Climate change is the environmental fear that provokes the greatest degree of apocalyptic prophesy. It’s hard to escape the doom drum when the global political response has been so puny. This guide to cooling the planet’s fever pulls off a difficult balancing act, outlining the terrors of the looming climatic crisis whilst offering detailed, credible, practical ideas for action to halt it in its tracks. Laid out as a succession of double-page spreads, the solutions are meticulously researched with boxes pointing to a multitude of web resources. Unlike previous attempts, the book doesn’t rely too heavily on either technofixes or purely political answers. Instead it takes a swipe at every level of responsibility – from the individual through to the global – making it impossible for the reader to conclude ‘there’s nothing I can do’. Its optimism (with reality check intact) and energy are to be saluted.
Such an encyclopaedic enterprise cannot be without problems. There’s a North American bias – other readers will need to ‘adapt’ for their own situations. The policy options can overlap from time to time; a firmer edit would have helped. In its attempt to keep business on board the book espouses natural capitalism, a cuddly, sustainable version of the beast. But capitalism is by its nature expansionist, so I’m sceptical about a version that promotes profitable under-consumption (see http://www.newint.org/issue329/natural.htm> - Mary Jane Patterson’s critique in NI 329). For a book that is so aware of greenwash some of the examples of corporate good practice would have been better left out.
Despite such reservations, its sheer wealth of detail makes it the fullest popular blueprint we have.