Warning: Jonathan Safran Foer’s compelling new book is likely to alter your relationship to food for ever…
What would you do to save the world? Not the strapline for a Netflix series, but rather the question that sits behind Jonathan Safran Foer’s second work of nonfiction, We Are the Weather. The answer to the question appears to be “not very much”, given that despite the looming threat of global heating, despite the fact the next generation (and those that follow) will live more precarious lives, with food, water and clean air in ever-shorter supply, despite the fact that the future of our planet appears to be one of flooded cities, scorched forests and sulphurous skies, we continue to behave as if the climate crisis is someone else’s problem. In 2018, despite knowing more about climate change than we have ever known, we produced more greenhouse gases than we have ever produced, at three times the rate of global population growth.
Climate change, therefore, exists as a rhetorical challenge as much as a scientific one. The most pressing question is how to persuade people to act, and to act now, both on an individual basis and, particularly, collectively. Extinction Rebellion provides a blueprint for action, but what about the majority who aren’t about to chain themselves to the headquarters of Shell? One landmark in the rhetorical battle was Al Gore’s 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth, although it may surprise you to learn that Gore’s film, for all its rigour, didn’t mention the single largest contributor to global heating: livestock.
I can’t imagine anyone reading Safran Foer’s lucid, compassionate prose and then reaching blithely for a cheeseburger