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The Western world is in the grip of a consumption binge that is unique in human history. We aspire to the lifestyles of the rich and famous at the cost of family, friends and personal fulfilment. Rates of stress, depression and obesity are up as we wrestle with the emptiness and endless disappointments of the consumer life.
Affluenza pulls no punches, claiming our whole society is addicted to overconsumption. It tracks how much Australians overwork, the growing mountains of stuff we throw out, the drugs we take to 'self-medicate' and the real meaning of 'choice'. Fortunately there is a cure. More and more Australians are deciding to ignore the advertisers, reduce their consumer spending and recapture their time for the things that really matter.
'Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss at the Australia Institute never disappoint they set out on paths others don't go down, then explore without fear or favour and finally draw conclusions about modern Australia, warts and all. It's all accompanied by passion which is why the results cannot be ignored.' - Geraldine Doogue, ABC broadcaster
'Fascinating at the same time a call to arms and a chill-pill, Affluenza challenges not just individuals, but society itself.' - Adam Spencer, comedian, mathematician and radio DJ
In Scorcher, Clive Hamilton reveals a shadow world of lobbyists and sceptics, spin and hidden agendas. He investigates a deceitful government and a compliant media. And he lays out the facts about Kyoto, carbon emissions and what governments and individuals might do, and have done.
Written with humour, urgency and great authority, this is the definitive account of the politics of climate change in Australia.
Longlisted, 2007 Walkley Non-Fiction Book Award
Clive Hamilton is the executive director of the Australia Institute and a leading authority on the economics and politics of climate change. His books include the bestsellers Scorcher, Growth Fetish, Affluenza (as co-author), What's Left? (Quarterly Essay 21) and Silencing Dissent (as co-editor and contributor).
This book is about why we have ignored those warnings, so that now it is too late. It is a book about the frailties of the human species: our strange obsessions, our hubris, and our penchant for avoiding the facts. It is the story of a battle within us between the forces that should have caused us to protect the earth, like our capacity to reason and our connection to nature, and our greed, materialism and alienation from nature, which, in the end, have won out.
And it is about the 21st century consequences of these failures, and what we can do now.
Because we don't have to take this lying down.
'Requiem for a Species magnificently captures the idea that by and large, none of us want to believe that climate change is real. It explains our inability to seriously weigh the evidence of climate change, and to take appropriate action to ensure our own survival.' - Tim Costello, CEO, World Vision Australia
'Clive Hamilton, as usual, has courageously challenged the current nature of our society in this inspirational new book.' - Graeme Pearman, former head of the CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research
Humans have become so powerful that we have disrupted the functioning of the Earth, bringing on a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene. The stable environmental conditions that allowed civilisation to flourish are disappearing.
What does it mean to have arrived at this point, where human history and Earth history collide? Clive Hamilton argues we need to rethink everything. The modern belief that we are free beings making our own future by taking control of our environment is now indefensible. We have rendered the Earth more unpredictable and less controllable; a disobedient planet. And it's too late to turn back the geological clock.
We must face the fact that humans are at the centre of the world, even if we must give up the idea we can control the planet. These truths call for a new kind of anthropocentrism, a philosophy by which we might use our power responsibly and find a way to live on a defiant Earth.
'A dark, disturbing, provocative and entirely original work, which should be read by everyone genuinely interested in the future of humankind.' Robert Manne FASSA, Emeritus Professor of Politics and Vice-Chancellor's Fellow, La Trobe University
The past two centuries delivered individual and political freedoms that promised unprecedented opportunities for personal fulfilment. Yet citizens of affluent countries are encouraged to pursue lives of consumerism, endless choice and the pleasures of the body.
Clive Hamilton argues that the paradox of modern consumer life is that we are deprived of our inner freedom by our very pursuit of our own desires. He turns to metaphysics to find a source of transformation that lies beyond the cultural, political and social philosophies that form the bedrock of contemporary western thought.
His search takes him to an unexpected conclusion: that we cannot be truly free unless we commit ourselves to a moral life. The implications of this conclusion are profound, and they challenge many deeply held beliefs in modern secular society.
The Freedom Paradox is a bold and important work that goes to the heart of what it means to be human.
'Every now and then a book that is perfect in timing and tone hits my desk. Growth Fetish is that book. It is powerful and potentially transformative.' - Rev. Tim Costello
'This book reveals the undelivered reality of economic growth and the hollow mantras of the Third Way. Growth Fetish provides a much needed road map to a new politics in a post-growth world.' - Senator Natasha Stott Despoja
For decades our political leaders and opinion makers have touted higher incomes as the way to a better future. Economic growth means better lives for us all. But after many years of sustained economic growth and increased personal incomes we must confront an awful fact: we aren't any happier. This is the great contradiction of modern politics.
In this provocative new book, Clive Hamilton argues that, far from being the answer to our problems, growth fetishism and the marketing society lie at the heart of our social ills. They have corrupted our social priorities and political structures, and have created a profound sense of alienation among young and old.
Growth Fetish is the first serious attempt at a politics of change for rich countries dominated by the sicknesses of affluence, where the real yearning is not for more money but for authentic identity, and where the future lies in a new relationship with the natural environment.
from the foreword by Robert Manne
For over a decade, the Howard government has found ways to silence its critics, one by one. Like the proverbial frog in boiling water, Australians have become accustomed to repeated attacks on respected individuals and organisations. For a government which claims to support freedom of speech and freedom of choice, only certain kinds of speech and choices appear to be acceptable.
Silencing Dissent uncovers the tactics used by John Howard and his colleagues to undermine dissenting and independent opinion. Bullying, intimidation, public denigration, threats of withdrawal of funding, personal harassment, increased government red tape and manipulation of the rules are all tools of trade for a government that wants to keep a lid on public debate. The victims are charities, academics, researchers, journalists, judges, public sector organisations, even parliament itself.
Deeply disturbing, Silencing Dissent raises serious questions about the state of democracy in Australia.
According to Hamilton, Labor and the Left must acknowledge that the social democracy of old – with its strong unions, public ownership of assets and distinct social classes – is dead. Prosperity, more than poverty, is the dominant characteristic of Australia today. Given this, should governments confine themselves to stoking the fires of the economy and protecting the interests of wealth creators? Or is there room for a political program that embodies new ideals but can also withstand economic scare tactics? This is an original and provocative account of our present political juncture by a man of the Left who accuses the Left of irrelevance. Any new progressive politics, Hamilton argues, will need to tap into the anxieties and aspirations of the nation, find new ways to talk about morality, and thereby address deeper human needs.
“The Australian Labor Party has served its historical purpose and will wither and die as the progressive force of Australian politics.” —Clive Hamilton, What's Left?
Humans have become so powerful that we have disrupted the functioning of the Earth System as a whole, bringing on a new geological epoch – the Anthropocene – one in which the serene and clement conditions that allowed civilisation to flourish are disappearing and we quail before 'the wakened giant'.
The emergence of a conscious creature capable of using technology to bring about a rupture in the Earth's geochronology is an event of monumental significance, on a par with the arrival of civilisation itself.
What does it mean to have arrived at this point, where human history and Earth history collide? Some interpret the Anthropocene as no more than a development of what they already know, obscuring and deflating its profound significance. But the Anthropocene demands that we rethink everything. The modern belief in the free, reflexive being making its own future by taking control of its environment – even to the point of geoengineering – is now impossible because we have rendered the Earth more unpredictable and less controllable, a disobedient planet.
At the same time, all attempts by progressives to cut humans down to size by attacking anthropocentrism come up against the insurmountable fact that human beings now possess enough power to change the Earth's course. It's too late to turn back the geological clock, and there is no going back to premodern ways of thinking.
We must face the fact that humans are at the centre of the world, even if we must give the idea that we can control the planet. These truths call for a new kind of anthropocentrism, a philosophy by which we might use our power responsibly and find a way to live on a defiant Earth.
'Written by an impressive list of experts across a number of disciplines, this readable text provides not only analysis but vigorous criticism-and answers.'
'This book is such a useful guide to responsible decision-making that it should be supplied in bulk to senior government officials and managers in the private sector.'
'This is a fine contribution to ecological economics coming from Australia, and of interest worldwide.'
Herman E Daly
Human well-being is wholly dependent upon the continued good health of the Earth s ecosystems. Human behaviour as it interacts with the biophysical environment is enormously complex, as governments (and individuals) who must make decisions about resource use are becoming increasingly aware. Human Ecology, Human Economy provides the basic concepts and tools for understanding how to analyse that interaction.
The book is designed to be used as a text for undergraduate and graduate students in environmental studies, human and social ecology, ecological economics, futures studies, and science and technology studies. It is also intended for interested members of the public and for policy-makers working on environmental issues, especially where these intersect with economic policy.
Human Ecology, Human Economy not only covers the basic concepts, but also moves to some of the frontiers of thinking in several case studies. It uses a problem and solution oriented approach which crosses disciplinary boundaries, drawing together elements from biology, economics, philosophy and political science.
Professor Mark Diesendorf is Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney and Vice President of the Sustainable Energy Industries Council of Australia. Among the books he has edited are The Magic Bullet and Energy And People.
Dr Clive Hamilton is Executive Director of the Australia Institute, Canberra and teaches in the Public Policy Program at the Australian National University. His books include Capitalist Industrialisation In Korea, The Mystic Economist and The Economic Dynamics Of Australian Industry.