Chris Firth
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The Background

I developed my interest in the problems with the environment when I was studying for my Science degree at Macquarie University. I enrolled in a one semester subject called 'Planet Earth', which briefly covered everything that was known about the planet, from the composition of the core of the planet to the edges of the atmosphere.

While I had already been observing the rate of destruction of our East Coast hardwood forests, this subject put everything into perspective.

As a result of the interest that 'Planet Earth' had seeded, I ended up majoring in Climatology as well as my Mathematics. It was studying Climatology in 1983 and 1984 that the significance of Global Warming, or the Greenhouse Effect as it was known then, became obvious to me. The modern phrase of Climate Change is even more appropriate. It was explained then that the problem is really that there will be too mcuh energy in the weather. Climate change does not just mean that the weather will become hotter, and for much of Australia that means drier too. It is much more.

Too much energy in the weather means that:

  • the hot weather will be even hotter
  • the cold weather will be even colder
  • winds will be stronger
  • rain will be heavier
  • droughts will be more sustained
  • cyclones will be stronger and range further than they used to
  • wind fires will rage harder with more extreme conditions

The Evidence

It is obvious that something has to give. It took millions of years for all that carbon to be converted into coal.

Our planet started off with no atmosphere at all. The early atmosphere was created from the outgassing of the planet from volcanoes. That atmosphere was modified by life forms. One of those life forms were the forests of the Carboniferous Period of the Paleozoic Era. They took in carbon from the atmoshere, released the oxygen that later life required, and stored that carbon in there decaying skeletons over millions of millions of years.

And we have dug it up and released all that carbon back into the atmosphere in just a few hundred years.

Evidence of this impact is presented by researchers almost every day. And it makes sense that this is the case. Just think about that last paragraph. Of course we have changed the atmosphere.

The Empirical Evidence

Starting from now (late 2008) I will make a list of the events that we could blame on Climate Change. As I will be retelling what I hear in the news, this list will have a bias towards events on the East Coast of Australia.
    Pedestrians walk past a blown down tree in Brisbane's CBD 20 November 2008
  • 2008 Nov - Extreme storms hit Brisbane and SE Qld. These were the most extreme storms for 20 years, but unlike storms of the past, these came wave after wave for three days in a row.

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