Monday, December 04, 2006

Save the world - buy a book

I put these words together for a piece I did for the magazine Poet's Letter but thought they might be worthy of a posting...

As Christmas approaches there are going to be plenty of people that pop into a bookshop to choose something to give as a present and the choices are varied but there are a number of titles that could persuade a relative or friend to change the way they lead their lives.

We are not talking about those dreaded leadership and How to Meet Friends… type books, but the growing number of titles that are addressing the crisis the planet finds itself in.

Even before the Stern Report, which rivals James Joyce’s Ulysses for length, came out warning about the costs of climate change there were plenty of other books making very similar warnings already on the shelves or in production.

Bearing in mind how topical the question of carbon emissions, melting ice caps and burning summers are there is one part of the book publishing world that should be kept busy for the next few years covering the topical subject of climate change.

Already there are atlases that map out the parts of the planet that are pumping out the most carbon emissions as well as books that are designed to provide you with tips on how to reduce your own carbon emissions and plenty prepared to explain the headache inducing science behind it all.

The guide to judging the good from the mediocre will be based largely on the author but the challenge is going to be to try and make a subject that can easily become bogged down in scientific argument something that is not only widely understood but has the power to change opinions.

Those arguments need to be powerful because there are plenty of people that are prepared to ignore the arguments with Noel Gallagher, from Oasis, summing up one school of thought when he told The Sun towards the end of November that maybe it would be best if the sky fell in and he wouldn’t care anyway because he would be dead when it happened.

Books have the power to change minds and across the globe there is a
real need for the call for action to be taken up and shared in books
that will be written in the native language of those countries that are causing most concern about future pollution levels, India and China.

As most environmentalists are only too aware paper is also a precious
commodity and it need not be wasted on books that will fail to engage
with a readership.

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