A Discussion with Tim Flannery at the Athenaeum Theatre

Last night, Other Half and I attended a discussion with Tim Flannery, scientist, author and 2007 Australian of the Year, thanks to a double pass I won from the Wheeler Centre. Flannery is doing the publicity rounds for his new book Here on Earth, but host Virginia Trioli warned the audience from the very beginning, that the discussion would not necessarily be about the content of the book.

Indeed, the first part of the discussion revolved around the Gaia Hypothesis and Flannery’s unabashed man-crush on James Lovelock. Whilst the Gaia philosophy is not something that I am a massive fan of, Flannery does sell the moderate version of it fairly well.

It became apparent that Trioli had maybe a little beef with some things Flannery had said or written in the past, and at times she was quite antagonistic towards him. She’s feisty – I like that.

The most interesting part of the discussion for me was the push for a price on carbon in Australia. Flannery is of the opinion that if the Gillard government’s climate panel does not deliver a proposal to cabinet that results in the passing of legislation by June next year, critical emissions reduction targets simply will not be met and we will have a much higher mountain to climb.

Of Flannery’s books, the only one I have read is The Future Eaters, which I have a copy of in my bookshelf at home. Whilst it was at times, a little dry I found it absolutely learning about Australian megafauna  fascinating and could not believe I’d never heard of Diprotodon or Procoptodon before. I actually avoided reading The Weather Makers, which Flannery now acknowledges is a quite depressing and pessimistic assessment of climate change. I’m still not sure that I want to read The Weather Makers, but if I could get it out from my local library along with the more upbeat Here on Earth, maybe I could read them both in succession and not want to kill myself at the end of it

I find the audience at these types of things is a really weird mix of environmentally-conscious scientists (or scientifically-minded people) and hippies (I wish I could think of a better word or phrase to descirbe the people I’m thinking of, but I think you know what I mean). Like one questioner who asked ‘man, we’re like so insulated with all of our walls and locks and fences but don’t you think we should like, totally grow our own biodynamic mung beans in community gardens and totally peace out some more, man? Wouldn’t that be so groovy for climate change dude?’.

P.S. I’m going to be a bit more relaxed with my posting from now on. I am over spending more time agonising over the structure of my posts than what is actually in them. Plus hardly anyone reads them anyway! Peace out dudes 🙂

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