Lauren Rickards reviews 'Sunburnt Country: The history and future of climate change in Australia' by Joëlle Gergis

Lauren Rickards reviews 'Sunburnt Country: The history and future of climate change in Australia' by Joëlle Gergis

Sunburnt Country: The history and future of climate change in Australia

by Joëlle Gergis

Melbourne University Press, $34.99 pb, 320 pp, 9780522871548

Sunburnt Country is a fascinating, timely, uneven book. Consisting of forty-one short chapters, it is written by climate scientist Joëlle Gergis, who explores the matter of climate change through an unusual mix of genres: colonial history, popular science, scientific autobiography, and advocacy. The first two of these dominate the self-representations of the book. In particular, it is framed as filling a gap in our (Western) understanding of the Australian continent’s climate history by reconstructing earlier settler colonial climates. Going beyond the official climate records that commenced around 1900, the book reports on innovative Australian research that has combed through settler diaries and other written records for climate-relevant information.

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Lauren Rickards

Lauren Rickards

Lauren Rickards is an Associate Professor in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University in Melbourne. She visited the Melbourne Museum as part of a Making Futures event organised by the Anthropocene Campus Melbourne and the Everyday Futures project https://everydayfutures.com.au/about/project/, during which she worked with Matthew Kearnes, Martin Leckey, and David Turnbull to piece together the narrative recounted here.

Published in October 2018, no. 405