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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book with a strange history, 29 Jan 2010
By 
Stewart M (Victoria, Australia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Now or Never (Hardcover)
Books on climate change are hardly uncommon these days, so penning one that stands out from the crowd, or offers some form of novel analysis is becoming increasing difficult.

Tim Flannery's volume has the advantage of a less than normal path to publication compared to many books, but this does not make it a better book for all that. The book itself comprises 3 sections. The first (the bulk of the book) is a 100 page essay which first appeared in The Quarterly Essay in 2008. The second section is a series of comments on that essay, which have been published in the same journal. Only the short third section seems new - and this is limited to about five pages.

This really does sum up the problem with this book. Although it is written in Flannery's normal lucid style, it is not really a book at all. It is a short opinion piece and some responses. None of the sections of the book really seem to have enough space to fully develop the arguments presented or to provide much in the way of evidence.

The main part of the book is a strange mixture of justifiable alarm at the rate and extent of climate change, optimism about our ability to deal with these issue and what seems (at least to me) as a strange willingness to embrace the New Age aspects of Gaia.

Flannery suggests the humans are the force that Gaia has produced to allow conscious manipulation of systems, so that the climate change catastrophe can be averted. Well, I have my doubts about this - given that Gaia must have started this project a few million years ago at least. If only our politicians could be so far sighted!

Much of the rest of the book is much stronger than this, and while the Australian context may be unfamiliar to many, the central message remains clear. We need to start work yesterday.

Not all that the author suggests is supported in the comments - his positions on clean coal, meat production and the nature and placement of future(Australian) cities are all challenged.

The key strength of this book is its ability to act as a "thought provoker" - it is not a definitive book about climate change, if such a thing exists. If you have already read some material on climate change and wish to read some differing viewpoints on many issue then this is the book for you. If you are looking for an introductory account of the science that relates to the either sustainability or climate change, you may need to look elsewhere, and you could do much worse than to try The Weather Makers: Our Changing Climate and What it Means for Life on Earth by the same author.
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Now or Never
Now or Never by Tim Flannery (Hardcover - 15 Oct 2009)
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