There was a large turnout to the recent talk on climate change by Dr Mark Howden speak.
The Hume Chapter of Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL) hosted the event on November 7.
Over 100 people attended, with some travelling from outside the region to hear Dr Mark Howden speak.
Dr Howden is Director of the Climate Change Institute at the ANU, a Vice Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and a member of the Australian National Climate Science Advisory Committee. He shared in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with other IPCC participants and Al Gore.
Hume CCL member Ian Anderson said Dr Howden reiterated the trends in climate data have been compiled using 150 years of science and that there is less than a 1 in 100,000 chance that it is not humans causing climate change.
"He pointed out that the natural variation in greenhouse gas emissions - that is, without human influence - is actually quite constrained, with only relatively minor fluctuations outside what would be considered "normal" - for instance, caused by events such as volcanic eruptions, with the emissions settling relatively quickly back into a normal pattern once that event has passed," Mr Anderson said.
"This is in contrast to the massive divergence from these natural patterns owing to human activity, a divergence which has continued to trend upward since the Industrial Revolution.
He said Dr Howden also explained how easily we could be lulled into a false sense of security by averages in data, rather than taking into account the doubling in the variability of climate risk overall, with all its implications.
"For example, droughts that start earlier, last longer and are more severe, with the "dry centre" of Australia being pushed out towards the coast and increasingly more parts of Australia, across more days of the year, experiencing heat stress conditions," Mr Anderson said.
"This fact made all the more real in light of the recent bushfire crisis in Northern NSW and Queensland, and also water shortages across regional NSW.
He said the numbers could also be misleading in themselves and 1.5 degrees might sound very small and insignificant. However, as Dr Howden pointed out, there was only around 5-6 degrees separating the Ice Age and the pre-industrial era.
"Thus relatively small numerical increments can have dramatic consequences. For instance, a global temperature increase of 3-4 degrees will see a halving of crop yields, which will have devastating consequences for an ever-increasing population," Mr Anderson said.
"Dr Howden stated that often we become preoccupied with the planet becoming hotter and forget climate change causes more extreme weather patterns in general (one reason we have moved away from referring to "global warming" and instead refer to "climate change"), including such a simple phenomenon as more severe frosts here in Australia, which again has an impact on crop yields.
"It also has an impact on seasonality and rainfall, leading to decreased winter rainfall in many parts of Australia (with rainfall in the hotter months being less effective at doing its job, owing to evaporation).
He said Dr Howden is not only an expert in the science of climate change but also in adaptation to climate change, and there was a strong focus on optimism and tangible action in his talk.
"He spoke about the empowerment of knowing what practical steps need to be taken and putting them into practice, for instance in the agricultural sector, where Australia has, as Dr Howden pointed out, some of the most innovative approaches to tackling climate change and its effects," he said.
"He also gave the example of the ACT, where policies are in place to transition to net zero emissions by 2045, demonstrating that taking meaningful action is not an unrealistic, expensive fantasy but is, in fact, already being achieved in many places across the globe, including here in Australia.
"As Dr Howden stated, 'The future is ours to choose', so the question is, when will Australian government, at all levels, start choosing to fight for that future?"
The Hume chapter of Citizens' Climate Lobby will be hosting an information evening on electric vehicles at 7 pm on December 5 at the Goulburn Soldiers Club.
The event is free and registration is via Eventbrite.