Sustainability – Who cares? Who doesn’t?

Educators do. Children are being brought to understand what sustainability entails. But children can’t vote. And votes make the difference in a democracy.

In Australia ACARA says. ‘The Australian Curriculum places emphasis on Sustainability as a priority for study that connects and relates relevant aspects of content across learning areas and subjects. Cross-curriculum learning is fundamental to: … appreciating and respecting the diversity of views and values that influence sustainable development.’

If educators know the connections needed now, why do too many in politics in democracies continue to fund toxic fossil fuels?

Which nations care about sustainability? Sustainability requires clean energy.

ASU has the USA’s first School of Sustainability. In 2020 what do its students face?

‘Established in 2006, the School of Sustainability’s mission is to foster innovative research, impactful education and engaged communities to achieve environmental integrity, social equity and well-being.’ And its ‘Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, home to the new College of Global Futures, [is] dedicated to designing futures where everyone may thrive.’

Students at Arizona State University png.

Discover how a sustainability degree prepares you for tomorrow’s work environment. The Dean of the School of Sustainability, Chris Boone says: ‘Sustainability is improving human well-being and ensuring social equity for present and future generations while safeguarding the planet’s life-supporting ecosystems.’

Are students going to vote in their November elections? What will they vote for?

AND

The Arizona State University is now connecting Shakespeare and ecology!!! Its foundation Professor, Sir Jonathan Bate formerly of Oxford, was interviewed by Michael Cathcart on our indispensable Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio National’s weekly program ‘The Stage Show’ keeping us connected while the virus keeps us apart.

The man who lives with Shakespeare

on The Stage Show
with Michael Cathcart

Sir Jonathan Bate has spent much of his life living with William Shakespeare — he’s dedicated his career to better understanding the work of the Bard. Now the British academic is asking how Shakespeare’s work might help us to save the planet.

Educators are making the connections we need. Why not so many in politics?

Wisdom and Warning.

the ABC’s Science Show presented by Robyn Williams
Extract minerals for clean energy. Lithium batteries conserve energy,

 Lithium processing a new opportunity for Australia

Half of the world’s lithium is found in Australia. Most of the rest is found in South America. After extraction, it undergoes a series of transformations finally becoming the major component in batteries for cars, bikes, and all manner of modern devices. After extraction, the lithium passes along a processing chain, generating increasing profit at each stage. As research fellow Mahdokht Shaibani explains, the profit for the mining company is just half of one percent of the profit generated from other stages along the way. Mahdokht says Australia is well positioned to develop industries and benefit from lithium processing and not just be a miner who sells raw materials for other nations to profit.’ No need to focus on fossil fuels.

Cleaner air delivers LA health and economic benefits

‘Ed Avol has spent his career measuring the effects of bad air on health. He says the $65 billion spent on cleaning up harmful emissions in California has produced savings of trillions of dollars in saved health costs alongside other economic benefits.’

Window closing for action to stabilise the Earth’s climate

Johan Rockström is a Swedish professor of Earth Systems Science. He outlines why the Earth has entered a climate emergency and why urgent action is needed.

audio
Johan Rockström
Professor of Earth Systems Sciences
Director – Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
Potsdam Germany

English version of the Swedish Radio show Vinter i P1 with Johan Rockström

Listen for free on your mobile device on the ABC Listen app, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or your favourite podcast app

A common future. Do we have one?

Australians have investigated 142 countries to check the value of carbon pricing.

Australia is not pricing carbon to reduce emissions. Neither is America.

New Zealand is committed to carbon neutrality by 2050.

What are other countries doing? How are their citizens voting? What are they being encouraged to do to reduce emissions? Consider the information below.

This photograph of a coal-powered station in Germany was chosen by students to encourage the government in Singapore to move to clean energy. The Singapore News & Top Stories – The Straits Times used this photograph to lead an article entitled ‘Go fossil-fuel free’.
Did a Singapore government legislate to reduce emissions? Does it have carbon pricing? Is it one of the 142 nations Australian researchers investigated?

Our public ABC Radio National’s Future Tense’ has provided us with this information.

Australian researchers have done the maths.

The truth about carbon pricing and how to capture CO2. ON Future Tense with Antony Funnell

‘Does carbon pricing work? It’s long been a contentious issue, but Australian researchers have crunched the data from 142 countries and now have what they reckon is the definitive answer. Also, are group purchasing plans the way to fund future renewable energy needs? And, the California research that could give new life to carbon, capture and storage.’ 29mins 7secs. Sun 23 Aug 2020, 10:30am. Sun 30 Aug 2020, 10:30am

This is Australia’s story as I see it. What are the stories in the northern hemisphere?

In 1988 the United Nations published the Brundtland Report. ‘It was the result of the deliberations of an impressive panel of international experts chaired by the Prime Minister of Norway and convened as the World Commission on the Environment and Development. It ought to be compulsory reading for every educator in the world.’ That statement was made by the late Professor Hedley Beare, Professor of Education, University of Melbourne, in The Curriculum for the 1990s. A New Package or a New Spirit?’ published by the Australian College of Education, 1989. It required STEAM at least. Not this 2020 separation of STEM from HASS. Hedley Beare wrote: ‘Since the Earth is a living entity. The Earth can become sick.

He went on, quoting the Brundtland Report: ‘Most of today’s decision-makers – it was 1988 – will be dead by the time Earth feels the full impact of illnesses like: acid precipitation, global warming, ozone depletion, or wide spread desertification and species loss. In 2020 we feel it happening. Still, we have corporations, governments ignoring the evidence.

Australian climate change policy to 2015: a chronology.
In 1976 the Australian Academy of Sciences reported – ‘human activities are likely to contribute to warming.’ In 1979 the first International Conference on climate change was held. In 1989 Hedley Beare was encouraging educators to face the future needs of our young people. Brundtland saw young people, in 1988, as needing to lead the charge. How old ARE they now? It is the adults who do the voting!
Australia had a Hawke Labor government From 1984. In 1989 it considered emissions targets. In 1990 we adopted the Toronto Target. In 1992 the government set up the National Greenhouse Response Strategy (NGRS), endorsed by every State in the Federation. In 1994, Australia met its first commitment to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – the UNFCCC. [Remember this. Corporations, not wanting to change, had the language softened from the more urgent sound of ‘global warming’.]

Then came 1996 and the influence of climate deniers in the media. Finally, we established a carbon price mechanism from 2010 to 2012. [The Coalition government was defeated in 2007.] ] Our emissions were going down! Then came 2013 and according to the new Australian Prime Minister, ‘climate change [was] crap’. Our human contributions to climate change were rejected. In 2020, we have a Coalition government opening the door to oil and gas exploration in and near the Ningaloo Reef and near Sharks Bay, a World Heritage site on the coast of Western Australia. And there’s logging. This Federal government is talking about a gas-led, fossil fuel so-called ‘transition’, not aiming for zero emissions by 2050! Nor is it willing to establish the independent, national environmental protection authority, as advised in Graham Samuel’s interim report, to save Australia’s fire, drought and flood ridden, fragile environments from State and /or Federal politicking and corporate profiteering. NOW – Australia’s National Farmers’ Federation wants a climate policy!

Professor Hedley Beare gave us this knowledge and made this plea for us 31 years ago!

Regeneration or Degeneration.

Where is there concern for bio-diversity? Is it enough in our governments?

What have our extremes of climate been telling us? Think of our fires. Check NASA’s fire map!

Consider the question on the cover of ‘Encounter 2020’, the Flinders University raises. issue.

The only constant in life is change. But is it in the right direction?’

Regeneration is the direction if we choose wisely.

Fresh green regrowth growing on burnt trees in the morning sun after forest fire in Australia

Found in SENT  –  Internode.on.net Mailbox.

or

Amazon fires increase by 84% in one year – space agency …

www.bbc.com › news › world-latin-america-49415973

The largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming. It is also home to about three million species of 

Logging is ripping apart the Solomon Islands. One man is …

www.nationalgeographic.com › science › 2020/01 › de…

And in Australia! 850 coal seam gas wells for the Pilliga Forest in NSW …

www.youtube.com › watch      2:05

And that is not all, of course. Logging in old growth forest in the Tarkine in Tasmania and protesters. fighting to protect it from the Liberal government and the logging companies, are treated as criminals. It’s not just Liberal. The Labor State government of Victoria has allowed loggers into the areas burnt in bushfires. When the great trees, burnt or otherwise, are gone so are the real carbon sinks. So are the hopes of life for all of us. We are part of the animal kingdom. When we destroy forests, we are – slowly – destroying ourselves. That was the warning in 2016. Now the NSW Liberal government, despite the impact of the fires, is letting Santos go ahead. And this Coalition government is offering our money to help it to happen.

Professor Corey J A Bradshaw is a Matthew Flinders Fellow in Global Ecology in the College of Science and Engineering. [See his extensive credentials on page 16.]

He describes the catastrophes. Our massive contribution to mammal extinctions in Australia. The way we approach water management!! Almost 70% of the Earth’s land surface has been altered by humans. What can we do? That is the question as voters we need to consider. It will be no good moaning afterwards if we allow worse to happen. Democracies have to deal with who wins – and why they are allowed to win. Who we hand the power to! And for how long!!

Professor Bradshaw describes what we’ve done and gives answers. ‘We can demand a more responsible government and tougher legislation to protect our native plants and animals.

We can insist on development that does not require additional deforestation and we can restore great tracks of previously stripped land. [All the clearing under Howard and since!]

We can implement a broad network of clean energy technologies to transition our emissions-heavy economy toward one with a low footprint and we can invest in smarter low water agriculture. [ See the post for June 2020 ‘Complexity and Stability’.]

On a community level, during pandemic restrictions, we have been forced to re-think how and where we work, how our food is grown and distributed, and how cities can support this transition – all aspects that can reduce the impact of climate change.’

As I report Professor Bradshaw’s presentation of what we can do, I remember a Year II Drama teacher, Gay Maynard, at Marion High School studying a theme with her English students – ‘Stepping Lightly on the Earth’. That was in the late 1980s. The Humanities were ‘doing their bit’ thirty years ago! The evidence was in teachers in schools knew it. They were making the connections we need. [Those students are voters in their forties now. ]

In Australia now, this Coalition government is going to increase the cost of Humanities degrees by 113% and decrease the cost of degrees in science, maths and IT.  They are going to exacerbate the divide, focusing on STEM! And this Coalition has a gas-focused, fossil- fuelled committee, chosen by the Prime Minister, to look to our future. Besides this fearsome direction, we have loggers and miners, being supported by governments – Federal and State.  All this, while this global corona virus offers time and a chance for us to re-think. Multi-nationals and foreign companies and commercial media moghuls do not have to live with the results of their actions. Cultures destroyed. Fragile environments destroyed. Regeneration made almost impossible. Still. they and their shareholders made money.

A reason to go back to 1984.

To George Orwell’s novel? Perhaps. Secret trials in the name of national security! This pandemic used, in the name of ‘flexibility’, to undermine the conditions of workers?

No! A cry from the heart. Professor Arthur Peacocke, Dean of Clare College, Cambridge. When and where?  In Australia, at the celebration of the Silver Jubilee Conference of the Australian College of Education in Canberra, May 5th – 9th 1984. His subject? On being humanly and scientifically educated. His contribution to the overall theme. The Human Face of Technological Change.

Remember. We were well into that damned ‘two cultures’ divide by 1984.

What Professor Peacocke was observing in 1984 in the UK resonates with me in 2020?

Under the heading Science and Technology as Human Explorations, writing of the role of imagination and intuition in making a new creative synthesis, Professor Peacocke made this suggestion. And here come the questions. ‘Might not the whole atmosphere of the relation between the sciences and the humanities be transformed if the sciences were, once again, to be conceived as an aspect of human culture. as implied by their old-fashioned designation as ‘natural philosophy’? And might not this attitude of exploration be partly conveyed, more than hitherto, by introducing young people – by history, biography and autobiography – to the mental and spiritual journeys of key non-scientific figures in the life of humanity, as well as to the lives and thought processes of central, formative figures in scientific revolutions, such as Newton. Darwin and Einstein?’  Those are his questions.

Now! And listen to his change in tone. ‘Surely this would be better than the enormity that has disfigured the introduction of information technology to young people in my own country, at least, namely, the obscenity that this has occurred almost entirely through computer games centred entirely on violent conquest. Or, to put it another way (and as Socrates might have said today):

Until humanists are technologists, or the scientists and technologists of this

world have the spirit and power of the humanities, and technological greatness

 and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either or

the other, are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils –

no, nor the human race, as I believe – and then only will this our State have a

possibility of life and behold the light of day.’   (cf. Plato,  Republic, V) [p. 94]

 In 2020, we separate STEM as though it has nothing to do with HASS in the acronym-based national Australian curriculum. We know about the dangers in this separation. Totally mechanistic. No interest in human consequences.  Here, while the pandemic rages, we have fossil-fuel lobbyists pushing oil, gas and still coal! The world has technologists, owners of great Internet organisations, ignoring questions of ethics and morality. In Australia, the Coalition government intends to increase the cost of a humanities degree by 113%. That is an obscenity! We have computer games of violent conquest. On television, The Game of Thrones!

Evils facing the human race? Might they not only be the exponential rate of global warming? Might they not include the idea of spending on armaments as part of an economic ‘rescue’? In 2020, our Treasurer says he will follow Reagan! How much did Reagan spend on ‘Star Wars’?

The Pilbara – Macquarie University

Moving away from the evils facing the human race, to other human explorations. Back to Robyn Williams and our ABC Radio National Science Show –  And ‘NASA in the Pilbara, WA.’ There is more to this episode besides space travel. ‘The Pilbara, situated in the north of Western Australia, is like nowhere else on Earth.  This is why NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) scientists travelled to there to train for their Mars 2020 missions that will specifically search for life on the red planet.Sep 3, 2019.’ NASA scientists have travelled to the Pilbara to find out more …

Bridging the worlds of science and the humanities.

The Lewis Thomas Award for the Scientist as Poet.

That is the reason behind the International Lewis Thomas Award for Writing About Science, an annual literary prize awarded by The Rockefeller University[1] to scientists or physicians deemed to have accomplished a significant literary achievement; it recognizes “scientists as poets.” Originally called the Lewis Thomas Prize for the Scientist as Poet, it honors individuals who bridge the worlds of science and the humanities. Winners of the Lewis Thomas Prize are celebrated for their ability to express science’s aesthetic and philosophical dimensions, providing new information and inspiring reflection.

Thanks to our ABC we had the pleasure of listening to Dr Sylvia Earle, a recipient of the  Lewis Thomas Award.

Australia’s Ocean Odyssey: A Journey Down The … – ABC iview

iview.abc.net.au › show › australia-s-ocean-odyssey-a-j…

Our wonderful, publicly-owned Australian Broadcasting Corporation and our CSIRO produced this outstanding documentary. Australia’s Ocean Odyssey describes the life of the eastern ocean current from the Great Barrier Reef to the Antarctic. And the impact of global warming on the source of life in the current! We are seeing just what our east current does. Unfortunately, at the same time as we have been watching this documentary, the Australian government is undermining connections by putting the humanities out of the reach of many.

We had the pleasure of seeing and hearing the voice of Dr Sylvia Earle, a great oceanographer. She was awarded the Lewis Thomas Prize in 2017. She showed us the importance of marine conservation here.

Dr Sylvia Earle – (photo by Todd Brown)

‘Dr Sylvia Earle is the National Geographic Society’s explorer-in-residence. She has led more than 100 ocean expeditions around the world and pioneered the development of deep-ocean technology, including research submarines. Known internationally as a speaker, author, and advocate for marine conservation, Earle conducts field and laboratory studies that have led to the discovery of new plant and animal species and to the identification of new deep-water ecosystems.’ ‘To understand the oceans, science needs and benefits from great explorers,’ says Jesse H. Ausubel, director of the Program for the Human Environment and chairman of the Lewis Thomas Prize selection committee. ‘Sylvia Earle is one of the most important ocean explorers of the last 50 years, and she brings a spirit of inspiration to everything she does. Her writing has inspired people to pursue careers in ocean science and in conservation, and she’s an enormously effective advocate for creating marine-protected areas in the U.S. and around the world.’ We heard from Dr Earle and Australia’s dedicated men and women of science trying to help us realise what we have. [I include Sylvia Earle’s global mission here.]

About Mission Blue – Mission Blue

mission-blue.org › about

BUT, when, in educational terms, we are learning the vital importance of connections. why, in Australia, has our Coalition government decided to separate the sciences from the humanities in this way?  This Coalition government intends to make Australia’s humanities students pay 113% more for their degrees while they decrease the fees for science students And they are to pay this exorbitant amount so there is no cost – ‘zero impact’ – on this government’s budget!

STEM not STEAM. This is the madness facing us ‘down under’.

Why would an Australian government decide to punish those who study the humanities?

Thanks to our ABC and our CSIRO, with Sylvia Earle in our homes, we felt the wonder of how the tiniest life, upwelling, influences cloud and rain. And we saw what happens when oceans are warming! We saw the sea grasses. Grasses that flower in the sea. We saw how the sea grasses are threatened. Scientists as poets, who receive the Lewis Thomas Award, are being acknowledged as great educators.

Complexity and Stability

We have been warned again and again about the danger of over simplification. Life is complex. For some reason, our national education system still fosters subjects as silos, rejecting multidisciplinary approaches when we know they are essential if we are to save what we can of the planet from ever increasing global warming. We still in Australia focus on STEM instead of STEAM. And actions by governments can work for worse rather than better.

We have to take in the terrible impact of ignorance among the politicians. Insanity is in the refusal to face the result of the destruction of bio-diversity. Look at the loggers destroying old growth forests. Protectors of forests are put in prison or fined.  Or killed in the Amazon. And the pandemic appears to be letting loose those who would push for business without regulation just to recoup what they call costs. The pandemic has given us time to think.

Read City of Trees by Sophie Cunningham OAM. Stories of trees here and in USA. I named her in a previous blog mentioning her presence at the Adelaide Writers’ Festival.

Look at developers caring nothing about loss of forest, loss of connections in bio-diversity. Look at the hunger of gas and oil and coal men and all their shareholders. Profit today. Tomorrow – toxic for land, rivers, lakes, sea, atmosphere and people. When did Rachel Carson write ‘Silent Spring’?  She quoted Keats ‘And no birds sing’. Why don’t we learn?

 And have you heard politicians accusing meteorologists of manipulating the data? We have a Senator in Australia, a member of the Liberal National Party promoting coal and other fossil fuels who has, in his cowardly fashion, dared to use parliamentary privilege to attack the integrity of our BoM.  It is for that reason I have added this information from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. Would he attack their integrity?  Or just our important, reliable Bureau of Meteorology in Australia south of the equator!

Land of ice – abc.net.au

From the northern hemisphere, take note of this information, In April, a report from the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation confirmed the past five years have been the hottest on record globally. The state of the climate 2015-2019 report found: sea level rises are accelerating; Arctic sea ice, glaciers and ice sheets continue to decline; there has been an abrupt decrease in Antarctic sea ice; and more heat is being trapped in the oceans, harming life there, while heatwaves and wildfires are becoming an ever-greater risk. The findings are based on computer-generated analyses using billions of measurements from satellites, ships, aircraft and weather stations around the world, C3S said. C3S is implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts on behalf of the European Commission. That Australian Senator wouldn’t dare attack their integrity.

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2020/06/10/temperature-arctic-circle-reached-30c-yesterday-12830925/?fbclid=IwAR1b-iKABzipwd0C2tvL4Bh5GBvRhQs6-9SbYrerL-ukMHiE3qkqXsbDUlM?ito=cbshare  

And, on our ABC Radio National’s Science Show, June 13th 2020, listen to the interview, recorded in 2011, in which Robyn Williams spoke to a great Australian, Lord Bob May of Oxford.  He’d have preferred it to have been ‘of Woollahra’. From Sydney to Princeton, to the job of the UK’s Chief Scientist. Bringing physics into biology and moving from there into ecology with the knowledge of mathematics that helped to prove the essential connection between stability and complexity. He helped the UK to wake up to climate change. He also shows the problem of relying on economists!  How often do they base their assertions on evidence? We need to be taking note of the ecologists, not the mining and media magnates.

The Science Show – Full Program Podcast

Vale the professor of everything – So worth hearing. Worth sharing with others.

4 hours ago · 54 mins

Play episode

By NBeale – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons,wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8045435

Lord May enabled the UK to be far ahead of Australia regarding climate change. Thanks to our indispensable Australian Broadcasting Corporation whose capacity to inform and support all Australians in so many ways needs our recognition and reinforcement.

Fear for the Amazon and us.

From the ABC RN’s Science Show, May 23rd 2020.

4 hours ago · 54 min

Play episode

The plunder and destruction of the vast Amazon forests have been so terrible, that by 2035, they will cease to be a sink for CO2. The burning was so bad last year that the holocaust featured on the cover of The Economist magazine. This week The Science Show receives its first report from Ignacio Amigo who lives in Manaus and writes for the journal Nature.

A young woman reminds us we can help to ease the rate of global warming by our decisions and our actions. And so many of us in our daily lives are doing what we can. But what about when governments and corporations, by their decisions and actions, do the opposite.

In Australia, imagine a Murdoch-media-supported, Minerals Council-supported, fossil fuel magnates-supported, supposed gas-led transition, instead of clean energy. To be funded through the revenue provided by our citizens who pay taxes and contribute to the revenue we need. That’s what appears intended. The Federal Australian government subsidizes mining and allied industries with $29 billion a year. [IMF figures] Now they intend to foster the expansion of gas as a source of energy and profit in the name of ‘transition’!

A logging coupe in Victoria, Australia. Image: Ken Deacon

Consider also the impact of logging, the refusal to foster the regeneration of burnt forests, while we try individually to lessen the impact of global warming!  All that logging destroying forests in Australia. And governments are encouraged by corporations to remove protection of the environment and care nothing about the decline in bio-diversity. All this when we have the approach to education and government we need. Read https://www.monbiot.com/2020/05/17/university-of-life/ by George Monbiot.

‘The Fragile Species’

Consider the brain as a forest. Think of what that might suggest.

The neuroscientist, Christof Koch asks us to make that comparison.

Not just any forest. Compare it to the Amazon. Caspar Henderson quotes Koch.

Caspar Henderson, Granta Publications, London, 2017.

‘Scientists are only beginning to map the human brain, for example, revealing it as vastly more complex than any computer we can conceive. Our current understanding of physical reality is woefully incomplete. On Page 152 Koch compares the brain, not just to any forest, to the Amazon rain forest. ‘While it is not precise or literal, it reminds everyone of the diversity and complexity of the Amazon rain forest.’ He tells us: ‘The best estimate of the number of trees of the Amazon is 390 billion. Of our brain,’ he says, ‘the best estimate in terms of the neurons is about 86 billion.’ We talk of ‘logging’ as a major problem for our forests, too often for forests burnt, as they have been, in our catastrophic bushfires.

What if we are undermining the Amazon and other forests and the brain?

The Amazon rainforest is amazing. It makes its own rain. What’s the level of destruction now! The brain has other ways of being destroyed. One is by an education system that undermines the quality of thinking because its approach separates the sciences from the humanities!

Do you know this great American writer about science? Lewis Thomas M.D.?

In 1992, in his collections of essays in The Fragile Species, he wrote the following in this essay: Science and the Health of the Earth’

‘Human beings simply cannot go on as they are going, exhausting the earth’s resources, altering the composition of the earth’s atmosphere, depleting the numbers and varieties of other species upon whose survival we, in the end, depend. It is not simply wrong. It is a piece of stupidity on the grandest scale for us to assume that we can simply take over the earth as though it were part farm, part park, part zoo, and domesticate it, and still survive as a species.’ [p. 122.]

Published by Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1992

In 1992 he said, ‘We are about to learn better, and we will be lucky if we learn in time.’

http://www.rockefeller.edu › lewis-thomas-prize › about

An International Award for Writing About Science The Lewis Thomas Prize was established in 1993 by the trustees of The Rockefeller University. The prize was initially to be called for the Scientist as Poet! Here are some of the recipients: Steven Weinberg. Oliver Sacks. E.O. Wilson. Richard Fortey. Jared Diamond. Kay Redfield Jamison. Frances Ashcroft. Sylvia Earle. Atul Gawande. Siddhartha Mukherjee.

They speak clearly to all of us. Are we going to change our ways in time?

Trees for Life: Canada and Australia

Michael Christie and Sophie Cunningham.

Writers’ Week, Festival of Arts, Adelaide, Australia  – Tuesday 3rd March 2020.

Book design by W.H. Chong

Connections Sophie Cunningham makes. Richard Powers, the American author of Overstory quotes Australia’s First Nations Kakadu Elder, Big Bill Neidjie. Sophie Cunningham, this Australian author, now Adjunct Professor RMIT University’s Non/fiction Lab, acknowledges this First Nation Elder, Bill Neidjie. She thanks Magabala Books of Broome for permission to quote from Story about Feeling by Bill Neidjie and Keith Taylor.

 Read the whole review by Johanna Leggatt. Here are two excerpts.

City of Trees: Essays on life, death and the need for a forest by Sophie Cunningham Reviewed by Johanna Leggatt •  

May 2019, no. 411  ‘. In ‘I Don’t Blame the Trees’, Cunningham displays a talent for great observational detail, noting that the debate as to whether eucalypts should be removed from California’s Angel Island is loaded with inflammatory phrases such as ‘immigrant’, ‘invader’, and ‘refugee’. She resists championing the cutting down of non-native species simply because they don’t support local flora and fauna, wondering instead, quite astutely, what will replace the old trees after they are removed and pointing out that these days all of us are from somewhere else anyway.’

Like David George Haskell, author of The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature’s Great Connectors, she visits trees. Being Australian, she brings in the Eucalyptus and the Moreton Bay Fig. Compare their visits to olive trees!!! [See previous blogs re David George Haskell and Richard Powers in Sciences-and-Humanities.]

Johanna Leggatt writes: ‘Cunningham leavens her firsthand stories with summaries of scientific research and interviews. The result is an intriguing mélange of personal journey and journalism. The giant sequoia, we learn, are among the world’s oldest trees and their final numbers can be found along a belt of the western Sierra Nevada. When Cunningham walks through a grove of them, tears streaming down her face, she thinks, ‘I would lay down my life for you’. . .  Standing before old-growth trees, reaching for description, her mind stalls before their majesty. She sketches the trees instead, but even this proves challenging, with Cunningham left to wonder, ‘Is it possible to draw, or write, a forest?’

Michael Christie is a Canadian writer, whose debut story collection The Beggar’s Garden was a longlisted nominee for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize and a shortlisted nominee for the 2011 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize.

Read the whole review of Greenwood by Michael McLoughlin of ‘Readings’ in Melbourne.

“Every generation experiences a catastrophe: history can be read as a series of apocalypses. Do you think the people affected by the Dust Bowl felt like the Plebs during the Fall of Rome? Will we all feel these same experiences as conflagrations continue to decimate entire regions and the seas rise up to drown our cities? How far will we go to protect life? Will we do the right thing?’

Greenwood is a novel. As with David George Haskell – non-fiction, and Richard Powers – fiction, we have here the non-fiction of Sophie Cunningham and fiction of Michael Christie.  Both are story tellers of the highest order. Both speak to the heart of the matter.

But, in Tasmania Bob Brown and Conservation volunteers, despite the crisis, are trying to protect the takayna/ Tarkine – old growth forest – from the loggers and the insanity of the Tasmanian State Liberal government. They are being fined for protesting. They are being treated like criminals when they are caring about the future for the time when this crisis is over. Check the Bob Brown Foundation website. See the pictures of the impact of the logging already. Let us use our collective voices to fight for the future.

Offering this gem, in hope -– Find Edges by Belinda Broughton. Poet and artist.