Guarding Eden tells the personal stories of twelve ordinary people who were so concerned about climate change that they altered their lives to do something about it. Some did quiet backroom work in research, drafted submissions or wrote to politicians; others decided to go public, really public – one was part of the team occupying a 160-metre power-plant chimney, one went on a hunger strike publicised around the world, another started the Lock the Gate Alliance with landowners fighting coal and gas companies. They come from all walks of life: there’s a nurse, a musician, an insurance broker, a teacher, a lawyer, a vet. Surprisingly touching, Guarding Eden makes an issue as complex and controversial as climate change feel human and deeply real.
By Deborah Abela for Reading Time
This clearly and simply written book is about people who have decided to embark on peaceful action to save the planet. Each chapter is a glimpse into what a few individuals have done in the face of climate change. The facts are alarming, with some scientists believing we have already waited too long to act and catastrophic results are inevitable, but what I loved most about this book, is that these are ordinary people who focus not on what is wrong but on what we can do to make it right. As journalist and mother, Fiona Armstrong says in the book, hope and optimism are key factors to encouraging people to act and the book is full of stories of inspirational courage and direct peaceful action. There are passages that explain key phrases such as brown coal, fracking and zero emissions, and at the end of the book are helpful resources, suggestions on how to be your own climate hero and suggested debate topics. This would be a brilliant resource in schools, particularly to address the issue of sustainability, which forms one of the key aspects of the Australian National Curriculum. Highly recommended.
By Erin Forte, for Geography Teachers Association of Victoria
Deborah Hart’s “Guarding Eden” is a wonderful resource for both teachers and students. It is a call to action, illustrating how we can take small steps at a grassroots level to effect climate change. Hart also highlights the way the various individuals profiled are leading by example on how we can live better in a “post-carbon” society. Contained in the text are 12 stories of individuals who have been inspired by personal events to take action within their communities to raise awareness of how as humans we are causing damage to the environment. Ranging from community organiser, Chloe Aldenhoven, to teacher, Drew Hutton, and vet, Dean Bridgfoot, Hart offers not only personal stories of these individuals but provides the reader with the ability to get involved in local and global initiatives and other publications to become informed global citizens. The usefulness of this resource in the classroom is endless, from case studies on local and small scale initiatives to a starting point for research projects. I personally used this resource in my Year 10 and VCE Geography classes. It is on my suggested reading list for Year 11: Hazards and Disasters. For teachers I suggest having at least read this text if you teach the middle years and have it in your resource kit if you teach VCE. Although I have not always given the text to students I have most definitely used its accessible and easily understood explanation of fracking (pp. 22–23) and as an introduction to sea level rise (pp. 70–71). Also available as a free downloadable from Allen & Unwin is a Teachers’ Notes document written by Marilyn Snider that provided links to the curriculum as well as chapter by chapter activity suggestions, cross-curricular links and further reading. This is a great accompaniment to the text for those who want to extend their students but are after some guidance.
By Sue Dwyer, for Arena Magazine
During the first few chapters of Guarding Eden I wondered who Deborah Hart’s intended audience might be. I had been told the book was written for young adults but this is not immediately obvious. The publisher Allen & Unwin provides downloadable teaching notes on its website, aligned with AusVELS and designed for using with year 9 or 10 students, but there is certainly no mention of teaching or educational purpose anywhere in the book, nor in any of the marketing or bookseller materials or synopses – a fact I find rather strange. And while the book has plenty of interesting facts and information about climate change, the fossil fuel economy and the politics of activism, I wondered who would want to read them? Wasn’t it just preaching to the converted? And all that stuff is so depressing anyway, right? Wrong.
Guarding Eden has a wider reach than young adults and students. It is a book for people who are concerned about climate change, but it is also a call to action. It documents inspiring accounts of ordinary people who have given their time, energy and in some cases their whole lives to take the lead on fighting climate change. Although not all of us can drop everything to become full-time activists, there is an underlying suggestion that if we take the scientific facts about climate change seriously, we all should and could be doing more than we are. Al Gore has spoken of the “culture of distraction”, the way we keep living as if nothing is going to change. The people in this book are shining examples of how to stop distracting ourselves, roll up our sleeves and get on with the job of saving the future of humanity.
In her introduction, author Deborah Hart says she realised a decade ago that governments were wilfully ignoring the facts and everything she cared about was in danger of being lost due to global warming. She became an activist to help avert the danger and to make sure there would be “a safe and still-beautiful world” for future generations. Guarding Eden has a worthy and valuable message, written in accessible everyday language. Woven through the stories of the activists it describes, is a picture of the hundreds of groups and communities, and tens of thousands of individuals throughout Australia, who are doing so much to fight global warming on so many different fronts. Farmers, doctors, nurses, teachers, students, business people, young people, old people. The evidence from this backdrop is a strong indication that campaigns and action against coal mining and unconventional gas exploration are accelerating and becoming mainstream. While this is both reassuring and inspiring, it should not be cause for complacency but an invitation to join in.
Hart writes about some young activists without the restraints of childrearing and mortgages, but also about individuals with families and other commitments who are doing whatever they can in their communities to fight government and economic policies obstructing change. They include a businessman from a family of CFA fire fighters whose wake-up call was the ravages of the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, and the country Queenslander schoolteacher who inspired the “Lock the Gate” movement. There is the story of a nurse who wanted to be able to answer her grandchildren when they asked, “What did you do, when you knew?”, and a NSW insurance broker concerned about the health and climate effects of eating meat. Other stories are about fighting coal-mining in the Hunter Valley, the Environmental Defenders Office, and the creation of Market Forces, an organisation researching banks’ and superannuation funds’ investment in fossil fuels and campaigning for divestment. One fascinating chapter tells the story of a psychologist who cofounded a group to help people understand their and others’ responses to climate change. Psychology for a Safe Climate has studied denial, the way we protect ourselves from facing reality that scares us, and strategies for dealing with the despair, helplessness and burnout from which campaigners can suffer. She says we are afraid of facing the unthinkable, “People tend to distance themselves from an issue when it is deeply uncomfortable and challenging. This is especially so if it threatens our sense of who we are and what we stand for.”
Each chapter in Guarding Eden has breakout fact boxes with statistics, definitions and detailed information about the science of climate change, background campaigns and people relevant to the story. One describes German politician and “solar king” Hermann Scheer, who founded the World Council for Renewable Energy. He is credited with saying the main obstacle to change is political, not technical or economic. In Australia we know this to be true. Despite the international trend to move away from coal-generated power and the plummeting price of coal on global markets highlighted by the ABC’s Four Corners program “The end of coal”, the Australian Government has since announced approval for coal mining on the Liverpool Plains, continues to support the Adani mine and its associated port endangering the Great Barrier Reef, and seems to be actively discouraging investment in wind power.
In Europe and many other nations, conservative governments have embraced the need for action on climate change while in Australia both major parties are stalling. Guarding Eden discusses how our democratic systems are failing, how government policy for the past decade or more, both Liberal and Labor, has been against change. The book also details the “immoral” alliance between the energy sector and the government, including the scary tactic used by industry and government to promote and support the fossil fuel industry by the “revolving door” of positions held by senior public servants and energy industry executives. According to Hart, Australia is the fourth-biggest coal producer in the world and our emissions per capita are among the highest in the world. However Australia is playing a leading role in actively preventing renewables compared with the climate-friendly policies of countries like Germany, where nearly half a million people are involved in renewable energy jobs. A national survey in 2010 by campaign group100% Renewable, and documented in the book, claims 91 per cent of respondents wanted the Australian Government to implement much stronger policies to support new jobs and investment in renewable energy.
With regard to young adults and teenagers, Guarding Eden has the potential to inspire climate change action by showing any of us can make a difference if we are determined enough. Allen & Unwin’s teaching notes provide questions to guide reading and analysis of each chapter, with links to news articles and other resources for current context, extended reading and online activities. The Guarding Eden website also has a news page updated daily with relevant articles from many different news sources. The book has value as an English text, providing a way to increase the focus on climate change within the restraints of the Australian and school curriculum. As an alternative to reading the whole book cover to cover, single chapters could be allocated to students for individual projects.
Although Guarding Eden is written as a collection of personal profiles of activism rather than an academic book, a weakness is the lack of footnotes or sources in the text for the many snippets of facts and information it contains so that it might stand up to scrutiny more robustly. Hart includes some very general chapter notes and references at the end of the book but specific claims in the text and breakout boxes are not referenced and some claims are a little sweeping for my liking. Some chapters also took an unnecessarily long time to get to the point of the story and would benefit from a summary at the start.
Overall, however, Hart’s accounts of the extraordinary achievements of ordinary Australians driven to challenge our “addiction” to fossil fuels are inspiring. In Australia we have a head-in-the-sand government. Compared with much of the world we are affluent, comfortable and complacent. A man from El Salvador quoted in chapter 12 describes Australia as “Disneyland.” A time-old truism says if we stand by and watch something bad happen then we are as guilty as if we were doing it ourselves. The science of climate change is damning – so morally, can we just stand by and do nothing? Guarding Eden shows most of us can do something and if enough of us do something things can change. While it is alarming and sad that so much damage has already been done to our planet, humans in general are resourceful. We need to fight the fear and face the challenge. All that’s left, as Hart says in her conclusion, is to ask ourselves, “What will you do, now that you know?”
By Rebecca Ross, for English Teachers Association of NSW’s mETAphor, Issue 3, 2015
At first glance, this collection of stories from “everyday heroes” (Hart, p. 4) campaigning for action against climate change seems a natural companion piece to the Cross Curriculum Priority area of ‘Sustainability’ – particularly under Futures: “The sustainability of ecological, social and economic systems is achieved through informed individual and community action that values local and global equity and fairness across generations into the future” (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), downloaded from the Australian Curriculum website on 1 July 2015).
The book is structured as a series of vignettes, each narrated in third person to give an account of the motivations and actions of various activists – a nurse, an ecologist, a lawyer, a teacher, an insurance broker, a ‘catalyst’ (the job description involves being an ‘environment campaigner’ and direct activism in the form of non-violent protest) – in their quest to take action against big business and government policy that contribute to climate change. Each chapter includes a keyword summary at the end under the heading ‘In This Chapter’, photographs of the featured activist, anecdotes, quotes and short sections that provide a brief summary of relevant issues, information and events that pertain to the story. If you are looking to try before you buy, the website profiles each individual featured in the book and includes the first page or so of the chapter in which they appear: http://guardingeden.org.au.
The language used is very persuasive and accessible. The final section of the book is effectively a call to action, asking readers: ‘What will you do, now that you know?’ followed by a short series of debating topics and information about the Vote Climate campaign.
Students who already have an interest in the subject and who aren’t deterred by non-fiction texts (look for the students reading biographies in their spare time) will find this very engaging. Our students are keenly aware of the debate surrounding the future of our planet, and this would be a good starter for deeper research to test their own attitudes and ideas against.
What’s interesting is that this is very much a well constructed persuasion piece, not a textbook per se, and while the stories themselves do invite thoughtful discussion of the implications of climate change with reference to scientific and political thinking, the author relies on the appeal of ethos and pathos more than a comprehensive examination of evidence, statistics and facts. There is some acknowledgement of this at the end of the book:
Detailed authority for statistics, quotations and claims made in this book are available from the author. Basic sources for each chapter are given below. (Hart, p.239)
For older students, this would make an excellent case study of persuasive texts and the use of rhetoric in sustained pieces of writing. It could also be recommended for Standard students as related material for Area of Study: Discovery
This book showcases the stories of 12 climate activists – ordinary people holding a range of viewpoints and coming from diverse backgrounds. Their determination for action on climate change takes many forms from protests to court action, awareness campaigns to hunger strikes. Some activists have had personal consequences as a result of their passionate beliefs – marriage breakdowns and physical effects – but they remain focused. This book demonstrates that it isn’t easy fighting to save the planet but also stresses how utterly important it is that individuals and communities keep going.
Each chapter is a person’s story and has keywords at its conclusion to indicate its main points (although keywords may have been better placed at the start for easier reference). Some stories interlink, referring to other campaigns or individuals. Many chapters discuss the inadequacy of current environmental laws and the often short-term approach to government decision-making, and demonstrate the effect of informed community protest. There is a timeline of key events around climate change from the 1950s to 2015, and a resource section for more information that includes links to Australian activists. The book finishes with a strong section on how to keep the conversation going with tips for debating climate change. A useful book that demonstrates the ability of individuals to affect change.
Reading this book was a little terrifying. While some people deny climate change, this book makes a compelling case for believing in it. Not only that, but it makes it clear that something must be done now or our planet could suffer extreme consequences within a few decades.Each of the book’s chapters contains the story of an ordinary Australian citizen, all from different walks of life, who have one thing in common – a passion for seeing a 100% change to the use of renewable energies NOW, with no further use of fossil fuels. That fossil fuels are damaging our planet is something most people acknowledge, but if this book is correct, the situation is much more dire than most of us realise.While I’m sure there will be alternate arguments to what is presented in this book, I still think it’s a valid read and I would like to hear the arguments against what the book details, as I can’t imagine them being more compelling. It is extremely convincing and deserves to be taken seriously.
By Deborah Peden, for the English Teachers Association of Queensland
What do a vet, a teacher, insurance broker, nurse, psychologist and a fire-fighter turned entrepreneur all have in common? This group of Australians, among several others, hold the view that our planet is under serious threat from global warming due to flagrant disregard and exploitation by corporations and communities of our natural world. Guarding Eden is aptly titled with Deborah Hart presenting 12 perspectives from a range of ‘direct action’ activists who have challenged the advocates of fossil-fuel exploitation in order to save the planet. Their argument is clear: the current dramatic and traumatic climate change events here in Australia and around the world are directly correlated to severe flooding events, equally devastating droughts, bush fires and acid seas – and severely threaten the future viability of our ecosystem.
While their points of view may not be new knowledge to the reader, Hart presents their stories in a captivating and sometimes gripping manner and structures her authors’ arguments in an easy-to-read way. The book opens with an overview of what each of these climate activists are doing and how they’re challenged by the mega corporations and how they are given mere lip-service by government agencies. Hart’s book is very much structured as a David and Goliath metaphor – the weak (climate activists) striving against a much stronger adversary (governments and big business). Within each chapter, the reader is given insight and background into these climate activists: how their story began, what inspired them to action, the tactics and strategies they have employed to effect change or raise awareness, and the outcomes – sometimes leading to arrest and, occasionally, applause. (In one story, the police arrest a group of activists for breaking into an industrial compound and displaying a giant banner decrying the use of fossil fuels, only to be discreetly congratulated by these same officers.)
Hart also embeds a fact sheet within each chapter. For example, under Paul Mahony’s ‘Speaking up for the Animals’ chapter, the reader is given a brief overview on how methane gas from ruminant animals such as cows and sheep is 85 times more potent that carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. The author claims that the animal agriculture industry is responsible for at least 15 percent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. Each of the stories is passionate, emotive and inspiring: ordinary people doing extraordinary things to challenge and prevent big business and politics privileging their interests over environmental protection. That aside, Hart falls short of referencing her material and sources well enough. The arguments she promotes here are both telling and compelling but would have been given greater credence had they been more explicitly linked to credible sources.
Perhaps, too, Hart could have explored more fully the positive effects of the actions taken. One is sometimes left with the feeling that this David and Goliath battle is one in which Goliath will ultimately triumph. Or perhaps that is the impression Hart intended. In the closing pages, she quotes Vote Climate campaigners who argue that “there is no time left to be content with what is politically feasible. Slow incremental change will leave our children with an unliveable planet”. The ominous tone here might just be a way of getting the readers to recognize that we are each responsible for guarding Eden if we want future generations to enjoy our planet. At the very least, this book will have its readers reflecting on the need for action to protect our piece of Paradise.
By Brigit Skilbeck, for Quit Coal
On June 4th, Deborah Hart a Melbourne based activist and member of Quit Coal launched her new book Guarding Eden at Readings in Carlton. It is a unique read that gives an insight into what drives people to give their time, money and sometimes their personal safely and health to challenge the causes of climate change.
Guarding Eden profiles 12 Australian environmental activists, and gives an accessible introduction to current environmental threats. It illustrates the diverse strategies that activists use to to make change happen. For example, Tiffany Harrison seeks to effect change both via work as a research scientist, and via performance art as a Climate Change guardian angel.
Hart traces the unexpected life paths of activists, from Lock The Gate’s Drew Hutton, who found that caring for his own health had to take precedence over his energetic campaigning, to Dean Bridgfoot, who went from vet to renewable energy campaigner. Paul Mahony illustrates the sometimes surprising resistance his family expressed to his activism in the animal rights arena.
Julien Vincent describes the excitement of direct action in his early career, but explains that he moved towards founding divestment non-for-profit Market Forces because of the extra impact he could have:
“If pressuring companies at AGMs, writing reports or mobilising bank accounts is effective, I’ll happily do that as well. I’m just trying to do the most useful thing I can at any given moment.”
The personal narratives of activists are balanced with pithy descriptions of current environmental battlegrounds. Hart outlines the broader context and big ideas in current environment thoughts and movements, including Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything, Bill McKibben’s launch of 350.org, Naomi Orrestes’ Merchants of Doubt, and the importance of peer reviewed science research.
The book is pitched at young adult readers, but is interesting and accessible to all (and as with all young adult books, we have to ask, when does the movie come out?!). A useful resource for teachers and curriculum developers, the combination of personal narratives with topic overviews puts a human face on issues which otherwise can appear remote for school kids. It could even form a resource for a teacher looking for an innovative standpoint from which to teach the Industrial Revolution (shout out to the Year 9 History curriculum). Hart wrote a book aimed at young adults – specifically designed for use in schools years 9 & 10 English, and pitched against examples of industry rhetoric – because adolescents are major climate stakeholders, yet are lacking rights to vote, yet are uniquely gifted in challenging grown ups. Discussion questions in the final pages are sure to spark big debates.
Full disclosure: Given that Hart is a member of the Quit Coal collective, unsurprisingly Quit Coal gets considerable playtime in this book, from community organiser Chloe Aldenhoven, to founder Paul Connor, and collective members Julien Vincent and Tiffany Harrison.
Guarding Eden doesn’t give detailed climate research data or scientific analysis, its focus is clearly on telling the stories of the changemakers. It would benefit from more detail of the climate issues (the science of which is troublingly still under significant public debate, despite overwhelming scientific consensus), but Hart fortunately provides a gateway to further research.
Hart supports strategically used non-violent direct action (as does Quit Coal), and in Guarding Eden she demonstrates the thoughtfulness and context put into planning protests. Some of the actions can appear extreme, such as Connor’s hunger strike lasting more than 40 days, however one of the great qualities of the book is putting activism in context: the activists portrayed are extremely well informed on the issues they campaign for, and often use direct action as just one of the several strategies to effect change. Other less controversial strategies include community organising, education, lobbying, and research. There is no silver bullet for environmental activism. If there’s one thing you’ll learn from this book it’s that you need to try several tactics to make change happen on different levels.
Need to get a gift for your favourite surly teen, or feel like it’s time to treat yourself? You can buy the book here and learn more about the book here. All royalties are going to fund climate activism.
By Anne Sim, for Allen & Unwin
This very timely book explores some of the threats to our environment arising from climate change, and showcases the stories of individuals who have taken action to try to make a difference. Some of the environmental threats that Hart describes are alarming and thought provoking, while others are, quite frankly, terrifying. The detail of a specific environmental threat forms the background to a story of a courageous individual whose conviction that they needed to make a difference led them to find a non-violent way to make a stand against it. The overall message of the text is hopeful, in that while it outlines that Australia is facing a raft of environmental problems, it illustrates that the work of individuals can make a difference against the vested interests of corporations or the inaction of governments.
This non-fiction text explores a variety of issues of concern to secondary students. In addition to the facts and figures on different environmental problems included, it also provides information that could form the basis of deeper discussions about morals and ethics, and in particular, personal responsibility. There are also a number of elements which would support discussion and investigation into the role of government and the media in environmental issues. The organisation of the text into the separate stories of different individuals means that the text could be approached as a whole, or selected sections could be studied. The text could be used in a range of subjects, but would be particularly suited to English, Humanities or Science. Introducing this text to a Year 9 or 10 class lead to discussion of the environmental issues themselves, and also the impact of structure on the reader, the use of tone, the way individual stories and scientific facts are mixed, and the effect of other authorial choices used to present information which can be confronting and which needs to be taken seriously.
I would recommend this text for use with students in Year 9 and 10. It would appeal equally to male and female students, and particularly would engage the rising number of socially aware students with a keen interest in environmental issues.
By Ceri Davies, for Allen & Unwin
To tell the truth, this book is a little scary. Not because of the actual writing, but it brings home the reality of climate change, and its immediacy.
The book in principle is a simple one: case studies of ordinary Australians who have been moved to take action because of the imminent threat of climate change. The people are engaging and their stories are inspiring. What is it that can turn a person from their normal life, into an activist? This book lends itself particularly well to a middle school classroom. It provides a basis for classes in Geography, Science, History or English. There are even activities for individuals and groups suggested at the end of the book.
This fits well with a cross curricular focus for teachers and their students, and allows extension activities in letter writing and persuasive writing; climate investigation and likely predicted effects of climate change; oral history, biography and case studies; civics and citizenship discussions; historical sources of climate change and climate disruption; likely effects on demographics, population and economy of climate change; and personal goal setting.
Because the case studies are largely self-contained, teachers can use as few, or as many as fit with their unit or lesson plans. The structure of the book can be used to encourage students to read in smaller bites. Because non-fiction is often appealing to boys, teachers can use the individual chapters to match with the interests of individuals in their classrooms. In addition, the case studies can be used as a basis for collaborative and group work, projects and reports and presentations to the rest of the class.
I would highly recommend this book to any teacher. The pedagogical opportunities, and simple messages contained in it are inspiring, and very useful.
By Michael Cruickshank, for Allen & Unwin
My 13 year old son, on seeing this book on the table, asked, “Why have all those people got their heads buried in the sand?” What followed was the sort of discussion a teacher dreams of in a class room. Such is the power of a cover.
The voice of reason, the voice of concern, the voice of the future… or the voice of some redneck greenies? The thing about activists is they always stir the blood – one way or the other. This book is the same. All the emotions and concerns flowed through me as I read it. Each event carried a message. Every action a purpose.
An engaging book, Guarding Eden is a collection of twelve bite sized texts which recount protest actions highlighting the need for awareness of climate change. These perspectives are written by various, ordinary people.* In the class room it provides a set of similar texts on a single theme. Ideal for a paired/trio investigation and sharing, a single set of investigations caters for all with the opportunity to re-visit with a different purpose: structure of a recount or narrative; use of evidence to build stories or arguments; the shape of a protest; and so on. A useful discussion starter or spring-board to research.
*Please note: These perspectives are explored through the voices of various, ordinary people.
By Catherine Duffett, for Allen & Unwin
This non-fiction book provides stories about ordinary people who decided to take action against climate change. Each chapter focuses on an individual’s story sprinkled with snippets of background regarding the science behind climate change and related environmental and health concerns surrounding the fossil fuel industry, the Great Barrier Reef and Murray-Darling River, farming livestock and health problems associated with living near mines, to name a few.
The primary purpose of the book seems to be to tell the inspiring stories, illustrating what people can do with determination and belief in a cause and the author has achieved this purpose well. Within the school setting, the stories could be used by teachers as a way of incorporating literature into the science classroom and reading aloud relevant chapters to students to stimulate class debate on alternative energy sources, mining and climate change and whether concern for the environment warrants activists breaking the law. Each chapter ends with brief lists of what has been covered in that chapter, which would help teachers quickly identify relevant sections.
Unfortunately, this is not an authoritative source of information regarding the science behind the environmental and health issues surrounding climate change. It is an overtly biased book – with the author cherry picking and even misrepresenting scientific information to present her point of view. ‘Science tells us…invest in renewables… (they) can supply all our energy needs’ (page 5) is among the more egregious examples of the latter. The reality is that arguably the world’s most eminent climate scientist and the one who has done more than any other to bring climate change to the world’s attention, Dr James Hansen, has said “suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.” (Revkin, 2013). That we might need other tools to combat climate change, such as nuclear energy, is not even suggested, let alone examined. There are many climate activists whose visions of climate action do not entirely accord with that presented in this book, but their stories are not told. Some sources of information used by the author have not been included in the reference list, making it difficult for the reader to verify the information, however, it should be noted that the author has encouraged the reader to contact her for references used in the book.
This book could be used by teachers to stimulate students’ critical thinking about what constitutes a credible resources by examining the author’s credentials, references used, the purpose in writing the book, accuracy of the information, whether important facts are omitted and whether alternative viewpoints are presented. It could be used to look at ways that statistics can be manipulated to present a particular view point. For example, one activist is quoted (page 106) as saying “Mines now cover 18 times the area they did in 1981. Last year alone  they used more than 88.5 billion litres of Hunter water. “Using figures like this is meaningless if the reader has no idea of the total water volume of the Hunter basin, or of the proportion of land covered by mines in 1981. 18 times a very small number can still be very small. Ironically, starting date selectivity is a common strategy for climate change sceptics seeking to distort and mislead. Similarly, the use of meaninglessly large numbers without context is a typical spin tactic, not redeemed however right the cause.
The book could be used with Years 7-12, but if it’s added to a school library it should be balanced by a range of other resources with differing viewpoints. It could also be used as an exemplar of tendentiousness.
Revkin, A 2013, Jim Hansen Presses the Climate Case for Nuclear Energy, The New York Times, accessed 3 October 2015, <http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/23/jim-hansen-presses-the-climate-case-for-nuclear-energy/?_r=1>.