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Five books that will change the way you think about climate change and the environment.
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Five books that will change the way you think about climate change and the environment.

Five books that will change how you think about the environment and climate change


We are constantly bombarded daily with new information. dire warningsMore information about environmental and climate emergency. We are warned to act now or face an unprecedented global disaster. But while the solutions proposed – solar panels, heat pumps, eating less meat – are no doubt necessary, they are for the most part unimaginative and uninspiring – and isolated from a wider system of beliefs whereby they might acquire genuine meaning.

These five books offer an alternative view. These books offer a different way of understanding and relating with nature than the simple idea that we can just make some lifestyle and technological changes.

Gaia by James Lovelock (1979).

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James Lovelock, in his 1979 book, offers a completely new understanding of earth as not just a planet where life evolved but as a self-regulating system capable to correct any significant fluctuations which tend towards making it uninhabitable.

Lovelock demonstrates, for instance, how the environment has contributed towards driving down atmospheric carbon dioxide levelsto offset the steadily increasing sun. This has maintained global temperatures within a comfortable range.

Gaia’s importance lies not in its bold scientific claims. It is also in the way that it opens up the possibility to bring together science and spirituality, truth and meaning. What does it mean to be a part Gaia?

Should Trees be allowed to stand? Christopher D. Stone (1972).

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Christopher Stone claims that there is no law that can be created until we challenge its existence. And just as it was once “unthinkable” for corporations to be given the same rights as peopleThe same applies to ecosystems and living beings today. Nature has no rights. Only those who own it or use them have. Against this, Stone argues that certain natural entities – trees, forests, rivers – should be treated as people and granted “rights”.

This radical idea has been increasingly realized. In 2008 and 2009, Ecuadore and Bolivia were the winners. first countries in the worldThey can recognize nature as a legal person in the constitutions. New Zealand also recognized the legal personhood in 2017 Whanganui River.

Stone explores these insights in the 2010 edition. He then asks if the climate should be given legal standing. This is a difficult but not impossible question, although it would require a legal system beyond the current nation state structure.

Janine Benyus (1997) Biomimicry

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It is clear that technology will play an important role in achieving sustainable development. But for the most part, we concentrate on individual technologies – such as electric vehicles or biodegradable packaging – without pausing to rethink technology as a whole. A significant exception to this is Janine Benyus, who argues that sustainability calls for an entirely different approach: innovation inspired by nature, or “biomimicry”.

The book explores the practice of imitating nature to solve human design challenges and offers many case studies showing how biomimicry can apply to almost every field of innovation – from solar energy generation based on natural photosynthesis to cereal farming modelled on the native Kansas prairie.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the book is its call to us to see nature not only as something we learn, but also as something that we learn from. We must stop thinking about ourselves as the sole owners of intelligence and knowledge. Instead we must recognize that there are many other people who have the same abilities. genius of nature.

Robin Wall Kimmerer (2013): Braiding Sweetgrass

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Robin Wall Kimmerer, like Benyus thinks that nature has much to teach us. Kimmerer, however, is more interested in wider lessons than Benyus.

The overarching theme of the book is how to “braid” together indigenous wisdom and scientific knowledge, a project that the author, as a citizen of the Potawatomi nationShe is a professional biologist who has dedicated her entire life to.

Kimmerer’s most brilliant example is sweetgrass itself – an aromatic plant used in indigenous medicine and basketry. Whereas Kimmerer’s biologist colleagues presumed that harvesting sweetgrass always harms it, a biology student of hers designed a careful experimentThe Potawatomi knew it for a long time: Sweetgrass harvesting stimulates vigorous growth.

What these plants teach us, then, is that humans are not outside nature, but a part of nature – and with the right approaches we can enable other species to flourish alongside our own.

The Climate of History in the Planetary Age by Dipesh Chkrabarty (2021).

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Addressing the meaning of climate change through the lens of history, Dipesh Chakrabarty proposes a fundamental shift from thinking about “global” to “planetary” climate change.

Chakrabarty argues that while the world is busy solving a “global” problem, we forget to ask what the “global” means for us today. The “global”, he explains, is essentially a human-centric idea, intrinsically linked to postwar globalisation and modernisation. The “planet”, by contrast, decentres this human-centric idea, allowing nonhuman perspectives and interests to be taken into account. It opens up new universal values and, most importantly, it is possible to discover them.

Chakrabarty also emphasises that the acceleration of global warming is tightly linked to the anti-colonialist modernising movements of the mid-20th century, such as Chairman Mao’s Great Leap Forward. This was an economic-social program that aimed to bring China up with the West through industrialization and technological advancement. Chakrabarty believes that only by getting rid of our obsession with continuous growth and development can we rise to the challenge ensuring global sustainability.


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