19 October 2010 Main Posts Non-fiction review: Here on Earth Georgia Claire Here on Earth Tim Flannery Text Flannery’s new book Here On Earth reads like a cross between Bill Bryson and Jared Diamond, which is reassuring given it has the title of a Leelee Sobieski film. It also sort of makes sense; both of these authors have read and commented on the book, and Diamond is referenced throughout. Flannery has clearly read their work and is borrowing from their styles, which I enjoyed. The book talks a lot about the Gaia Hypothesis and essentially argues for it throughout. For those unaware, the Gaia hypothesis states that the world as a whole tends to act as a singular organism and has many feedbacks and other mechanisms to maintain a given state. I personally am not a fan. I believe the world does a lot of things we don’t understand and certainly has all sorts of negative and positive feedback models going on, but I find both the name of the hypothesis and many of the people claiming to adhere to it irritating. It’s all a bit hippy-pie-in-the-sky from where I’m sitting, and I was surprised to find Flannery advocating it. That said, he makes a lot of good arguments for the ability of the planet to maintain itself, and then moves on. He refers to the Gaian hypothesis in opposition to a Medean mindset; if I caught the gist of it, one is about working for a common good while the other is about fighting for individual goals. His argument is that one will lead to the saving of the planet – because we’ve succeeded in doing it before – while the other will lead to slowly deteriorating lives or dying in the event of climate change. It’s uplifting reading, particularly the statistics on the expected death tolls from climate change. Being Flannery, the book ranges far and wide. He considers the development of Darwinian and Wallacian views of evolution and their social impacts, and asks what would have happened socially had the survival of the fittest view not prevailed. He also looks at many of the unknown and unexpected impacts of the lives we live at the moment, with a particularly fun section on PCBs and hormone disruptors, and non-prescription medications. Suffice to say that if Australia had vultures, I’d need a new muscle relaxant. It’s an enjoyable book but I got to the end wondering what it was meant to achieve. Certainly, arguments for compromise and cooperation are always valuable, but I don’t feel it particularly shifted my worldview or offered any prescriptions for action. Still – it’ll make a great Christmas present for my Dad. Georgia Claire More by Georgia Claire Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 11 November 202211 November 2022 Main Posts On the last day of Subscriberthon, our amazing online editor gives you one last (very good) reason to subscribe Editorial team What's in store for the last day of Subscriberthon? First published in Overland Issue 228 10 November 202210 November 2022 Main Posts On the second-last day of Subscriberthon, our favourite editor-duo give you reason #1002 to subscribe to Overland Editorial team What's in store for the second-last day of Subscriberthon?