By Susan Gately - 17 June, 2018
A new book from Veritas, Climate Generation, almost ended up in the bin, according to its author, Dr Lorna Gold. The well-known environmental campaigner who acted as moderator for a high level climate symposium at the Vatican in 2015 wrote the book “on and off” for a couple of years.
“I wrote a lot of it at night when I couldn’t get to sleep! I almost threw the manuscript in the bin at one point as I didn’t think it was very interesting. It was only when a good friend of mine who was expecting her baby last autumn told me about her own fears for the future – due to environmental concerns – that I dusted it off and finished it,” she told CatholicIreland.net.
The book is her personal story of “waking up to the reality of a warming world and what it means for our children”. As someone campaigning for years on climate change, the project co-ordinator with Trócaire realised that most parents and grandparents don’t really understand what is going on.
“We sense our weather is changing, but seem unable to grasp what that means, and what we need to do. I wanted to write a book which explains this in a way which a wider group of people can relate to – the mums, dads, grannies, aunties. This is really a story about not giving up and doing everything we can for the sake of our children’s future.”
Climate Generation is told through Dr Gold’s personal stories, “from growing up in the shadow of an oil refinery in Scotland, to finding myself side by side with Mary Robinson and author Naomi Klein in Rome at a climate symposium in the Vatican! It is an extraordinary journey, but I’m just an ordinary mum too.”
Essentially it ponders a very hard question: how can it be that we parents today, knowing what our children will face through climate change, still feel unable to act for their future? “I explore the reasons, starting with myself and my own resistance to change, and then turn to the many possibilities out there for action,” she says.
Dr Gold insists there is much that can be done, but that “we need to prioritise it now – like if your child was facing a bully in the classroom or sick – you need that kind of focus to fight for their future.”
In the book, available from Veritas and online at https://www.veritasbooksonline.com, Dr Gold argues that little actions like changing to renewables, eating less meat, etc. are important but not enough. “If we love our children and accept what is happening, we can and must do more. We need to get active in our communities and make our voices heard in our political choices. This is paramount.” The book tells the stories of people who are doing this and bringing hope.
“Hurricane Ophelia”, the “Beast from the East” and the “Tsunami from the skies” in Donegal are helping Irish people to “join the dots”, she says. “They also see what is happening globally.”
At a local level she believes two things need to be done to bring the issue into focus: to act on the Citizens Assembly on climate change recommendations, and to have a broader conversation with Irish citizens on climate change and what it means. In this context, Dr Gold welcomed the government’s National Dialogue on Climate Action which is to be launched next week.
“The only way to solve it [climate change] is to change individual behaviour – and to change the policies which make it possible. In a short period of time attitudes to plastics have changed due to the Blue Planet documentary. The same now needs to happen with our greenhouse gas emissions. Sadly, we can’t see those, but in my book I try to make the science easy so people can visualise what it all means.”
She admits there is a risk of failing, “but for me it has become quite simple: my children mean the world to me, so I’ll go to the ends of the earth for them. Even if I don’t succeed, at least in twenty years when they ask me what I did when I knew what was going on, I can say I tried.”
One of the great signs of hope for the world is Pope Francis, she says. “I’m very excited about his visit to Ireland. I am working with an amazing team of people to ensure that his visit is as green as possible and that the theme of climate and ecology is prominent in the events.”
The proceeds from Climate Generation will go to Trócaire.