“HOLDING HER first grandchild in her arms in 2003, Mary Robinson was struck by the uncertainty of the world he had been born into. Before his fiftieth birthday, he would have to share the planet with more than nine billion people - people battling for food, water and shelter in an increasing volatile climate. The faceless shadowy menace of climate change had become, in an instant, deeply personal.”
The burb on the inside flap of Mary Robinson’s new book Climate Justice is certain to strike a deep chord within the heart of any grandparent. The idea that global extinction, unless something is done now, is within reach is an intensely sobering thought that will not go away.
At the beginning of the book, Robinson outlines the gradual progression of global warming stating that “to deal with climate change we must simultaneously address the underlying injustice in our world and work to eradicate poverty, exclusion and inequality". If we can do this, we will ensure those living on the margins suffering the worst effects of climate change will be given a seat at the table in any future climate change negotiations, thus creating what Archbishop Desmond Tutu called a new narrative of hope.
'The narrative remains personal and private. There is a pervading sense of “What can I do?” rather than “What should they do?”'
Robinson then tells the story of a dozen people from all corners of the globe who found themselves fighting to save their tribe or community from extinction due to extreme weather conditions or other natural disasters. From completely different backgrounds, each one speaks with a common voice, and this gives the book its strong narrative voice. The great achievement of the book is that while it deals with global issues and international conferences, the narrative remains personal and private. There is a pervading sense of “What can I do?” rather than “What should they do?”.
This is best illustrated in the chapter 'Taking Responsibility' which tells the story of the successful Australian business woman Natalie Isaacs “who knew a lot about climate change to hold her own during dinner-party conversations in the well-informed social circles that she and her husband navigated in Sydney”. During 2006, a number of events occurred that made her pause and think. She began to realise that by reducing her electricity bill not only was she saving money but she was also doing her bit for the environment. The train of thought continued, that if she could persuade 10 other people to do likewise, they might pass on the message. This idea grew and eventually became the 1 Million Women movement, the idea being to get one million women to reduce their carbon footstep and to a large degree has achieved this.
Climate Justice is a unique and positive book in many ways. It bears witness to the strength of the human spirit, its resilience and ability to achieve positive results in the face of overwhelming odds. For a short book, it packs one hell of a punch.
Climate Justice will be launched in The Kenny Bookshop, Liosbán, on Wednesday October 24 at 4pm. John F Deane will interview Mary Robinson, after which there will be a short Q&A.