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The Future We Choose:

Surviving the Climate Crisis by Christiana Figures and Tom Rivett-Carnac.

Alfred A. Knopf. New York. 2020.

-- Reviewed by Harry Strharsky

Christiana Figures and Tom Rivett-Carnac led the United Nations negotiations for adoption of the historic Paris Agreement of 2015. Five years later they have produced a slim volume on how humanity can survive the climate crisis in the few decades we have left.

They begin by detailing the consequences for life on earth in 2050 given a binary choice: whether we meet or we fail to meet the Paris climate targets of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.

If we remain on our current course leading to warming of more than 3 degrees Celsius, we will be living in an individualistic, dystopian, competitive world that is very grim indeed. However, if we succeed in halving emissions each successive decade starting in 2020 we will be heading for a world that will be no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius in 2050—a carbon neutral, regenerative world that we can all cooperatively thrive in.

The authors argue for confronting the crisis head-on requiring a total shift in our thinking. They propose a shift in human consciousness through a change in three mindsets that they say are fundamental in pursuit of a better world:

1) Stubborn Optimism—an infectious, determined attitude to succeed.

2) Endless Abundance – through cooperation and defeat of our zero-sum competitiveness.

3) Radical Regeneration – fostering nature’s capacity for self-renewal.

Changing our mindset, of course, may be critical, but insufficient. We no longer can afford to do just what we can; time has come that we must do what is now necessary. We must all individually and collectively assume responsibility to build the future we envision. To meet the challenges of today’s climate crisis, Figueres and Rivett-Carnac recommend the following actions:

1) Let Go of the Old World

2) Face Your Grief but Hold a Vision of the Future

3) Defend the Truth

4) See Yourself as a Citizen – Not as a Consumer

5) Move Beyond Fossil Fuels

6) Reforest the Earth

7) Invest in a Clean Economy

8) Use Technology Responsibly

9) Build Gender Equality

10) Engage in Politics

The authors want us to know that we have a choice about our future and we are capable of making the right decisions about our own destiny. This is clearly not a recipe for America First!


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