Entertainment

Climate change for a laugh

A new Ian McEwan novel is always an event, although I must confess that this one is not very new - it was published in 2010. The world (well, me anyway) has been waiting for a long time for the great climate change novel and if anyone can do it, McEwan can.

Ian McEwan is known for his grasp of science and for novels that interweave rational argument and emotion. Enduring Love features a science writer, Saturday a neurosurgeon and now, with Solar, we meet Michael Beard, a Nobel prize-winning physicist.

So how does McEwan tackle this most complex and rather boring subject? Dystopian futures and eco-thrillers have been the main weapons of choice for climate change novelists, but McEwan does something different - he makes us laugh.

Michael Beard is a fat, randy has-been who has done nothing significant since his prize-winning Beard-Einstein Conflation many years ago. Offered a place on an artist's trip to the Arctic to examine the effects of climate change, Beard jumps on a jet to Norway (carbon off-set of course). Soon he is getting his delicate parts caught in a zip while urinating at minus forty degrees and fleeing a hungry polar bear on his skidoo.

Getting on board the solar bandwagon, Beard reassures his business partner, "Here's the good news. The UN estimates that already a third of a million people a year are dying from climate change. Bangladesh is going down because the oceans are warming and expanding and rising. There's drought in the Amazonian rainforest. Methane is pouring out of the Siberian permafrost... Now the eastern Antarctic is going."

Yes, this is black comedy at its best. The boot room on the frozen-in boat where the artists are staying becomes a metaphor for the planet as it descends day by day into further chaos.

"How were they to save the earth," Beard wonders, "when it was so much larger than the boot room?" There is also a laugh-out-loud moment when Beard helps himself to a stranger's chips. This in turn becomes a metaphor for our need to re-examine known facts in light of new evidence.

While Solar might not be the hallelujah moment in fiction that climate change activists would hope for, it does carry an important message - a flawed scientist does not mean that the science is wrong.

You can also just read it for laughs.


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Programmers' joke is on us

Dr Airdre Grant

Computers - it's a love/hate relationship.

How to manage sustainability

Deborah Benhayon - Open For Business.

What business has to do to maintain sustainable development.

From purr to a roar, Meow Meow is not kitten

ANYTHING IS PAWSIBLE: Acclaimed cabaret star Meow Meow returns to Lismore.

Anything can happen during her local shows this week

Local Partners

PM boasts of our ruthless borders

Borders made easier by a land girt by sea.

Why we're the top spot for mobile tourists

Caravanners and campers spend an average $152 a night in our region.

Our region is the top spot for caravanners and campers in the state.

Programmers' joke is on us

Dr Airdre Grant

Computers - it's a love/hate relationship.

How to manage sustainability

Deborah Benhayon - Open For Business.

What business has to do to maintain sustainable development.

From purr to a roar, Meow Meow is not kitten

ANYTHING IS PAWSIBLE: Acclaimed cabaret star Meow Meow returns to Lismore.

Anything can happen during her local shows this week

Not just any party, it's the Arty Party!

FOR ALL: The event will feature performers, local artists, storytellers, musicians and dancers.

A family-friendly, child-focused arts festival

More Northern River schools needed to be counted in

John Foreman and Jay Laga'aia at a songwriting workshop earlier this year.

Music - Count Us In will be held in November

All she wants is to be chosen

TAKE ME HOME: Daisy from pet shop to pound to your place.

Daisy has gone from puppy farm pet shop dog to the pound.

Tommy goes home in emotional Bachelorette episode

The Bachelorette contestant Tommy Saggus.

BRISBANE bachelor hopes show will give him more confidence.

Carlos Santana added to Bluesfest 2017 line up

Carlos Santana at Bluesfest 2013.

Calling all local black magic women

The Dixie Chicks to headline 2017 CMC Rocks festival

US country music group The Dixie Chicks.

ORGANISERS move festival dates to lock in US country music stars.

What's on the big screen this week

Denzel Washington in a scene from the movie The Magnificent Seven.

DENZEL Washington returns in a shoot-em-up Western.

Beach-side real estate starts at $85k on Fraser Coast

HERVEY BAY REAL ESTATE: You can buy this townhouse in Scarness for under $300k.

Live your beach-living dream locally.

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.

Sunshine Beach property breaks real estate record

The property overlooks Sunshine Beach, as the backyard lawn meets the sand.

Sunshine Beach mansion sale smashes real estate record

SOLD: Historic hotel finds new owner

Post Office Hotel Grafton

Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner

Pub in new hands and heading in a brand new direction

Peppers Airlie Beach put on the market

ON THE MARKET: Peppers Airlie Beach is being for recievership sale by CBRE Hotels and PRD Nationwide Airlie Beach.

Peppers Airlie Beach is being offered for sale.