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Climate Change in a World without Borders

Video clip synopsis – How can Australia take responsibility for its standard of living?
Year of production - 2007
Duration - 4min 12sec
Tags - Learning Journey Energy, economic development, economy, energy, environment, resources, see all tags

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Climate Change in a World without Borders

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About the Video Clip

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Talkback Classroom is a forum program run by the Education section of the National Museum of Australia. Each year a series of forums are held. At each forum a panel of three secondary students, selected from schools Australia-wide, interview a leading decision-maker on an important current issue. The panel participate in a ‘learning journey’ to explore the issues and prepare for the forum. This involves researching the issue the forum is exploring and interviewing relevant people in the community. Panellists also develop interview techniques in workshops at Parliament House and the National Museum of Australia. The interviews are then recorded in the Museum’s Studio in front of a live student audience.

This clip comes from a 2007 forum on the topic of Energy. The student panellists were Alexander Meekin (Yr 12 Narrabundah College ACT), Tina Pahlman (Yr 12 Dickson College ACT), Han Dong Jin and Park Ga-hyun (Yr 12 and 11 respectively, Hankook Academy of Foreign Studies, Seoul, Korea). The interview guest was the Hon. Alexander Downer MP, then Minister for Foreign Affairs. The forum was held on Wednesday, 8 August 2007. Prior to the forum the panellists undertook an extensive learning journey. Their itinerary took them to Great Keppel Island, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Brisbane, Darwin and Kakadu National Park. Topics investigated included coral bleaching due to climate change, ‘clean’ coal-fired power generation, alternative energy technologies, climate change and the environment, uranium mining and indigenous rights in relation to that mining.

Background Information

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Energy production has been an important part of modern human society, particularly since the industrial revolution and the invention of electricity. Most energy is created through the combustion of non-renewable energy sources, such as fossil fuels like coal and oil.

The reserves of these fuel sources are finite; not only are these forms of energy production unsustainable, they also have a substantial impact on the environment through the production of greenhouse gases. These emissions contribute to climate change as the gases produced trap infra red radiation produced by the sun in the planet’s atmosphere, heating the earth.

Effective international co-operation is essential to preventing dangerous climate change. The current international effort to develop a unified response to this issue is the Kyoto Protocol, which Australia has recently ratified. It provides targets for countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Australia needs to investigate ways of reducing its emissions. We are one of the countries most likely to be affected by climate change, with decreasing and variable rainfall patterns and ozone depletion. We are the second highest producer of greenhouse gases in the world per capita. We use and export millions of tonnes of coal; generating electricity through burning coal is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas pollution from stationary energy. Reducing our emissions could occur through setting emission reduction targets, using low-emission energy sources such as natural gas, attempting to use ‘clean coal’ and capturing and storing the CO2 produced by coal and gas power plants. It could involve placing a price on greenhouse gas pollution, often referred to as an emission trading scheme or carbon taxing. Other measures could include stopping deforestation or using renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro, wave, ocean, tide and geothermal power, as well as various forms of bio-energy. Improving the efficiency of our energy use also plays a large role in this process.

Classroom Activities

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Before you watch

As a class, brainstorm a definition of pollution and list its variable forms. From your brainstorm list individually identify what you believe is the worst type of pollution. Justify your response in a sentence or two and compare your opinions with the rest of the class.

While you watch

List two of the things that Alexander Downer suggests would need to be ‘thought through’ before action could be taken to reduce Australia’s pollution levels.

After you watch

  1. In groups, select and describe one of the following:
    * The Kyoto Protocol
    * Renewable energy
    * Greenhouse emissions
  2. Present your findings to the class in an interesting way (for example, you could create a poster, present a short play, write a speech or create a PowerPoint presentation)
  3. Draw a cartoon that illustrates some aspect of this issue.

Further Resources

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National Museum of Australia’s Talkback Classroom website

CSIRO: Pollution