Curious Climate schools
Curious Climate schools

Alexander Burton

School of Geography, Planning, and Spatial Sciences, University of Tasmania
Research Areas
Sustainability, crisis, collapse and utopia
Why I do what I do
I grew up feeling anxious about the climate crisis. I wondered why nobody was doing anything about it. Then I realised that I am somebody. I believe we need to understand the stories being told about the climate. The way we talk about a problem helps decide how we solve it. I like stories, so this is how I can help.
Something interesting about me
Only called ‘Alexander’ by substitute teachers and the Government. Goes by Alex.

Questions answered by this expert

What if animals can talk, what would they say about climate change?

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Can we make our world better than it was before? Or is it just going to stay the same and not get worse if we stop using fossil fuels?

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When might climate change slow down?

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Why don't people keep living the way they did before climate change?

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How does climate change affect culture and the way society functions?

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Would our world be the same now if the industrial revolution hadn’t happened?

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Our world would be very different without the Industrial Revolution. It has been so impactful that historians refer to the time before it as the Early Modern Era and the time since the 18th Century as the Modern Era. Make no mistake, these eras are very different. Before the Industrial Revolution most people lived in the countryside. Because of the Industrial Revolution jobs, resources, money, and people became centralised in cities, which had been much smaller beforehand. Much of what we take for granted is partly because of the Industrial Revolution. Modern governments, police forces, property and renting, education systems, jobs types and more would look very different if it had not happened. In other words, our social systems have been strongly influenced by the fossil fuel economies built because of the Industrial Revolution.

Pre-industrial society: The harvesters, Pieter Breugel the elder, 1565.

This is also the case for modern technology and life in general. Cars, planes, modern medicine, electricity, indoor plumbing, shopping malls and supermarkets, we take all these things for granted. This is what makes action on climate change so difficult. The Industrial Revolution has created our modern lives as well as climate change. We can acknowledge how the Industrial Revolution has made our lives better. But we should also acknowledge how it has caused air and water pollution, more diseases, C02 and other greenhouse gas emissions, bad working conditions for many, and more advanced weapons and dangerous conflicts. It also has not unfolded equally or fairly for everyone. 

But we do not need to choose between a carbon-heavy industrialised and non-industrialised life. We can change our societies and economies, just like they were changed to make the Industrial Revolution, and we can focus on what we want to do differently. By decarbonising our economies we will no longer rely on fuel and energy that cause climate change. Pollution that runs into the soil and water can be filtered. The amount of damage we do to the environment can be drastically reduced, and if we change not just our economies but also our societies, we can even work to regenerating the environment as well. It will just take us a lot of work - a real transformation of our current society - to get there.  

climateFuturesUnviersity of TasmaniaTas Gov Sponosored
We acknowledge the Palawa/Pakana people, the Traditional Custodians of lutrawita/Tasmania. We recognise and respect their collective wisdom and knowledge about country and change.
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