On the back of #Brexit (anything trending has a hashtag, right?) and the spurious claims, counter-claims, slogans, straplines and mistruths, it’s timely to read Alex Evans’ Eden 2.0. It’s a book about stories. It’s a book that illustrates how our quest for facts, data and information (truths) also need myths and stories to compel us to change the way we behave in a way that facts, data and truths don’t.
Alex Evans is a leading authority on the politics of climate change. He spent 15 years as an adviser on climate change in Tony Blair’s government, in the secretary-general’s office at the United Nations, and for think tanks in the US, the UK and Ethiopia. He has worked with world leaders on the issue of climate change and understands the issues from all sides – it makes his insights worth reading and learning from.
Despite what Evans saw, first-hand; the failures of government on the matters of climate change and environmental protection and summit after summit that either failed or resulted in empty promises, it remains an optimistic read.
It’s a compelling, accessible read, taking you on journey from the rational, but failed, science-led approach to challenging us as individuals and a global society to face-up to not just doing less damage but actually restoring the Earth’s health.
‘If we’re to overcome an issue as enormous as climate change, then we need to look far beyond policymakers and pie charts,’ says Evans, continuing, ‘instead, I’ve come to believe that we need to build the kind of mass movement that has in the past created the political space to end slavery, or create new civil rights, or secure the write-off of billions of dollars of third world debt.’
In an era of inquests, revisiting facts, figures and understanding and our compulsion to review and reset, Evans sub-divides his book into four parts. Every good read needs a strong beginning, a compelling middle and a satisfying end. Undoubtedly, Evans achieves the first, by providing a look inside the failure of single and collective governments. He explains how, and why, agreements couldn’t be met and the failure of the Copenhagen talks. He recalls the hope, and optimism, of 1988 where scientific consensus about the causes and effects of climate change were championed by NASA and only a few years later Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth took science to the masses. But, yet it fundamentally didn’t change a thing because the problem is far too large to be overcome without near-total commitment of society. Equally, he explains why simply blaming the ‘bad guys’ is not going to work.
This book has a middle of two halves. Its first half presents a compelling argument for ‘a larger us’ recognising that interdependence is prevalent at a global scale and ‘what affects one directly, affects all indirectly’. Later, in the ‘Everlasting Covenant’ Evans puts the case for a worldview where interdependencies are acknowledged and understood and the concept of ‘reset’ is set out to correct social, economic and environmental injustice. He develops the idea of a restorative approach where we, as humans, set about a challenge to restore the planet to good health, not just do it less harm.
In part four of Eden 2.0, Evans offers hope and proposals for how we can achieve it. As individuals, as a society and systemically, that means we, as individuals need to admit to ourselves our lifestyles are unsustainable and that to engage and create a will to change we need to tell the story better. Eden 2.0 will certainly help.
Photo by rick