Environment and Climate

‘Pathetically inadequate’ was probably the most frequent description of the government’s voluntary emissions proposal for the United Nations Climate Change Conference; the description fits their ...

Let’s begin, somewhere around 4,500 bce, in a small patch of soil on the south-west coast of Western Australia. An ovule and some pollen combine on the crest of a ridge overlooking the sea, and a plant begins to grow. It’s a little thing with juvenile leaves which will become a faint ...

This is an important and timely book – another gift to public understanding by Australian scientist and author Tim Flannery. Ten years ago he wrote The Weather Makers (2005), one of a handful of books which, together with Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth (2006), brought the climate crisis to a world audience. Now in Atmosphere of Hope, F ...

To complement the essays, commentaries, reviews, and photographic essay in this issue, we asked a group of leading environmentalists, scientists, commentators, and writers what they regard as the most urgent action needed for environmental reform.

Wayne Bergmann

There is an urgent need for widespread recognition of the interrelationship between the ...

Weather and climate are fascinating enigmas, their allure enhanced by their intangibility; shadows hovering in the background and yet profoundly shaping human history. Climate is always both present and absent, and its importance unnoticed.

Geoffrey Blainey observed more than forty years ago that climate was a neglected player in Australian history. Perhaps ...

Water courses through the history of Western Australia. When historian Ruth A. Morgan began writing Running Out?: Water in Western Australia in 2007, the state was in the grip of drought, climate change was at the fore of public debate, and Perth’s first desalination plant was a year old. The 2005 state election had hinged on the ‘Kimberley–Perth canal ...

Writing an effective book on climate change is a challenge as diabolicalas it is important. The complexity of the science, economics, and politics is daunting. How to extract the diamonds lurking in the rough of the International Panel on Climate Change reports? How to balance the good cop, dishing out hope, with the bad, lashing the reader with honest accounts of p ...

Since the loss of Lake Pedder, the Apple Isle has been the site of some of Australia’s most famous environmental battles: Franklin River, Farmhouse Creek, Wesley Vale, Styx Valley. In the Tamar Valley near Launceston, tensions continue to simmer over the future of the Gunns Pulp Mill – even in the wake of the collapse of its original proponent, Gunns Ltd, in Sep ...

Once, when it was the beginning of the dry but no one could have known it yet, Dad drove us west – out past ‘Jesus Saves’ signs nailed to box trees, past unmarked massacre sites and slumping woolsheds, past meatworks and red-bricked citrus factories with smashed windows, and past one-servo towns with faded ads for soft drinks no one makes anymore – until we reached a cotton farm.

We stood on the old floodplain listening to the manager in his American cap, a battery of pumps and pipes behind him, boasting how much water these engines could lift once the river reached a certain height. To the left, an open channel cut through laser-levelled fields to the horizon.

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Many years ago, after working for a while in Europe, we returned to Australia via America. We picked up a car in Atlanta and drove through sprawling cities, alarming slums, and abandoned downtowns. Across Mississippi and the broad, reassuring openness of Texas, to Arizona and the Grand Canyon, we passed through the alien electrics of Las Vegas, down into Death Valle ...