June 2009

Arts & Letters

‘A Blueprint for a Safer Planet: How to Manage Climate Change and Create a New Era of Progress and Prosperity’ by Nicholas St

By Alexandra de Blas

For Nicholas Stern, the UN climate-change conference in Copenhagen in December is the "most important international gathering since the Second World War". If we fail to get it right, we risk years of dangerous delay, with dire consequences for the Earth and for future generations.

In A Blueprint for a Safer Planet, Stern argues that we have the knowledge to act now, and that the outcome will be a cleaner, safer, more biodiverse and more prosperous world. The alternative - business as usual - will cost more, undermine growth and lead to immense conflict, dislocation and loss of life. Stern slices through the flawed arguments of prominent economists who call for initial action to be small-scale. Delay will greatly exacerbate the burden on society. There is no time to waste. The argument about whether we should act strongly and urgently is over - or should be.

Stern is a former Chief Economist of the World Bank and the author of the influential Stern Review on the economics of climate change. His short, accessible and comprehensive blueprint outlines how to move toward a global agreement, and gives those following the Australian debate a broader, international context.

Climate change and world poverty are the two big issues of the century and the solutions to each are inextricably linked. For Stern, we either succeed on both or fail on both. The book is sprinkled with examples of effective policies and strategies for reducing emissions while fostering new industries and jobs. It will be particularly valuable for those in business and politics and has the potential to be a significant catalyst for change.

Although Blueprint takes a stronger position than the Stern Review, many environmentalists and scientists will find the politically pragmatic target it aspires to - holding greenhouse-gas concentrations at or below 500 ppm CO2e - unacceptably weak. Scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change argue that it is dangerous to go beyond 450 ppm, while new evidence has led the Potsdam Institute's Hans Schellnhuber and others to call for tougher limits of around 300 ppm.

No matter how effectively we cut emissions, however, the climate is warming. This well-written book shows how and why all countries should be planning to adapt to the immediate threat.

From the front page

Image of Anthony Albanese

How to be a prime minister

The task ahead for Anthony Albanese in restoring the idea that governments should seek to make the country better

Image of the Kiama Blowhole, New South Wales

The edge of their seats

Lessons from Gilmore, Australia’s most marginal electorate

Image of Peter Dutton and Sussan Ley

The future of the Liberal Party

Peter Dutton doesn’t just have a talent problem on his hands

Image of Australian Army Cadets on parade. Image via Alamy

Ghosts in the war machine

Does the military attract violent misanthropists, or are they forged in murky theatres of war?

In This Issue

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

The return of deficit economics

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

Cold comfort

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

Haiku hikers

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

Hollywood ending


More in Arts & Letters

Image of Fonofono o le nuanua: Patches of the rainbow (After Gauguin), 2020. Image courtesy of Yuki Kihara and Milford Galleries, Aotearoa New Zealand

The dream machine: The 59th Venice Biennale

Curator Cecilia Alemani’s long overdue Biennale overwhelmingly features female artists and champions indigenous voices and other minorities

Image of Daniel Boyd, ‘Untitled (TBOMB)’, 2020

Mission statement: Daniel Boyd’s ‘Treasure Island’

An AGNSW exhibition traces the development of the Indigenous artist’s idiosyncratic technique, which questions ideas of perception

Image of Bundanon

Shades of grey: Kerstin Thompson Architects

The lauded Melbourne-based architectural firm showcase a rare ability to sensitively mediate between the old and the new

Still from ‘Men’

Fear as folk: ‘Men’

Writer/director Alex Garland’s latest film is an unsubtle but ambitious pastoral horror, mixing the Christian with the classical


More in Noted

Cover of ‘Trust’

‘Trust’

The American novelist Hernan Diaz audits the silence of great wealth in a story of four parts presented as novel, autobiography, memoir and diary

Still from ‘Irma Vep’

‘Irma Vep’

Olivier Assayas revisits his 1996 film in a delicious palindromic limited series, in which a frazzled director remakes his ‘Irma Vep’ film into a TV series

Cover image of Louise Kennedy’s ‘Trespasses’

‘Trespasses’

The powerful debut novel from Irish author Louise Kennedy is a masterclass in emotional compression

Cover image of Paul Dalla Rosa’s ‘An Exciting and Vivid Inner Life’

‘An Exciting and Vivid Inner Life’

Alienations and fantasies of escape unify the stories in Australian author Paul Dalla Rosa’s debut collection


Online exclusives

Image of Australian Army Cadets on parade. Image via Alamy

Ghosts in the war machine

Does the military attract violent misanthropists, or are they forged in murky theatres of war?

Composite image showing John Hughes (image via Giramondo Publishing) and the cover of his novel The Dogs (Upswell Publishing)

A dog’s breakfast

Notes on John Hughes’s plagiarism scandal

Image of Erin Doherty as Becky Green in Chloe. Image supplied

App trap: ‘Chloe’

‘Sex Education’ writer Alice Seabright’s new psychological thriller probing social media leads this month’s streaming highlights

Pablo Picasso, Figures by the sea (Figures au bord de la mer), January 12, 1931, oil on canvas, 130.0 × 195.0 cm, Musée national Picasso-Paris. © Succession Picasso/Copyright Agency, 2022. Photo: © RMN - Grand Palais - Mathieu Rabeau

‘The Picasso Century’ at the NGV

The NGV’s exhibition offers a fascinating history of the avant-garde across the Spanish artist’s lifetime