Weather Stations has now finished!

This project has now finished. Do take a look at the stories, poems and writing that came out of the project from across all five countries and see how our writers, readers and students have explored and touched on issues of climate change through creative writing. We hope you find this work inspiring.

 

You can see the final anthology that brings together highlights of all the creative work from this site in three languages here.

To see what the arts organisations involved are doing now in this area, please check their websites below:

Free Word, UK

internationales literaturfestival berlin, Germany

Krytyka Polityczna, Poland

Tallaght Community Arts, Ireland

The Wheeler Centre, Australia

 

Probably the Last Chance for a Greater Sense of Togetherness. A Self-Interview

Mirko Bonné

Directing this question at the mirror, even if just the mirror of language, I work out that it’s been more than fifteen months now that you’ve been one of the five authors working on the Weather Stations project. Has the way you see the world changed after having been a weather station yourself?

Every morning, the first time I look out of the window I take in the weather, the sky, the clouds and trees, the trees that enable us to read the wind. A year and a half ago, reports about a tornado in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern would have surprised me, but I certainly wouldn’t have made the connection with my profession and noted down the things that the mayor of Nützow said, things, by the way, that I also heard expressed in very similar fashion in regions of Australia, where they’ve been living with extreme weather for decades now.

The Weather Stations project is about raising awareness. Something which must be pretty much old hat for you, no?

 

Climate change is of course a good match for today’s world. No one actually attends to anything that can’t be understood or consumed. The only thing that counts is what’s useful – and preferably to oneself. During my adolescence in the Kohl era, we still used to offer dogged opposition, happy to have something to rebel against in the form of the throwaway society, but we didn’t guess at the time that we in our morally flawless manner were taking part just as diligently in establishing the throwaway world in which we live today. It goes without saying that writers are concerned with raising awareness. But they shouldn’t allow themselves to be yoked to a particular cause, not even one such as this. Writers have to keep hold of the reins themselves and not allow themselves to be led too much, the best balance is somewhere between horse and driver. As far as I’m concerned, climate change is a linguistic problem, as for me it’s all about examining the possibilities of how it can be represented and communicated in literary terms. The Weather Stations project has taken me to linguistic fields into which I would never otherwise have ventured. I sat at Chowder Bay in Sidney with two oceanographers who explained to me what it’s like to dive in a forest of seaweed and algae.

 

Are writers able to contribute to making the complex, manifold demands exacted on today’s world by so-called climate change and its consequences more transparent – would you agree that that’s what it’s about?

 

Over the course of the project, I’ve realised – and have been very surprised by – just how much everything depends on the individual here. I would even say that climate change isn’t a problem for humanity, but rather affects each person individually. Whether in Dublin, London, Melbourne, Potsdam or Sidney, I was able to observe the same thing everywhere in the faces of the oceanographers, cloud researchers and meteorologists we talked to: their frequent astonishment at sitting across from people for whom language actually means something fundamentally different.

 

For a writer and a poet in particular, it’s difficult to talk about language and writing in purely abstract, fundamental terms. Was the Weather Stations project restrictive to this end?

 

There’s no reason to relinquish a sense of productive doubt just because the problem in question seems so very urgent. It would be absurd to have to disregard the demands, dismissals and doubts that poetic minds have attempted to communicate for centuries as soon as the focus is on seemingly unambiguous conflicts that can only be determined for sure via science.

 

You’ve said in various panel discussions that you believe the debate surrounding climate change revolves around a conflict either not recognised as such or concealed.

 

The conflict is far-reaching and can hardly even be expressed in worlds. I regard the consequences wrought by climate change as the expressions of a world attempting to put its human inhabitants in their place. It is a dialogue that has gone off the rails, an ancient conflict that is now escalating. Humankind against nature – and vice versa. This is likely the root cause for the fear many people have of engaging with the subject to any real extent. Yet I equally believe that it is first and foremost the linguistic side of things that is important in this debate.

Because you’re a writer rather than a computer or speaker. Could you maybe formulate your approach in more detail?

 

I try to avoid every theory. John Keats said that every philosophical axiom must be proved on our pulse. And Günter Eich was of the opinion that writing means seeing the world as language. Communicating the dramatic nature of climate change – I actually prefer to say climate destruction – is to my mind also a problem of precision. Science claims to operate based on the most precise language possible. For me, as a poet, on the other hand, language is far more than just a vehicle for data or a semantic tool. It is a sensual, tangible, historical medium, that is, a narrative one. It is itself the communicator. And it is always also a monster fully capable of being manipulated. I can never hear or read the word “total” without thinking of the criminal demagoguery of someone like Goebbels. For me, language is no more or less an instrument than magic is. In my eyes, it’s the connective tissue necessary for life, that which connects me to everything and everyone else, linking our world of today with the past world of the dead and the future one of our as yet unborn grandchildren. Language is the only parallel world whose existence I do not deny. The wonderful quotidian poetry of so many of the texts written by my Melbourne Weather Stations colleague Tony Birch talks about precisely this again and again: What does my life, the life of people today, have to do with the stories of people from the past, who still knew how to read the land and didn’t have to cover everything in concrete and destroy it out of pure fear and insecurity?

 

What experience was the most important for you in these months as a weather station?

 

The best moments were always when people started talking. Past weather and the weather of today. The sort of weather described by my grandfather, the sort of weather we used to have when I was still a girl. A student in Tallaght near Dublin told me how he saw his grandparents’ house being washed away when the heavy storms hit Ireland in summer 2014. It was really moving to visit the Yarra valley south of Melbourne and to speak to people about the bushfires that destroyed entire stretches of land there. In those months, it became very vivid to me how much people love their lives and their stories. I think that’s also something we have a form of language to thank for which aims at vagueness rather than precision. That’s why I think that climate change represents a chance, probably the last chance for a greater sense of togetherness.

Climate Change: Hope and the Young – 1, Crap and Tony Abbott – 0

IMG_0300

This will be my final entry for globalweatherstations. In some ways I will unfortunately end where I began, as a citizen of a climate change backwater that goes by the name Australia. But I am also heartened by many aspects of the project. No more so than in the pride I feel for the young people involved. They have become the project’s life-blood. This morning at the Berlin Literature Festival students from the four European schools we worked with presented their views on climate change. They were magnificent; creative, energetic and provocative. I spoke with several of them after the performance. They are thoughtful young people. They want a future for themselves, and their families and friends. I am convinced they will work for a future that accepts climate change as a reality. They won’t become us; the older generations of global citizens who simply have not done enough to seriously tackle the issues we need to address.

The future is now in the hands of the generation who will need to clean up the mess they have inherited from us. Unfortunately, we seem to have convinced ourselves that the young are apathetic, disinterested and cynical. What a convenient lie we have created to get us, older people, off the hook. The young may be confused at times about climate change. And I am sure that they sometimes feel despair. But we should never mistake this for apathy. Armed with information and guidance from some older people who are committed to being good teachers and working with the young, those that we have worked with on the weatherstations project have become passionate and innovative champions for both their own communities and the planet. What we need to do now is continue to invest in each other, the older with the young, local and global communities, people who produce more energy than they expend. We need each other. We need to refuse the rhetoric of some governments that prefer that we see ourselves as individuated subjects, sapped of energy, creativity, community and ACTION.

In the last few days we have discovered that members of the Australian government, including the prime minister, Tony Abbott, has moved from believing that ‘climate change is crap’ to sharing in jokes about it at the expense of communities (in the Pacific) who are already being dramatically impacted upon by climate change. The communities that he and some of his ministers were laughing about, produce some of the smallest carbon footprints on the planet. Their homelands are threatened by rising sea levels as an outcome of the excesses of those who do nothing to alleviate the situation. People will soon lose their homes and lives in the Pacific partly as a result of the lifestyles of Australians.

And yet Abbott cannot get that stupid, infantile grin off his face. For those who do not think climate change is not the major issue facing Australians, and believe that policies introduced to deal with it will adversely impact on the ‘Australian way of life’, I can only say that such thinking could not be more narrow-minded. If we do not proactively deal with climate change now, life as we know it will alter dramatically. We need to get rid of politicians that continue to avoid the issue, or spend their spare time in bed with industries that continue to wantonly attack the planet. And we need to realise that if change for the better is to happen with have to act for ourselves, on behalf of our communities. 

I will become a grandfather for the first time in less that 3 months. I refuse to believe that I have the right to do nothing, and to leave my grandchildren with nothing but crap. I could not be a more irresponsible person if I were to allow that to happen.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-11/dutton-overheard-joking-about-sea-levels-in-pacific-islands/6768324

Substations in Berlin for Literature Festival say hello to Australia!

Substations groups from Berlin, Dublin, London and Hel in Poland are preparing to share a sample of work they’ve created as part of the Weather Stations Project for a closing event in the International Literature Festival in Berlin.

On the first day, the groups created a world map and reflected on their relationship to different parts of the world. They discussed how different continents feel the impact of climate change differently.

As part of the process, the group couldn’t help give a shout to their friends in Australia! We miss you!

Guyana, Plaisance & Maxine Beneba Clarke

plaisance-2

Plaisance 

When the old folk talk about Plaisance, Guyana, they sing-song the word: plaay-zarnce. Plaay-zaaarnce. My great Uncle, he tells me about catching the railway from little green Plaisance, into  big-big grey Georgetown, when he grew old enough for the city school. Like he can still feel that big-boy pride even while he’s standing here at eighty five, telling the story to me. My great uncle says Plaisance is not home anymore, not that place, hasn’t been home since he left, and he was still a  very young man back then.

But I can see this kind of lovely-but-aching look, right inside his eyes.

This is what I think about, every year during hurricane season as the wind  whips white caps across the  blue-back Caribbean sea. Plaisance. Plaay Zaaarnce. This is what I think.

Maxine Beneba Clarke is guilty of over-loving her vegetable garden.

Emily’s Stones

Clouds

I know we are intimate with this place because of the way we have named its parts: good hill; the finding stones; acacia flat; the bracken. I walk around my uncle’s studio, past the water tank, and see the den between two rocks where I used to lie for hours as a child, watching the adults through green wattle branches. This is granite country; time passes here in glittering dust or sheers off the sides of boulders in fire season. The bird my aunt named for its strange call whistles out as we near the dip where the bracken starts: purple dream, purple dream.

Emily Bitto is a writer and bar-owner. Her debut novel, The Strays, was awarded the 2015 Stella Literature Prize.

Emily

The Lies in the Air

The two detectives stood over the autopsy table, regarding the remains. The dead man had been Caucasian, middle-aged, overweight and balding. The body had a flattened, burst look, the flesh of the torso split in a number of areas. The intestines had already been removed, most of them having to be brought in separate from the body. The left arm was connected only by tendons and strands of muscle. As the coroner sprayed the corpse, cleaning it down, the water ran red with blood onto the stainless steel table and down the drains set into its surface. There were ligature marks on his wrists that indicated they’d been tied, and the man had a strange blood-bruise that circled most of his face, the face itself misshapen as if something had tried to suck it into a hole.

The coroner was a lean man with African features and a bass voice that sounded suitably sombre as he spoke into a recorder about the each step of the post-mortem. He spoke in German, his diction clipped and precise. The room was chilly, its surfaces all white tile, steel work units and painted concrete walls. The coroner said something to his assistant, a sallow, pinch-faced young woman, who handed him a scalpel. He began to make a Y-shaped incision down the torso, preparing to open up the chest cavity.

Unlike scenes in so many films, when a body falls from a great height, it rarely lands intact. It is, after all, a soft container of flesh whose shape is reinforced with rather brittle bone that tends to break on impact. The overall effect is that of dropping a meat balloon full of blood. The two detectives watched with detached interest, as a customer might watch a butcher prepare joints of meat. This was not their first autopsy.

Bill Flynn and Jemimah Hearn, known to their colleagues as Blowfly and Jerm, were part of an international unit attached to Interpol, tasked with investigating crimes with far-reaching consequences. They were in this room in Berlin today because the dead man might have a connection with two open, and possibly connected, cases. Lies-5Blowfly was neat and trim in dress and looks, his Oriental features stretched over fine bone structure, his manner still and relaxed, a faint Irish lilt to his voice. Jerm had a more neutral English accent, was more restless, and taller and more angular, with cropped dark brown hair which was never quite brushed into place. Her face had a subdued, dour expression without seeming cold, though whether that was from her job or because of her character was anyone’s guess.

‘So this guy fell from this building, TV Tower,’ Blowfly said.

He’d only arrived half an hour ago, having come in on a different plane to Jerm. He was still catching up.

‘Yeah,’ she replied. ‘The Fernsehturm. One of their most famous buildings, overlooks Alexanderplatz. His name’s Erich Ulbricht. He was a broadcaster, but he didn’t work in the tower himself.’

‘What’s with the mark on his face?’ Blowfly asked.

‘Oh, you’ll love this. When he hit the ground, he was wearing a gas mask.’

‘What?’

‘You heard me. A gas mask. The guy was wearing it when he was thrown off.’

‘We sure he was thrown?’

Jerm had a picture of TV Tower ready on her phone to show him.

‘Oh yeah, I know it,’ he said, nodding.

It was straight and thin, tapering to a point like a needle. About two thirds of the way up was a sphere, with another, rectangular structure above it. Most of the rest above that was an antenna.

‘See the glass ball?’ Jerm said. ‘That’s where the restaurant and viewing gallery are. Usual deal with these things, great view of all the big stuff nearby, you know; the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate, Potsdamer Platz . . . And it turns too. These restaurant places always have to turn now. Anyway, whoever did this to the guy, hung him by his feet down over the ball bit here. He was hanging right down in front of the windows of the restaurant.’

‘Kind of like . . .’

‘. . . A public hanging? Yeah, that’s what I thought too. There’s a definite punishment vibe coming off this thing. So he’s let hang there, his wrists tied behind him, wearing this gas mask and he’s thrashing around . . . Some of the staff think to run upstairs to see if they can pull him up. But when they get to the office he’s hanging from, they throw open the door and it’s . . .’ She paused. ‘The door was rigged. WhLies-6en they opened it, it released the end of the rope.’

Blowfly looked back at the corpse on the stainless steel table.

‘How high?’

‘Two hundred and ten metres, give or take.’

‘That’d do it all right.’

Neither of them spoke for a minute. Blowfly already knew why Jerm had taken an interest in the case. Erich Ulbricht worked for Hewbrys Holdings, or at least, the radio station he worked for was owned by the company. Hewbrys Holdings was connected to two of their other cases; a bush-fire in Australia and a terrorist attack on the Thames Barrier in London. And now this.

‘Different M.O.’ Jerm commented. ‘Completely different situation. Again. But it’s got the same stink off it. Someone’s playing games.’

‘Yeah, I’m having a theory,’ Blowfly said.

‘Great, I’ll call the press.’

Blowfly didn’t rise to the jibe. He was well used to his partner’s sarcasm. They were both about to say something else, when the coroner lifted his head and pulled down his mask for a moment.

‘I just thought you’d be interested to know,’ he said to them, his English spoken with a trace of American twang. ‘The gas mask had its breathing tube sealed. He wouldn’t have been able to breathe while he was wearing it. My preliminary examination of the lungs confirms it. He was asphyxiated. Even if he hadn’t fallen, he would have been dead within a minute or two.’

‘Any idea why?’ Jerm asked.

‘I believe that would be your job,’ the coroner replied. ‘Though I’m sure the Berliner Polizei will already have a long list of suspects. Mister Ulbricht was a divisive figure in Germany.’

‘How so?’ Blowfly said.

‘He was what you’d call a “shock jock”. Paid to spout offensive opinions. Even the name of the radio station, “Schutzwall“, is intended to get a rise out of people. Strictly translated, it means “rampart” or “protective wall”, but you would just call it, “the Wall”.’

‘That was the name of the Berlin Wall in German,’ Jerm told Blowfly. ‘Der Antifaschistischer Schutzwall. The Anti-Fascism Rampart.’

‘Yes,’ the coroner said.  ‘Though, perhaps it’s intended to be ironic, given Ulbricht’s politics and those of the station generally. He was the poster boy for every right-wing, reactionary campaign over the last few years. Lies-3He would have had plenty of enemies already, but after the guest he interviewed last week, well . . . there are probably thousands more.’

‘Why’s that?’ Blowfly asked.

‘The living aren’t my problem,’ the coroner said. ‘They’re yours. The interview got posted everywhere online. You should hear it for yourselves. You’ll understand.’

Giving them a grim smile, he pulled up his mask and returned to his work.

 

Erich Ulbricht’s fateful interview had been with a Polish woman named Dominika O’Reilly. She was an environmentalist who had been brought on to talk about the pollution in China’s cities; she had written an article about it in one of Germany’s newspapers, comparing it with the pollution Berlin faced in the seventies and eighties. She was thirty-six years old; a lean, active looking, slightly unkempt woman, her straight blonde hair cut in a bob just below the jaw-line, the features of her face blocky but strong and attractive, prematurely lined by what appeared to some underlying anger or frustration. Her eyes had the intensity of a campaigner.

‘Ulbricht brought me on to his show to make a point,’ she told the two detectives, her accent a light-sharp, chirping mix of Polish and Irish. ‘I was there to talk about climate change, but he wasn’t really interested in anything I had to say. He just wanted an excuse to go off on a rant about China.’

They were sitting down at a wooden table and benches outside a café beside the Documentation Centre at the Berlin Wall Memorial. O’Reilly had chosen the location, saying she did not want to be interviewed in a police station. She had had bad experiences with the police in the past. Blowfly and Jerm were inclined to agree. They had already checked out her criminal record, which listed a series of arrests for various extreme protests, ranging from chaining herself to mining machinery in Australia, to hanging off a bridge in the path of a container ship carrying toxic waste down a river in the US. She was now a German citizen; seemingly the only country she’d lived in where she’d never been arrested. Blowfly had a latte in front of him, Jerm had a black coffee and was lighting a cigarette. O’Reilly had only asked for tap water. She didn’t look too happy about the cigarette smoke, but she didn’t say anything.

‘When we talked on the phone,’ Blowfly began, ‘you said you weren’t surprised to hear Ulbricht died wearing a gas mask. Hearing that someone’s been thrown off a building with a gas mask on would be pretty surprising to most people.’

‘I’m not most people,’ O’Reilly replied. ‘Perhaps I was being insensitive about someone who’d just been murdered. I don’t particularly care that he’s dead, but it’s horrible how he died. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. The reason I said I wasn’t surprised was because of his background. You said you’d listened to the interview?’

‘Yes,’ Jerm said, exhaling smoke, ‘but we’d like to hear the story straight from you.’

O’Reilly sipped her water, tilting her head back to look at the sky. Across from them was one of the last remaining sections of the Berlin Wall, complete with one of the old watch-towers. It was there as a monument now, a reminder. But Berlin had moved on, consigning that part of itself to history.

‘It’s funny, how different things are normal in different places,’ the young woman said. ‘Fifty years ago, that wall dividing the city was normal. Stasi surveillance and all its informers, the horrible paranoia, was normal. Life recovering from the world’s worst war was normal. City streets obscured by a choking smog was normal. Now we think this is normal, what we have now. And yet this has only existed for such a very short time. I like this normal – here, now, in Berlin. The environment is taken seriously.’ Lies-7She gestured over her shoulder at a billboard on the wall. It was for an organization called Naturschutzbund Deutschland, and showed a boat passing through water whose surface was carpeted in garbage. ‘It’s part of normal conversation. People don’t consider you a nut for talking about conservation, climate change, that kind of thing.’

Jerm thought about the other two cases they were still working on; one that concerned bush-fires in the Australian state of Victoria, the other the Thames Barrier in London. Both had an environmental facet to them, though she and Blowfly had been unable to establish that as a solid connection.

‘You very worried about climate change?’ she asked.

‘I should be,’ O’Reilly answered. ‘But I mustn’t be worried enough.’

‘Why do you say that?’

‘Because it’s so serious, I should be out planting bombs to stop all this coal mining and oil drilling. I should be helping to blow up these mines and oil rigs. That’s how serious it is. It’s going to bring down civilization as we know it, so I should be doing anything possible to stop it. But I don’t. I should be willing to go to prison to make change happen, but I’m not. I don’t go far enough.’

‘You’re not going to do anyone any good in prison,’ Jerm remarked bluntly. ‘Tell us about the circumstances leading up to the interview.’

‘Yes, the interview,’ O’Reilly said, grimacing. ‘Not that it was an interview at all. I’d been asked to talk about my article on air pollution in China. In some cities, on some days, they have to wear masks when they go out on the streets. That was what I wanted to talk about. I mean, it’s only a symptom of the level of carbon in the air. You know that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached four hundred parts per million?’

‘I’ve heard it,’ Jerm said, ‘but . . . well . . . I don’t really know what it means.’

‘It hasn’t been that high in the last three to five million years!’ O’Reilly exclaimed, her voice taking on the tone of an evangelist, her hands clasped in the air. ‘Back then, sea levels could have been thirty metres higher than today. The atmosphere’s been doing its thing, changing ever so slowly over all this time and then the industrial revolution comes along and suddenly the carbon levels start rocketing . . . It’s not just a few shifts in the weather we’re talking about here. Lies-2We’ve affected the air and the seas so much, we’ve changed the Earth’s future capacity to support the world as we know it. That’s how big a deal this is. That’s what I wanted to talk about . . .’

Pausing, she lowered her hands, giving the two detectives a sheepish, but bitter smile.

‘You see how I get. Anyway, I knew Ulbricht would ambush me, turn it into a chance for him to launch into some tirade against China. I’ve been caught out by people like him before. They don’t want real discussion or debate, they’re not trying to draw out the truth. This time, I thought I’d take a different approach. I’d employ some of his own tactics. I’d dig up some dirt on him. I knew he’d grown up in East Berlin, so when I was invited on the show, I contacted someone I know at the Stasi-Unterlagen-Behörde, the Stasi Records Agency, who hold all the old files from the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit.’ She rolled the German words off her tongue, as if tasting them. ‘My friend was surprised nobody had done a search on Ulbricht before, given the number of people who hate him, but there you are. Anyone can apply – the MfS files are all open to the public. Or perhaps nobody had dug far enough down. The Germans are keen to let it all lie, I suppose. It’s taken a lot of tolerance for Berliners, living together in the same city, to get past the suspicion, the paranoia that existed back then. Imagine how you’d feel if you found out that your neighbour had informed on you to the Stasi – or even one of your own family? If its people had looked for revenge on one another, Berlin would have descended into chaos. Instead, they had to forgive and forget, to get on with their lives. It’s so complex, so fascinating. And it’s extraordinary, what you can still find in the Stasi files from that time. Did you know they have an archive of sweat and body odour samples? I think it was for when they needed to use tracker dogs. The bastards even recorded your smells . . .

‘Whatever. I learned that Ulbricht had worked for the Stasi. He was an informer first, in university, then an operative, then an interrogator. The last references to him in the Stasi material were in connection with the South African Police. I kept digging and found mention of him in a report by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation in Johannesburg. Apparently, when the wall fell, he moved to South Africa, where he continued to practise his trade.’

She paused once again, for effect this time, to ensure she had the full attention of her audience.

‘Ulbricht’s method of choice was the gas mask. He would put it on the prisoner and, if the victim didn’t talk, he’d block the air tube so they couldn’t breathe. He would do this until they passed out, then open the tube again. When the prisoner regained consciousness, he told them he would do it again, but this time he’d let them suffocate. Lies-8He claimed they never failed to tell him everything he wanted to know. After the fall of apartheid in ’94, he ran back to Germany. No charges were ever brought against him in either country. He managed to successfully build a new life in the media, covering up his past.’

Blowfly and Jerm had already heard the story, and Ulbricht’s apoplectic reaction to it during the interview, which had resulted in the show going off the air while O’Reilly was escorted from the building. Ulbricht had been placed on a leave of absence until the issue was resolved. Even a controversy-courting station like Schutzwall FM couldn’t employ someone who might have once been a torturer.

‘So a guy whose job it was to torture information out of people became an interviewer on the radio,’ Jerm sniffed. ‘Nice.’

‘He polluted the airwaves with his filthy arguments and accusations,’ O’Reilly said, scowling. ‘He used his position to humiliate others, to inspire fear and hatred and to denounce decent people with his propaganda and to undermine scientists who were warning against climate change, which was one of his pet hates.’

‘As I said, I’d never wish that kind of death on anyone, but I’m not sorry he’s dead. Whoever did this, they’re making a point. A bit heavy-handed, I’ll grant you . . . and unlike me, they’re not compromising. To be honest, I’m surprised someone hasn’t already claimed credit for it. This isn’t a normal murder, I think it’s the act of a terrorist. And terrorists want publicity.’

The three talked for a little while longer and then Blowfly and Jerm thanked Dominika O’Reilly for her time and she left. The two detectives regarded each other for a moment.

‘Definite pattern around this climate change thing,’ Jerm observed. ‘They’re all aspects of global warming, aren’t they? You get more bush-fires in Victoria, more storm surges along the Thames. And now this: a climate change denier who’s also a torturer, outed by an environmentalist.’

‘There’s something else,’ Blowfly added. ‘I think there’s something here about the classical elements.’

‘The what?’

‘The classical elements, the four states of matter . . . y’know; earth, air, fire and water. Earth is solid, air is gas, fire is plasma and water is liquid. Although sometimes there’s five, if you include the quintessence, or aether.’

‘Oh, sure. Right.’

‘No, listen,’ Blowfly persisted. ‘The first victim, Cameron Davis, burned to death. The second, Antonia Abbot, drowned. This guy, who “polluted the airwaves”, fell through the air while suffocating . . .’

‘Yeah, yeah, I get it. But . . . so what?’

‘So it’s symbolism of some kind. Like O’Reilly said, someone’s making a point. Yes, it looks like the work of terrorists, but where are the claims of responsibility? She’s right; terrorists want publicity – that’s what it’s all about. I’m betting there’s going to be another victim, possibly two. And the next one’s likely to be something to do with earth.’

Jerm slapped the table and blasted smoke from her mouth.

‘Goddammit, Blow! You’ve cracked the case! We just have to stop someone dying of earth and we’ll nail the bastards who are behind this.’

‘You’re such a piss-taker,’ Blowfly sighed.

‘You’re such a bullshitter,’ she retorted.

‘It’s why we make such a good team,’ he replied, grinning.

She smiled back, picking up her case and taking out her tablet. Opening a window, she typed in Ulbricht’s name and the words ‘climate change’.

‘Let’s see if he pissed off anyone special with this denial stuff,’ she said, tapping the screen. ‘The violence against the victims has all been up close; it feels more personal than your average terrorist. I’m betting it’s someone who actually met him – maybe someone who featured on his show . . .’ A photo caught her eye and she stared at what had appeared on the screen. She spread her fingers over it, zooming in on the picture. ‘Well, I’ll be damned.’

‘No question o’ that,’ Blowfly murmured.

‘Smart-arse. Look at this.’

The photo was only tagged with Ulbricht’s name, but the image showed four people. The detectives recognized three of them. The image was a scan of a newspaper article about a group that had been assembled by the CEO of Hewbrys Holdings to ‘investigate the possible effects of climate change on air quality in Central Europe’. The people standing next to Erich Ulbricht in the picture were named in the newspaper’s caption, but it was just part of the image; the words wouldn’t show up on a search of the web. Next to the radio presenter was Hewbrys’ ‘Environmental Affairs Spokesperson’, Antonia Abbot and ‘Atmospheric Chemist’, Cameron Davis. The fourth person was a ‘prominent environmentalist’ named Michal Jánošík. Jerm went on to do a search for Michal Jánošík online, while Blowfly opened his laptop and checked him out on the Interpol database.

‘He’s got a record,’ Blowfly said. ‘Numerous arrests; most seem to be for protests of one sort or another. He’s got a sheet longer – and more extreme – than O’Reilly.’

‘He’s also dead,’ Jerm declared. ‘Murdered last year. Looks like we’re going to Poland.’

Sun and Water

A renga in 16 stanzas
Written by the students of
the Weather Substation at the Romain Rolland Gymnasium
Berlin-Reinickendorf, July 2nd, 2015

The sun rises.
Its rays illuminate the whole valley.
The river flows downstream.
I allow the melody of the water
To carry me with it.

The morning sun
Shines on a green leaf
That floats on the water.
A small ant sits upon it
Making the journey downstream alone.

The days are grey.
They become ever brighter.
The sun is dazzling.
The waves break,
Break on the white beach.

The sun gives off light,
Glittering on the surface of the sea
Like a sky full of stars,
The rays shine
And illuminate all they touch.

Light shines on the sea,
Creating so many shades of blue.
The waves murmur.
The heat quickly spreads
And the days grow longer.

The smell of the sea,
Weak, yet still present,
Is carried by the wind,
Decorated by the songs
Of all its animal inhabitants.

The sea’s waves
Quietly gurgle
Against the coastline.
The surface of the sea glitters,
Mesmerised by the sun.

Heat, what now?
A mouth dried out.
One drop of water.
Desert sands and great heat,
But no water to come to the rescue.

Quiet, yet loud too,
The waves rush to the cliff.
A roaring sound, even as
It still feels peaceful.
Sun, summer by the sea.

Glittering beauty,
In the glow of the late sun.
As far as the eye can see,
the ocean lies calm.
But it can be so very different too.

An irascible wind
Sweeps through quiet spaces,
Turning the world on its head.
And how do I find myself there?
Changed, with fresh courage!

Reflected in the water,
It now sparkles and shines.
I grow wetter.
The heat is oppressively warm.
A night at sea begins.

Outside in the garden,
Leaves wilt in the fountain.
I see the sun
Going down in the distance.
The night completes the day.

She leaps into the cold,
Eye closed, tightly shut.
Her hair shimmers.
It will be dark in no time at all,
For the sun is setting.

The sun rises
And the lake is a mirror
To reflect it, the sun.
The lake sees the sun as blue
And the sun the lake as yellow.

The sun as a motor,
the heart of this world.
With water as the blood,
That keeps it alive.
Without both, there is nothing.

An Irish tribute to Aboriginal country – Chris Flynn

Wilson’s Promontory – Chris Flynn

Every March I go camping, hiking and swimming on Wilson’s Prom, a national park peninsula four hours from Melbourne. The Gunaikurnai and Bunorong people call this beautiful place Yiruk and Warnoon, respectively. As an old Edgar Rice Burroughs fan, I just love the name Warnoon, as it reminds me of one of my favourite books, A Princess of Mars (made into the unjustly maligned film John Carter in 2012), wherein Earth is called Jarsoom, and Mars is Barsoom. There’s something otherworldy about the Prom, and when I’m there it feels like I’ve been transported to another planet, or into the past of our own.

Chris Flynn is an RSPCA animal handler and author from Ireland.

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Lorna’s stone travels the world

My ancestral stone

LornaIn my hand is a small grey stone, about the size of a 20-cent piece. It comes from the tiny village of Luib on the island of Skye in Scotland. To be specific, it is from the ruins of the croft where my great-grandfather was born 140 years ago. Each of my four cousins also has one – the plan is that the last one standing returns all five stones to Luib. I have never been to Skye. I left Scotland when I was seven. I’m not wishing ill on my cousins, but I really hope it’s me.

Lorna Hendry was born in Glasgow but has lived in Melbourne for most of her life