The New Climate War by Michael E. Mann [8/10]

Michael Mann is a role model for top-flight scientists who also engage with policies and politics. Co-inventor of the vivid “hockey stick” demonstrating, years ago, the climate crisis’s signature on our planet, he went through a trial by fire when fossil-fuel-funded outlaws drummed up fake allegations against him, leading to years of battles. He has written a few expository books on climate change, now with “The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet,” he addresses our primary initial challenge on the mitigation front: how to force a hundred-plus huge companies to leave coal, gas, and oil in the ground, in a genuine war against propaganda that has, he claims, grown more sophisticated since the straight-out denial days. Writing with his usual clarity, zest, and bursts of humor, Mann clearly lays out the newer inactivist strategies of downplaying, deflecting, delaying and doom-declaring, all designed to minimize the actual global changes required. I’ve noticed all these strategies in deployment, and can also see clearly a foul strategy Mann enunciates, namely to shift responsibility for action away from companies and countries onto individuals. Both individual and systemic efforts are essential, he reminds us. The New Climate War is cogently laid out and essential reading for those desperate to preserve what we can for our grandchildren. I feel his attack on doomerism is both relevant and a tad too divisive, for all of us will inevitably oscillate between energetic action and necessary pessimism, but this is a minor point. Overall, The New Climate War is likely to be 2021’s most influential book about our climate emergency.

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