Our House is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis by Malena Ernman, Greta Thunberg, Beata Thunberg and Svante Thunberg
|Our House is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis by Malena Ernman, Greta Thunberg, Beata Thunberg and Svante Thunberg|
|Category: Politics and Society|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: The story of the Ernman/Thunberg family and a clear and passionate exposition of the climate crisis. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: March 2020|
|Publisher: Allen Lane|
The Ernman / Thunberg family seemed perfectly normal. Malena Ernman was an opera singer and Svante Thunberg took on most of the parenting of their two daughters. Then eleven-year-old Greta stopped eating and talking and her sister, Beata, then nine years old, struggled with what was happening. In such circumstances, it's natural to seek a solution close to home, but eventually, it became clear to the family that they were burned-out people on a burned-out planet. If they were to find a way to live happily again their solution would need to be radical.
Naively, I thought that this book would predominantly be about Greta Thunberg, but it's far more than that. Malena Ernman tells her own story - she has the ability to produce brilliant verbal pictures - and shows how the family became increasingly conscious of the magnitude of the climate crisis as well as frustrated that the facts were not more widely known and acted upon. Ernman is as passionate about the climate crisis as her elder daughter and able to explain it in a few words which the layman can understand. The situation we are in is truly frightening.
Greta and Beata struggled with mental disorders throughout their childhoods. Boys with mental problems are far more likely to be diagnosed at an early stage: girls are then left fighting for the remnants of the available support when they get a diagnosis at an older age. Greta was diagnosed with autism and Beata with ADHD, but it's clear from all that Ernman says that this is simply scratching the surface of the problems.
The title of the book is more meaningful than you might think when you first see it: it hits at the heart of the climate problem. People are tinkering with the edges of the problem rather than looking at the root causes: it's the equivalent of sitting at the kitchen table discussing what you're going to do with the insurance money whilst your house is on fire. Greta Thunberg dismisses carbon offsetting as being pointless and rather like paying poor people to diet for us. There's no reason why the richer parts of the world should not pay for solar panels in the third world, but it shouldn't be a salve to our consciences for the way that we live.
Greta sees the problem as needing a radical solution but as a start:
If the world's richest 10% were required to lower their emission levels to the European Union average, the world's emissions would go down by thirty per cent.'
It doesn't seem unreasonable, does it?
Greta only came to public prominence in August 2018 with her School Strike for Climate. It would make a tremendous difference to her mental health. The story of the strike is told in the last quarter of Our House is on Fire, but the book finishes before some of her more recent activities, such as her trip to the USA.
The book is superb. It's written from the heart and whilst it might lack the polish of a more experienced writer, it doesn't detract from the power of the book at all. It's highly recommended and I'd like to thank the publishers for letting Bookbag have a review copy.
You might also appreciate Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive by Jared Diamond (although we weren't dreadfully impressed), 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari, The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen by Kwame Anthony Appiah and Us vs Them: The Failure of Globalism by Ian Bremmer.
You can read more book reviews or buy Our House is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis by Malena Ernman, Greta Thunberg, Beata Thunberg and Svante Thunberg at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Our House is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis by Malena Ernman, Greta Thunberg, Beata Thunberg and Svante Thunberg at Amazon.com.
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