I’ve just finished reading Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution, by Peter Kalmus. It’s a great book, for a number of reasons. The most important for me, is that it made me happy while I was reading it.
Like me, Peter also struggles with the importance and urgency of climate change, and the resistance of our societies to change. He went through a grieving process, and found a way to deal with it.
The premise of the book is that no one individual can save the world, but we can all change the world. The book describes it as operating from the story of the wave, not the story of the hero. That is, like water molecules, if enough of us move in the same direction, we will create a wave that moves other people. This is nicely backed up by science, which shows that social movements have a tipping point – 25% of a population are able to change the viewpoint of the majority.
The book is a catalogue of the ways Peter has changed his life to be a part of that wave. His main focus was to stop burning fossil fuels, including not flying, riding a bicycle, driving a vehicle that runs on waste vegetable oil, growing his own food, and more. He was able to cut his use of fossil fuels to less than a tenth of what he previously used, and found that he was much happier as a result.
The book is well-written and enjoyable, and full of practical advice both for reducing our usage of fossil fuels, and dealing with the emotional impact of climate change. My child is going to grow up in a very different world to the one I knew. Rather than despair, I can know that every little bit of fossil fuel reduction I can manage is going to make that world a better place for her.
I’m glad I found this book, both to remind me that there’s still hope and happiness, and that what I do, no matter how small, still matters.
There’s also a companion documentary, available on Prime Video.