A hopeful view of the future

HOPE IN HELL: A DECADE TO CONFRONT THE CLIMATE EMERGENCY
Jonathon Porritt
Simon & Schuster

REVIEWED BY ELSPETH MCLEAN

While many may feel impotent and despairing faced with the enormity of climate change, Jonathon Porritt takes a hopeful view of the future if we move quickly enough together.

British environmentalist Porritt (son of former New Zealand Governor General Sir Arthur Porritt) believes Covid-19 makes it significantly more likely we will do what is needed regarding the climate emergency if the post-Covid recovery process puts that emergency at its heart.

That would mean people and governments realising that science must inform all future policy and not being side-tracked by fake news.

He warns of the dangers of attempting to return to our pre Covid-19 state, in terms of the way we are treating the environment.

Rather he wants us to use the power of community reawakened in the Covid crisis to insist on  investment in social and economic recovery which will make it possible to ‘‘avoid the horror story of runaway climate change’’.

We must get cracking, though. Porritt sees the 2020s as the decisive decade for addressing the climate emergency.

The first of the book’s five parts is encouragingly entitled ‘‘Reasons to be Cheerful’’. By the time we get to the last part ‘‘All in It Together’’, Porritt has given us a rundown on the major issues and the opportunities offered by new technology and innovation.
Once we come to terms with the reality of the situation the world is facing he is suggesting we need to ask ourselves the often uncomfortable question about what sort of price we are prepared to pay, personally and professionally to turning things around. Doing Nothing is not acceptable.

‘‘Even in the busiest of lives there’s time to help make things better through shared endeavour, empowering ourselves by empowering others.’’

He says the best place to find hope is within yourself, that hope cannot be built on the back of   someone else’s action and the best way of earning hope is rolling up our sleeves.

Porritt also predicts we will see much more civil disobedience, in many shapes and forms, used to force politicians to take meaningful climate change action.

Some readers might find this a scary prospect, but others will see it as necessary and hopeful.

Elspeth McLean is an ODT columnist and former health reporter

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