Who this book is addressed to
The thing that pushed me over the line to writing this book was conversations with my friends about global warming and related matters.
I had already done a fair bit of research about the situation of the planet, and of humanity’s position on it. The science and the evidence seemed very clear cut to me – humanity was heading down a very dangerous road of consumption which needed to change rapidly.
The biggest struggle I had been having was with the question, “Why, when the problems are so obvious and so large once you’ve scratched the surface, is so little being done about them?’’ And the reading I was doing was giving me some fairly straightforward answers to this question.
At a memorial “birthday party” for my late wife Judith, after a number of conversations with various people on related things, my friends Jill and Julie said, “You should write a book about this, Bruce.” While I had been faintly considering such an idea, it was this that tipped me over the edge into writing this book.
And as I wrote, Jill and Julie, and my other friends from the party, were in my mind, as stand-ins for its audience as a whole.
The book is addressed mainly to those of my fellow-citizens in the affluent countries of the world who find themselves uncertain about what the real state and future of our world are. Or about their ability to do anything useful in the face of seemingly unstoppable progress in the wrong direction. Or about what action they might take to improve things.
Many hundreds of thousands of people in the affluent world are already activists in relation to global warming and other human problems. If you are one of them, you have my thanks and my admiration. I hope to recruit not only myself, but also others, to your cause. You are not my primary audience, but you may still find some material of use in this book.
And if you one who believes that our current systems and situation are in pretty good shape, I encourage you to suspend any tendency to reject the arguments in a book such as this without reading it, and to persevere through Parts One to Four at least.
Thanks to my major sources
I’ve drawn on a lot of ideas and sources. If I haven’t attributed them properly, or I have misrepresented them, my apologies to their authors. But I quite aware of, and very grateful for, the fact that I have had the opportunity to draw on them.
The second to last chapter of this book includes a brief summary of the key books and other sources I have used. The authors are, in the order of that section, Ursula LeGuin, Naomi Klein, Joseph Stiglitz, George Lakoff, Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway, Kari Marie Norgaard, Steve Keen, Jane Gleeson-White, Raj Patel, Charles Eisenstein, Margrit Kennedy, Alan Atkisson, Donella Meadows, and Pope Francis.
Thanks to my friends-and-relations and contributors
As noted above, I wrote this book because of conversations with my family and friends. Partly to respond to questions and challenges that came up in our discussions, and partly because it made me think I might have something useful to say.
I had conversations with many, but I do want to acknowledge in particular those who read drafts of the book and gave me wonderful feedback: Boyd, Hugh, Ian and Ross Anderson, Pam and Forde Clarke, Marion Cowden, Caitlin Craigie-Pallot, John Crompton, John and Barbara Easther, Chris Else, Liam Gallagher, James McCulloch, Juanita McKenzie, Betsan Martin, Helen Mongillo, Ruth Russell, Andrew and Dawson Urban, and Rebecca Williams.
Joe Todd drew most of the cartoons which head up the chapters, and Polyp and Stephanie McMillan were both very generous in letting me use some of their material.
Finally, and most importantly, thanks to Kathleen Gallagher, who kept pushing the guilt button for years until I got it done – but also gave me lots of good support and advice.
And thanks to you the reader
An old friend and colleague once told me, in one of those awful management sessions where you had to say something nice about each other, “Bruce, I like the way you don’t think in straight lines”. Being the generous soul I am, I came back at him quick as a flash, “They may not be straight lines to you”.
I hope the lines I write in are straight enough for you and, if they are not, please bear with them. I’m pretty sure the dots will join up again at some time. Lines, dots, whatever.