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Powell's Q&A

Tim Flannery

Describe your latest project.
The Weather Makers is about the history and future impact of climate change. As a palaeontologist by training, I understand how influential climate change has been in shaping life on Earth. And as a mammalogist I've seen the indications of climate change firsthand as I've conducted fieldwork. Yet it was only reading the computer-generated projections of how climate change could develop this century that really brought home the significance of what I'd learned and experienced. Those projections indicate that a great wave of extinctions, driven by climate change, may occur this century. Avoiding that was my motive for writing the book. The issue is urgent. I hope my book will let people see the scale and nature of the problem we have created, and empower them to do something about it. Because the point is: we know enough about climate change to act.

Introduce one other author you think people should read.
I'm just discovering Kate Grenville, who really knows how to write.

Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
"A man's heart was a deep pocket he might turn out and be amazed at what he found there."
Kate Grenville, The Secret River

How did the last good book you read end up in your hands and why did you read it?
Recently I received a copy of David Attenborough's Life in the Undergrowth to review for the New York Review of Books. I loved it and I loved writing the review, which included two other eye-opening books about the secret lives of insects.

Describe the best breakfast of your life.
It was in a village high in the Arfak Mountains of Irian Jaya (now West Papua) in 1990. I'd been walking for five days. The lady of the house kindly made a soup of one of the giant rats I'd caught in the forest on the way up. Delicious, like the finest beef consommé.

What is your favorite indulgence, either wicked or benign?
Very old and rare books.

Why do you write?
I write because I want to understand how the world works and because I enjoy it.

Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
I was browsing in a bookshop in New York around the time Throwim Way Leg came out and a very attractive woman noticed me and smiled and said, "I really loved your book, Throw Your Leg My Way." She was patient and kind, and when I finally stopped blushing and could speak we had a nice conversation. spacer

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