An Optimistic New Book on Our Climate Crisis

A review of “Climate Courage” by Andreas Karelas.

windmill in a beautiful landscape
Image by Lukas Bieri from Pixabay

A new book by author Andreas Karelas offers a unique perspective on our current climate crisis. It suggests several ways to address the changing climate in our discussions, writings, and media posts. The science is undeniable, but we must not focus on the “gloom and doom,” instead, we need to choose our words carefully to encourage engagement instead of provoking a visceral, negative reaction. By taking a more friendly and encouraging approach, we will be more successful in engaging others in the necessary actions to mitigate climate change and global warming.

As the author says:

Ultimately climate change…will be solved by citizens sitting down and talking to each other…about how we need to start taking care of each other, trusting each other, and working together to save this place and everything we love.

To address the societal changes necessary to meet the coming crisis, we need to change the narrative and work toward mutually beneficial, cooperative efforts. Beating people over their heads with facts and warnings of impending doom will not accomplish what we all need to do: take meaningful actions now to educate, inform, and motivate. By understanding our human psychology and putting an end to the “us or them” rhetoric, we can all work together for the common good.

Humans naturally react to impending doom with the well-known “fight or flight” response. By understanding the difference between our “rational” mind and our “emotional” mind, we can carefully choose our words and engage each other by sharing common values and interests. By doing so, we avoid the instant, knee-jerk reaction to what appears to be an immediate threat. By engaging with empathy, instead of an outright assault, we should encourage everyone to join in finding an equitable and acceptable solution. Fear is never a good motivator.

Throughout the book, Andreas makes many salient points, chapter by chapter, that illustrate how much progress there has already been in renewable energy—more than I had realized. He also provides insights and recommendations that are well documented and should inspire hope and action. I will highlight just a few that I find significant:

The cost of renewable energy is quickly becoming less than fossil fuel energy sources. Once fossil fuel subsidies are removed, this will be even more true. The use of coal has been declining in recent years, and new coal fired power plants are not being built. Worldwide, wind and solar use is becoming commonplace: for example, Germany gets more than 50% of its electrical energy from renewable sources.

A vital benefit of the switch to renewable energy is that the number of jobs created by the change will be two or three times the number of jobs lost in the fossil fuel industry. Yes, retraining will be required, but this is where governments can step in and make that happen. Those nations that adapt quickly will be well-positioned in a new, global, renewable energy industry.

In remote communities where energy infrastructure is lacking, as in many developing nations, wind and solar are practical. It is much less expensive than building a new energy delivery infrastructure.

Climate change is also a national security issue. The US military is the single largest energy consumer in America, making it extremely vulnerable to supply disruptions and energy costs. To manage the price and availability of energy, the US Department of Defense has begun a serious effort to switch to renewable sources for all of its bases and locations worldwide.

The disruption to world populations resulting from climate change is also a serious security concern. Displaced people resulting from climate disruption (sea-level rise and desertification) plus the loss of essential resources will be significant causes of regional instability and conflicts. By adopting renewable energy, these threats will be diminished as well as their negative consequences.

Faith-based communities and communities of neighbors, friends, or like-minded individuals will be critical in sharing the benefits of changing to renewable energy. There is evidence that community members are significant influencers because of our social nature: we may be more likely to listen to our friends and neighbors than pundits or scientists.

Finally, Andreas tells us to “Roll Up Our Sleeves” and suggests several things that we can all do today to change the narrative and encourage everyone’s engagement. Rather than list them all here, I will mention those that are most significant to me:

  • Be a Starter, Be a Joiner
  • Help Change the Culture
  • Reduce, Reuse, Consume Less, Embrace Enough
  • Relax More
  • Garden
  • Stay Positive

As often happens when reading or writing, song lyrics pop into my head. In this case, Perry Como’s “Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative” is playing in my mind.

I strongly encourage everyone interested in addressing climate change issues and helping everyone prepare for what must be done to mitigate global warming to read this book.

This book has changed my outlook on our climate crisis. There’s no denying the science, and I’m still very concerned about the consequences. However, I will strive to focus more on the shared values that will unite disparate groups and individuals in finding viable solutions. The key takeaway for me is: Stay Positive!

Climate Courage is available now. Support your local independent bookstore, if possible, or buy online from your retailer of choice.

For more information, follow these links:

Your feedback is appreciated.

Semi-retired app developer; writing about climate change, sustainable living, coding, technology; social: @dannypilkenton;

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