Greta Thunberg’s new book urges the world to take action on climate change now


The best chance to minimize the future effects of climate change is to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, humanity has already raised the average global temperature by about 1.1 degrees. If we continue to emit greenhouse gases at the current rate, the world will likely exceed the 1.5 degree threshold by the end of the decade.

This sobering fact makes it clear that climate change is not just a problem that will soon have to be solved; this is an emergency that needs to be responded to now. And yet most people don’t act like we’re in the midst of the greatest crisis humans have ever faced—not the politicians, not the media, not your neighbor, not myself, to be honest. That’s what I realized when I finished “Book about climate” Greta Thunberg.

The urgency to act now to end our dependence on fossil fuels practically jumps off the page to punch you in the gut. So while it’s not a pleasant read—it’s quite intense—I can’t recommend this book enough. The purpose of the book is not to convince skeptics of the reality of climate change. We have been through this for a long time. Instead, it’s a wake-up call for those worried about the future.

Collection of short essays « A book about climate” provides an encyclopedic overview of all aspects of the climate crisis, including the basic science, the history of denial and inaction, and what to do next. Thunberg, who became the face of climate activism after starting the “Friday for Future” protests as a teenager, is assembling a star-studded list of experts to write essays.

The first two chapters of the book show how a small amount of warming can have large, far-reaching consequences. For some readers, this will be familiar territory. But as each essay builds on the next, it becomes clear just how delicate Earth’s climate system is. What also becomes clear is the value of 1.5 degrees. Scientists fear that after this point, various aspects of the natural world may reach tipping points that will lead to irreversible changes, even if greenhouse gas emissions are later brought under control. Ice sheets can melt, raise sea levels and flood coastal areas. The Amazon rainforest can become a dry meadow.

The cumulative effect will be complete climate change. Our health and the livelihoods of other species and entire ecosystems would be at risk, the book shows. Not surprisingly, essay after essay ends with the same message: We must cut greenhouse gas emissions now, and fast.

Repetition occurs elsewhere in the book. Numerous essays offer scientific explanations, emissions statistics, historical notes, and thoughts on the future. Rather than being tiresome, this repetition reinforces the message that we know what the threat of climate change is, we know how to deal with it, and we’ve known it for a long time.

Thunberg’s anger and frustration at decades of inaction, false starts, and broken promises is palpable in her own essays that run throughout the book. The world has known about anthropogenic climate change for decades, but roughly half of all human-related carbon dioxide emissions have occurred since 1990. This year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its first report and just two years before world leaders met in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 to sign the first international agreement to limit emissions.

Unfortunately, the people who will bear the brunt of severe storms, heat waves, rising sea levels and other effects of climate change are the least to blame. The richest 10 percent of the world’s population account for half of all carbon dioxide emissions, while the richest 1 percent emit twice as much as the bottom half. But due to a lack of resources, the poorer sections of the population are least equipped to deal with the consequences. “Humanity did not create this crisis,” writes Thunberg, “those in power did.”

This injustice must be confronted and taken into account as the world tackles climate change, perhaps even through reparations, Olufmi O. Taiwo, a philosopher at Georgetown University, argues in one essay.

So what is the way forward? Thunberg and many of her co-authors are generally skeptical that new technology alone will be our savior. For example, carbon capture and storage, or CCS, has been touted as one way to reduce emissions. But less than a third of the roughly 150 planned CCS projects that were supposed to be operational by 2020 are up and running.

Progress is hampered by costs and technology failures, explains science writer Ketan Joshi. An alternative could be “revival,” restoring damaged mangroves, seagrass meadows, and other ecosystems that naturally absorb CO 2 from the air, environmental activists George Monbiot and Rebecca Wrigley suggest.

Solving the climate problem will require transformation not only of our energy and transportation systems, which often get the most attention, but also of our economy (endless growth is not sustainable), political systems, and our relationship with nature and each other, the book’s authors argue.

The last fifth part of the book describes how we can cope with this difficult challenge. It takes a critical mass of people who are ready to change their lifestyle and be heard. This can spark a social movement strong enough to make politicians listen and create systemic and structural change. In other words, it’s time to start acting like we’re in a crisis. Thunberg does not end the book with hope. Instead, she argues that each of us must create our own hope.

“For me, hope is not something you’re given, it’s something you have to earn, create,” she writes. “You can’t get it passively by standing by and waiting for someone to do something. Hope is taking action.”

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