This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein

I’m a longtime admirer of Naomi Klein, a journalist, author, and activist. Her previous books No Logo and The Shock Doctrine were both eye-opening for me in terms of their content, and admirable to me in terms of Klein’s ability to write sharp, concise prose that tames thorny issues into words that are not only easy to follow, but enjoyable to read. I had high hopes when I heard that she was releasing a book about climate change, since that is a complex topic with often-changing theories and information. This Changes Everything did not disappoint.

In her introduction, Klein recollects that for a long time, she felt that climate change, though unfortunate, was not necessarily a critical issue. I can relate to that feeling–it seems like there are so many problems facing the world today that it’s overwhelming. Klein reveals the first time she began to see global climate change as a truly critical issue–in 2009, she met with Angelica Navarro Llanos, Bolivia’s ambassador to the World Trade Organization. Llanos explained the “Marshall Plan for the Earth” to Klein, where wealthy countries who had benefited from causing climate change would pay reparations to developing nations who were being hurt by it. Klein began to understand how connected climate change is with food justice, super storms, clean water, poverty, and other pressing issues.

In the rest of the book, Klein goes on to show how all these issues are interconnected. She spells out who profits from climate change (energy companies; entrepreneurs who want to block out the sun) and who suffers (pretty much everyone else), and what steps need to be taken immediately to delay–and eventually repair–climate change. Her tone captures the urgency of the situation, but is not without hope. She highlights examples like the Lakota entrepreneur Henry Red Cloud, whose organization trains American Indians in the installation of solar and wind energy projects on reservations. It creates jobs and low-cost energy sources and reduces pollution. As a journalist, Klein traveled around the world and spoke with many fascinating people working on various projects related to climate change, and This Changes Everything includes partial interviews with many of those people.

If you have felt overwhelmed by media reporting on climate change, I would highly recommend reading This Changes Everything. Naomi Klein has written a compelling, cohesive story that takes into account many of the causes and possible cures for climate change.

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Storms of My Grandchildren by James Hansen

Storms of my Grandchildren by James Hansen
I was inspired to read Storms of My Grandchildren by James Hansen after hearing about the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy this fall. I have heard a lot over the last few years about “global warming” and “climate change” and I wanted to understand more about those issues. James Hansen, currently the director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, is the best-known researcher of climate change in the USA. This book was written in 2010 but he predicted that storms would continue to become more destructive than ever before, like Hurricane Sandy.

This is his only book written for a general audience (as opposed to his fellow scientists) and it’s clear that he’s not sure how to explain these issues to people without his scientific background. Often he refers to his grandchildren and repeats stories of how he tried to explain things to them, which was generally helpful for me. Still, at times, this book was difficult for me to understand.

I’m glad that I perservered and read all of Storms of my Grandchildren. In addition to learning about the science of climate change, Hansen also talks about political censorship of science (done by both major parties) and ideas for the future. Even if I didn’t understand all of Storms of my Grandchildren, I still feel like I have a much better understanding of climate change, as well as how we as humans can go about fixing it. I recommend reading this book, but make sure to allow yourself plenty of time to read it–it’s interesting material but it’s definitely not a page-turner.

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