I just finished reading What We’re fighting For Now Is Each Other: Dispatches From the Front Lines of Climate Justice by Wen Stephenson. The book is as fascinating as it is alarming and as harrowing as it is necessary. Climate change is here and now and we must all act together if we are to cling to a semblance of world as we know it.
The principle drive of the novel is to understand how it is we are to argue against climate denialsm and to work instead towards Climate Justice. Here Climate Justice being a just society for all that protects the most vulnerable from the ravages of climate change and works together to survive. As the book makes plain, though this is a necessary fight it is by no means easy; in fact Climate Justice would be nothing short of extraordinary.
Climate Change has long been a topic that I have known about but it is one of those problems that is so harrowing, so depressing and so hopeless that looking into the subject can cause a visceral reaction. I know that I have peeked into the subject and then recoiled and have only recently begun to actually inundate myself with the data and facts about the hard path that my life will take as a direct effect of climate change.
Introduced to the topic in high school, I felt that the way forward was a easy, that science would reign supreme and we would be able to react in time to stave off the worst of consequences. This was bolstered by my reading of Ecotopia in my Advanced Placement Environmental Science Class. This rose-tinted and sunny disposition was knocked eschew by my reading of Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything. True to its title, the novel changed everything for me about Climate Change. This wasn’t a science issue now: this was human. Implicated in the scourge of Climate Change were the political and financial institutions that we hold dear and necessary to a global economy as we understand it. This was augmented by reading the novel The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. Though a fictional novel, the scary conditions he sets forth in the novel are not an unrealistic expectation of our current predicament. My subscriptions to both The Nation and Mother Jones have furthered my education on the matter.
And then came What We’re fighting For Now Is Each Other. This was the more spiritual and communal book. While the others have focused on policy, society and science, this novel delved into the heart and soul of creating a community. While many of these novels and pieces seemed to me to paint the enormity of the problem and necessary response, Stephenson’s work served to personalize and humanize the problem. The book was filled with the personal stories and actions of activists that have come from many places, with myriad backgrounds and different ideas on moving forward. Infused with the teaching of Thoreau and Martin Luther King Jr., this novel encapsulates the human cost we will all pay for our inaction, ant the human toll we must take in order to change our world.
Everyone should read this book. IMMEDIATELY.