Consumption. It’s one of the words that has stuck with me after listening to The Climate Book: The Facts and the Solutions (Penguin Press, 2023).

Climate change can be an overwhelming topic. It’s easy to throw up your arms in defeat or cross your fingers hoping the powers that be figure it out without personally being bothered. But that defeatist attitude is not going to solve the problem. It’s going to take all of us to make a difference.

A capitalist country, such as the United States, is not sustainable. We should be chanting the mantra “less, less, less” instead of “more, more, more.”

We are a throw-away society—whether it’s electronics, clothes, food or plastic bottles. Too few of us reuse, repair, or repurpose things. Buying less, buying second-hand items, repairing instead of replacing—all of those behaviors will help slow the rate of climate change.

Consumption also matters when it comes to where things are made, what it takes to get to the store we buy it from, and how it gets to our homes. What it’s packaged in is also huge.

Individuals can make a difference, but it’s also going to take policy changes at the local, state, federal and international levels to change the trajectory we are on when it comes to climate change. Individuals have the power to influence policy change. As we lobby for change, we also must ensure what is done is equitable.

The book underlined how not all of our emissions are included in statistics. Imports, exports, aviation, military—they aren’t always part of the equation even though they are large contributors to the problem.

This book was alarming. It was hard to listen to. It was exhausting.

It was also educational, inspirational, enlightening and hopeful.

It’s not something, at least for me, that could be digested easily. I had to think about what I was hearing. Let it sit before consuming more.

What was enjoyable about listening to the book is several people read it, which helped so it was not one voice. While plenty of people won’t pick this book up because Greta Thunberg is the author, in many ways she is a tiny part of the book. The words are mainly those of others.

The book is really the words of a multitude of geophysicists, oceanographers, meteorologists, engineers, economists, mathematicians, historians, philosophers and Indigenous leaders. That is also why at times the book has some repetition because most chapters are like individual essays. To me this reinforced important information.

These experts explain how climate change is impacting the ocean, the land, the air, people, animals, food supply and so much more.

It is one of those must-read (or listen to) books because the topic affects us all. Climate change really is a moral issue.

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