A breezy yet well informed journey through the Australian landscape.
Academic and writer Belinda Probert moved from the UK to Australia in the late 1970s. She travelled around the country taking up various teaching posts, mainly between Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria, finally settling in Melbourne.
Imaginative Possession describes Probert's decision to buy a property in the Otways, rural Victoria. Her aim was to get a better grip on the Australian landscape by studying and living with it at close quarters. Taking inspiration from writers such as Don Watson (The Bush), Charles Massy (Call of the Reed Warbler), Kim Mahood (Position Doubtful), Bill Gammage (The Biggest Estate on Earth) and Tim Winton, Probert explores notions of belonging and meaning. How do Australians of European ancestry relate to the land, if at all? Why do First Australians have such strong ties to Country?
Part memoir, part essay, part literary appreciation, Imaginative Possession is a fascinating and thought provoking book that will get you thinking about what the Australian environment means to you.
Imaginative Possession: Learning to Live in the Antipodes, by Belinda Probert. Published by Upswell. $26.99
Energy industry insider Ketan Joshi gives a bracing history of Australia's climate wars.
In Windfall: Unlocking a Fossil Free Future, renewable industry insider Ketan Joshi gives a teeth gnashing account of Australia's interminable climate debates. Working as a data analyst and communicator at Infigen Energy, Joshi sometimes wound up as collateral damage himself. He was hit with a defamation lawsuit from an anti wind turbine group for live tweeting the innocuous details of a senate inquiry. It was vexatious litigation, designed to suppress and scare.
The minutiae of climate science can often make the eyes glaze over. Ketan Joshi does a superb job of explaining the complex and arcane in a manner that is often riveting. Windfall is informative, but also enjoyable and stimulating. What we learn is that the decades wasted in pointless 'debate' have done Australians a great economic disservice. While renewable prices have dipped, greater savings could have been made had not the scare campaigns worked so effectively. The renewable energy industry gets some of the blame, too: they failed to effectively engage at a grass roots level with suspicious communities who felt railroaded into accepting new technologies.
Windfall is perfect for the lay reader and non-specialist wanting to know how climate policy went so terribly wrong, and offers hope that a decarbonised future is within reach.
Windfall: Unlocking a Fossil Free Future, by Ketan Joshi. Published by New South Books. $29.99
Review by Chris Saliba
This review first published at Books + Publishing. Click here.
Jonathan Safran Foer explains the impact of diet on the environment.
Changes in diet may well be one of the most difficult requirements for reducing our carbon footprint. As novelist Jonathan Safran Foer discusses in his new book, We Are the Weather, emissions from livestock pose an enormous danger to the planet. Not only does livestock create methane and other emissions, but land cleared for grazing removes trees and foliage that would usually sequester carbon. A double hit to the environment. Some researchers even suggest that if the world went on a plant-based diet this would quickly and dramatically reduce carbon in the atmosphere.
No doubt this is all daunting to consider. Foer doesn't preach or thunder from on high about the need to eat more plants, and confesses to his lapses as a vegetarian. Indeed, for the most part, We Are the Weather addresses the psychology of inaction and draws parallels with historical examples of looming catastrophes that were ignored.
We Are the Weather is a book of ethical conundrums, a personal quest to find the right way to live. Melancholy reading for sure, sometimes confronting, yet searingly honest about our collective failure to act and what needs to be done.
We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast, by Jonathan Safran Foer. Published by Hamish Hamilton. $35
Review by Chris Saliba
North Melbourne Books