In an age of uncertainty, Tim Flannery offers us a compelling vision of hope in the face of the greatest environmental, economic and moral issue of our time: dangerous climate change.
Throughout the many years I have known him, Flannery has been a climate-change communicator without peer in Australia and at a global level, he ranks alongside an élite few, such as Al Gore. David Attenborough describes him as being "in the league of the all-time great explorers like Dr. David Livingstone."
Such praise sits uneasily on the shoulders of an endearingly humble man. But Flannery deserves every bit of it for the way he works at the interface between sober erudition and energetic engagement.
The range of his scientific achievements is stunning. His dinosaur and mammal fossil finds altered our understanding of evolutionary history, just as his discovery of dozens of mammal species enriched our view of the present. His studies of how humans have changed their environments over time led him to his deep concern over how we continue to do so, masterfully expressed in his seminal and hugely influential 2006 best seller, The Weather Makers.
Flannery now devotes himself to promoting action based on science to preserve our planet's future, efforts that were rewarded when he was named Australian of the Year for 2007. Whether decked out in his favorite Akubra hat surveying the remote hinterland for clues to our previous occupations, or furiously building a network of alliances to protect our planet, he manages to combine the roles of crusader and teacher, activist and academic. We owe him much.
Peter Garrett is Australia's shadow minister for climate change, environment and heritage, and the former lead singer of Midnight Oil
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