Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hall Rotary

I spoke last night at the Rotary Club of Hall, one of Canberra's outer suburbs. Had a lovely evening once again, as we always do when visiting new clubs. Though I have to say that this one was distinctive in that my speech was met with varying responses. Usually people are right on board with my arguments but last night I got some interesting and direct comments expressing doubt about the reality of climate change. Climate change isn't even the topic of my speech - I discuss my background and research on educating for sustainability. But, certainly as the current hot topic, climate change is relevant. Perhaps I'm a bit sheltered these days but being in a scientific academic department most of the time, I forget that people even question this issue. Someone suggested that we must be cautious about our approach in case we are wrong about climate change and someone else suggested that the planet is always changing and why is this particular event of any more significance than any other change? I won't go into the extensive reasons here why I think these arguments are faulty (maybe I'll tackle that some other day or you could see An Inconvenient Truth which I think dispels the doubts of even the harshest critics). I will point out the fact that the human induced changes we are seeing today are on a scale completely beyond any other changes in history. We can gauge climate history pretty well from ice cores and tree rings and we are doing some serious damage to the atmosphere. Caution, I would argue, is necessary in order to prevent serious disruptions to ocean temperatures, agriculture, disease vectors, and weather patterns. Speaking of disruptions to weather patterns, see next post, Massive Summer Storm for one of the most surreal weather events I have ever experienced.
I was however, pleased that people freely shared their thoughts with me and had some interesting conversations afterwards as a result. In fact, one of the guys who was questioning the impacts of climate change is actually involved in developing a solar powered housing community because he sees it as a good business opportunity.

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