Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet does something very constructive when it comes to climate change; it sets out to take us from a place of doom and gloom to one of optimism and hope.
Complex Issue, Dozens of Solutions
Michael Bloomberg, a wildly successful entrepreneur and former mayor of New York City, and Carl Pope, a well-known environmental leader, may have differing points of view on climate change, but this book surely demonstrates how they come to similar conclusions. Written for the lay reader, Climate of Hope reads at just the right pace. With the exception of the preface and the last chapter which byline them both, the authors alternate chapters – one by Bloomberg, the next by Pope, the next Bloomberg, etc.
Bloomberg and Pope take on major aspects of the climate problem, and show us that while debate has all too often focused on single solutions, climate change does not represent one problem with a single solution. And none of them deliver a silver bullet solution. They contend this should not be bad news. Given that it’s a complex issue means that the complexity gives us “not one – or even two or three – powerful avenues…but dozens” to solve it.
From Energy to Agriculture
A major component to the complexity involves energy. Bloomberg believes that the primary responsibility of public officials is to protect people’s well-being. And they both fervently explain how the transition to clean energy will significantly contribute to improving global public health. Overall, in an easy-to-understand fashion, they lay out a convincing case for why green power just makes sense from all perspectives.
Bloomberg also shows his stuff when it comes to organizing cities to support climate change solutions. What he tried, created and implemented as mayor of New York is nothing short of extraordinary. All cities have much to learn about what he did and is doing in a variety of capacities today to support cities solving climate change.
I also could not put down Climate of Hope when Pope dives into why “eating is a big deal for the climate.” He thoroughly examines the “heated debate over the role our diet plays in climate pollution,” and how our present ways of growing, transporting, storing and cooking what we eat are so wasteful. Start with this shocker: one-third of all food grown on the planet is wasted. Pope will totally convince you that the agricultural industry needs to change, and can change.
Bloomberg and Pope give us an array of examples of how “radical innovation” can lead to capitalism being compatible with a stable climate and sustainable environment. Radical innovations are already pushing us in the direction of a “third industrial revolution.” “The first was coal and steam, the second electricity and petroleum, and the third, is based on digital and knowledge based manufacturing, not just computerized data processing.”
Of the radical innovations they go into, those that utilize “bio-mimicry” fascinated me most. Learning more about how nature works, and how we can imitate her in order to solve climate and sustainability issues creates a 360 of sorts. Or as they write, “sometimes our best defense against nature is often nature itself.”
Ultimately, Bloomberg and Pope believe in “cool capitalism” – when done in a cool way, it can get us out of our climate mess. And it’s cool when “mayors, CEOs, and investors increasingly look at climate change not as a political issue but as a financial and economic one – and they recognize that there are gains to be made, and losses to be averted, by factoring climate change into the way they manage their cities, businesses, and funds.”
Like regular old capitalism, cool capitalism has ever increasing numbers of consumers. Which leads me to my only disappointment with this book. Throughout, Bloomberg and Pope seem to unquestioningly assume human population increase. They do not make even small mention of how population growth exacerbates climate change, or how population stabilization and reduction plays a critical part of the web of solutions to solving resource and environmental woes.
Despite this, I did turn the last page of Climate of Hope with deeper insight into how changing “the tenor and tone of the climate discussion” can lead to productive action. Read it, and you too will understand what has impeded effective action, and what needs to change to create solutions. I still feel fear, but have more hope.