Tim Flannery at the 5th World Conference of Science Journalists, 2007
Timothy Fridtjof Flannery
28 January 1956
|Alma mater||La Trobe University|
|Organization||University of Melbourne, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies|
|Known for||Public speaking on the environment|
|Awards||Australian of the Year |
Timothy Fridtjof Flannery (born 28 January 1956) is an Australian mammalogist, palaeontologist, environmentalist, conservationist, explorer, and public scientist. Having discovered more than 30 mammal species (including new species of tree kangaroos), he served as the Chief Commissioner of the Climate Commission, a Federal Government body providing information on climate change to the Australian public. On 23 September 2013, Flannery announced that he would join other sacked commissioners to form the independent Climate Council, that would be funded by the community.
Flannery is a professorial fellow at the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, University of Melbourne.
Flannery was named Australian Humanist of the Year in 2005, and Australian of the Year in 2007. Until mid-2013 he was a professor at Macquarie University and held the Panasonic Chair in Environmental Sustainability. He was also chairman of the Copenhagen Climate Council, an international group of business and other leaders that coordinated a business response to climate change and assisted the Danish government in the lead up to COP 15. His sometimes controversial views on shutting down conventional coal-fired power stations for electricity generation in the medium term are frequently cited in the media.
- 1 Background
- 2 Climate Commission and Climate Council
- 3 Scientific contributions
- 4 Views on environmental issues
- 5 Activism
- 6 Humanitarian
- 7 Awards
- 8 Bibliography
- 9 Television series
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Flannery was raised in a Catholic family in the Melbourne suburb of Sandringham, close to Port Phillip Bay, where he learned to fish and scuba dive and became aware of marine pollution and its effects on living organisms. He completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in English at La Trobe University in 1977, and then took a change of direction to complete a Master of Science degree in Earth Science at Monash University in 1981. He then left Melbourne for Sydney, enjoying its subtropical climate and species diversity. In 1984, Flannery earned a doctorate at the University of New South Wales in Palaeontology for his work on the evolution of macropods (kangaroos).
Flannery has held various academic positions throughout his career. He spent many years in Adelaide, including a spell as professor at the University of Adelaide, and 7 years as director of the South Australian Museum. He was also principal research scientist at the Australian Museum, during which time he worked to save the bandicoot population on North Head. In 1999 he held the year-long visiting chair of Australian studies at Harvard University. In 2002, Flannery was appointed as chair of South Australia's [Environmental Sustainability Board (South Australia)].
In 2007, Flannery became professor in the Climate Risk Concentration of Research Excellence at Macquarie University. He left Macquarie University in mid-2013. Flannery is also a member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, and a Governor of WWF-Australia. He has contributed to over 143 scientific papers.
Flannery was an advisor on climate change to South Australian Premier Mike Rann, and was a member of the Queensland Climate Change Council established by the Queensland Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation Andrew McNamara. In February 2011 it was announced that Flannery had been appointed to head the Climate Change Commission established by Prime Minister Julia Gillard to explain climate change and the need for a carbon price to the public.
He owns a house with environmental features at Coba Point on the Hawkesbury River, 40 km (25 mi) north of Sydney, accessible only by boat. Although situated 6 metres above high tide, unidentified critics suggested the "large, low-lying waterfront home" would be underwater if his predictions of sea level rise are borne out.
Climate Commission and Climate Council
On 10 February 2011, Flannery was appointed as the Chief Commissioner of the Climate Commission by the Australian Government. The Commission was a panel of leading scientists and business experts whose mandate was to provide an "independent and reliable" source of information for all Australians.
On 19 September 2013, Flannery was sacked from his position as head of the Climate Commission in a phone call from new Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt. It was also announced that the Commission would be dismantled and its remit handled by the Department of Environment.
By 6 October 2013, Flannery and the other commissioners had launched a new body called the Climate Council. Flannery told ABC News that the organisation stated that it had the same goals as the former Climate Commission, to provide independent information on the science of climate change. Amanda McKenzie was appointed as CEO. Between 24 September and 6 October the new Climate Council had raised $1 million in funding from a public appeal, sufficient to keep the organisation operating for 12 months.
Flannery's early research concerned the evolution of mammals in Australasia. As part of his doctoral studies, he described 29 new fossil kangaroo species including 11 new genera and three new subfamilies. In the 1990s, Flannery published The Mammals Of New Guinea (Cornell Press) and Prehistoric Mammals Of Australia and New Guinea (Johns Hopkins Press), the most comprehensive reference works on the subjects. Through the 1990s, Flannery surveyed the mammals of Melanesia – discovering 29 new species – and took a leading role in conservation efforts in the region.
In 1980, Flannery discovered dinosaur fossils on the southern coast of Victoria and in 1985 had a role in the ground-breaking discovery of Cretaceous mammal fossils in Australia. This latter find extended the Australian mammal fossil record back 80 million years. During the 1980s, Flannery described most of the known Pleistocene megafaunal species in New Guinea as well as the fossil record of the phalangerids, a family of possums.
Work on population and land use
In 1994, Flannery published The Future Eaters: an Ecological History of the Australasian Lands and People.
The synopsis of the work regards three waves of human migration in these regions. These waves of people Flannery describes as "future eaters". The first wave was the migration to Australia and New Guinea from south-east Asia approximately 40 000 – 60 000 years ago. The second was Polynesian migration to New Zealand and surrounding islands 800 – 3500 years ago. The third and final wave Flannery describes is European colonisation at the end of the eighteenth century.
Flannery describes the evolution of the first wave of future-eaters:
- Sixty thousand or more years ago human technology was developing at what we would consider to be an imperceptible pace. Yet it was fast enough to give the first Australasians complete mastery over the ‘new lands’. Freed from the ecological constraints of their homeland and armed with weapons honed in the relentless arms race of Eurasia, the colonisers of the ‘new lands’ were poised to become the world’s first future eaters.
While the book continues to be controversial in some of its hypotheses, it is a call to arms to preserve the Australasian natural heritage
Flannery argues the hypothesis that at current population growth rate levels, Australasia is living beyond its population carrying capacity, to the extent that its biological stability has been damaged. European colonisation of Australia and New Caledonia brought its own artefacts and ways suitable in the ‘old world’, and yet struggle to adapt its "culture to biological reality".[non-primary source needed] This reality is evident in Australia, where unpredictable climate combined with a lack of natural life giving resources have created a flora and fauna that have adapted over millennia to be extraordinarily efficient in the consumption of energy.[non-primary source needed]
The Future Eaters enjoyed strong sales and critical acclaim. Redmond O'Hanlon, a Times Literary Supplement correspondent said that "Flannery tells his beautiful story in plain language, science popularising at its antipodean best". Fellow activist David Suzuki praised Flannery's "powerful insight into our current destructive path". Some experts disagreed with Flannery's thesis, however, concerned that his broad-based approach, ranging across multiple disciplines, ignored counter-evidence and was overly simplistic.
The Future Eaters was made into a documentary series for ABC Television and was republished in late 2013.
Views on environmental issues
In May 2004 Flannery said, in light of the city's water crisis, that, "I think there is a fair chance Perth will be the 21st century's first ghost metropolis"., a warning reiterated in 2007.. Today, about half of Perth's water supply comes from the desalinisation plants that Flannery was urging the state government to build. In April 2005, he said, "water is going to be in short supply across the eastern states". In June 2005 warning that "the ongoing drought could leave Sydney’s dams dry in just two years". Water security remains a major issue across eastern Australia.
In October 2006 Flannery quoted a US Navy study stating that, there may be, "no Arctic icecap in Summer in the next five to 15 years. He also quoted NASA's Professor James Hanson, "arguably the world authority on climate change" who said, "we have just a decade to avert a 25-metre rise of the sea". In February 2007, as he explained how increased soil evaporation impacts on runoff, he said "even the [existing amount of] rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and our river systems"  and in June 2007, he said that, "Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane, water supplies are so low they need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months".
In The Weather Makers: The History & Future Impact of Climate Change, Flannery outlined the science behind anthropogenic climate change. "With great scientific advances being made every month, this book is necessarily incomplete," Flannery writes, but "That should not, however, be used as an excuse for inaction. We know enough to act wisely."
Concepts outlined in the book include:
- That a failure to act on climate change may eventually force the creation of a global carbon dictatorship, which he calls the "Earth Commission for Thermostatic Control", to regulate carbon use across all industries and nations – a level of governmental intrusion that Flannery describes as "very undesirable"; and
The book won international acclaim. Bill Bryson concluded that "It would be hard to imagine a better or more important book." The Weather Makers was honoured in 2006 as 'Book of the Year' at the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards.
Flannery's work in raising the profile of environmental issues was key to his being named Australian of the Year in 2007. Awarding the prize, former Prime Minister John Howard said that the scientist "has encouraged Australians into new ways of thinking about our environmental history and future ecological challenges."
That said, Howard – along with many others – remains unconvinced as to Flannery's proposed solutions. Flannery joined calls for the cessation/reduction of conventional coal-fired power generation in Australia in the medium term, the source of most of the nation's electricity. Flannery claims that conventional coal burning will lose its social license to operate, as has asbestos.
In response to the introduction of proposed clean coal technology, Flannery has stated: "Globally there has got to be some areas where clean coal will work out, so I think there will always be a coal export industry [for Australia] ... Locally in Australia because of particular geological issues and because of the competition from cleaner and cheaper energy alternatives, I'm not 100 per cent sure clean coal is going to work out for our domestic market."
In 2006 Flannery was in support of nuclear power as a possible solution for reducing Australia's carbon emissions, however in 2007 changed his position against it. In May 2007 he told a business gathering in Sydney that while nuclear energy does have a role elsewhere in the world, Australia's abundance of renewable resources rule out the need for nuclear power in the near term. He does however feel that Australia should and will have to supply its uranium to those other countries that do not have access to renewables like Australia does.
In May 2008 Flannery created controversy by suggesting that sulphur could be dispersed into the atmosphere to help block the sun leading to global dimming, in order to counteract the effects of global warming.
In August 2017 Flannery hosted an episode of ABC Catalyst investigating how carefully managed seaweed growth could contribute to combating climate change via the sequestration of atmospheric carbon to the ocean floor. In January 2018 Flannery appeared on the ABC's Sciencey program exploring whether humans are becoming a new 'Mass Extinction Event', in addition to outlining the '5 Things You Need to Know About Climate Change'.
When, in the concluding chapters of The Future Eaters (1994), Flannery discusses how to "utilise our few renewable resources in the least destructive way", he remarks that
- A far better situation for conservation in Australia would result from a policy which allows exploitation of all of our biotic heritage, provided that it all be done in a sustainable manner. ... [I]f it is possible to harvest for example, 10 mountain pygmy-possums (Burramys parvus) or 10 southern right whales (Balaena glacialis) per year, why should we not do it? ... Is it more moral to kill and consume a whale, without cost to the environment, than to live as a vegetarian in Australia, destroying seven kilograms of irreplaceable soil, ... for each kilogram of bread we consume?
- In terms of sustainability, you can't be sure that the Japanese whaling is entirely unsustainable... It's hard to imagine that the whaling would lead to a new decline in population
This raised concerns among some environmental groups such as Greenpeace, fearing it could add fuel to the Japanese wish of continuing its annual cull. In contrast to his stance on the Minke Whale quota, Flannery has expressed relief over the dumping of the quota of the rarer Humpback Whale, and further was worried how whales were slaughtered, wishing them to be "killed as humanely as possible". Flannery suggested that krill and other small crustaceans, the primary food source for many large whales and an essential part of the marine food chain, were of greater concern than the Japanese whaling.
Flannery has achieved prominence through his environmental activism. His advocacy on two issues in particular, population levels and carbon emissions, culminated in being named Australian of the Year (2007) at a time when environmental issues were becoming prominent in Australian public debate.
In July 2018 he played a role in the Kwaio Reconciliation programme in the Solomon Islands, which put an end to a 91-year-old cycle of killings that stemmed from the murders in 1927 of British Colonial officers Bell and Gillies by Kwaio leader Basiana and his followers.
- Edgeworth David Medal for outstanding research in zoology
- Centenary of Federation Medal for his services to Australian science
- Colin Roderick Award, Foundation for Australian Literary Studies for Tree Kangaroos (1996)
- First environmental scientist to deliver the Australia Day address to the nation (2002).
- Australian Humanist of the Year (2005)
- NSW Australian of the Year (2006)
- Australian of the Year (2007)
- NSW Premier's Literary Prizes for Best Critical Writing and Book of the Year (The Weather Makers, 2006).
- US Lannan Award for Non-fiction works (2006).
- The New York Times Best Seller list (The Weather Makers)
- Order of Saint-Charles, Monaco
- Leidy Award (2010)
- Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (2012)
- Flannery, Timothy (1990). Mammals of New Guinea. Carina, Qld.: Robert Brown & Associates.
- Tim Flannery (1994), The Future Eaters: An Ecological History of the Australasian Lands and People (ISBN 0-8021-3943-4 and ISBN 0-7301-0422-2).
- Tim Flannery (1994), Possums of the World : Monograph of the Phalangeroidea (ISBN 0-646-14389-1).
- Flannery, Timothy (1995). Mammals of New Guinea (New ed.). Chatswood, NSW: Reed/Australian Museum.
- Tim Flannery (1995), Mammals of the South-West Pacific & Moluccan Islands (ISBN 0-7301-0417-6).
- Tim Flannery, Roger Martin and Alexandra Szalay. (1996) Tree Kangaroos: a Curious Natural History.
- Tim Flannery (1998), Throwim Way Leg: An Adventure (ISBN 1-876485-19-1).
- Tim Flannery (2001), The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and its Peoples (ISBN 0-8021-3888-8).
- John A. Long, Michael Archer, Tim Flannery and Suzanne Hand (2002), Prehistoric Mammals of Australia and New Guinea: One Hundred Million Years of Evolution, Johns Hopkins Press (ISBN 978-0-801872-23-5).
- Tim Flannery & Peter Schouten (2001), A Gap in Nature (ISBN 1-876485-77-9).
- Tim Flannery & Peter Schouten (2004), Astonishing Animals (ISBN 1-920885-21-8).
- Tim Flannery (2005), Country: a continent, a scientist & a kangaroo (ISBN 1-920885-76-5).
- Tim Flannery (2005), The Weather Makers: The History & Future Impact of Climate Change (ISBN 1-920885-84-6).
- Tim Flannery (2007), Chasing Kangaroos: A Continent, a Scientist, and a Search for the World's Most Extraordinary Creature (ISBN 978-0-8021-1852-3).
- Tim Flannery (2009), Now or Never: A sustainable future for Australia? (ISBN 978-1-86395-429-7).
- Tim Flannery (2009), Now or Never: Why we need to act now for a sustainable future (ISBN 978-1-55468-604-9).
- Tim Flannery (2010), Here on Earth, ISBN 978-1-921656-66-8
- Tim Flannery (2011), Among the Islands: Adventures in the Pacific (ISBN 978-1-921758-75-1).
- Tim Flannery (2015), Atmosphere of Hope: Searching for Solutions to the Climate Crisis, Boston: Atlantic Monthly Press (ISBN 978-0802124067). Published in the United Kingdom with the title Atmosphere of Hope: Solutions to the Climate Crisis, Penguin Books (ISBN 9780141981048).
- Tim Flannery (2018), Europe: A Natural History, Text Publishing, ISBN 9781925603941
- As editor
- The Birth of Melbourne (ISBN 1-877008-89-3).
- The Birth of Sydney (ISBN 1-876485-45-0).
- The Explorers (ISBN 1-876485-22-1).
- Watkin Tench, Watkin Tench's 1788 (ISBN 1-875847-27-8).
- Terra Australis, Matthew Flinders' Great Adventures in the Circumnavigation of Australia (ISBN 1-876485-92-2).
- John Morgan, The Life and Adventures of William Buckley (ISBN 1-877008-20-6).
- John Nicol, Life and Adventures: 1776–1801 (ISBN 1-875847-41-3).
- Joshua Slocum, Sailing Alone Around the World (ISBN 1-877008-57-5).
- Two Men in a Tinnie (2006) with John Doyle
- Two in the Top End (2008) with John Doyle
- Two on the Great Divide (2012) with John Doyle
- Two men in China (2014) with John Doyle
- "Tim Flannery's new institution: Graduate Institute".
- "Tim Flannery". Only Melbourne (re: Australian of the Year 2007). Retrieved 23 May 2011.
- "Tim Flannery on Andrew Marr talk". BBC Radio-Start the Week. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
- "Tim Flannery". Retrieved 24 April 2018.
- "Interview: Tim Flannery, National Geographic".
- "Tree Kangaroo from New Guinea, Australian Museum".
- Macquarie University (2013). "PanasonicChair Archived 12 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine.". Retrieved 23 June 2013.
- Copenhagen Climate Council (2008). "Tim Flannery". Retrieved 17 May 2008.
- Flannery, Tim (November 2015). "The Power of Place". The Monthly. Black Inc. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
- Alumni profile search result, La Trobe University Archived 27 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
- Introduction, The Birth of Melbourne, ISBN 1-877008-89-3
- "About Tim Flannery". The Weather Makers. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
- "Mike Rann's politics of the possible - South Australia". Australian Institute of Company Directors. 2002-09-01. Retrieved 2015-06-09.
- Morton, Adam (11 February 2011). "Rudd critic to lead climate team". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
- "Prof Tim Flannery's waterside getaway". The Daily Telegraph. 29 July 2011.
- "About the Commission". Climate Commission. Archived from the original on 27 August 2013. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
- Jones, Gemma (19 September 2013). "Tim Flannery sacked, Climate Commission dismantled by Coalition". news.com.au. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
- Tom Arup (2013-09-19). "Abbott shuts down Climate Commission". theage.com.au. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
- "Climate Council, which replaced the axed Climate Commission, reaches $1 million funding target". ABC. 6 October 2013. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
- "The Future Eaters: About Tim Flannery". ABC Television. 1998. Retrieved 10 April 2007.
- Helgen, K. M. (2005). Systematics of the Pacific monkey-faced bats (Chiroptera : Pteropodidae), with a new species of Pteraloplex and a new Fijian genus. Systematics and Biodiversity, 3(4):433–453.
- "Penguin UK Authors: About Tim Flannery". Penguin Books. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2007.
- Flannery, Timothy Fridtjof (1994). The future eaters: an ecological history of the Australasian lands and people. Sydney: Reed New Holland. p. 242. ISBN 978-1-876334-21-5.
- Flannery, Timothy Fridtjof (1994). The future eaters: an ecological history of the Australasian lands and people. Sydney: Reed New Holland. p. 143. ISBN 978-1-876334-21-5.
- Flannery, Timothy Fridtjof (1994). The future eaters: an ecological history of the Australasian lands and people. Sydney: Reed New Holland. pp. 374, 389. ISBN 978-1-876334-21-5.
- Flannery, Timothy Fridtjof (1994). The future eaters: an ecological history of the Australasian lands and people. Sydney: Reed New Holland. pp. 85–91. ISBN 978-1-876334-21-5.
- "The Future Eaters". ABC Television. 1998. Retrieved 10 April 2007.
- Davis, Anne (19 May 2004). "Sydney's future eaten: the Flannery prophecy". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
- Premble, Louise (17 February 2007). "Flannery sticks by 'ghost' city". Perth Now. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
- "Running out of water - and time". Sydney Morning Herald. 25 April 2005. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
- "Climate change 'will prolong' drought conditions". ABC News. 11 June 2005. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
- "Flannery issues global warming warning". ABC News. 10 June 2005. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
- Flannery, Tim (28 October 2006). "Climate's last chance". The Age. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
- Sara, Sally (11 February 2007). "Interview with Professor Tim Flannery". Landline, ABC News. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
- "Editorial: Australia – not such a lucky country". New Scientist. 16 June 2007. Archived from the original on 24 May 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
- Jones, Tony (26 September 2005). "Hurricanes can be tied to climate change". Lateline. ABC Television. Retrieved 10 April 2007.
- "The Weather Makers: All About the Book". Text Publishing. 2006. Archived from the original on 22 March 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2007.
- Lewis, Wendy (2010). Australians of the Year. Pier 9 Press. ISBN 978-1-74196-809-5.
- "Climate change crusader is Australian of the Year". The West Australian. 25 January 2007. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2007.
- "Coal will be the new asbestos, says Flannery". The Sydney Morning Herald. 9 February 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2007.
- "Coal Can't Be Clean – Flannery", Melbourne Herald Sun, 14 February 2007.
- Davies, Julie-Anne (23 February 2007). "Dr Flannery, I presume". The Bulletin. Archived from the original on 3 April 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2007.
- "Let's talk about nuclear power and other energy sources". The Age. Melbourne. 30 May 2006.
- Clive Hamilton:Flip-flop Flannery is a climate change opportunist, in Crikey 5 February 2009, retrieved 17 June 2010
- "Nuclear power a turn-off: Flannery changes stance". The Sydney Morning Herald. 23 May 2007.
- Alexander, Cathy (19 May 2008). "Tim Flannery's radical climate change 'solution'". News.com.au. Australian Associated Press. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
- Tim Flannery, The Future Eaters, pp. 402–403. ISBN 0-8021-3943-4
- Flannery says whaling is OK. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved on 2 January 2008
- Flannery's views on whales 'curious'. Archived 6 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved on 2 January 2008
- Tim Flannery lampooned by sustainable whaling claims. Archived 31 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine. LiveNews. Retrieved on 2 January 2008
- Flannery worried about small fish, not big whale culls. Brisbane Times. Retrieved on 2 January 2008
- "Tim Flannery — The Cast — Soldiers of Peace". Soldiersofpeacemovie.com. Archived from the original on 8 August 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2009.
- "Soldati di Pace (Soldiers of Peace)". Soldatidipace.blogspot.com. 18 October 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2009.
- Mitchell, Peter (3 November 2010). "Flannery wins Joseph Leidy Award". The Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
- "Professor Timothy Fritjof Flannery". Australian Academy of Science. 2012.
- Now or Never: A sustainable future for Australia?. Melbourne: Black Inc. Books (ISBN 978-1-86395-429-7).
- Now or Never: Why we need to act now for a sustainable future, Harper Collins (ISBN 978-1-55468-604-9).
- Can Our Species Escape Destruction? 13 October 2011 by John Terborgh in The New York Review of Books
- Laurence C. Smith (13 October 2016). "Greenhouse Warming: Prepare for the Worst". nybooks.com. The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
review of Atmosphere of Hope: Searching for Solutions to the Climate Crisis
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Tim Flannery|
- Official website
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- Tim Flannery: Here on Earth (ABC Radio National), 23 September 2010