Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through The Science by Philippe Squarzoni provides an interesting account of the modern political issue of climate change. Throughout the book there is a complimentary balance between factual information and dialogue. It is through these bits of cold facts and powerful pieces of dialogue that makes the reader question how we got to this horrifying place where our earth continues to suffer due to our wrongdoing. It makes the reader question why humans continue to self-destruct by making poor decisions that they know will be detrimental in the future. Consumerism is the driving force behind our decisions which is why we cannot seem to unify as a collective society and make any real changes, whether that be concerning our political, economic, environmental or social problems. Through the analyzing this book, the issue of climate change unfolds many injustices and faults that exist in our society.
This book is informative and also relatable because the reader is exposed to various perspectives on the issue of climate change. There are two separate dialogues occurring in the book. One dialogue is between members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the other dialogue is between a man, who is in the process of writing a book about climate change, and his wife. Squarzoni decides to contrast these two dialogues: one of an everyday couple and another of a group of people with more political power and knowledge, to show the different perspectives and attitudes people have concerning this issue.
When the man is talking about climate change to his wife the reader gets an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. He is concerned about how climate change is becoming progressively worse and feels as if he cannot have any impact through writing his book. For example the man says to his wife, “Another problem is that we can’t see the change happening. The climate crisis is still far off, too abstract to shift our priorities (page 250).” Squarzoni creates this tone of discouragement in order to draw attention to the mentality that most people in today’s society have regarding climate change. Most people recognize that it is a serious issue but many people are either uneducated about it or feel that any contribution they have will not make a significant difference in helping the problem. The man continues to explain to his wife that the reason why our society is in this position is because of consumerism. “Sure its true, we make our small gestures to save the planet. Turn off the water while we brush our teeth. Buy energy-efficient light bulbs. But are we ready to forego purchasing the next big-screen TV? A more powerful car? Are we ready to give up red meat? (page 257)” He is arguing that as a society we recognize the problem and will do the bare minimum to help, however we will not make any drastic changes to our daily lives. “Climate change is also a symptom of a breakdown of solidarity, a sign on collective selfishness (page 291)”. Again, he is drawing upon this core issue that we have grown to be selfish beings through consumerism. Furthermore, we are unwilling to sacrifice our personal lives, even if that means that our earth continues to diminish.
The dialogue between the members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change also reveals another claim by Squarzoni about our society. These members discussed the issue of climate change from more of a political and economic standpoint. For example, they discuss how climate change is going to result in an increase of diseases, which is going to negatively impact the poor because they cannot afford health care. “Lets say this happens in 2050. The big question is: will the poorer countries of 2050 have health care systems comparable to those of the rich countries today? (page 255)” This excerpt shows the complexity of climate change and explains why there is no simple solution to the problem. Moreover, it shows that in our society the elite are always more protected under our political system than the poor. Again, this relates to theme of selfishness. Through out human history, there has always been a hierarchy of how we categorize humans, which is mainly determined by race and socio economic status.
In the article, The New Abolitionism by Christopher Hayes, he makes an interesting parallel between slavery and climate change. Although the two topics are vastly different, he compares them from an economic and political standpoint. “The connection between slavery and fossil fuels, however, is more than metaphorical. Before the widespread use of fossil fuels, slaves were one of the main sources of energy (if not the main source) for societies stretching back millennia (Hayes).” Slaves produced energy, just like fossil fuels, which is why slaves were viewed as resources instead of human beings. Similar to how people continued to take part in slavery even though they knew it was immoral, people now are continuing to burn fossil fuels even though it is harmful to the earth.
This correlation shows how throughout history, our society has always been motivated by consumerism and individual gain. In other words, by nature, humans are selfish. We will do what is best for our personal lives rather than what is best for the society as a whole. In addition, the only people that are ever in control over the issue, whether it be slavery or climate change, is always the elite. This is represented in the book Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through The Science through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Squarzoni chose to contrast this group from an everyday man to show this social divide that exists in our society. If the elite govern the ultimate decisions that are made in our society and they are only interested in personal gain, our society will continue to be at a standstill while issues, such as climate change, continue to worsen.