Environment and Climate
First, I need to visit Dean Nicolle’s eucalypt arboretum. Four hundred rows of trees, four specimens of each species of Eucalyptus, Corymbia, and Angophora (the eucalypts) nestled together, sharing pollen and landscape, dropping limbs in the grass. Each group of trees is a result of the previous year’s fieldwork. The year ...... (read more)
Zoological gardens are conflicted institutions. They provide a miraculous opportunity for close-ups with exotic and native animals one might never otherwise encounter. Yet they do so by keeping those very animals captive. The creaturely contact that zoos hope and claim can help transform citizens into advocates for animals and the environment is discomfited, if not ...
While Australian governments line up to help Adani dig the world’s biggest coal mine, energy experts are burying fossil fuels forever. Dieter Helm is an economist and professor of energy policy at Oxford. Burn Out: The endgame for fossil fuels is his ambitious, provocative, and sometimes perverse take on global energy prospects ...... (read more)
Lauren Rickards reviews 'Defiant Earth: The fate of the humans in the Anthropocene' by Clive Hamilton
‘Forget everything you know.’ Clive Hamilton’s book pulls no punches from the first words on the cover. Building on a raft of other pieces he has written on the subject, Hamilton’s book is unsurprisingly provocative, blunt, and confident, its style matching the epic physical, intellectual, and ethical drama that is the ...... (read more)
Kate Griffiths reviews 'Sunlight and Seaweed: An argument for how to feed, power, and clean up the world' by Tim Flannery
The world is embarking on a journey to a clean energy future. Some places are well on their way; most have barely begun. We will all need to get there eventually. How long it takes comes down to political choices, economic realities, and technological breakthroughs. The consequences of delay are already well known ...... (read more)
Roger McDonald reviews 'The Songs of Trees: Stories from nature’s great connectors' by David George Haskell
The Songs of Trees takes its title from something that might not actually happen. Do trees sing? The notion runs through the American biologist David George Haskell’s second book in twisty directions, like a half-caught melody. (His first book was The Forest Unseen, a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2013.)
Don’t trees just make sounds, crack ...
The Call of the Reed Warbler is a brutally honest book – an account of personal redemption following generations of sin. The only comparable work I know of is Rian Malan’s great saga of South Africa, My Traitor’s Heart (1990) – revolutionary, threatening, and the traducing efforts of an insider. Malan, a relative of the architect ...... (read more)
No amount of modelling or scientific assessment can foresee the full extent of the damage that will eventuate if the Adani Group’s Carmichael Coal Mine goes ahead. It would be the largest coal mine ever built in Australia and amongst the biggest in the world, extended over a thirty-kilometre-long area and comprising six open cut ...... (read more)
How do people cope with drought, not as an abstraction or singular event but as a lifelong trial? In a bid to answer this question, historian Rebecca Jones elevates an understated, if underrated, historical source for understanding human responses to drought: the humble farm diary. Publishers’ enthusiasm for diaries as authentic ...... (read more)
The Millennium Drought already looms large in Australia's recent past. It has joined the ranks of the Federation Drought and other acute, lengthy dry periods that have national resonance and are reflected on by historians, farmers, and politicians alike as defining moments in Australia's history. These droughts are etched into landscapes and people's minds, bodies, ...