You’re older than 15, but younger than 35? You expect at least another 50 years of the good life on planet earth? But you have heard that there are some problems? Sorry to disappoint you, but there are some seriously big ones. One of them is climate change, and it will hugely impact upon your life. Yes, hugely. And you can (and have to) do something about it. The first thing is self-education, and a great place to start is to become a “Fire Dog” with Sally Andrew’s new book. It is an easy short read and should be compulsory at all schools.
2009 is a huge year when it comes to the issue of Climate Change: in December the nations of the world will meet to try to thrash out an agreement that they will hope will avoid a climate catastrophe. This is not tomorrow’s crisis, but rather one that is accelerating towards a certain outcome: we are overheating the planet with our emissions and this will result in climate change that threatens our planet in grave ways, and thus threatens us as well. Our wonderful industrial age has, I am afraid, drastically compromised your future.
Science is now convinced that emissions from our energy sources, transport, and waste, coupled with our land use practices and deforestation, will if unchecked and drastically reversed result in catastrophic climate change, with the first major manifestations likely in your lifetime. The latest science is more and more alarming, and the action required more and more challenging. In many ways the remedy is a complete change in the way we live. And the next 30 years are the critical ones. So you need to know! If you don’t, (and most South Africans are understandably concerned about other stuff), you may join us and be remembered as being the generations of the stupid age – the ones that knew it all but did nothing.
In addressing you and I, Sally Andrew’s book – Fire Dogs of Climate Change – takes on the personal journey she, and hopefully all of us, need to undertake. Her vivid opening shows us that we have the world by the throat, as indeed we have. You first have a glimpse of an intensely personal tale that takes us quickly to her central quest: what can she do about this grave challenge? She resolves that her role is one of storyteller.
Sally’s own story, interspersed with her growing awareness of the plight of the planet, dominates the opening sections of her book. These personal elements show us that Sally’s life story is like all of ours: a unique voyage of awareness, and we will with her all eventually wander into the realisation that our lives and the life of our planet are interdependent and that this fact requires a major change of action on our part.
This is where Sally turns to her “fact sheet”, and the book becomes truly educational. Writing about climate change is difficult as the subject is extremely complex. Sally approaches the task of reaching out to all readers by careful simplification of the issues. You will understand this book! And you will want to read it. Sally points out that we must not allow our earth to warm above two degrees Celsius (above pre-industrial levels) and shows what the world community needs to do to achieve this goal. This is of course a hugely complicated issue, but I believe that Sally’s work here will help the reader who is approaching the matter for the first time to get a clear grip on the subject. Sally will take the reader to knowledge of the crisis and will awaken a crucial awareness. And that, really, is the point.
The book includes a hugely useful set of references and aids to the reader’s engagement with the issue of climate change. I found the section on new technologies and sustainable living fascinating and with the addition of so many websites I also like the educator’s guide, and think this book is great for senior schools. This is a book for everyone who wants to learn about climate change without wading through the technical and more challenging works.
It’s a book for those who want do something about their life on this earth. Go for a run with Sally’s Fire Dogs and see what happens to you!
Review by Stefan Raubenheimer (Senior Associate – Cambridge Program for Sustainability Leadership, Chief Executive Officer of the South South North)
I am a teacher in the Netherlands and am gravely concerned by the social trend of denial. They will build bigger dykes and technology will overcome the challenges of the future. The youth here are, however, nowhere near understanding the global impact of the problems or their role as future global citizens. I have still to read the book but will be happy, as a teacher, to introduce it to my students.