Science Direct: Ken Thompson

Ken Thompson is the Deputy Commissioner of the NSW Fire Brigade. He is one of our featured experts on Climate Change.

General/personal questions:

  1. What did you want to be when you grew up? A musician
  2. The idea/s that changed my life was/were…. an undergraduate degree in Geography & Planning and another in Psychology. I’ve also spent a large part of my life marveling at nature and our place in the Universe.
  3. I’m always being asked about…. what it’s like to be a firefighter.
  4. My worst job has been…. I’ve never had a bad job. I’ve always been able to find something interesting in everything I’ve done.
  5. I often wonder…. Yes! Everyone should wonder.
  6. I hope that…. the world comes to realise we should all be working together instead of engaging in constant conflict over what is usually nothing more than a desire to control natural resources. It’s a very out-dated and extremely expensive form of problem-solving
  7. The best thing about my job is…. helping people reduce the impact of bad events on their lives.
  8. The hardest thing about my job is…. helping people reduce the impact of bad events on their lives.

Climate change specific questions:

  1. What climate change means for me personally is…. a rapid deterioration in the ability of our planet to sustain life. A quick look at geological history will show how narrow the bounds are in which the various forms of life can be supported.
  2. Climate change affects my work by…. increasing the risk of adverse events such as bushfires; severe storms (including hailstorms); cyclones; the effects of tsunamis on land because of rising sea levels, and drought.
  3. My work may affect how we respond to climate change by…. making sure fire and emergency services have plans in place to deal with the climate change events that are already taking place and those that have been projected by organisations such as the IPCC; CSIRO; Bureau of Meteorology, and the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre.
  4. What I would say to climate change skeptics is…. give up.
  5. What I would say to you about what you can do about climate change is…. take notice of what more than 3,000 scientists taking part in the world’s largest-ever scientific research project (IPCC) have to say about climate change.
  6. What I think Australia can do is…. lead the world by setting a good example by reducing CO2 emissions and by developing and investing in sustainable energy technology. We have a unique amount of access to raw materials such as sunlight; ocean waves, and wind. We are also home to some of the world’s best scientific minds and industry leaders.


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