School of Geography, Planning, and Spatial Sciences, University of Tasmania
Significance of emotion when encountering climate change
Why I do what I do
Learning more about how we feel about climate change has the potential to lead to social transformation - and that inspires me.
Something interesting about me
I have a secret choc-chip cookie recipe (shhh!)
Questions answered by this expert
How will climate change affect potential jobs that will be available to us in the future?
Climate change is absolutely will mean that many jobs will be changing into the future. We have already seen big changes in the jobs available due to climate change. Some of these changes offer new opportunities. For example, there are more jobs in renewable energy - the renewable energy sector currently employs about 26,000 people in Australia. Tasmania has jobs in hydro and wind electricity generation, and potentially in a new green hydrogen production industry. The future of jobs in this sector however depends on policy decisions made at the moment.
Some existing jobs have also changed due to climate change. This includes jobs in agriculture, manufacturing, and construction. Many of these jobs will still be a part of our society going forward, but they will probably look different than they have previously. We’ve also seen a shifts in law, with environmental law becoming a specialty area, and changes in social work as greater focus is being placed on disaster response. There are also opportunities for jobs as climate change educators and science communicators. As well as jobs in creating resilient communities, and disaster preparedness.
Climate change will also present some challenges to jobs in the future. Extreme weather events are likely to have impacts on working conditions and safety.
At the moment in particular we want to be encouraging decision makers to be considering the future of climate change as they make policy decisions. You may also like to think about what you’re passionate about, what your talents and skills are and how you could contribute to climate change as you think about what job you’d like to do in the future. What brings you joy and how can you use that to help respond to climate change.
What impact will climate change have on future generations?
This is a really important question – with an “it depends” kind of answer. What we know for sure is that climate change is already, and will continue to, have really big impacts. The sorts of impacts that climate scientists expect that future generations will face include more extreme weather events, sea level rise, biodiversity loss, environmental degradation – all of which have complex and interrelated flow on effects. It is also important to remember climate change is not just a problem that is going to have impacts in the future. It is already having significant impacts to people’s lives right now!
What’s tricky about this question is that the kinds of impacts and extent of those impacts that future generations will experience however, depends on different mitigation scenarios. What that means is that if action is taken now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reach net zero CO2 emissions, then the scenarios for future generations will be less severe and dangerous then if action takes longer or doesn’t happen at all. What is also tricky about this question is that projections of what the future may look like depending on current actions could be much more severe and extreme if we reach ‘tipping points’ (some of the other experts have answered questions about these).
One of the really helpful things about these climate models and scenarios is that they show us really clearly what we need to do now to ensure a safer world for future generations. We can be a part of creating a more just and safe world for future generations by taking action now.
When it comes to future generations, how will they feel about what we have done?
What would happen if climate change didn't exist?
What and interesting question! We asked three scientists what they'd be doing if climate change didn't exist.
How will our generation live a full life as it is supposed to get unbearably hot by something like 2033?
How hot it will get by 2033 depends on mitigation actions taken today. If greenhouse gas emissions are reduced quickly and net-zero CO2 emissions achieved, there will not be as much warming as there will be if these actions are not taken.
In Tasmania it is predicted to average between 1.05 and 1.27 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial levels in the year 2033. Now this isn’t as high as the predictions for global temperature increase, but that’s because there are significant local variations in temperature increases. Tasmania is an island – so the ocean helps keep us a bit cooler than other places.
There will be more days that are unbearably hot – because the increasing average temperature means that extreme temperatures will increase too, creating more hot and extremely hot weather.
While by 2033 it will not be unbearably hot in Tasmania very often, there will still places in the world where this temperature change has a really big impact. Climate scientists predict that extreme weather are heatwaves are going to increase and get more extreme. Urban air temperature is also often higher than in rural environments, due to heat generated by traffic and industrial activity, as well as the spread of heat-trapping concrete buildings that have steadily replaced plant life. Heat waves impact vulnerable people the greatest – children, the elderly, those with existing health conditions, people who are experiencing homelessness and people in financial difficulties. It is important that we are looking after the most vulnerable in our communities and in the global community.
Your generation already are and will continue to live with the impacts of climate change as you get older. And this can feel frustrating and scary as you look towards your and our planet’s futures. Lifestyles may change, but that doesn’t mean you can’t live a full life. If you’re needing some help with what to do with these feelings have a look at our page on the Curious Climate website.
Does the climate crisis have the potential to unite humanity in response?
Absolutely - there is this potential! There is a long history of global social change which has come about when humans have united and worked together. Social movements historically have been able to create big structural change, the kind of big change we will need to face climate change. These movements in the past include things like the Suffragettes who worked to give women the vote and the Civil Rights Movement which worked to abolish segregation. Humans are cooperative beings, we work together – and we’ve seen this time and time again in history.
We are already seeing unity in responding to climate change in many ways. School Strike 4 Climate and Fridays For Future movements are examples of how local unity of young people is part of a global movement. The Paris Agreement is also an example of how lots of different countries can come together for a shared goal. The IPCC too is a whole bunch of scientists working together to learn more about and respond to climate change. We have the capacity as humankind to work together (just look at the changes we were able to make during COVID in a really short amount of time!).
There is also the potential that climate change will exacerbate conflict and cause greater competition over resources as they become scarcer. So, whilst climate change does have the potential to unite humanity, it also has the potential to cause conflict and further divide people in power from people who don’t. That’s why it is important that we are working to find ways to collaborate now as we look to the future.
You can be a part of this! Collaborating and working together to respond to climate change in a united way can include you. This can be small scale collaboration as a school, or community groups, as well as national and international collaboration. Finding practices to work well together to share learning, to care for one another, and to respond to the threats of climate change is really important.