Climate change is well underway, writes Hertsgaard (The Eagle’s Shadow: Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the World, 2002, etc.), and we must begin to adapt to it even as we work to stop it.
The author notes that we have entered the “second era of global warming.” Even if greenhouse-gas emissions ceased today, the consequences would continue for hundreds of years. Consequently, the author persuasively argues that we need to begin adapting to those changes, which does not mean that mitigating global warming is no longer important; in fact, it grows more urgent every day. Hertsgaard’s mantra is “avoid the unmanageable and manage the unavoidable.” Though the consequences of unchecked global warming would be impossible to adapt to, we must decrease emissions of greenhouse gases with the greatest haste. This realization, as well as concern for his young daughter’s future, prompted the author to travel the world and learn from the attempts that different countries and regions have made to adapt. He identifies the Netherlands as the global leader because they plan for (and fund) the next 200 years and accept that some areas are too expensive to protect. He also praises farmers in Africa’s Sahel region. Their practice of growing trees amid their crops has improved yields, raised water tables and added so much greenery since the 1970s that it’s visible in satellite pictures. While global warming is a “terrible injustice” because it “punishes the world’s poor first and worst, even though they did almost nothing to bring it on,” Hertsgaard finds that “even wealthy, technologically advanced societies will find it enormously challenging to defend themselves.” The author’s stated goal is to make readers feel hopeful so that they will act, but he is candid about his own lapses into despair. He puts forth many of the necessary tools and best practices, calling for a “Green Apollo” program. Hopefully, this book will prompt readers to action.
Starkly clear and of utmost importance.