We look for ways to avoid environmental catastrophe with Tony Juniper, Erik Hirschfeld, Gill Lewis and Tony Ryan
No literary festival is complete without a little environmental disaster – population explosion, global warming, mass extinction, they’re all guaranteed to fill a tent. Here at the Edinburgh international book festival some authors are looking beyond the state we’re in and trying to plot a way out of this mess.
For Tony Juniper the answer is in the numbers – in forcing politicians to add the work nature does for us for free into their economic calculations. He discusses the vital role played by the vultures in India with Erik Hirschfeld, and explains how ransacking the Earth would no longer turn a profit if business was obliged to account for the cost of environmental degradation.
The children’s author Gill Lewis has been charting the relationship between man and beast in three novels for children featuring an osprey, a dolphin and now an Asian black bear. We caught up with her among the foliage of Edinburgh Zoo to explore whether fiction can change the emotional climate of the debate.
Back in Charlotte Square, Tony Ryan’s answer to our predicament is staring us all in the face. He tells us what’s wrong with organic farming and makes the case for genetically modified food, but according to Ryan the only hope for mankind is in solar power. The technological solutions are within our grasp, he says, all we need is the political will to make it happen.
What Has Nature Ever Done For Us? by Tony Juniper (Profile)
The World’s Rarest Birds by Erik Hirschfeld (Princeton University Press)
Moon Bear by Gill Lewis (Oxford University Press)
Project Sunshine by Tony Ryan (Icon)