Australia is home to many animals and plants found nowhere else on earth, making Australians caretakers of a unique heritage in a land that tolerates few mistakes. Yet, in After the Future, Tim Flannery shows that this country is now on the brink of a new wave of extinctions, which threatens to leave our national parks as “marsupial ghost towns.” Why are species becoming extinct despite the tens of millions of dollars being spent to protect nature? And what more should be done?
In this passionate and illuminating essay, Flannery tells the story of the human impact on the continent. He revisits his Future Eaters hypothesis, discussing how firestick farming helped to shape the ecology and preserve native fauna. He looks at the way recent governments, in tandem with an indifferent populace and a rabid libertarian right, have let environmental knowledge and commitments erode.
Finally, he describes new approaches to wildlife conservation and argues that Australia must take the lead on these. This is an essay that rings the alarm on behalf of the natural world, and asks us to think again about protection of its irreplaceable riches.
Correspondence discussing Quarterly Essay 48, After the Future: