In these uncertain times, when climate change seems to bear down on us like an ashen-faced monster and we can’t see the woods or the trees, Chris Goodall appears in the thorny thicket like a fresh-faced guide, offering a way out. We can do this, he says. ‘The solutions to the climate crisis are available, and the cost is bearable.’
Though he does make suggestions for other nations, he’s not outlining a plan for the whole planet – this book is focused on the UK and how it can become a zero carbon economy by 2050.
First, we need to increase wind and solar power twenty-fold, says Goodall. Mix in a little hydrogen power to store surplus electricity. Let go of nuclear power – the very thing that made it so appealing, its consistency, now makes it an unsuitable partner for the ever-shifting output of renewables. Next, we need to radically alter the way we use our agricultural land – less sheep, more trees. Consumers need to fill their plates with plants and head back to the second-hand clothes shops. Meanwhile, geoengineers must tinker with the sky in the hope that they can stave off the worst of the inevitable temperature rises.
There are many who will disagree with this approach and view it as another form of soft climate-change denial – a sort that underestimates the magnitude of the crisis we are facing and over-relies upon the power of technology. And they may well be right. But, while we’re waiting for (or working towards) a gradual dismantling of our current social and economic systems, Goodall offers a clear, coherent plan of action that appears genuinely achievable and, perhaps even more importantly, buy-into-able by the majority of the general public.
It’s difficult to envisage millions readily abandoning their resource-heavy lifestyles. Technological innovations might just buy some time. As Edward Roosevelt suggested: ‘Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.’