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Writing Our Hot Planet

July 3, 2014

Tags: Writing blogs, global warming book list

Next week Elli and I will present a program entitled “Writing Our Hot Planet” at World Fellowship Center in Conway, New Hampshire. www.worldfellowship.org The brochure describes the program: “Words can change minds and build a climate justice movement. Novelist Ellen Meeropol and nonfiction writer Robert Meeropol wrestle with how to transform science into education, motivation and hopefully, activism.”

This program grew, in part, out of discussions we’ve had in a global warming/climate change study group I’ve facilitated this year. Our of course of study includes the eight books listed below. This is not light summer reading, but worth the effort if you are so inclined. I will not post a blog next week, but plan to report on the program when I return the week of July 14th.

Climate Change Study Group Syllabus

A. The problem:
• Six Degrees, Mark Lynas (2008, National Geographic). The best scientific models in 2007 indicated that the global climate might warm by six degrees Celsius this century. The author employs current information and climatological data from prior geologic eras to describe the effects of each degree.
• High Tide On Main Street, John Englander (2012, The Science Bookshelf). Rising sea levels are inevitable, will have disastrous consequences, and will last at least 1000 years. Englander believes significant adaptation is possible and that we can survive this challenge without changing the basic nature of our system.
• Countdown, Alan Weisman (2013, Little Brown). Focuses on overpopulation by traveling the world interviewing people who are either working to control population or opposed to family planning. His thesis is if we reduce our population to a sustainable 2 billion, it will be much easier to deal with all other aspects of climate change.
• The Green Zone, Barry Sanders (2009, AK Press). This quote sums it up: “even if every person, every automobile, and every factory suddenly emitted zero emissions, the earth would still be headed…toward total disaster…. The military produces enough greenhouse gases, by itself, to place the entire globe, with all its inhabitants … in the most immanent danger of extinction.”

B. Possible Solutions
• Hot: Living Through The Next Fifty Years On Earth, Mark Hertsgaard (2011, Mariner Books).Overview of the problem and what actions we must take, written from the perspective of a father who wants to protect the quality of life of his young daughter. The author believes we can do this without changing the nature of our economic system.
• What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism, Foster & Magdoff (2011, Monthly Review Press). This is a Marxist analysis of green capitalist efforts to combat catastrophic climate change, written for activist-oriented environmentalists. The authors argue that the nature of capitalism is the primary cause of our current ecological crisis.
• Deep Green Resistance, Lierre Keith, Aric McBay, introduction by Derrick Jensen (2011, Seven Stories Press). The authors argue that humanity went wrong when we settled down, built cities and modified nature to suit our needs. This is an anarchist vision, claiming that to protect the earth we must sabotage modern industrial society and return to a pre-industrial life-style.
• True Wealth, Juliet B. Schor (2011, Penguin). This discussion of how we can consume less and have better quality of life while protecting the environment offers a glimmer of light in an otherwise dark landscape.

Selected Works

Memoir
"Bravery is rare. Tyranny is commonplace. Both define the life of Robert Meeropol, son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. In his heart-wrenching, honest memoir, Meeropol recounts the emotional terrors of his childhood, the kindness of Abel and Anne Meeropol-who adopted him and his older brother after their parents' execution-his struggle to vindicate his parents, and his own political activism, culminating in the creation of the Rosenberg Fund for Children, which he now directs."
Publisher's Weekly
"one of those rare books everyone should read"
–Joyce Carol Oates

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