Singing cowboys and toxic tents
Many Australians don’t know their tent could be treated with toxic flame retardant chemicals. I interviewed a stack of manufacturers and retailers (Kathmandu, Sea to Summit, OzTent, etc) and investigated the bizarre corporate and regulatory history of why flame retardants are used on tents – involving 1940s cowboy costumes, chemical industry lobbyists, and big tobacco…
Letter to Nardi: Navigating life in between
To mark the fourth anniversary of the federal government rejecting the Uluru Statement from the Heart, Griffith Review invited me to respond to Nardi Simpson’s essay ‘Gifts across space and time’.
The regenerative agriculture revolution promises to dramatically change the way we grow our food. Its success—or failure—could have profound consequences for the future of life on earth.
Weaponising privilege: Winning the war on the war on drugs
I wrote a longform profile of Dr Alex Wodak and his colleagues and their decades-long fight for drug law reform….
Ghost species and shadow places
I travelled to Lord Howe Island to follow Dr Jennifer Lavers and her team who research birds that feed their chicks to death with plastic.
Fire and fury and my kids
I took the boys to the Australian War Memorial wondering if it was possible to re-imagine it as a space for quiet reflection on violence and the causes and costs of war.
Ode to the Bin Chicken
Ibis are sentinels of the Anthropocene, the epoch in our planet’s geological history named after us because we have altered so much of its systems. Massive changes wrought to inland rivers displaced ibis, forcing them to seek refuge in our cities.
The Remixing of Peoples: Migration as Adaptation
Reporting on a Greek volunteer and the refugees and migrants who crossed the Mediterranean, framing the crisis as an Anthropocene story: 19th century nationalism, the French occupation of Damascus, the undue influence of oil money, ill-fated irrigation schemes, the rise of ISIS, and the pressures of climate change.
‘Goodbye, my darlings’ – remembering the trauma of Australia’s last execution
Fifty years since Ronald Ryan was the last person hanged in Australia, some are calling for the return of the death penalty. In times of social change authoritarian personality types are drawn to black and white solutions. Allaying fears keeps authoritarian populists at the fringes.
Fifty shades of shadow places
Lurid, blue water in a creek near a copper mine in Queensland, crusty white tailings at the Pilliga, bright green algal blooms in the Murray River, and the yellow hues of water in South Australia near the world’s largest known deposit of uranium: a rainbow of toxicity in this photo essay about our material connections to the world’s shadow places.
Powering Asia: The Battle Between Energy and Food
Communities near the Pilliga in western New South Wales are resisting coal seam gas (CSG) development, sometimes at great mental and material costs. As Asia’s energy demand grows, could regional Australia help power an Oceania-Asia renewable energy supergrid?
On the abolition of the death penalty
The death penalty isn’t going to disappear all on its own as we become more “civilised.” Where it has been abolished it’s been the result of determined political struggle.
Australian Book Review
Living with Broken Country
Gazing at the broken compels us to cast light on the ‘shadow places’, to dramatise the ‘slow violence’ of grinding ecological damage. How do we find a way to live with the broken, rather than discard it?
No triple bypass, no miracle cure, just a long haul back
It’s clear that thirsty cotton doesn’t fit well into the Australian environment, writes Cameron Muir. But have the lessons of recent decades really sunk in?
Marrying Health and Agriculture
Why are we planning to grow more food when we throw half of it out? Reporting on food waste, volunteers with Yellow Van food rescue, and the long history of failed attempts to align food production with public health goals.
Preserved for the People for All Time
In 1944 NSW Premier William McKell assured the public that the Macquarie Marshes wetlands would be ‘preserved for the people for all time’ before announcing a major dam at the river’s headwaters. Is “balanced” development really the best way to manage our inland rivers? Cameron Muir looks at the language that could save or condemn them.
Inland Thirsts for Ideas
The decades-long history of water reform and pledges of ‘big fixes’ long before the latest promises with the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
Lessons from Lanark
John Fenton pioneered an innovative approach to ecological farming, writes Cameron Muir
Feeding the World: Our Great Myth
Griffith Review Edition 27: Food Chain (2010).
Last modified: December 2, 2021