Dr Albert Barrie Pittock OAM

  • CHS 1949 – 1954
  • Runner-up to Dux of the school (Proxime Accessit) 1954
  • Worked at CSIRO (Marine and Atmospheric Division) 1965- 1999
  • Awarded Public Service Medal by the Australian Government 1999
  • Principal Scientist on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  • Honoured with a joint Nobel Prize 2007
  • Awarded OAM (Order of Australia) for championing Indigenous rights 2019

Although Albert was his first name, he was always known as Barrie. After attaining a Ph.D. in 1963, and a Fulbright Scholarship in 1964, Barrie joined the CSIRO in 1965 where he soon became involved in research on the effects of ozone, solar, nuclear war and the greenhouse on climate change. In 1975 he organised a conference on Climatic Change and Variability which resulted in a book published on its findings which Barrie edited. He also authored a report on the effects of nuclear war on the world’s atmosphere and the effect on the environment.

Barrie then became a leading scientist with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) where he authored several reports on the committee’s findings. In 1999 the Australian Government awarded him the Public Service Medal (PSM) in recognition of his work, and in 2003, his working group was awarded the Sherman Eureka Prize for Environmental Research. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was honoured with a joint Nobel Prize in 2007. Barrie’s contribution as a Principal Scientist was praised by the Panel (IPCC). As a scientist member of the Panel, Barrie says his half of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was small, nevertheless he has an impressive Nobel Peace Prize certificate on the wall at home! He is modest about his achievements, but this is a great honour worth celebrating. After retiring from the CSIRO, Barrie has written two books on the environmental impact of climate in a private capacity. He has also been made an Honorary Fellow with the CSIRO.

Barrie’s interest in Indigenous affairs was stimulated by a hitch-hiking tour of NSW in 1958 which opened his eyes to the conditions Aboriginal people had to endure. He was particularly disturbed by the discrimination, poverty and poor health of Aboriginal communities. This prompted him to join the Society of Friends (Quakers) who were deeply involved in the rights of dispossessed peoples. He has since been involved with promoting scholarships to further Aboriginal education. In 1968 Barrie played an important role in the campaign and legal case for Aboriginal Land Rights. He has also been involved with the Council on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and has written several publications in the area of Indigenous rights.

In his busy retirement he has worked on a proposal to establish renewable energy to remote communities, leading to meaningful employment for Indigenous peoples.
Barrie was awarded the Order of Australia in 2019 for his work on Indigenous matters.

Barrie reflected on his OAM award: “it developed gradually in my high school years when I took seriously Jesus’s words ‘Love your enemies’ and became a conscientious objector to doing military training at the time of the Suez Crisis in 1956. At the court hearing the magistrate told me to serve my country in other ways, and I took that seriously.
At Melbourne University in the late 1950s, I joined the Aboriginal Scholarship Scheme and found that no Aborigines had completed high school. On my hitch-hiking tour of outback NSW and Queensland, I saw Aborigines living in fringe communities on the other side of the railway or river, in crowded huts with ten or more in each bark hut and no electricity and only one cold water tap. No wonder the kids dropped out of school!
After many years serving on national forums and committees, I am still advocating for Aborigines, for action on the Uluru Statement, and for Australia Day to be moved to the anniversary of the Aboriginal Recognition Referendum on 27 May 1967, or some other more suitable date than that of the Captain Phillip’s landing. Indigenous views should be the guide. I am grateful that my work in Indigenous affairs has been acknowledged.” Updated 2020

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