Tim Flannery begins his climate update with, well, a climate update. Where are we now? We've started to see the consequences of global warming, and he focuses on things that are new since his 2005 book. Throughout this new book, he keeps referring back to the 2005 book. I didn't read that one -- my excuse, if I need one, is that I was in graduate school and reading nothing that wasn't astrophysics -- but I still found the comparison striking. His analysis emphasizes how much has changed in just 10 years, and it is sobering to think about how quickly we've gotten used to our new weather patterns and extreme events.
He does spend a portion of the book reviewing why fossil fuels are bad for us, which may interest some readers more than it did me. It was in this section that he sounds most sanctimonious and I was willing to grant him his conclusion before he started his argument, so it felt like a waste of space. But if people are looking to be convinced, this section was probably necessary.
The best part of the book was the reason for the 'Hope' in the title. He includes a survey of what tools are available to us now to start solving our problems. What alternative energies are available? Being developed? To what extent can they solve our problems? His chapters on geoengineering, blocking the sun or sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere to slow things because we can't get off fossil fuels fast enough, are intriguing. These chapters are the ones that are seldom included with this level of detail in other books. I really appreciated the new information here.
Flannery naturally has an Australia-centered outlook, but that only really mattered in his last chapter, when he's listing the ways that an individual can be an effective activist. All that depends on the political realities and the citizen activist groups available, and they're different in the US than in Australia. But the chapter still serves as inspiration for Americans, and we certainly have activist groups that people can get involved in -- the chapter is just unnecessarily detailed if all you're looking for is inspiration. For the rest of the book, we're truly talking about a global issue, so the country of origin of the author really doesn't matter much.
When I read the introduction to the book, I was feeling a little apprehensive that it was going to be more of an I-told-you-so than a useful, informative read, but that was not the case. Flannery has been working on climate-related issues for a while and has the advantage of experience and long-term analysis. Yes, he's a bit frustrated with the lack of progress. Actually, the rate of degeneration. Aren't we all? But the focus is on what we can do now. What's possible? What can be saved? I recommend it, especially with the December climate summit coming up.
I got a copy of this from Net Galley.