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Monday, 06 November 2023 12:42

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

Those of you who attended Ian Dunlop's STEP AGM talk on 4 November may have ended up distressed by the implications for the future from human-induced climate change, and frustrated by the slow progress of political action. As such you may not want to read any more bad news having also had more than enough from the current global scene. But I’m still strongly recommending this book, for quite a variety of reasons.

We’ve all heard of the IPCC, and maybe also read or heard the climate-sceptic’s nonsense: that it’s just a bunch of academics in ivory towers massaging dodgy data on screens to predict disasters that will probably never happen. Well Joëlle Gergis is a fully fledged climate scientist, an academic currently linked to ANU, who's a true insider on IPCC reporting, and her story is telling, compelling and very personal. In various contexts she highlights the intense scrutiny and work, often at night and into the early hours and mostly unpaid, by the thousands of scientists from all over our besieged planet. If there is any better evaluation of this ground-breaking global organisation I’ve yet to come across it.

But there’s much more to this book because it’s a personal journey by somebody who’s professional, dedicated and almost obsessive in her devotion to her science and its message. The implications of hers and the IPCC’s work have left her depressed and almost suicidal at times but she soldiers on under a worsening climate and its disasters. In this respect, the content of the book may seem repetitive at times but I never wanted to put it down. I can think of many public figures for whom it should be compulsory reading. But it does end on a hopeful note, that the means of fixing things are widely available, and work is in progress on many fronts.

Joëlle Gergis, Black Inc (2022) 325 pp (reviewed by John Martyn)