I’ve just finished reading Mike Hulme’s Why We Disagree About Climate Change (update: you can listen to Hulme discuss some of the book’s topics here. Thanks Jon!) and felt I had to recommend it to anybody that is interested in this issue. What a marvelous, thought-provoking book.
It was not an easy read. I don’t mean it because the prose is obscure (though it could be better), but because it demanded from me some mental strength to break out of my own perspective, again and again, to try and see the world as others see it. It required patience and a cool head.
But the rewards are significant. Hulme explains the many reasons why humanity disagrees about climate change: why we have different ideas about the role of Nature, about scientific knowledge and technology, about economics, ethics, religion, culture, and politics. Through reading it I came to see why my solutions to climate change turn off or are perceived as problems for others, what could the role of society and government be in addressing the problem, and why some people just don’t seem to care. I also came to understand my own views on environmentalism and on our place in the world far better than I used to.
This is a complex book, and a strange one –it covers the hairy mess of disciplines and fields of study that converge in climate change. Among many other things it talks about science and myth, about carbon markets and eco-anarchism. It does it all lucidly and convincingly. It’s unique, and it’s one of the best books I’ve read.