‘White Beech’ puts Greer’s habitat-rebuilding theories to test

08/13/2014 8:58 PM

08/14/2014 2:43 PM

“White Beech: The Rainforest Years” by Germaine Greer (Bloomsbury, 370 pages, $30)

In her 1999 book “The Whole Woman,” Germaine Greer declared, “It’s time to get angry again.” She was addressing feminism, but the phrase is emblematic of her entire worldview. For Greer, complacency is our most pressing problem.

“There is little point in accumulating gene banks and none whatever in breeding threatened species in captivity,” she writes in “White Beech.” “The only way of keeping the extraordinary richness and exuberance of this small planet is to rebuild habitat.”

“White Beech” is Greer’s 11th book, and it is the story of a decade spent developing the Cave Creek Rainforest Rehabilitation Scheme on a former dairy farm in the northeastern Australian state of Queensland, where she put her habitat-rebuilding theories to the test.

For Greer, this was an unexpected move, but not exactly out of character, for she has always been equally hard-edged and utopian. That’s the key to her feminism and her other political activism, and so the decision to spend half a million dollars to purchase a devastated corner of the Gondwana Rainforests system is very much in keeping with her sensibility.

What Greer is arguing for is a kind of environmental absolutism. In her view, the country, the planet even, is not beyond saving, but only if we open up our way of thinking. We need to know more, so we can understand where we are and how to move ahead.

– David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times

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