Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Climate Change according to Australia Post


How have Australia’s stamps represented government policy on climate change? Credit: Les Haines

By Chris Yardley

Postage stamps are time capsules representing the events and issues of their time. Why, then, have Australia’s many stamp issues steered clear of climate change?

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

The issues of the changing climate have been current for 30 years or more, so one might expect that the messages of the changing climate, sustainability and environmental conservation would be a constant theme on postage stamps. They are not.

A postage stamp is a “time capsule” representing an ideal or a situation at a certain point in time. Because of the lead time required for the design and production of each stamp series, this is more likely to be the date when the decision was made about which event or message would be promoted than the date of issue. Nonetheless, each stamp series is a visual memory and a marker of an idea to be celebrated at a particular time and space. How, then, have Australia’s stamps represented the issue of climate change?

My colleague Maria Taylor has shown that since 1988 the science on climate change published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been consistent, but that the public rhetoric of the Australian government has varied with the politics of the day. This is reflected in Australia’s postage stamps.