Helen was born in Melbourne, Australia, and obtained her Ph.D. in the Department of Microbiology, University of Melbourne, studying how bacteria regulate gene expression in response to their environment. She stayed in the same Department for her entire research career, working part-time whilst bringing up two children with her husband James, a Professor in Human Genetics. She retired from active research in 2008 and became an Honorary Fellow, and has since pursued her interests in evolutionary psychology, sustainability and climate change. Since 2009 she has been writing popular science, motivated by the desire to help address climate change. She is currently working on a manuscript dealing in more detail with the causes of our intransigence with respect to sustainability, and strategies we might use to face what she sees as the greatest threat to humanity.
Democracy is failing to tackle the climate crisis
In Australia, climate policy is a major problem, despite the fact that we are extremely vulnerable to the climate’s impacts. We face severe disruption with worsening droughts, floods, bushfires, heatwaves, rising sea levels, ocean acidification and cyclones.
April 19, 2022
Evolutionary Mismatch, Partisan Politics, and Climate Change: A Tragedy in Three Acts
It is apparent that our focus should not only be on solving climate change, but should also address other planetary boundaries, and perhaps even democratic renewal, but in every case, we need the means of transitioning from an unsatisfactory system to a better one that focuses on our strengths, and mitigates against our psychological shortcomings.
February 8, 2022
A ‘Council for the Future’ Could Break Australia’s Climate Paralysis
Like most people, I hoped climate policy would improve, but years of infighting and adversarial politics have resulted in a dearth of climate action, where cooperation might well have yielded positive results.
One solution to this frustrating deadlock is to place the responsibility for climate policy at arm’s length from political actors. We need a Council for the Future, tasked with the long-term thinking that eludes so many of our elected representatives.
November 4, 2019
Half-Baked and Out of Time
Representative democracy was the political system that most successfully exploited capitalism for the generation of wealth, but in recent years it has been compromised by the power of corporations through lobbying and donations, and has proved to be an unsatisfactory vehicle for generating equity and for responsiveness to long-term problems.
August 30, 2019
Wanted: political leader with a vision for a sustainable future
A sustainable future remains within our grasp but – thanks to the way human brains work – only governments can implement many of the necessary strategies.
August 29, 2013
The Poisoned Chalice: Genetic Heritage, Future Demise
During the Pleistocene evolution favored those humans who left the most descendants so our evolved instincts encourage us to procreate, seek status and consume resources. Now sustainability is an existential issue and these instincts and our invention of technology are threatening our future.
May 21, 2013