Villach and Climate Change

Weather Eye
with John Maunder

Among the many climate science meetings I've attended, the most significant – at least in terms of climate change is concerned – was my involvement in the UN-sponsored International Conference in Villach, Austria, in October 1985.

About 100 from 30 countries attended this meeting – in contrast to the 25,000 who now attend such meetings – and I was privileged to be the only New Zealander invited.

We were all there as experts – not representing our respective organisations or necessarily the views of our respective Governments – in various fields of science, endeavouring to do the best we could in looking at the complexities of climate science.

Among principal findings of this conference was: “while other factors, such as aerosol concentration, changes in solar energy input, and changes in vegetation, may also influence climate, greenhouse gases are likely to be the most important cause of climate change over the next century”.

At the time, even though I was partly responsible for the writing of the above paragraph, I along with a few of my colleagues, had some misgivings about this phrase.

And I was somewhat surprised that within a year ‘human-induced global warming' caught the imagination of many around the world.

Today not a day goes by without some mention of global warming, climate change etc – all terms which up until 1980 were the preserve of academic text books,  and terms such as ‘emission trading schemes',  weren't even thought.

Despite this concern, a colleague of mine from Australia, Bill Kininmonth, who in 2004 wrote an excellent book called ‘Climate Change - A Natural Hazard' has mentioned to me on several occasions that I've changed from being a ‘gamekeeper' and become the ‘poacher'.

Whether this is true is a matter of opinion. However, irrespective of my personal views on the matter, it's clear there are two main views held by climate scientists and others on the subject of global warming and climate change.

First, those mainly involved in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC) and many or most government scientists, plus others, such as Al Gore, many politicians and most journalists who consider humans and human activity, including domestic animals, is the prime cause of recent changes in the climate.

Second, there are are those – including some university scientists, several retired climatologists and climate scientists, and a minority of politicians and journalists, who consider nature is the main cause of changes in the climate

Thirty years ago it was unconceivable the New Zealand Government  and most other governments in the world would have a Minister of Climate Change.

Back then, as weather forecasters and climatologists, we just got on with our job of making the best possible weather forecast and providing the best climate advice to all who requested information – without guidance or interference from the Government of the day.

How things have changed.

For further information see:


There are no comments on this blog.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to make a comment. Login Now
Opinion Poll

What are your thoughts on the council’s proposal to increase rates 40 per cent over the next three years?

Good, it will help pay to revitilise the city
Not good, rates are high enough now
I’m ok with an increase, but maybe not such a big one

Bay Today

Rotorua lake, Mokoia island and a manned canoe.  Photo: Thirza Fleeson.

Send us your photos from around the Bay of Plenty.