Over the past several years, I have read several books that have shaped my views of the current situation in which we find ourselves. I would like to introduce 4 of them to you. Maybe they will help to inform or inspire.
Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything (2014) is a blow-by-blow account of how the fossil fuel industry initially accepted climate science and then realized it could continue to profit by obfuscating the whole situation. Following the playbook of “big tobacco,” politicians were wined and dined, doubts were cast on the science, and pseudo-science front organizations were set up to confuse the public. This has succeeded in turning a solvable problem of the ’90s into an urgent crisis today.
In some ways, it is a depressing read.
Even more depressing is Thomas Piketty’s Capitalism in the 21st Century (2014). I only managed to read the first 200 pages. Initially analyzing tax returns from France prior to the French Revolution, Piketty promulgates the theory that once wealth disparity reaches a certain point, then revolution is inevitable. He then discusses how this disparity is reaching that flashpoint in the US and parts of Western Europe. His prediction is one of social and economic instability. Look out, oligarchs, the pitchforks are coming.
In stark contrast, Michael Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (2016) is a humorous look at life so as to work out what is worth our concern and what is not. It is both entertaining and informative. We can’t possibly care about everything, give to every charity, sign every petition, or join every worthy organization. We need to identify clearly what is worth our mental and physical energy. In short, what is worth giving a f*ck about, and what is not? Not everybody’s “give a f*ck’s” will be the same.
Then, I came across The Future We Choose (2020) by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac. This is a book full of hope, with an action plan to save the future. It reminds us, just like Arnie, that “the Future is not yet written.” Interestingly enough, the action plan is short on EVs and long on voting for the right politicians. It does make it clear that we probably only have about 10 years before disaster is locked in. That’s 9 years now. [Editor’s note: Disaster is already locked in, and happening, but there’s a kind of breaking point or “point of no return” that is often referenced, and is more or less considered to be in 2030.]
If you like reading and have the time, I would strongly recommend this last book. I found it refreshing in the midst of so much disaster (not to mention covid), with some great practical suggestions.
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