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  • Life changing.

    I hope many many people read this and feel what i felt. You won't regret it

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  • Stop worrying, lad, and take B vitamins

    I was expecting great things of this book and I found a few, but not nearly enough to back up that lovely title. In fact I started getting seriously irritated by it before I was a third into it. Great things: lots of good research into climate change/global heating, delivered in pithy nuggets. Jonathan Safran Foer also identifies one of the deadly problems we have with doing anything at all about global heating, which is that we still don’t really believe it. Not absolutely. Not viscerally. Not enough to change. I think (I hope) this is a problem more for Americans than the rest of the world, still bamboozled as Americans are by the strategies of the Doubt Cabal (see “Merchants of Doubt” by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M Conway (2010) for the details). But yes, it’s hard to get enthusiastic about radical lifestyle change for something as abstract and invisible as gases that store solar energy and heat up the atmosphere. Yet my feeling when I finished was that I’d just spent several hours listening to a rich New Yorker agonising verbally over his inability to stay away from eating meat. And then he figuratively got in his car and drove away, pausing only for a burger on the way, still agonising about it. He feels he’s a hypocrite – and he is – but he still can’t quite bring himself to quit eating meat. Which is, let’s face it, the simplest and cheapest way of helping the biosphere. I kept wanting to grab him, shake him and then sit him down with some nice latkes and tell him not to worry so much, since it’s clearly the worrying that is paralysing him and stopping him from taking any action. Worrying is such a tempting substitute for action, isn’t it? It keeps real fear at arm’s length, so you don’t do anything. You write entire books about it, but action – no. I’d like to be more sympathetic because I too have Jewish heritage (it’s complicated) and I recognise what an indulgence this kind of worry is. Worry was one of my mother’s favourite hobbies, in fact her main hobby and nearly a fulltime occupation. Yet she was always happier when she did something. In fact, that kind of fluent ruminative worry is a splendid excuse to put off action, isn’t it? JSF is too historically aware to miss the parallel with the minority of Jews in Poland who left the country in time and the majority who didn’t and died in the camps. In fact his grandmother felt the fear and believed the danger in time to escape. The rest of her family didn’t and died. This is the most insidious problem with worrying: many people, including my mother, have an unconscious belief that worrying about something stops it from happening. It acts as a strenuous avert-spell, keeping the Bad Thing at arm’s length so you don’t have to actually do anything. My mother was convinced that worrying about someone showed you loved them (because it averted the Bad Things). So JSF, I’d say to him, first you need to supplement with a good B vitamin complex in the morning – if you’re craving burgers despite all your good intentions, that’s probably what your body is after. Men often have trouble that way. Humans are omnivores, scavengers, not herbivores and you need to supplement or pay more attention to your nutritional balance than you really want to. Secondly, I’d say, get rid of your car. You really don’t need it if you live in New York and you’ll probably find car-sharing or even taxis and hiring a car when you need it are cheaper in the end than owning one. You’ll get fitter from walking, you’ll find other things to worry about (is the subway running?) and your conscience might stop prodding you so aggressively. And then find some collective action you can take – join something or donate to it, go on demos, write to politicians about global heating. Maybe you do already, in which case do more of it. I’ll look forward to your book about beating climate angst which I suspect won’t be nearly so annoying

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