Kurt Johnson

is an environmental journalist who works in international aid in the Asia-Pacific.

By this author

Culture November 25, 2023

Best Australian Political Cartoons 2023

Cartoonists are the court jesters of the news section. While journalists are constrained by fact, cartoonists speak truth. Consider Glen Le Lievre’s frame of the ghosts of robo-debt at the foot of Scott Morrison’s bed, captioned with “I don’t …

News October 28, 2023

WIRES’ unspent bushfire donations

Donations to Australia’s largest wildlife rescue service surged during the Black Summer bushfires, but only a fraction has been spent since, as volunteers complain they are under-resourced and unable to save animals.

Culture October 21, 2023

Divided Isles

After 36 years of recognising Taiwanese sovereignty, the Solomon Islands’ switch to China was so rapid Taiwanese diplomats barely had time to lower their flag. In Divided Isles: Solomon Islands and the China Switch, Edward Acton Cavanough follows …

Culture September 02, 2023

Big Meg: The Story of the Largest and Most Mysterious Predator that Ever Lived

“Imagine an enormous predatory shark weighing 60,000 kilograms,” begins Tim Flannery, summoning Otodus megalodon, a leviathan almost 20m long with the landing weight of an Airbus A320. Nicknamed “Big Meg”, this shark inspires Flannery’s …

Life June 03, 2023

Quitting the energy sector to fight climate change

The climate crisis is forcing a rethink among workers who feel their employers are part of the problem, and many are switching careers, at some personal cost, to fight for solutions.

Culture April 29, 2023

Taxtopia: How I discovered the injustices, scams and guilty secrets of the tax evasion game

It’s worse than you think. Whenever there’s a Pandora/Panama/Paradise Papers drop, our most cynical suspicions are exceeded. The world is divided between ordinary schmucks paying tax and the ultra-wealthy, who will do anything not to. But how do they …

Life April 01, 2023

The costs of becoming a digital nomad

The tens of thousands of online workers who call Thailand’s Chiang Mai their base are a boon for the local economy, but their lifestyle has its costs, both for the city’s social fabric and the ‘digital nomads’ themselves.

Culture March 04, 2023

Quantum Bullsh*t: How to Ruin Your Life with Advice from Quantum Physics

The problems with Canadian quantum physicist Chris Ferrie’s new book, Quantum Bullsh*t, begin at the title. An intent to confront misinformation should be stated directly, without the wink of an asterisk. The underlying concept is solid: the …

News November 26, 2022

SEA’s electric vehicles v the state

Scores of emails released under freedom of information show how the grand plan to take the Latrobe Valley’s coal-based workforce into the rapidly expanding electric vehicle industry was lost to politics and ineptitude.

podcast October 03, 2022

Nigel Farage, the pornographer and their weird Australian tour

Nigel Farage has become increasingly irrelevant in British politics, but he is commanding speaking fees and being given a hero's welcome by Sky News presenters and One Nation politicians. It could be a cynical money-grabbing exercise, a play for political influence in Australia… or both.

News October 01, 2022

What is Nigel Farage doing in Australia?

Nigel Farage’s Australian speaking tour is part of a global conservative network being run here by the financially troubled former publisher of Penthouse Australia.

Culture August 27, 2022

Of Marsupials and Men

Any history of Australian wildlife at a time of catastrophic decline is important. Too often the plight of these creatures is obscured by the very statistics used to represent them, such as the three billion impacted by the 2019-20 bushfires. Each generation …

Culture August 13, 2022

Should We Fall to Ruin

Gallipoli’s power to sustain the culture wars is probably the only thing preventing the Pacific theatre from becoming Australia’s most important wartime legend. The Pacific resonates deeply with the present, as an ascendant Asian power expands south …

News July 23, 2022

The Shooters Party’s fractured fight for the Murray–Darling

The NSW Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party has lost its only female MP in a battle over water management, prompting a three-way fight for the Murray–Darling Basin.

Culture May 14, 2022

The Shortest History of India

How does a writer condense 5000 years of Indian history into a single short book without losing themselves in what they’re omitting? India is a fluid tessellation of ethnicities and languages that shift through the blooming of religions, the clash of …

Culture February 26, 2022

The Ethical Investor

Once I had a fiction that comforted me in these apocalyptic times: regular people are mostly goodies while the baddies are the corporations that are killing the planet. As an Australian with superannuation and a bank account, it turns out I am invested …

News April 10, 2021

Australia missing out on EVs

An electric vehicle factory that could have brought hundreds of jobs to Victoria’s struggling Latrobe Valley has stalled. But around Australia the lack of government support for EVs stands in stark contrast to other nations.