The last paragraph on page 194 read, “The most hopeless conditions can inspire the most hopeful actions. We have found ways to restore life on Earth in the event of a total collapse because we have found ways to cause a total collapse of life on Earth. We are the flood, and we are the ark.”
I paused before moving on to the next chapter and looked up at my oldest daughter finishing breakfast. She offered an unknowing smile, which I half heartedly returned before dropping my gaze back to the page to hide my shame.
Ironically, this passage came from the book “We are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast.” by Jonathan Safran Foer. I had recently recommended this book to a friend, who after reading it, told me “I undersold it.” So let me avoid making the same mistake twice.
This book is essential reading. The author takes us through his conflicted and complicated feelings about life, our obligation to each other and to our planet. With great humility he chronicles his deeply personal struggles to square his acceptance of climate change science and his difficulty making any personal sacrifices to address it.
It is a dilemma I struggle with in my own life. Perhaps you do as well.
In short chapters that are not in any way preachy but rather enlightening, the book will change the way you see your place in the world and offer a not too dramatic way for you to make a difference. As the title suggests, it begins with breakfast and trying to limit the meat and dairy products we eat to just dinner meals.
If, after reading this book, you’re still not convinced that you have a role to play and need a more direct punch to the gut. Then I suggest you pick up Greta Thunberg’s collection of speeches, titled No One is Too Small to Make A Difference.
Reading this book made me feel deservedly embarrassed, perhaps even ashamed at my indifference to this issue. While this sixteen year old girl from Sweden has earned our admiration, she makes it very clear that she doesn’t want it. She wants our actions.
To read this book is to force yourself to ask “WTF have I done to my children and their children and why aren’t I doing more to fix it?”
There is some interesting research as to why people understandably don’t engage in the issue of climate change more (much of it contained in the books I reference.) But those reasons hold less and less proverbial water as sea levels literally are rising. As Foer’s phrase suggests, we are both the problem and the solution. “We are the flood.” Now we had better hurry up and be that ark.