A surprisingly warm, very human take on our scorching ecological predicament
Dr. Nicholas knows the facts: she is a highly successful researcher and communicator on climate change, a topic most people kind of know in abstract but still in 2021 find hard to confront.
That means us in the wealthy, high-consuming North.
I know from experience that confronting what we call human-caused global heating and the destruction of the living world for profit isn’t very easy as a member of the perpetrator species. Hell, it’s straight-up hard as a human being. Almost impossible in a culture that worships overconsumption.
The reader learns that blaming the species is actually a neat way of avoidance. Once the illusions disappear, the author recognizes all sorts of maladaptation she is culturally subject to from high-consuming behaviors, scientific reticence, political denialism, family history, all the way to predatory journalism.
Dr. Nicholas proposes a mindset transformation from Exploitation (capitalized at purpose) to Regeneration. To achieve this, it is essential to understand our emotional predicament and face it through a series of feelings such as grief.
The book excels at making the almost unfathomable scale of the climate and ecological crises relatable through the writer’s personal journey. The social insight is remarkable. I would recommend it to veteran climate scientists, campaigners, and “issue civilians” alike as a tool to recognize their role in all of what is going on.
The perspective chosen has understandable limitations: it is knowingly written from a Western (American) perspective and could have dealt more with Climate Justice and the colonial history of the Exploitation Mindset in the North-South dimension. Put Amitav Ghosh’s The Nutmeg’s Curse (2021) next on the reading list!
I would expect minor outrage from climate activists due to the fact that individual actions are even mentioned but give it a chance, politics and economics are included. The chapter on economics does not hold back: it is at the progressive edge of the debate.
For us Westerners who still are a little ignorant about the state of the world it isn’t only a self-help book but a world-help manual: understanding the mega contexts of climate and biodiversity through science but also taking responsibility and action at all costs finally leads to a meaningful life.
I felt much warmth reading it and I’m not the most emotional person out there although I’ve been through a similar path to climate action.
Review by Aarne Granlund, 13th of October 2021.