The semantics of climate change and the question of ecological stewardship

Rolls Royce

This week the Climate Commission released a report written by the CSIRO and Australian Bureau of Meteorology entitled “The science behind southeast Australia’s wet, cool summer“.

The report concluded that:

  1. The Earth’s surface is warming rapidly and the climate is changing.
  2. The quintessential Australian cycle of intense droughts and flooding rains will continue into the future.
  3. Despite the wet periods  over the last 40 years much of eastern and southern Australia has become drier.
  4. Climate change cannot be ruled out as a factor in recent heavy rainfall events.
  5. Recent rains have not been able to make up for the decade of dry conditions.
  6. The wetter conditions experienced in southeastern Australia in the last two years are consistent with scientists’ knowledge and understanding of how the climate is changing in the long term.

There was much debate around the report with the PM “pouncing” on it and of course all other politicians utilising the information to their political advantage.

I thought about this as I flew home from Melbourne this week and stared out the window over the Victorian countryside, contrasted against the high-tech precision of the Boeing aircraft engine.

Personally I absolutely believe in climate change, and that human activity has made a significant contribution towards it.  I cannot debate the science as I am not a “scientist”.  Nor can I counter the climate sceptics with anything other than my own intuition and gut feel.  What I feel and intuit is informed by what I see around me everyday – all the hard paved surfaces, reflective glass buildings, and waste in terms of our consumption society and our “throw-away” mentality.

For me the question is not about climate change, that is the outcome, it is not the driver.  It is the “lag” indicator of behaviours.

The question we should be asking is about the causes and what are the “lead” indicators, and, for me, that is about environmental stewardship, and our responsibility as the self-proclaimed “most intelligent” species on the planet towards others who share this small green globe with us.

If we are so terribly smart should we not be exercising a high level of responsibility towards those other myriad of species that our behaviour impacts upon?  Should we perhaps be more mindful and conscious of how our activities influence the ecosystem?  And, and, if we are interested in the sustainability of our own species (let alone theirs), should we not be modifying and moderating our behaviours in order to maximise that sustainability on all fronts?  That, for me, would be “smart”.

Therefore the question should not be about “climate change” or “global warming” at all … it should be very simple “are we exercising responsible stewardship for the good of the planet and for ourselves and our children?”  To this my answer would be a resounding “no”.

Once that question is posed I have rarely found anyone who disagrees, climate sceptic or otherwise.