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April 02, 2010

Requiem for a species

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"It's too late to avert catastrophic change. Our politics and institutions are too dysfunctional to make elegant adaptations. We'd better prepare ourselves for surviving as best we can".

Clive Hamilton's new book Requiem for a Species is not for the faint-hearted. But my first reaction was to think: "So? what am I supposed to do with this information?".

There is an element of fire-and-brimstone in the early part of the book. Hamilton lambasts our "greed, materialism and alienation from Nature" before advising us to "abandon the accustomed view of the future as an improving version of the past."

But his larger purpose is more pragmatic than moralisitic: he wants to help us prepare psychologically and practically for the the reality of what climate weirdness will bring.

In particular, we need abandon the traditional idea of an orderly 'adaptation' to climate change, and move instead to a strategy of continuous transformation that can account for big and sometimes unexpected impacts.

The book even ends on a positive note: Hamilton anticipates that fresh values may emerge in the era of a hot Earth—moderation, humility and respect, reverence for the natural world.

Posted by John Thackara at April 2, 2010 07:26 AM

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