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Letters to the Editor

by Alan Atkinson, Joanne McDonald, Angus Forbes, Elisabeth Holdsworth, and Tim Flannery
November 2019, no. 416

Letters to the Editor

by Alan Atkinson, Joanne McDonald, Angus Forbes, Elisabeth Holdsworth, and Tim Flannery
November 2019, no. 416

ABR welcomes succinct letters and comments. If you're interested in writing to ABR, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Correspondents must provide a telephone number or email address for verification.


Three voices

Dear Editor,

It’s nice to be alive still in September 2019, a month that saw three pivotal public statements (none of them by men), moments of remarkable drama directed to high principle and the future: by Brenda Hale in the UK Supreme Court, re the Westminster system of government; by Nancy Pelosi in Washington, re the impeachment of Donald Trump and the foundations of power in the United States; and by Greta Thunberg at the United Nations, re the future of the planet. Altogether a moment to be unpicked in any number of books.

Alan Atkinson, Dawesville, WA


Paedophilia and climate change

Dear Editor,

I would like to comment on the last sentence of the first paragraph of Tim Flannery’s review.

It may well be that polluters and those who pander to them are threatening our future and that of our children, but to compare this to being as repulsive for his children’ future as paedophiles is a comparison that will be painful to many readers and suggests a level of innocence and ignorance about the impact of a paedophile on a child. Yes, climate is a serious and threatening issue, but Flannery’s comparison is a dreadful one, likely to cause pain and alienation for many readers.

Joanne McDonald, Frankston South, Vic.


E minus for the UN

Dear Editor,

I am grateful for the review of my book Global Planet Authority: How we’re about to save the biosphere. However, contrary to Tim Flannery’s review, I give the nation states, their multilateral efforts, and the United Nations an E minus for their protection of the biosphere since the Stockholm Declaration of 1972. I ridicule the Paris Agreement and hold up Montreal as a broken model.

In the book, I advocate that humanity must practise global governance for the first time through the tried and tested method of mass allocation of personal sovereignty. Going past the nation state is absolutely necessary. Unlike Greta Thunberg and supporters of Extinction Rebellion, who are shouting at a system that, due to its fractured nature, cannot guarantee global biophysical security now or in the long term, Global Planet Authority advocates a revolution at least equal to the greatest seen since the Westphalian agreement of 1648.

Tim Flannery may deem that quaint, but I don’t think he has accurately reported the central tenet of my book.

Angus Forbes (online comment)


Greta Thunberg

Dear Editor,

Congratulations to everyone at ABR and to the contributors to the Environment issue. The cover portrait of a furious and unforgiving Greta Thunberg could not be more timely.

I read Tim Flannery’s review of books by Thunberg, Angus Forbes, and the group of young writers who contributed to This Is Not a Drill with much interest. In 2005 I reviewed Tim Flannery’s The Weather Makers for The Monthly. The book has stayed with me as I mark off each of the predictions Flannery made then: ever-increasing cycles of drought; greater extremes of weather; and the collapse of species, among other depressing prophesies.

I live in north-east Victoria, where we have been in drought on and off for the past five years. From December 2018, it did not rain for five months. Our village had to truck in water from Seymour, eighty kilometres away. We were fortunate, for we can access bore water on our property, but we do so at the expense of compromising the aquifer that lies beneath this region and that is a major contributor to Melbourne’s water supply. We have also witnessed the collapse of the local koala population. Small birds, bees, and butterflies have disappeared.

Recently, I celebrated Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) with some three hundred or so others. For three hours we celebrated the creation of this wonderful planet. At the end, the rabbi gave an unexpected sermon about the bravery of Greta Thunberg, who so eloquently has held world leaders to account.

I applaud this articulate young generation. I am ashamed that I have not done more. I applaud Tim Flannery for his tireless work in writing and lecturing on the effects of climate change. Thank you, ABR, for your own contribution.

Elisabeth Holdsworth, Strathbogie, Vic.


Tim Flannery responds

I appreciate Angus Forbes’s letter further elucidating his book. I believe that I was correct in describing his approach as ‘supranational’ (meaning that it transcends national boundaries and governments), though I remain unsure just how ‘the tried and tested method of personal mass allocation of personal sovereignty’ will be enacted.

I apologise to Joanne McDonald for any pain and alienation brought about by comparing the damage done to our children by climate change to that done by paedophiles. Let us hope that we can avoid the horrendous future scenarios, which some believe will involve the deaths of billions of people, that our current climate path appears to be leading our children into. And thank you Elisabeth Holdsworth for celebrating Greta Thunberg. She is a hero fit for our age.

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