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Book review: ‘Beginning to End the Climate Crisis’

First and foremost, this is a very important book. In my opinion, it has some flaws, which

I’ll talk about later, but overall, it’s a great book. Even more important than my personal take on the book is the fact that that permeates all the pages of the book and that it should permeate most of the pages of our lives: the climate crisis. I know, it’s literally in the title, but still … It’s a topic that most of us have at least heard of, but most of us have not taken action to stop it. And I don’t blame us (yes, I’m including myself in this group), because where the hell do you even start? What can you, a little human being, do to stop this colossal problem? (I’m happy to take any suggestions for a word that represents a greater scale than “colossal,” but I doubt that it would even come close to the actual scope of the climate crisis.) Honestly, I don’t know. I could say that every action counts, so start by making changes to your daily habits. But this is not enough, either because these actions are not sustainable at all or because they are not enough. I’m not saying you should not take them—you should. But you should also know that we need big structural changes. In other words, we need to pressure those who concentrate power to either get out of their positions or meet all of our demands.

But, going back to my initial question, how do you do this? Although I don’t have an exact answer, this book might offer some very good insights. As they say in the beginning, “You tell stories. Personal stories. And this is our story.” And that’s exactly what this book does the best: connecting the problem with the little human beings who are doing something to end it. There are a lot of examples in the book about people organizing themselves to try to fight the climate crisis, and I found that to be compelling. It’s really easy to get caught up in a static state in the face of the entire climate crisis, so seeing what other people, who are probably as scared as you, are doing inspires you to go out and try something. Most of the examples revolve around combating the use and production of fossil fuels and the young people who are rallying against the corporations that are driving the climate crisis the most. Stories are probably the single most important factor for human interaction, and they are present in all cultures, so bringing them here to offer some perspective on what we ordinary people can do to stop this mess is the best part of the book.

However (see, I used a contradictory word again to start a paragraph, that’s an English outrage), there is a problem with this book: the lack of other voices in the discussion. Although

the authors acknowledge that they come from a developed country, and one that is one of the

most pollutant, they do not include other voices aside from those in Western Europe. In the

climate change discussion, we need voices as diverse as possible, especially from the most

affected communities. They could have included excerpts of what Indigenous people have

experienced with the climate crisis, and how they think it can be mitigated (and because I’m sure they have other views than non-Indigenous people, especially those from the Global North). They could have included a voice from someone who has gone through a natural disaster and has opinions on what those in leadership positions should do. They could have included so many other voices, but they stuck with the kids that go to rallies in Western Europe, and being able to leave school whenever you want to go to a rally is already a privilege. Also, although they point out that big corporations are the most responsible for the climate crisis, they forget to mention how colonization has shaped this problem. In the simplest way possible: the very fact that their nations are developed is because there are a ton of other nations who are poor. And those nations who were major colonizers, and still are, are also the ones who drive climate change the most. Colonization has shaped the way in which almost everyone lives, so failing to include this in the book is a flaw for me.

In general, this book offers very good insights into what’s happening with the climate

crisis and how some individuals are trying to stop it. But, as a caveat, we should be aware that it does not include a wide range of voices that are essential to the climate discussion, and it doesn’t emphasize colonization as an important driver of the problems that we see today in the world.

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