Curious Climate schools
Curious Climate schools

Dr Chloe Lucas

Affiliation
School of Geography, Planning, and Spatial Sciences, University of Tasmania
Research Areas
Social adaptation to climate change, climate change communication, social responses to climatic disasters including bushfire and flood.
Why I do what I do
I want to help people understand and adapt to climate change - and for me that means working together, listening to one another, and making collective decisions.
Something interesting about me
I once lived on a beach made almost entirely of hermit crabs.

Questions answered by this expert

Is it too late to stop climate change?
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How will climate change affect me and how will I live?
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Climate change is affecting all of our lives in many different ways.

If you live in Tasmania, you will see it in our landscape. Sea levels are rising, which means we are losing some wetlands and beaches. This can also affect our communities. In the next few years, low-lying houses and roads are likely to go underwater. We're also getting more very hot weather days, that mean frequent and severe bushfires, which threaten some people's homes, and can destroy forests and wildlife. Because of climate change, some places, like alpine and peat bog areas that have never burned before, are starting to dry out and burn in bushfires. This means that we could lose some rare Tasmanian plant and animal species.

Burnt pencil pine and alpine flora, Mackenzie fire, Tasmania. Photo: Rob Blakers

If you like to fish, you might find that there are different kinds of fish coming into the seas around Tasmania for you to catch - but if you like to dive or snorkel you may not see Tasmania's giant kelp forests for much longer.

By the time you are old enough to learn to drive, you are likely to drive an electric car - we need to make sure that all our transport is powered from renewable energy. And when you get a job, there will be lots of jobs that are there because of climate change - jobs in renewable energy production, jobs in climate science and climate response, new types of fisheries and agriculture and that are there because of climate change, and many more.

We will all need to be a part of adapting to climate change - and there are many opportunities to choose how you can be part of the change we need. Have a look at the What can I do? page for some more ideas.

When are the governments going to take climate change seriously?
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It can be very frustrating to witness the slow pace of action by governments to limit climate change, particularly when we look at the record of the current Australian Federal Government. But Australia did once have a very effective climate policy. Julia Gillard's government introduced the Clean Energy Act, which put a price on carbon emissions, and operated from 2012-2013. This reduced carbon emissions by the biggest polluting companies by 7%. But the price on carbon only lasted one year because Australians voted to replace the Labor Gillard government with a Coalition government under Tony Abbott, who repealed the Act.

Since then, Australia has not had an effective national climate policy. But several state governments, local governments and and some companies have introduced their own policies. The Tasmanian Government is now legislating that Tasmania will have a Net Zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Momentum is building and we still have a small window of opportunity for our governments to make systemic change to limit global climate change to 1.5 or 2 degrees Celcius.

What are the things that make governments act on climate change?

  1. Voters. If enough people of voting age tell political parties that they won't vote for them unless they promise to act on climate change, they would be forced to act, or lose power. You may not be of voting age, but you can tell the adults in your life who do vote how important this issue is to you.
  2. International pressure. Australia is part of the United Nations. This organisation of 193 countries has an international convention on climate change, which Australia is a signatory to, and must abide by. The COP 26 Climate Summit in Glasgow is the latest meeting at which countries will agree on actions over the coming decade.
  3. Economics. Fossil fuels are becoming risky investments, while renewable energy is a growing industry that will create more jobs and profit. Governments eventually have to face this reality, and make sure their policies enable Australians to profit from new industries, rather than propping up doomed ones.

Do you believe that we as the future leaders are being heard enough? For example, Scott Morrison or the other politicians, are they listening?
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What is the hardest thing to do to change climate change? People or Politics?
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What would happen if climate change didn’t exist?
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What and interesting question! We asked three scientists what they'd be doing if climate change didn't exist.

What effects does climate change have on the solar system? (thinking bigger picture)
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The Earth is surrounded by a blanket of gases - these keep in the sun's heat, as well as water, and air. Without this atmosphere, the Earth would be a cold, dead rock in space.

The climate is something that happens inside Earth's atmosphere. If you head out into space, there's no climate. So climate change doesn't really affect the solar system outside Earth.

But, if you were to video the Earth from space for several years, and then play back that video speeded up, you'd see that as the Earth spins, it wobbles on its axis. These wobbles are because the Earth isn't a perfect sphere - and in fact it changes shape! As it changes shape, this affects the Earth's gravitational field, and makes it wobble differently.

Guess what causes the Earth to change shape? Well one of the causes is climate change! This can happen in several ways. One way is that as ice in Greenland and Antarctica melts, there is less weight on that part of the Earth, and this makes it change shape. Scientists also think that as changes in weather patterns - like El Niño - move water around the world's oceans, this also affects the planet's shape. The study of how the Earth changes shape is called geodesy.

Because Coal mining and Coal burning is a non-renewable power source, why don’t we shut down the Coal mining industry and use wind power or solar power or waterpower because there are so many other cleaner options?
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Indeed, why don't we?!

Burning fossil fuels like coal to provide electricity will soon be a thing of the past. Because we now know that they create harmful carbon-dioxide emission, all around the world, coal-fired power stations are being shut down, and new renewable energy industries are being created in their place.

But if you look at Australia, most states are still mostly powered by fossil fuels. Tasmania is a stand-out here - we have almost 100% renewable energy already thanks to our hydropower system. But in Victoria and New South Wales, we still have coal-fired power stations, and governments do not want them to close any time soon. Why not? There are two main reasons. The first is that if we shut them down now, we wouldn't have enough renewable energy sources to provide the electricity we need in their place. The second is that many people have jobs in the coal mining and coal power industries, and if we closed them down tomorrow, whole towns could be out of work.

What we need to do in Australia, and other countries that still burn coal, is to plan a transition from coal to renewables over the next few years. This will help to both replace coal with things like wind, solar and hydropower, and make sure that there are new jobs for people who have historically worked in the coal industry. Doing this sooner rather than later will be better for the planet and for Australia's economy.

Source: The Climate Council
Why isn’t everyone helping to save the world - what stops people?
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Why don’t people believe in climate change?
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