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Issue Details: First known date: 2015... 2015 Australian Literature, Risk, and the Global Climate Challenge
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'Envision two scenarios, the one real the other imagined, both played out in Australia's southeast regions. In the imagined one, taken from George Turner's post-apocalyptic story “The Fittest,” the year is 2035 and parts of Melbourne are under water. The embattled city is divided into two camps, the Swill and the Sweet, who make up nine tenths and one tenth of the population, respectively. The Swill live in run-down tenement blocks in the low-lying southern and western areas of the city, which are at the mercy of rising sea levels caused by the catastrophic melting of the ice caps. The Sweet look down on the Swill, both literally and metaphorically, from their privileged vantage on the higher levels. The Swill, meanwhile, are left to fend for themselves in a daily and brutal struggle for survival: jobless, hungry, they are little more than predatory animals, a racially stigmatized underclass equivalent to Asia's barbarian hordes (Maxwell 20–21; Morgan). In the real one, the year is 2013 and parts of Tasmania have been transformed into an inferno. A devastating heatwave covering most of the southern and eastern parts of Australia has caused wildfires to spread, with its largest offshore island bearing the brunt of it. There are few deaths, but hundreds of people are displaced and irreparable damage is done to thousands of hectares of land and property. Media commentators return to that most obdurate if readily reversible of clichés, Australia as un/lucky country, linking the sins of commission (the perils of boom-and-bust economics) to those of omission (the price paid for ecological neglect).1 Spoiling as always for a fight, the British environmental campaigner George Monbiot sanctimoniously reminds his antipodean cousins that they burn twice as much carbon as his own countrymen, and that the history of Australia, framed as a “land of opportunity in which progress is limited only by the rate at which natural resources can be extracted,” doubles as a cautionary tale of what happens when “climate change clashes with a story of great cultural power.” Lest the moral of the story be unclear, Monbiot flourishingly underscores it: “Australia's new weather,” he says, “demands a new politics, a politics capable of responding to an existential threat.”' (Author's introduction)

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Last amended 11 Sep 2015 11:57:58
85-105 Australian Literature, Risk, and the Global Climate Challengesmall AustLit logo Literature, Interpretation, Theory
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