By Joseph Romm. Oxford University Press, 2015. 328 pages. $16.95/paperback; $10.99/eBook.
Based on our agreement with climate scientists that global warming is real, human-caused, and dangerous, Friends are beginning to address the problem constructively. In his book Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know, Joseph Romm, an MIT-educated physicist, provides a resource for that effort.
Romm uses a question-and-answer method to consider the science of global warming and the climate change that results. Using non-technical language and credible references, the author answers 100 questions of common interest. Examples include:
- Why are scientists so certain the climate system is warming?
- What kind of impacts can we expect this century from business-as-usual climate change?
- What climate policies are governments around the world using to fight climate change?
- How will climate change impact you and your family in the coming decades?
Friends will find in Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know a basic, clear, comprehensive, and convincing explanation of global warming. The book should prove useful in how we think and communicate among ourselves and with others about the issue. We, as Quakers, need additional tools, however, to successfully engage the problem. These include:
- understanding that the Quaker testimony for truth and our belief in continuing revelation should open our minds to scientific evidence and avoid climate change denial that is based on ideological or theological screening of facts
- grounding in Friends’ community testimony, which should cause us to empathize and share burdens with the world’s poor, who are most often the least prepared for and most vulnerable to climate change, and our children and grandchildren, who face increasing risks of coastal flooding, food-system collapse, heat waves, wildfires, and other devastating impacts
- acceptance that our peace testimony means we should anticipate how natural disasters and food shortages that will result from global warming will fuel violent conflicts
- the sense that global warming—like previous Quaker efforts for equal rights, for women and people of color, and against the folly of war—is Friends’ “lunch counter moment” for action by our generation
Armed with the knowledge provided by Romm and other scientists, and motivated by our testimonies and traditions, Friends have within our power the ability to envision a renewed peaceable kingdom: a kingdom that mitigates global warming, adapts, in peaceful ways, to unavoidable climate change impacts, and redefines the human-nature relationship as spiritual and respectful, instead of commodified and crass.
Surely an understanding of the impacts implied by a warming Earth and reasonable precautions about rising risks should encourage more Friends to engage with the issue of global warming immediately and to do so with our whole minds, hearts, and energy. Quakers, with our testimonial values and traditions of civil actions to assist runaway slaves and to demonstrate for civil rights for African Americans, can and should become the leaders we have been seeking on the issue of global warming.