Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning by George Monbiot

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Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning by George Monbiot

Category: Politics and Society
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Heat is a powerful and practical exhortation to save the planet, and ourselves. There is a lot of science, a lot of maths, and a lot of technology, but it's written with a journalist's ease and some wit mixed with the rancour. Buy it today.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: September 2006
Publisher: Allen Lane
ISBN: 0713999233

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Even if everybody used energy-saving lightbulbs, insulated their lofts, turned down their heating and avoided using tumble dryers, it wouldn't do any good. The world would still fry. Countless thousands of poor people living on flood plains in other countries would probably still die. Your grandchildren, maybe even your children, would still face a Mad Max future in which only the very rich enjoy any degree of comfort.

To save them, we all need to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 90% within the next twenty five years. How scary is that?

Perhaps not that scary. In his book Heat, seasoned environmental campaigner George Monbiot addresses the issues and shows how it could be possible to avert disaster. In doing so, his targets are varied. Governments, corporations, tokenist greens - that's you and me and our virtuous tumble-dryer usage - and those who still believe that biofuel will save the world (it won't, it'll see the end of the remaining rainforests and would be a catastrophe) are all weighed, measured and found wanting. There are a lot of sums and a lot of science, but if I understand it, so will you.

To achieve this seemingly impossible target, we will need offshore wind power, run by DC cables to reservoirs cut into the sides of mountains. Our housing stock must be overhauled completely. Petrol stations will become battery hire outlets. Local power will be locally generated. Carbon dioxide will be injected underground into areas previously occupied by natural gas. We will all shop online. It's do-able. It's not easy, but it's do-able.

There isn't much about the changed society in Monbiot's vision that I found to dislike. In it, I will be able to keep warm, operate my labour-saving gadgets and travel domestically in considerably more style and comfort than I do now. I'll be able to eat. Just about the only thing I won't be able to do is fly more than once every ten years or so. In fact, there is a great deal in this society that I prefer to the one in which I'm living today. Especially, the vision of the M25 as an up-market coach route is quite irresistible! I'm all for it. Sign me up.

This is not to say that Heat has it all wrapped up. Clearly, one man is unlikely to get it all right. The sums might be wonky. Some of Monbiot's fixes may not work. The technology may fall over. We're only talking about the UK. The rest of the world, including the United States, would have to follow suit. In only talking about the UK, population growth is not addressed. What about water? What if costs spiralled? But y'know, none of that is really the point. The point is that catastrophe looms. Only fools and think tanks sponsored by the likes of Exxon think otherwise. The scientific community is united. If we don't act, the future isn't just bleak, it's disastrous. We can't sit about playing chicken.

Many of Monbiot's prescriptions would actually benefit the hoi polloi. Their housing stock would be improved. The quality of their air would be better. Public transport - and as Monbiot points out, only the middle classes fly - would be cheap and accessible. Why spend this money on war that two million voters took to the streets to protest? Why not spend it on a future? All it would take is political will and some honesty, and I don't believe action on climate change would be a vote loser at all.

You're left with the inescapable conclusion - and I hate myself for being a conspiracy theorist - that those in power have already given up on us. Active foreign policy and inactive environmental policy aren't accidents - it's just the rich ensuring they're going to be rich enough to survive when either the biosphere packs up or fighting over the remaining resources ends in Armageddon, whichever comes soonest. We'll be going to hell in handcart, and they'll be in some luxurious encapsulated city somewhere, with what's left of the champagne.

Don't let them do this to you, to your children, to your grandchildren. Buy Heat. Read it. Get everyone you know to read it. And start making a noise.

I'd usually point you in the direction of another Bookbag review. This time, I'm going to send you to Turnuptheheat.org, where you can read some excerpts from the book.

This book was sent to Bookbag by the publisher.

Booklists.jpg Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning by George Monbiot is in the Top Ten Green Books for Eco-Warriors.
Buy Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning by George Monbiot at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning by George Monbiot at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning by George Monbiot at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning by George Monbiot at Amazon.com.


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