Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Hope in Hell: A decade to confront the climate emergency by Jonathon Porritt

Hope in Hell: A decade to confront the climate emergency by Jonathon Porritt
Published in the UK by Simon And Schuster on the 25th June 2020.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


‘Brave and unflinching in setting out the reality of the hell towards which we’re headed, but even more urgent, passionate and compelling about the grounds for hope if we change course fast enough, Hope in Hell is a powerful call to arms from one of Britain’s most eloquent and trusted campaigners.’ Caroline Lucas, MP

'Extraordinarily powerful, deeply troubling, scathing but ultimately purposeful and hopeful. This book is a clarion call to action, and action now. After reading this, we know for sure that nothing, not even a pandemic, must divert us from the most serious problem facing every living creature on the planet. In plain language, Jonathon Porritt is spelling it out. This is our last chance. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest. Then act.' Michael Morpurgo

Climate change is the defining issue of our time - we know, beyond reasonable doubt, what that science now tells us. Just as climate change is accelerating, so too must we – summoning up a greater sense of urgency, courage and shared endeavour than humankind has ever seen before. 

The Age of Climate Change is an age of superlatives: most extreme this, biggest that, most costly ever. The impacts worsen every year, played out in people’s backyards and communities, and more and more people around the world now realise this is going to be a massive challenge for the rest of their lives. In Hope in Hell, Porritt confronts that dilemma head on. He believes we have time to do what needs to be done, but only if we move now – and move together. In this ultimately optimistic book, he explores all these reasons to be hopeful: new technology; the power of innovation; the mobilisation of young people – and a sense of intergenerational solidarity as older generations come to understand their own obligation to secure a safer world for their children and grandchildren. 

Hope In Hell is, as Michael Morpurgo says, 'Extraordinarily powerful' and 'deeply troubling'. Porritt surveys the state of our planet as it is now and relates projections of the potential disasters that will unfold with temperature increases of 1.5 degrees, 2 degrees, 3 degrees or more. He establishes early on that of course life on Earth itself will survive. The geological records show that it's been hotter before. However, humans weren't part of the picture back then and, if extreme action isn't taken now, there's a pretty good chance we will be out of the picture again within a few generations.

However there is apparently still Hope and I started out reading with quite a positive outlook. Mention of the widespread use of new solar cookers in rural Asian and African communities got me googling and I've now built my own little solar oven from left-over insulation foil, reinforced with a cut-up old box (and it really works!). The majority of the actions that need to be taken though seem to rely on big business, stock market investors and wealthy politicians suddenly spotting the financial benefits of renewable technologies, and thereby being led by potential profits to do the right thing in the nick of time. Just like in a movie? For all his talk of imminent tipping points - both climactic and financial - I can't see that anywhere near enough will change in time to make a significant difference. Personally, I am left far less optimistic having read Hope In Hell than I was before.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Jonathon Porritt / Political books / Books from England

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