This blog post is part of a project for my uni course, UO Innovative Curatorial Studies (HUMS 2042), a subject in my Digital Design Degree.

I have selected three objects from GLAM institutions that show Australian politicians are either completely stupid or corrupt when it comes to their statements on climate change. GLAM institutions are G – Galleries, L – libraries, A – Archives and M – Museums. I have selected an object from each GLAM sector.

My Climate Change Project

Every morning I walk my dog to the park, as we wait on the side of the road I often count how many cars pass until one has a passenger. I’ve counted over 40 cars in a row with no passengers.

We know cars are a major contributor to our CO2 emissions, yet we all still drive like this. Why?

I think the answer is our poli's don't seem to have a clue or don't care.

Part of the problem with climate science is that it is incredibly complicated and can take years to understand. Unless you are a climate scientist you probably shouldn’t argue about the science of climate change. The best you can hope to do is understand the concept they are explaining.

The man shown in this photo is LNP Senator Gerrard Rennick, watch how in the following clip he makes a complete fool of himself, talking about quantum physics and applying it in a completely wrong context. I do have to admit though, he said a complete pile of lies with absolute conviction, almost like he believed it was true. Sadly there are hundreds more examples of this.

If we aren't smart enough to use science to confirm climate change, what can we use?

This is where my project comes in. I’ve selected three ridiculous climate change statements from outspoken climate change denier and Member of Parliament, Craig Kelly and selected four items from GLAM institutions that show Craig Kelly is completely wrong, may I say his ass is on fire and he doesn’t realise it.

1. Humans are too insignificant to affect the earth's climate.

Proved incorrect using Library Text Book

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It sounds logical, great big earth, tiny humans, massive amount of atmosphere. How could we possibly affect the climate.

Libraries are full of books, I’ve chosen a 1962 Chemistry text book to put this one to the test.

Here are some facts from the text book

  • Burning one litre of petrol produces 2.3 kg of CO2
  • CO2 has a molecular weight of 44 g/mol
  • 1 kg CO2 = 1000 g × (1 mol/44 g) = 22.7 mol CO2
  • V=nRT/P, V=(22.7)(0.0821)(300)/1 = 559 L CO2 at 27°C (300K), 1 atm

 

So burning one litre of petrol produces 1,285 litres of Co2

I fill up my car every week, that is, say 70 litres x 52 weeks which comes to a total of 4.6 million litres of CO2 for a year.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that 15% of our emissions come from transport, so using my calculations above

4679948 x 100/15 * 75 years = 2339974000 litres of CO2 over my life. That’s over 230 billion litres.

To put this in relatable terms, that is 70,000 shipping containers full of CO2 that I will produce. Stacked on top of each other and that is over three times the height of Mount Everest.

If I divide the surface area of the earth, 510.1 million km², by 6 billion people we end up with a patch or earth about 250m by 250m. Common sense tells me that my 2,339,974,000 litres of CO2 will really effect things.

So if anyone tells me we can’t effect the earths atmosphere, I won’t believe them. Two or three books from the library and some year 9 maths blows that out of the water.

This year 9 maths and science from a basic text book shows us that we absolutely make a difference, a huge difference.

 

2. If Climate Change is Happening Now Why Don't We See Evidence of it?

Proved incorrect using Museums and Exhibitions

Museums

Another favourite quote of Craig is that we aren’t seeing any evidence of Climate Change, we’ve always had bad storms, draughts, and what we are seeing now is just one of those cycles.

To debunk this old chestnut, I’m going to head to The Santiago Museum in Chile.

They have a collection of mummies from the Atacama Desert in Chile. The Atacama desert has had only a few drops of rain over the last few thousands of years, in fact it’s so dry human bodies don’t rot, they mummify. Here is a photo (Photo of National Geographic) of one of these mummies.

The big problem for Craig’s theory is that over the last few years the Atacama Desert has seen torrential rain, which has decimated the deserts eco system.

Note: Some areas of the Atacama Desert do receive rain, normally a few mm each year, but areas that have received torrential rain over recent years haven’t had rain for thousands of years.

Atacama Desert Mummy

The Atacama Desert Now

The following images show what the Atacama Desert looks like now.

Exhibitions

The Online exhibition ‘Glacier Melt’, shows images of glaciers in Iceland taken in 1999 and 2019. The images are disturbing and show the rapid rate at which glaciers are retreating. The following images are samples from the exhibition.

Image source: https://www.cascada.travel/en/News/Top-5-Atacama-Desert-Myths-Busted

3. CO2 naturally goes up and down over time and what we are seeing at the moment is simply one of those variations

Proved incorrect using Archives

Thousands of ice cores have been taken and stored for analysis. An archive of ice cores. There are several different organisations that collect and store these ice core archives. The National Centres for Environmental Information provides access to the datasets taken from it’s ice cores. Freely available for Craig and his ‘scientists’ to do their own analysis. I wonder why they never do?

The following graph from NOAA shows these natural variations that have occurred over the last 400,000 years. The current spike is clearly not a natural fluctuation.

The ice core data can be accessed at https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/paleoclimatology-data/datasets/ice-core.

Craig Kelly will often refer to CO2 / Temperature data but he will choose a small subset that will show cooling. Looking at this data over the entire range clearly shows it for what it is, a massive spike unlike anything in the recent history of the earth.

Where to from here?

I have to be honest, doing this research has scared me a little. I’ve started looking at how I can reduce my personal carbon footprint and also the footprint of my business. Over the next few months I will publish a climate policy for my business, I plan to go carbon neutral as soon as I can. Sadly, I don’t think we can wait for our parliament to act, they still seem to be firmly in the denial stage.