Macquarie University
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Localising climate change: science, nature, fire and weather in the Blue Mountains

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posted on 2022-03-29, 01:22 authored by Tshering Lama O'Gorman
The belt of south east Australia where the Blue Mountains lie, with its extensive Eucalypt forests, is among the most fire prone regions in the world. Co-existing with fire in coming decades will mean greater challenges for the people in this landscape as recent reports link climate change to increasing bushfire risk (Climate Change Authority, 2014; Hughes and Steffen, 2013). A survey by CSIRO (Leviston et. al. 2014, page 2) on the attitudes of Australians towards climate change show that 47.3% believe in human-induced climate change. But what does that mean in terms of how people behave and act for climate change? The same survey noted that the degree in surety of climate change did not predict behaviour. Experts have commented that climate science is reductionist, techno scientific and disengaged from the everyday lives of ordinary people (Brace and Geoghegan, 2010; Hulme 2009; Backstrand and Lovbrandt, 2006). This study contends that it is important to consider local perspectives on linkages of climate change to recurring natural hazards as these may provide acceptable approaches to adapting to and addressing increasing risks from climate change. Hence, drawing on Foucauldian theories on discourse and the work on social nature (Castree, 2005; Castree and Braun, 2001) this study analysed the social constructions of bushfire and climate change among pro-environmental Blue Mountains residents. The results of the study present strong evidence that individuals are merging science based knowledge with their lived experiences of place-based weather and landscape observations. The study participants shaped a dominant narrative that constructs bushfire as part of nature and life, but their practice in response to it was dependent on varied socio-economic and cultural backgrounds that in turn influenced their priorities for action. Overwhelmingly, the participants agreed that in the face of increasing bushfire risks, community engagement and mobilization would be the most practical and effective way to go. The findings indicate that communication on climate change needs to be context, culture and audience specific rather than abstract one-model-fits-all approaches. This study concludes that recognizing bushfire as a socio-ecological phenomenon, rather than simply a natural hazard, is an important step in developing appropriate locally-imbedded responses.


Table of Contents

1. [Introduction] -- 2. Conceptual framework -- 3. Methodology -- 4. Results & discussions -- 5. Conclusions -- References -- Appendices.


"Thesis presented for the Master of Research degree" Theoretical thesis. "10 October 2014" Includes bibliographical references

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Department of Environmental Sciences

Department, Centre or School

Department of Environmental Sciences

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Andrew McGregor


Copyright Tshering Lama O'Gorman 2015. Copyright disclaimer:




New South Wales


1 online resource (x, 84 pages) illustrations, maps

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