerable in a few centuries.”

“Coal Consumption Affecting Climate”   

The first irrefutable confirmation of Svante's work came in the late 1950s and early 60s. Charles Keeling developed an instrument to reliably measure carbon dioxide and took it to the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. By 1961 Charles had developed the Keeling Curve, President Johnson's Science Advisory Committee warned how serious this was going to be in 1965 (with solutions to the problem).

So everyone jumped into action? Not quite.  

However by the late 80s, Australia’s CSIRO had held a number of conferences and community forums, and a Commission for the Future had been established. The Australian public were noted as the best informed on the planet at the UN Global 500 environment awards.

So everyone jumped into action? Not quite.  

The Hawke Labor government boldly set a CO2 reduction target of 20% by 2005.


Well,not quite.  

Everett Rogers warned us in 'Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices': "A preventive innovation has a particularly slow rate of adoption because individuals have difficulties in perceiving its relative advantage. The sought after consequence is distant in time…"

This was very prescient. The 20% target disappeared when Paul Keating was Prime Minister. John Howard stepped forward and proposed an emissions trading scheme for the 2007 election, but it was Kevin Rudd, a climate believer, that got everyone ready for action.

Change?Not quite

Barry Jones has a comprehensive understanding of the change process:

“TheRudd–Gillard–Rudd government comprehensively lost it by getting the politicswrong: failing to understand the fatal conjunction of inertia, self-interest,corporate power and media saturation.”

BarryJones (Commonwealth Science Minister 1983–1990).

For an outline of the change attempt in Australia, “The Conversation” provides a great outline:

The Conversation on Climate Change in Australia


The NSW Climate Change Fund is working against this.  Solar and battery powered air conditioners in public school classrooms is just one of the great projects. Let's hope it continues to flourish.    


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