The Climate Book - Greta Thunberg

17 February 2023

An amazing, insightful and deeply moving read about all aspects of climate change and how as a species we’re doing a pretty fantastic job at destroying the planet.

A big highlight for me was around social inequality. The fact that we have the richest, most affluent people and countries in the world contributing the most to CO2 emissions while those in poverty contributing the least and suffering the most from it. Particularly those in sub-saharan countries.

Another is around a country’s GDP and how this runs negatively towards its environmental impact and emissions. GPD can be decoupled from emissions, by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy. The problem is that decarbonization cannot be accomplished fast enough to meet the Paris targets if high-income economies continue to grow at their current rates. More growth means more energy demand, and more energy demand makes it more difficult - and probably impossible - to reduce emissions to zero at a sufficiently rapid rate.

Which ties into Naomi Klein’s essay A Just Transition which deeply summarized; asserts that the bottomless quest for profits that forces so many to work upwards of fifty hours a week with no security, fuelling an epidemic of isolation and despair, is the same quest for bottomless profits that has pushed our planet into peril.

Margaret Atwood’s essay on Practical Utopias and her novel Onyx and Crake was a real eye-opener on the idea that we currently have the capability to bioengineer a virus capable of wiping out humanity very swiftly; and that someone might be tempted to do just that, in order to save the entire biosphere and all life within it from the destruction at the hands of our species. If humanity goes, the rest of life stays; but if not, then not. I hope this doesn’t happen but it does make me want to read Bill Gate’s How To Prevent the Next Pandemic in my next few books.

Finally, its very obvious that we are not treating the climate disaster currently unfolding as such. And an insightful set of markers was provided by Seth Klein in his essay A Genuine Emergency Response (drawing parallels to the emergency response witnessed during the Covid-19 pandemic) which indicates that a government has shifted into emergency mode.

  1. Spend what it takes to win. As C. D. Howe, Canadian Minister of Munitions and Supply stated during the Second World War, ‘If we lose the war, nothing else will matter… if we win the war, the cost will have been of no consequence and will have been forgotten.’
  2. Create new economic institutions to get the job done.
  3. Shift from voluntary and incentive-based policies to mandatory measures (such as wearing a face mask).
  4. Tell the truth about the severity of the crisis (such as was seen with daily Covid-19 updates).

A highly recommended read.