Requiem for a Species

Clive Hamilton

As has been said, we are sleep-walking to the edge of a cliff.

I don't know what to do with the information contained in this book.  I almost envy the people who can dismiss the terrible truth of what we are doing to this planet with hand waving statements like "Science doesn't know everything", who go about their small daily lives as if only they and their social circles matter.

Clive Hamilton lays out the science of global warming in detail and says as most knowledgable people do, that organisations like the IPCC which our governments rely on to inform them are actually being very conservative about the science.  Things are probably going to be a lot worse than we think, for us and the flora and fauna we share our world with.  Of course, anyone who cares to look already knows these things.  The science work that has been done is deep, thorough, consistent and compelling. 

The science as well is not just predictions about the future, it's also simply measuring what has gone on so far, which can't really be disputed.  The planet has already heated up, the seas have already risen, we are already seeing hundreds of thousands of deaths from the heat and pollution burning fossil fuels and livestock farming has caused, climate change has been implicated in ongoing wars.  This is just the beginning, we have already locked in just as much warming even if we were to stop burning fossil fuels today.     It's possible if we do nothing somehow it will work out, but people shouldn't pretend this is a rationally defensible point of view.

He also tries to understand what it is about us that is refusing to take action as a community.  I think this is where we are at, trying to understand human psychology.  Is it a death wish, is it selfishness, is it just the inability to see beyond our own small world and desires, or is it just fatalism and apathy?

I don't know but I can't be the same after reading this book.  If you are serious that you care about the world, you should read it too.  There is potentially nothing more important you could do with your time.  The saddest point of the book for me was when he says "If we are still just talking about this in ten years time it will be told late".  I checked on the date the book was published, and it was nine years ago.

Let us hope it is not too late, at least to avoid the worst impacts.  Let us work together to avoid this fate, and build a better, cleaner, kinder world whilst we do it.

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