Atmosphere of hope – WORD Christchurch

What I inevitably find out at book festivals is how little I actually know! Yesterday my lack of literary knowledge was found to be lacking and today I feel equally challenged at the Tim Flannery Atmosphere of hope session. Perhaps the only thing I can say in my defence is that at least the sessions have made me think and will inevitably lead me to new books and subjects.  Maybe this is the strength of book festivals in that they engender a sense of curiosity?

Tim Flannery. Photo by Damien Pleming. Image supplied.
Tim Flannery. Photo by Damien Pleming. Image supplied.

Tim Flannery has published over 30 books, including the award-winning The Future Eaters. He has been Australian Humanist of the Year and Australian of the Year. He is co-founder and chair of the Copenhagen Climate Council, Australia’s Chief Climate Commissioner, and co-founder and head of the Australian Climate Council.

This man is impressive, but I found myself at times struggling to hear him. Simon Wilson has this big booming voice whereas at times Tim Flannery “mumbled in his boots” as my mother used to say.

Cover of Atmosphere of hopeAs the title of this session suggests Tim Flannery believes there is some hope in the climate warming situation.  This has to be carefully negotiated however because if you have too much hope then you breed complacency, but too much despair and people give up. He has great faith in innovation and believes that “the commonsense of people is our greatest resource”.  He wants to see governments having impressive innovation funds, and managed to flatter the audience by talking about how clever and innovative Kiwis are.

Perhaps the most interesting thing I learnt is that emissions growth has flatlined for the first time when an economy has been growing, and this is in large part due to the role that China is playing, having started closing down old and inefficient coal fired industries and developing clean air technologies.  This is certainly not what you hear through mainstream media.

Question time was busy …I am always interested in how many people use this time to voice their opinions rather than actually ask the speaker a question, but perhaps they know more than me?

More WORD Christchurch

Climate change: a hot topic?

Cover of Climate Change 2013It seems on the subject of ‘climate change’ one is firmly in the ‘believer’ or ‘non-believer’ camp, and ne’r the twain shall meet.

What struck me in the lead-up to our recent election was that the subject of climate change was not a ‘hot topic’. I wonder if this may have something to do with the fact that the downfall of the recent Labor government in Australia, under the leadership of Julia Gillard, may be connected directly to the introduction of a carbon tax which has since been repealed by the current Liberal government. It appears it was hugely unpopular with voters.

Hot topic? Maybe like a hot potato too hot to handle?

Where is the voice from the people of New Zealand ? Which camp are you in? What are your thoughts and ideas on the subject of climate change ?

Consider this quote:

A small change can make a big difference. You are the only one who can make our world a better place to inhabit. So, don’t be afraid to take a stand.
Ankita Singhal

If you want to become better informed, the library gives you access to several useful resources, such as:

Why We Argue About Climate Change Cover of Global Warming: A Very Peculiar History : With No Added C02 Cover of Confronting Climate Change: Critical Issues for New Zealand

For yet more resources:

Sex and climate change

Cover: SolarIt’s high time that climate change got sexed up. Off the top of my head, I can think of no more effective passion killer than those two words introduced in the heat of the moment (as it were).

Of course the library has heaps of tomes on climate change and you are at liberty to wade your way through them. But I’m talking about fiction that uses the theme of climate change to entertain us and, believe it or not, this unlikely coupling exists. Christchurch Libraries has no fewer than thirteen adult fiction books on this theme and two of them are by authors with serious literary clout:

  • Solar – Ian McEwan
  • Flight Behavior – Barbara Kingsolver (Yes, we’ve bought the American copy with the funny spelling)

Both these books do the seemingly impossible: they connect the reader to environmental problems through the sexual antics of the main characters. In Solar, Michael Beard is a short, bald, unattractive-looking academic with enormous sexual pull. Don’t say you haven’t met any men like this because I nearly married one, and I don’t believe I’m that unusual. He does the Ecological Conference Circuit presenting papers on his specialisation: wind turbines for domestic use. If you’ve read other McEwan books, prepare to be taken by surprise, as this book is very, very funny.

In Flight Behaviour, Dellarobia is Kingsolver’s main character. She is a feisty young woman who has sexual longings of great intensity for men other than her rather endearing husband. This is not a sexually explicit book, but the yearning, the longing is palpable. She describes her marriage this way:

It’s like I’m standing by the mailbox waiting all the time for a letter. Every day you come along and put something else in there. A socket wrench, or a milkshake. It’s not bad stuff. Just the wrong things for me.

Cover: Flight BehaviorBehind her home on a  Tennessee smallholding, a massive colony of butterflies makes an unexpected appearance. This event, and its effect on the small town and Dellarobia, is conveyed absolutely beautifully: God’s Will is given a long leash and then reined ever so subtly in, Science comes out of its corner pulling no punches, and relationships shift before our very eyes. But at heart, this book is a song of praise for education. Dellarobia needed it – desired it even, but her school, her community and her fertility all conspired against her.

So how do these two books differ? In Solar, you learn about Michael Beard through the subject of climate change. In Flight Behaviour, you learn a lot more about the subject of climate change through Dellarobia. I loved them both.

Hot topic

Earth Hour is just round the corner this Saturday 27th March at 8.30. It has snuck up on me this year, perhaps it’s the disappointment of Copenhagen all the posturing and no result. Although even the most optimistic of those around us did not expect much from that summit.

Skeptical though we may be that world leaders will get it right, we can do our own little bit to show we care. It’s time to turn out the lights and try not to burn down the house by lighting all those candles the kids love.

Did you miss Bob Parker’s free public forum Hot topic – are we being climate smart? It’s not to late have your say on our Christchurch’s draft Climate Smart Strategy at a series of information meetings being held between 24th of March and the 20th of April.

Become informed on these issues and explore our Earth Hour and Sustainable living pages and check out catalogue resources on climate change.

Carbon Neutral by 2020Search the catalogue for The Long ThawGetting Green Done

Come on Christchurch get involved, have your say! Can we make a difference?