Good Reading : June 2018
GOODREADINGMAGAZINE.COM.AU GOOD READING JUNE 2018 14 encouraged me to write an account that was both a personal journey through contemporary Australia, as much as being a political argument. I was super-excited to be working with UWA Publishing, given the amazing year they were having, including Josephine Wilson’s winning of the Miles Franklin for Extinctions, and thought Terri-Ann’s advice was really helpful. Part of what I wanted to try to do was very gently unpack the phenomenon of how we are dealing, in everyday terms, with the rising temperatures and weird weather, the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef and the deadening abridgement of hope in our political system; and a personal approach hopefully provided a more relatable way of doing that. You reference War of the Worlds byHGWellsinTheCoalTruth–how does that sci-fi classic relate to your campaign for climate action? There is a powerful analogy between the way Wells’ narrator describes the curious inaction of London’s populace, even after the Martians have landed, with the way in which we, the people of the earth, are for the most part just going on with life despite the clear and urgent threat from global warming. Metaphor ically, the Martians have landed – and we have to react as fast as possible to avoid devastation. What would you say is the current greatest obstruction to achieving effective climate policy in Australia? The malapportionment of power in Australia.Vested interests – the big polluters including particularly the fossil fuel industry - have too much power. We need to shift power in the direction of greater democracy, with people, communities, small businesses, workers and independent institutions gaining power at the expense of the big polluters. Naomi Klein is such an important writer on these matters: her work – particularly This Changes Everything and Shock Doctrine - is essential reading for these times. Is there a core message that you’re trying to communicate with The Coal Truth? Yes – get involved! The technical and policy solutions for achieving a clean energy revolution (while leaving no worker or community behind) are already with us. We have the technical and policy answers! The only thing holding us back are vested interests led by the coal industry and other big polluters: this is ‘the coal truth’ at the heart of the book. Tackling global warming is a contest over power. So it is absolutely imperative that every Australian of good will and conscience joins the struggle to take on the fossil fuel industry. If given the opportunity to host a dinner party and invite six guests – alive, deceased, or fictional – who would they be? My automatic political and vocational answer is the six world leaders with greatest power between them (leaving Trump, to one side of course – no value in that conversation). But this is an interview about books after all, so I am going to answer differently... It would be very strange not to have my darling spouse Frances Flanagan with me, so that leaves five places. I would hope that George Orwell is able to join us and that Anna Akhmatova can come along too. Hopefully Doris Lessing and Albert Camus are doing nothing that night. And, if he’s free, it would be great to have Groucho Marx join us too. The Coal Truth by David Ritter is published by UWA, rrp $29.99.