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The Australian Government has just launched its COVIDSafe Tracer App and is asking Australians to download it.

The Climate Crisis helped me decide. I now have the App and want to explain why.

There were three questions I needed to think about. First, will the App solve a problem? Second, will my data be safe? Third, what social obligations do I have in such situations? The last question was more difficult and the one I grappled with the most.

The answers I came to may not be your answers. But this is how I approached the issue.

Will the App help keep us safer from Covid-19?

I think so. It makes sense to me that a nationwide electronic system to quickly identity and contain the virus spread is a good thing. So long as enough of us participate, it will greatly enhance the Department of Health’s ability to limit the virus spread, reducing the risk from a dangerous second or even third spike in infection rates. …

(An earlier version of this paper was delivered to the Australian Research Management Society Conference in Adelaide, Australia, in September 2019)

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Photo by Aron Visuals (Unsplash)

The summers are usually pretty hot in my city of Melbourne, at times a scorching 45°C (113°F). But the summer of 2018/19 was the first time I ever felt, ‘I really don’t like this’. It wasn’t just the debilitating heat, it was the number of days the heat hung around. Even at night!

But what really scared me was a simple graph.

It shows a significant rise in summer temperatures over the previous 108 years, with no sign of slowing down. Australia, already a hot continent, is getting hotter. As I write this, in January 2020, Australia has been confronted with catastrophic bush fires unlike anything we have experienced in the past. If global temperatures keep rising, such fires will likely keep getting worse, if that is imaginable. …

Yes, but there are potentially troubling consequences that we must not ignore.

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Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of forest fires


The term Climate Emergency has appeared in public discourse with remarkable speed and is now increasingly the language of not just the climate movement, but also a growing number of cities, states, parliaments and Universities. Yet it is not without its critics who argue the language of emergency may have unintended consequences by providing license for potentially dangerous interventions in the climate system, such as solar geoengineering. This article briefly reviews where the term came from, its current influence, risks and prospects.

None of what follows reduces the urgency and seriousness of the climate crisis. In 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their most blunt report to date, stating that to stay under 1.5ºC requires the world economies to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Some researchers have since argued that climate change is happening faster than the IPCC has anticipated, potentially breaching the 1.5ºC temperature threshold by 2030. With still rising emissions, and bereft of a politically viable plan to date, current projections point to a 3ºC plus world before the end of this century, with the high risk of crossing climate thresholds from which we may not be able to escape. This is the risk, but not yet the unavoidable future; the world still has capacity to ensure a less dangerous future climate. …

How we avoid the heat and how the heat will not avoid us

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(Photo by Monica Valls on Unsplash)

Only occasionally does someone say something to me that sort of slips in under the skin. I am a climate activist, writer and musician. I think about climate change a lot. So when someone recently said to me that while he accepts the reality of climate change, it has no actual impact on his life … and didn’t expect it would, I was dumbstruck. You are kidding me?

Well, he said, I live in the world’s richest country, we have the technology we need or can invent it to manage climate change. Besides, for years I have heard these warnings about impending doom. It is getting sort of tedious because life goes on regardless. …


Simon Kerr

Climate change activist, research fellow, musician, creator of ‘Music for a Warming World’,

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