Sunburnt: Fixing the stories we live by in the wide brown land

New manuscript

The sun is burning hotter on Australia. The fires, droughts and flooding rains are getting worse. Our society has regressed into acrimony and declining wellbeing. Our politics still hews to  old, harmful stories.

With stories truer to ourselves and the world we can win over the alienated, reclaim our fair-go society, live fulfilling lives and have a better shot at surviving and thriving.

Sunburnt is a broader, deeper and more meticulous examination of our Australian society than any other recent book, worthy as many of them are.

Sunburnt is about what we need to do if we are to negotiate this century, and how politics, public conversations and our self-perceptions need to be shifted accordingly. It is not interested in tweaking politics-as-usual: if we don’t know where we need to get to we will never find the ways to get there.

It does not just wish for better values, it presents the evidence that we are much better than our public conversation commonly implies, why we fall so short and how we can cultivate our better angels.

It does not just complain about mainstream economics, it brings rigorous analysis to its discrediting and replacement.

Read the opening: Sunburnt opening


The stories we live by – that human nature is fundamentally selfish, and that the planet has infinite space to absorb abuse – have turned deadly. In this broad and comprehensive offering, Geoff Davies goes back to the origins of the stories that have turned industrial societies against the earth itself. Not content with traversing physics, philosophy, economics and politics in pursuit of the antecedents of our disastrous present, Davies is at his best when he sketches the outlines of new stories.  Sunburnt is an urgent and necessary contribution to the big ideas our age demands.” – Scott Ludlam, writer, former senator 

“… a bold philippic that calls for the rekindling of our national spirit, a rebirthing of the dream of decency and fairness that we held in earlier days, a re-energising of the will to make this a better, fairer, kinder land.” – Julian Cribb AM, science journalist and author

“ Geoff Davies’ book “Sunburnt” should be required reading for anyone who cares about the future of Australia, or indeed humanity at large.  Geoff draws on his wide scientific and life experience to chart the way to overcome this existential challenge, creating a genuinely sustainable and prosperous society where the common good is respected and individual freedoms are balanced with corresponding responsibilities. A tour de force. Thoroughly recommended.” – Ian DunlopMember, The Club of RomeFormerly: Chair Australian Coal Association, CEO Australian Institute of Company Directors. 

In his latest book “Sunburnt”, Davies boldly argues the need for a new direction in the structure and operation of Australian society.  I have followed the author’s journey for several years, and I consider that what he is proposing in this book is stimulating and constructive, and that the arguments he presents, need to be seriously considered by politicians, decision-makers and leading thinkers across Australia. – Em Prof Bob Douglas AO; formerly the Founding Director of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at The Australian National University, Founder of Australia 21.

Full endorsements here.

Evidence of a receptive audience

A post-election survey of GetUp! members (over 1 million) reveals a clear appreciation that we need to go much further than the agenda of the new Labor government.

Overwhelmingly, [members] said our greatest worry about the next three years is that the Labor Government will deliver piecemeal change, instead of real reform on the issues we care about.
‘Fundamental changes are needed to prevent Australia going the wrong way again.’ – Jorit, Qld

Members see GetUp carrying a huge responsibility: ‘Keep up the good work – my grandchildren and their children’s children’s future is largely linked to the ongoing effectiveness of GetUp.’ – John, Qld

More comments here.