A Voice of Reason: Reflections on Australia
by Ian Lowe
University of Queensland Press, $34.95 pb, 264 pp
How effective is a voice of reason in a climate of fear? In his introduction to this book, Professor Ian Lowe, president of the Australian Conservation Foundation and Emeritus Professor of Science, Technology and Society at Griffith University says that he is ‘incorrigibly optimistic’ about the role of education in assisting us to make wise decisions about our future. Over the past twenty years, he has written twelve books, including A Big Fix: Radical solutions for Australia’s environmental crisis (2005) and Living in the Hothouse: How global warming affects Australia (2005), forty-five book chapters, more than thirty journal articles and six hundred columns for various publications. That work has been written for the general public, not just the scientific community.
While Lowe is clear that the environment is our first priority, he emphasises that it cannot be separated out from other issues. At Griffith University, science students study within a multidisciplinary framework. This book contains an edited selection of Lowe’s work based around four themes: Science, Technology and the Environment; his current bête noire, Economics and Politics; Culture and Health; and Education. Perhaps unusually for someone with degrees in physics and engineering, Lowe comes across as a Renaissance man. There are references to literature, film and the performing arts; he recounts his pleasure singing with the Brisbane Chorale; and he argues that science needs the insights into the human condition provided by the arts. Ostensibly to stress the value of keeping fit, there is a new essay on ‘The Seven Ages of Cricket’.