The one-sentence summary: We urgently need to start treating the climate crisis like a crisis, face the emergency, admit failure, include all the figures, connect the dots, and choose justice and historic reparations.
WHAT THE BOOK SAYS
This is a collection of 80 short essays on pretty much every conceivable aspect of the climate change debate. It explains how climate works, how the planet is changing, how it affects us, what we’ve done about it (not nearly enough), and what we must do now.
It is impossible to summarise such a wide range of perspectives, but certain points catch the eye:
Most people today are living within the planetary boundaries. It is only a minority that have caused the crisis. It is the sufferings of the many that have paid for the benefits of the few. Our historical debt is being completely ignored by the nations of the Global North.
It seems like the majority of people (including scientists) were preparing for a different, less urgent scenario than the crisis we now face. Some say that we are not doing enough to halt and address the crisis. But that is a lie, because ‘not doing enough’ indicates that you are doing something, and the inconvenient truth is that we are doing basically nothing.
Around 90% of the CO2 emissions that make up our entire carbon budget have already been emitted – that’s the budget that would give us a 67% chance of staying below 1.5°c.
It’s not so much global warming as global weirding. Everything is more extreme. With current warming trends, 1.2 billion people could be forced to migrate by 2050. One additional degree of warming does not have the same effect everywhere, which has profound implications for global inequality.
“The inhabitants of planet earth are quietly conducting a gigantic environmental experiment. So vast and so sweeping will be the consequences that , were it brought before any responsible council for its approval, it would be firmly rejected.” Wallace Broecker
The message that should lodge with politicians and the public is that climate change must be averted at any price because its ultimate cost can neither be imagined or calculated.
If your objective as a politician is to act on the climate crisis, then your first step would be to gather accurate figures, but no world leader has ever done it. All the figures are massaged. For example, the word ‘net’ in ‘net zero by 2045’ allows Sweden to emit up to 10 million tonnes of greenhouse gases each year after
A US household contains on average 300,000 individual items. 1 in 10 households rent a storage unit and 1 in 4 with a garage say it is too full to house a car.
The guide on how (not) to buy by Mike Berners-Lee is interesting: learn to pause first, repair where possible, share if you need something for a specific task, make do and improvise. If you really have to buy, find out everything you can about the source of the product before doing so. Most of us, most of the time, have hardly any sense of the scale of the invisible carbon footprints of the many things we do and buy.
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT IT
The book is a powerful blend of facts and philosophy. In summary, this is what needs to be done:
Start treating the crisis like a crisis
Face the emergency
Include all the figures
Connect the dots
Choose justice and historic reparations.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO WATCH
At over 400 pages, few people will read the whole book, but there is much to be learned here.
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