In 1950, the SS Bangalow, which was sheltering in the harbour, was driven ashore by the cyclone which struck Coffs Harbour earl
In 1950, the SS Bangalow, which was sheltering in the harbour, was driven ashore by the cyclone which struck Coffs Harbour earl

Was this the start of global warming way back in 1950?



"IT'S happened before and it will happen again," says Coffs Harbour's Lester Tolhurst about climate change.

"Going back to the '40s and '50s, we had a lot of cyclones and cyclone threats."

Mr Tolhurst says that while we need to be more careful, the human input to global warming is not as bad as we make out.

He remembers Coffs Harbour's last major cyclonic period in the 1940s and 1950s.

"When I was at school in the 1940s, I had a week off school due to dust storms," he remembers.

"I spent half of it in the bath trying to keep cool."

Ten years later, and it was raining all the time ? June 1950 had 25 inches of rain, and the following month saw 35 inches.

"It wasn't cyclonic, just continual rain," Mr Tolhurst said. "Climate change has been going on forever."

He has a point ? Earth's climate has gone through cold and warm periods ? ice ages and interglacial periods ? for millions of years.

Historically, ice ages have extended over 90,000 years, while interglacials have only lasted 10,000 years or less.

According to the Australian Greenhouse Office, global averages of ice ages have been about 10 degrees cooler than present, and interglacials have been at about the same temperature.

Australia is also a country given to extremes because it spans the tropics and has varied climates and ecosystems which include the desert, rainforests, rangelands, coral reefs, and alpine areas.

The climate is strongly influenced by the oceans that surround us and the El Nino effect.

In an article in The Age in December, former head of the CSIRO, Barrie Hunt, stated that the drought was part of a naturally occurring cycle of wet and dry periods.

However, he says there are also clear signs that climate change is making the drought worse.

"The temperature signals we're getting are very clear, distinct greenhouse signals," Mr Hunt said.

"The warming over the past 10 years, you can't explain that . . . it's going up and down. If it was natural variability you would be having years of below-average temperatures."



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