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Jane Rawson at Muse: Does It Have To Be This Way?

Molly McLaughlin

Does It Have To Be This Way? Jane Rawson, author of The Handbook: Surviving and Living with Climate Change, in conversation with Rod Lambert at Muse

The United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris is expected to produce a landmark agreement during the next two weeks. But with over 150 world leaders in attendance, reaching consensus on the target of limiting rising global temperatures to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels this century will be difficult if not impossible.

In Jane Rawson’s latest book, The Handbook: Surviving and Living With Climate Change, co-authored by James Whitmore, she details the things we can do, individually, to live with the effects of climate change in the absence of more definitive action from world governments.

Jane won 2014’s Most Underrated Book Award for her novel, A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists, and at an event at Muse Bookstore last week she spoke to Rod Lamberts, deputy director of the National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science, ANU, about why she needed to write this new book and what she hopes readers will get out of it.

A combination of disaster management information, psychological studies, interviews and D.I.Y tips that wouldn’t look out of place in Bunnings, The Handbook accepts the premise that we are living with the effects of climate change right now, every day. “It’s big with the caravanning and camping community. And glampers,” she says, but The Handbook has tips and information that are useful for everyone in a world where extreme weather events are becoming increasingly common.

As the former Environment and Energy Editor for news website The Conversation, Jane has been involved in attempting to communicate the scientific basis for action on climate change for years with little mainstream response.

While many in the scientific community are disillusioned about the future of the planet, Jane approached this book with a practical and light-hearted attitude. “We’re not saying it’s time to give up on stopping climate change. It is time to give up on stopping it altogether, because we’ve left that too late. But we can still choose between ‘things are a bit rough, but I can handle it’ climate change and ’I don’t want to live on this planet any more’ climate change.”

Jane believes that you don’t have to be a conventional tree-hugger to care about climate change. “It’s not an environmental problem,” she says. It is a personal problem that requires selfishness more than altruism to mitigate the effects of climate change for individuals and their families.

In this book, Jane Rawson and James Whitmore answer questions that we should all be asking like: “What happens in a bushfire? What happens in a flood? Am I at risk? Is humanity doomed? Does it have to be this way?”

The Handbook is a practical guide for those who are overwhelmed by the enormity of the environmental challenge facing humanity that can help make it all seem a little less daunting.

See Muse’s website for the schedule of events this summer at


Molly McLaughlin

Molly McLaughlin was less than thrilled to move to Canberra a couple of years ago to study Arts and Economics at ANU, but she can confirm the city has grown on her since then. Along with writing for HerCanberra, she spends her time reading, eating noodles and planning her next adventure. More about the Author

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