Thunberg’s ‘Climate Book’ is a road map to a better future

Greta Thunberg's The Climate Book. The U.K. edition (left) was released in October and the U.S. edition will be released Feb. 14, 2023, and is available for presale. The U.K. edition can be purchased and shipped to the U.S. from Blackwell's books.Greta Thunberg's The Climate Book. The U.K. edition (left) was released in October and the U.S. edition will be released Feb. 14, 2023, and is available for presale. The U.K. edition can be purchased and shipped to the U.S. from Blackwell's books. (Photo collage: George Thomas Jr.)

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The Climate Book is an easy-reading exploration of how we got here, where we are headed, and ways toward a just transition away from the continued destructive use of fossil fuels.

The book, created by climate activist Greta Thunberg, includes short essays from Thunberg and more than 100 contributing authors — a who’s who of experts and writers who distill the climate emergency through simple text and compelling graphics. Contributors include familiar scientists and authors: Margaret Atwood, Naomi Klein, Thomas Piketty, Michael E. Mann, Bill McKibben, Katherine Hayhoe, Michael Oppenheimer, and David Wallace-Wells, to name a few.

As Thunberg notes in her introductory essay:

And rather than having one or two ‘communication experts’ or individual scientists drawing all the conclusions for you, as a reader, the idea behind this book is that, taken together, their knowledge in their respective areas of expertise will lead you to a point where you can start to connect the dots yourself.

Piecing together the climate story

Collectively, each short essay is like a piece of a climate jigsaw puzzle, which nicely fit together to complete the complex picture of the climate emergency, as well as how to avert further catastrophe via a just transition.

The book is divided into five parts:

  1. How Climate Works
  2. How our Planet is Changing
  3. How It Affects Us
  4. What We’ve Done About It
  5. What We Must Do Now

Each part is further subdivided into topical collections of short essays, typically several pages in length, with infographics, photographs, and graphs. Thunberg’s essays are interspersed throughout the book and not always specific to climate science. Here Thunberg reflects on the importance of preserving democracy:

There are others — a very small number of people — who think that some kind of dictatorship would be better suited to handle this huge global crisis. But there are no good dictatorships, just look at China or Putin’s Russia. The idea of a non-democratic rule that would somehow seek the best for its citizens is nothing less than absurd. Justice and equal rights are essential for solving this crisis — this automatically rules out any form of dictatorship.

Elsewhere she notes, “This crisis will continue to get worse until we manage to halt the constant destruction of our life-supporting systems — until we prioritize people and the planet over profit and greed.

An encyclopedia of climate science

One reason the book is so accessible to general audiences lies in its structure and detailed table of contents. If you’re not inclined to read it from cover to cover, it’s easy to locate a topic and jump into the short essay about it:

  • Curious about how human-induced greenhouse gas emissions are affecting the Amazon? “Part 2.17 – The Amazon” provides a 3-page summary of why it’s a matter of concern.
  • Want to understand how future emissions pathways will alter the planet, see “Part 2.24 – What Happens at 1.5, 2, and 4°C of Warming?”
  • Feeling anxious and helpless about the climate emergency? Jump to “Part 5.4 – Overcoming Climate Apathy,” “Part 5.10 – People Power,” or Thunberg’s closing essays, “What Next?” and “What needs to be done,” or any of the other inspiring topics of how to take action.

As the titles of its five parts suggest, “The Climate Book” sets the stage of where we are now and, importantly, what’s needed to avoid a catastrophic future of inaction to address what is a worsening climate emergency.

Get your copy of The Climate Book

The Climate Book, created by Greta Thunberg
Buy the U.K. edition | Preorder the U.S. edition (available Feb. 14, 2023)
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin Press
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 464 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0593492307
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593492307
Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.31 pounds
Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.13 x 1.16 x 9.13 inches

The book appropriately is made from Forest Stewardship Council certified paper. The different colored stripes on the cover of both editions reveal the progressive rise in global temperatures since 1634.