We are faced at this very moment with a climate emergency. Christina Figueres is Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. She took the role shortly after the failed COP15 in July 2010 and led the delivery of negotiations that resulted in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Tom Rivett-Carnac was the Senior Political Strategist. As a result, they feel like suitably qualified people to guide us through the nature of that emergency and provide some hope and crucially action that we can all take to face it.
The first section of the book covers the junction that we currently stand at and the two potential directions that we can choose to take. The differences are extremely stark depending on the future we choose. We can try to keep going down our current route, burning fossil fuels, over consuming and competing to pile pressure onto our planet’s resources and ecosystems, or we can seek to transform the way we live and accept that we are part of one whole and need to live in balance with the planet that sustains us. Both will transform our planet and our quality of life, but in radically different ways.
The next section considers the mindsets that are required to take on the task that we face. This is about the determined optimism and ultimately resilience that we will need in order to find hope in our current situation. We cannot stare into the future like rabbits into headlights. It is also about moving our mindset away from competing for resources that are perceived to be scarce (and creating scarcity through the dysfunctional behaviours of competition) towards collaborating to provide what each person needs at the point that they need it.
Having now set the scene and laid some groundwork the meat of the book looks at what we can actually do to face the crisis of climate breakdown. It is essential to understand that we can make a difference and that we need to take action individually, as well at the structural level, if we are to succeed in the transformation that our planet and species needs.
The suggested actions are a mix of orientations, ways of looking at the way we live and realigning some of our basic assumptions about what makes a good life, and specific things that we can do collectively and as individuals to move towards a new regenerative economy and culture. It is essential if we are to succeed in the grand vision that we each take personal responsibility for moving our own individual lives towards that vision.
We also need to understand that this is not about moving backwards or diminishing the human experience, but is rather a positive and creative vision of moving forwards into a way of life that combines both the awe and wonder of the natural world and the best of human ingenuity. The future is a move away from exploiting the earth and its resources to collaborating with it (and as an intrinsic part of nature ourselves) in a creative, regenerative project.
We are in the midst of an emergency, but The Future We Choose reveals that we are also fortunate to be alive at such a defining moment in our history. This is our opportunity to understand the meaning of our lives and to become a part of the bigger picture of life on earth in a positive way. The last 50 years have been a destructive search for meaning through consumption, a race to accumulate, but the next 25 or so are our opportunity to reshape our culture to the natural patterns of birth, death and regeneration and truly take our place in the world.
The Future We Choose is an urgent read, but it also requires an urgent response from us all. Take the first step now.
The Future We Choose is published on 25 February 2020 by Bonnier Books UK. I was provided with an ebook by Netgalley in return for this honest review.