26 September 2023

Humanity’s Moment: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

By Joëlle Gergis, Black Inc., $34.99.

The sub-title gives away the crux of this tome. The question is whether you have done all you could, being on the right side of history. This is a personal call to action from an Australian IPCC author.

With a special role to play, Joëlle Gergis is one of hundreds of scientists contributing to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) assessment reports. It’s her job to evaluate thousands of peer-reviewed scientific studies and distil their findings. Her task in one of the working groups is to provide the scientific foundation for understanding the risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts, and options for adapting to and avoiding dangerous levels of climate change.

Acknowledging that the world as we know it is coming apart is an act of courage.

Gergis reminds us: “In a single lifetime, humans have become a force of nature.” She writes that until recently she had managed to maintain an emotional detachment from her work. However, all that changed after she spent “bone-deep” tired days (and nights, and acutely early mornings) contributing to the immense IPCC process.

Humanity’s Moment gives us an infrequent, almost forbidden insight into the emotional experience of a climate scientist undertaking this existentially phenomenal work: “Looking into the void is my day job.”

A reminder, the world is changing and generational change starts at home.

“You’ll see that the solutions we need to live sustainably on our planet already exist right now – we just need the social movement and the political will to create a better world.”

She hopes this book will transfer feelings of grief and anger into action and a genuine sense of hope. Like all great social movements, everyone, everywhere, is needed.

“How bad we let things get is still up to us – the apocalypse is not a done deal.”

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