BAMOS Vol 30 No. 4 2017 | Page 20

BAMOS Dec 2017


Taking it to the streets – some thoughts on meteorology and community outreach

Richard Whitaker AMOS NSW and AMOS Education and Outreach Committee
Since 2011 , I have been engaged in a self-designed outreach course to promote meteorology and climate issues to the general public .
Beginning with talks to community organisations such as Rotary and Probus , the demand has steadily grown , and with no promotion or marketing has now become a constant endeavour that involves giving talks all over Sydney , and in recent times the New South Wales Central Coast .
Since 2011 I have addressed close to 150 community organisations , many on two or three occasions , as requests for repeat visits occur . In approximate terms this would mean that I have addressed some 5000 people ( some of these repeats !) on broad issues of weather and climate , and the demand continues to be substantial . This has been achieved almost entirely by word of mouth , with recommendations being passed across individual organisations and also between them .
I developed eight main talks , with variations on each of these according to the requirements of each meeting . All of these are in Powerpoint format .
1 . Of Droughts and Flooding Rains — Rainfall Variability in Australia
2 . From Gods to Gigabytes — A Brief History of Weather Forecasting
3 . Australian Weather Disasters 4 . Bushfires in Australia 5 . Severe Thunderstorms in New South Wales 6 . What Causes Climate Change ?
7 . Severe Weather in Sydney — East Coast Lows and Thunderstorms
8 . Clouds for Kids
The main interest groups that have been addressed include Sydney-wide chapters of Probus , Rotary and U3A . Demand for the talk on climate change ( no 6 above ) has risen over the last six months .
Various historical societies have shown interest in past severe storm events and First Fleeter Chapters in weather that affected the infant settlement of Sydney . This is described in talk 1 ( above ).
Schools at the primary level have been presented with “ Clouds for Kids ”, and then secondary level with a selection of the other talks . A meteorology course of 12 lectures was designed and delivered to the Workers ’ Education Authority ( WEA ) in October 2015 .
Several community libraries have requested an assortment of these talks and not surprisingly presentations to Rural Fire Service and State Emergency Service groups are concerned mainly with Lectures 3 , 4 and 5 .
Customised presentations were also delivered to the Navy ( HMAS Parramatta ), the Sydney Paragliding and Hangliding Club and the Waterboard Former Employees Club of NSW .
From all these activities I am of the firm belief that there is considerable public interest at community level in weather and climate and that we should further encourage this type of public engagement . I am in possession of numerous appreciative references to substantiate this claim .
Numbers of community talks delivered annually by Richard Whitaker . A re-location to the Central Coast in 2016 produced a drop in numbers that year .