Is there anything you can really do to stop climate change and make the world a better place?
Laurie David and Heather Reisman declare: if you can imagine it, you can make it happen. Their new book, Imagine It! A Handbook for a Happier Planet, will help you do both.
The book begins with a no-holds-barred statement about the crisis we face:
“There is more carbon dioxide in the air than at any time in the last 3 million years, which is to say, in human history,” they warn. As a result, “We are at a defining moment in history,” a moment made clearer by the coronavirus pandemic.
Fortunately, we have two paths forward, they optimistically say. One is to realize that “we’re capable of making bold change.” The other is that “environmental injustice is raging and cannot be denied.”
The authors point to how, overnight, most of us began wearing masks and social distancing, stopped hugging, and stayed home to protect ourselves and our loved ones from getting sick. The Washington Post recently reported that, after a stunning 583,000 Americans died from coronavirus, deaths are down almost 12%. That achievement would not have been possible had we all not made the kind of big changes that the authors remind us we can apply to stopping climate change too.
The pandemic also exposed how a lack of access to quality health care and far greater exposure to environmental pollutants resulted in people of color dying in far greater numbers than white people. “This is wrong and must change,” declare the authors. Their chapter on being an advocate reminds readers, “You have power! And working on behalf of the environment and fighting for environmental justice is a great way to use it.” That means not only making changes to your own lifestyle, but using your social media platforms and purchasing power too.
The authors are moms, activists, and filmmakers (Laurie David worked with former vice president Al Gore on the Academy Award-winning “An Inconvenient Truth,” about climate change). They organize their recommendations for change into seven “shifts” that will shrink our plastic, food, clothing, chemicals, paper, water, and transportation footprint.
Each shift gets its own engagingly designed chapter; each chapter provides concrete and do-able suggestions to “Build Your Awareness” and “Take Action.” For example, the Shift Three chapter offers smart ways to reduce your clothing footprint. The authors say it’s important because the apparel industry accounts for 10% of the world’s carbon emissions. Moreover, “85 percent of the clothes we buy end up in landfills even though the majority of it could be recycled or reused.” Some possible actions include “Shop in your friends’ closets” to borrow or swap rather than buy new. A blank “Notes” page at the end of each chapter makes it easy for readers to add their own thoughts or goals.
In “Raise an Environmentalist,” David and Reisman remind parents that “One of the most powerful and lasting things you can do as a parent is to foster an awareness and love of nature in your children… Raise an environmentalist,” they declare, “and you have released into the world an advocate for balance and harmony.”
Help your kids build birdhouses, they urge. Let your children dig in the dirt and play with worms. Garden together. Take your youngsters, ‘tweens, and teens to local farmers’ markets. Teach them about the birds and the bees … and the butterflies, and flowers and wildlife too.
In a “Note to New Moms & Dads,” pediatrician and guest contributor Dr. Harvey Karp makes an important connection. “Becoming a parent magically bridges the distance between ourselves and the future,” he writes. “It broadens our concerns to what the world will become in 50 and 100 years. It turns enviro-neutral bystanders into fierce warriors for the well-being of the planet… No one can do everything, but everyone can do something,” he notes.
Imagine It! is “an excellent how-to-guide [and] a great read for everyone from the socially conscious family to the most ardent climate activist,” Al Gore reports. I agree!