Hope, Re­silience, and the Fight for a Sus­tain­able Fu­ture

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight Popular Science -

Mary Robin­son, Blooms­bury (SEPTEM­BER) Hard­cover $26 (176pp), 978-1-63286-928-9

Au­thor Mary Robin­son was the first woman pres­i­dent of Ire­land, serv­ing from 1990 to 1997; af­ter­ward, she served as United Na­tions High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights from 1997 to 2002. She was also an hon­orary pres­i­dent of the global de­vel­op­ment char­ity Ox­fam.

In Novem­ber of 2016, Robin­son was in Mar­rakech for UN cli­mate change talks; Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion seemed like proof that Amer­ica was re­treat­ing into ap­a­thy about the en­vi­ron­ment. She was de­ter­mined to “forge ahead, with or with­out the United States,” and in Cli­mate Jus­tice she and jour­nal­ist Caitríona Palmer pro­file ad­mirable in­di­vid­u­als who are cop­ing with cli­mate dis­as­ters in vul­ner­a­ble ar­eas and point­ing the way to a sus­tain­able fu­ture.

From cat­tle farm­ers in Chad to the Yupik peo­ple who fish Alaska’s west coast, the peo­ple most af­fected by cli­mate change are gen­er­ally those who are least equipped to deal with it due to poverty and a lack of po­lit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Robin­son and Palmer high­light in­spir­ing sto­ries of or­di­nary peo­ple who are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence for the en­vi­ron­ment—es­pe­cially women who have be­come “agents of change.”

These in­clude women like Vu Thi Hien, who works on for­est preser­va­tion in Viet­nam, and Aus­tralian skin­care en­tre­pre­neur Natalie Isaacs, who tack­les plas­tic waste. Af­ter Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina, Sharon Han­shaw of Biloxi, Mis­sis­sippi, be­came an “ac­ci­den­tal ac­tivist,” found­ing Coastal Women for Change to draw at­ten­tion to the un­fair­ness of how low-in­come sur­vivors were treated.

Robin­son al­ways keeps one eye on the fu­ture. She pon­ders how cli­mate change will af­fect her grand­son’s gen­er­a­tion and re­grets her own car­bon foot­print. In­stead of blam­ing gov­ern­ments, she be­lieves we must all take re­spon­si­bil­ity for our en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact; she of­fers sim­ple strate­gies such as cut­ting meat con­sump­tion. Liv­ing sus­tain­ably is a uni­ver­sal goal in Robin­son’s en­vi­sioned “‘peo­ple first’ plat­form.”

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