In an unconventional but persuasive manner, novelist Foer (
Here I Am) explains why taking meaningful action to mitigate climate change is both incredibly simple and terribly difficult. Writing from an intensely personal perspective, he describes the difference between understanding and believing, making clear that only the latter can motivate meaningful action. He argues that the dichotomy between those who accept the science of climate change and those who don’t is “trivial,” because “the only dichotomy that matters is between those who act and those who don’t.” Foer makes the case that animal agriculture is the dominant cause of climate change, concluding that “we must either let some eating habits go or let the planet go. It is as straightforward and as fraught as that.” While he calls for everyone not to eat animal products before dinner (at the very least), he is not shy about discussing his own hypocrisy, disclosing his lapses back into meat-eating after writing a book-length treatise against it (2009’s Eating Animals). Foer’s message is both moving and painful, depressing and optimistic, and it will force readers to rethink their commitment to combating “the greatest crisis humankind has ever faced.” (Sept.)
Winner of the 2020 Green Prize for Sustainable Literature Financial Times Best Books of 2019 The Guardian Best Food Books of 2019 Fast Company Best Climate Books of 2019 "Beautiful, powerful writing that's made me rethink the way I eat." —Samin Nosrat, author of Salt Fat Acid Heat "Eye-opening . . . In this follow-up to his influential Eating Animals, [Foer] brings both personality and passion to an issue that no one has figured out how to address in a way that inspires an adequate response." —Mark Bittman, The New York Times Book Review “This is a life-changing book and will alter your relationship to food for ever . . . Lucid, heartfelt, deeply compassionate . . . Sharp, hard-hitting.” —Alex Preston, The Guardian (Observer book of the week) “Remarkable . . . Foer is an innovative writer whose skills are deployed here most effectively in analysing what motivates people to sacrifice short-term comfort and convenience for the sake of salvation in the longer term—and what makes them believe a crisis is real at an emotional level rather than acknowledging it intellectually and carrying on regardless.” —Clive Cookson, Financial Times “In a style rarely found in books about global catastrophe, [Foer] interweaves personal stories, bulleted factoids and a delicious serving of metaphor. The effect is dazzling.” —Bruce Watson, The Washington Post "Foer begins his newest book as a climate-based argument for eliminating meat, eggs, and dairy from the American diet. But the novelist and author of Eating Animals is really too thoughtful and self-doubting to stop the conversation there . . . A vigorous and unflinching meditation on Foer’s own status as a father—and a descendant of Holocaust survivors—trying to answer for his role in a man-made disaster." —Reid Singer, Outside “What could be misconstrued as a pedantic and mildly pejorative tome extolling the virtues of veganism is actually an investigation of our daily choices, what they say about us as individuals, and what they could say about humanity. It is not about food so much as it is about life and how to live it, which is fitting as the two are inextricably linked.” —Elizabeth de Cleyre, The Millions " We Are the Weather is an earnest call to action in the face of climate change, but it’s not a polemic. Instead, it’s a personal exploration." —Ross Scarano, The Wall Street Journal "An ode to collective action, persuasively asking readers to take a hard look at our own role in the climate crisis and its solutions." —Kate Wheeling, The New Republic “Foer masterfully uses metaphor and paradox to demonstrate both the good and the evil of which humans are capable . . . His message is poignant and painful, bleak and hopeful. He adroitly challenges readers to combat ‘the greatest crisis humankind has ever faced.’” —Bill Schwab, eMissourian.com "Foer's message is both moving and painful, depressing and optimistic, and it will force readers to rethink their commitment to combating 'the greatest crisis humankind has ever faced.'" — Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Deeply contemplative and artfully creative . . . In his desire to convince others to take action, Foer raises the philosophical bar, which is, perhaps, the most effective way of fomenting sincere and long-lasting commitment to this life-threatening crisis." —Carol Haggas, Booklist
Extending an argument that began with Eating Animals (2009), novelist Foer ( Here I Am, 2016, etc.) traces climate change squarely to human deeds and misdeeds.
Our species, suggests the author, just isn't very smart when it comes to thinking ahead and doing something about errant behavior. "We are good at things like calculating the path of a hurricane," he writes, "and bad at things like deciding to get out of its way." It behooves us to get better at the latter, since ever more intense hurricanes—and blizzards, droughts, and all the other portents of a drastically changing climate—are in the offing for the near-term future. There are things we can do to ameliorate the situation: For one thing, we "need to use cars far less," but we also need to pat ourselves on the back a bit less when we do something virtuous of the sort, since there's so much else to do. One critically important thing, writes Foer, is to eat lower on the food chain. A prominent driver of climate change is deforestation, and a prominent engine of deforestation is clearing ground for animal agriculture. As he notes, "sixty percent of all mammals on Earth are animals raised for food," so lessening the number of animals slated to be eaten will decrease the rate and scale of deforestation. "It will be impossible to defuse the ticking time bomb without reducing our consumption of animal products," reads a chapter title that scarcely needs supporting text. That's a big, even revolutionary demand, but it's not an impossible one by Foer's estimation. After all, all of us humans got together and, at least for a time, cured polio because we took our vaccine, and even if we don't want to hear it, the ticking is getting louder and louder.
Foer is not likely to sway climate-change skeptics, but his lucid, patient, and refreshingly short treatise is as good a place to start as any.
Narrating his own work, Jonathan Safran Foer admits he doesn't have the answer to the world's most imminent problem, which he is purposely slow to identify and confront. The thing is, climate change is overwhelming and heady. The problem isn't that we don't know about the threat it presents—it's that we don't believe in the threat enough to make the necessary radical changes. For Foer, this work of interrogation is as much personal as global, and his performance reveals as much. He is steady, but not overconfident. His tone stays even, despite his creeping doubt. This call to action is a thought experiment in which Foer debates himself. A more experienced narrator would have delivered a more nuanced performance, but perhaps imperfect action is the point. A.S. 2020 Audies Finalist © AudioFile 2019, Portland, Maine
SEPTEMBER 2019 - AudioFile