Archive | September, 2012

It’s getting hot out there – review of ‘Madlands’ by Anna Rose

20 Sep

Madlands is a behind the scenes look at the ABC documentary – I Can Change Your Mind on Climate Change. To produce the program, climate change campaigner Anna Rose and climate sceptic and Liberal Party powerbroker, Nick Minchin lived in each other’s pockets for four weeks. They travelled from a parched farm in New South Wales to a climate station in Hawaii to the Barrier Reef. The premise of the program was that each of the protagonists would get the chance to try to change each other’s minds by introducing them to experts in their field. This is Anna’s account of that journey.

Anna Rose has been an environmental campaigner since the age of fourteen. She has always been driven, she says, by a sense that she can make a difference.

While I already had an interest in climate change, I found this book an eye-opening window into the world of the climate sceptic. If over 97% of scientists are convinced and countries like Tuvalu and Bangladesh are feeling the effects of rising sea levels, how is it that many people are so apathetic?

While most European countries are embracing renewable energy, Australia, the third most energy hungry economy in the world, lags behind in its dependence on coal. With the possibility of transitioning to renewable energy within ten years, Anna believes it is time for those who say we can’t to get out of the way of those who can.

Well written, engaging, and filled with the author’s passion and urgency, I found Madlands a page turner. Driven by a sense that time is running out, Anna Rose spent her honeymoon in Byron Bay writing this book. As she says, ‘The best time to act was yesterday, but the second best is today.’

On a personal note, I am currently attempting to write a romantic comedy about climate change as part of my Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Queensland. Possibly a strange idea, but someone had to do it.

This is my 12th review for the Australian Women Writers Challenge. 

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Death stalks us from behind at the Brisbane Writers Festival

10 Sep

One of the highlights of the Brisbane Writers Festival last weekend was seeing Chris Turney talking about Antarctica. My interest in Antarctica is spurred on by the fact that I am currently writing a novel set in that location. This is a bit of a challenge considering I have never been there. I live in hope!

Chris has just written an account of the 1912 season in Antarctica which saw no less than five expeditions set out on a journey of scientific discovery.

Famously, of course, the Norwegian team led by Amundsen won the race to the South Pole, with the British expedition led by Scott getting there one month later and perishing on the return journey. Also on the move were a German team, a Japanese team and an Australian team, led by Mawson.

Antarctica, Chris told us, didn’t even begin to be explored until 1820. Before that, it was just shown as ‘unexplored territory’ on the map.  Venturing down there, then, was the equivalent of space travel – a voyage into the complete unknown.

They gnawed on huskies, they spent the winter on a ship bound by ice, they were blown off their feet in blizzards… And despite all that, they brought back data which changed the face of science.

Antarctica has inspired some truly great lines. Who can forget ‘I am just going outside and may be some time.’ (Oates) ‘Food lies ahead, death stalks us from behind.’ (Shackleton) or ‘Great God! This is an awful place.’ (Scott).  It seems like the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration brought out the inner poet in them all.

The image below was taken by Frank Hurley. Hurley was a photographer on Shackleton’s expedition who dived into the icy water to save his photographic plates from their ship which was crushed by sea ice and about to sink. They don’t breed them like that anymore.

On a slightly less heroic note, anyone living in the Clarence has no excuse not to join Jessie Cole and myself at a library visit. On Friday 14th we will be at Iluka, Yamba and Maclean and on Tuesday 18th at Bellingen and Grafton. There will be refreshments (no huskies)! What more could you ask for?