Environment and Climate

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 ...

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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 ...

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'Adani and the Galilee Basin' by Susan Reid

Susan Reid
Friday, 22 September 2017

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 ...

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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 ...

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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, ...

Ruth A. Morgan reviews 'Slick Water' by Andrew Nikiforuk

Ruth A. Morgan
Thursday, 25 February 2016

In January 2016, Canadian Jessica Ernst had her day in court. Lawyers for the former oil industry insider debated whether she could sue the Alberta energy regulator over her claim that hydraulic fracturing had so badly contaminated her well that the water could be set on fire. This hearing in the Supreme Court of Canada is the latest chapter in Ernst's twelve-year b ...

This is a timely and important book, a message of hope when human civilisation is on a metaphorical Titanic steaming toward an ecological iceberg, with the short-sighted or unprincipled throwing coal into the boilers. My heart sank when I saw the title. I expected more mindless cheer-mongering: blanket assertions of faith that human ingenuity and economic g ...

'Creating a Wetland' a photo essay by Jo Daniell

Jo Daniell
Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Gleneira - sepia

This photograph taken around 1890 shows what was done through over-clearing and grazing. Fifteen years ago, our property on the Mornington Peninsula featured two overused stock dams filled with opaque brown water. The muddy edges had no vege ...

Peter Menkhorst reviews 'The Dingo Debate' edited by Bradley Smith

Peter Menkhorst
Monday, 28 September 2015

Australia’s wild dog, the dingo, probably generates the most diverse human responses of any of our fauna – from a determination to exterminate to passionate conservation advocacy. This book is a bold attempt to cover this diversity and asserts that the dingo is a unique wild animal worthy of conservation for its intrinsic value, ...