A Plot Twist for Climate Change, the Power of Occam’s Razor, and Other New Books
Recommendations from the editors of Scientific American
Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World
by Katharine Hayhoe
Atria/One Signal, 2021 ($27)
Once upon a time there was a world in mortal danger. Some people tried to stop it; others claimed it was ≈all a hoax. They squabbled on the Internet, calling one another terrible names, until they were swallowed up by the rising sea.
Once upon a time there was a polar bear. It died. And it was all your fault. You are to blame for the drought in California and the impending disintegration of the Greenland ice sheet.
Once upon a time there was a world, but who cares? It was doomed. Nothing could be done, and everyone was destined to be miserable.
I don’t like any of these stories, and I bet you don’t either. Much of the world’s failure to address climate change stems from a failure to tell different ones. I want to read climate science fiction that isn’t set in a dystopia. I want to see heist movies where charismatic teams pull off audacious robberies of fossil-fuel companies. I want time-traveling paleoclimate action scenes where the heroes fight Siberian volcanoes. I want personal narratives about anger crystallized into action and eulogies for the things we’re losing. I want a story that begins with scientists issuing desperate warnings, and then everybody listens and takes appropriate action, and it turns into a nice romantic comedy. If we’re going to save the planet from extreme weather and social chaos, we need more stories with heroes who make a better future possible.
As far as heroic characters go, I’m not sure you could do better than Katharine Hayhoe. She is an accomplished climate scientist and charismatic communicator as well as an evangelical Christian living in Lubbock, Tex. And she’s much nicer than most of us.
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