Perhaps the most phenomenal thing about James Hansen’s talk on Monday night was the crowds – not one but two lecture theatres overflowing – even to the extent that the speaker was surrounded by disciples literally on the floor around him. He talked to Kim Hill on Saturday for those of you unable to make it on Monday night – or to Tuesday’s conference.
Hansen is not the most polished speaker, but he certainly has an obvious commitment to the cause. To some extent he covered ground which many of us have heard before, but something which he reinforced was that, even though the planet has experienced greater global temperatures, that was millions of years ago, before human beings inhabited the earth.
This most recent period of time, when humans evolved, has been a time of great consistency in global temperature, and some have argued that it was this congenial environment which allowed civilisation to even exist. As John James put it in a 2007 paper advising Australia to act: “The benign climate that has allowed the human race to multiply, develop and prosper has remained more or less unchanged for 10,000 years. Its stability accounts for the entire span of civilised human history.”
The climate change issues for architecture are more than the need to mitigate and adapt, but like other aspects of human civilisation, if the earth does experience temperature rises, civilisation, rather than the planet is at risk.