As a bibliophile who has been working on climate change for more than a decade, I found it surprising that there are very few books, especially mainstream books that talks about climate change. Well, this question bothered Amitav Ghosh as well and the result is a very erudite and immensely readable book: The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable. He asks one overarching question: Why our mainstream authors are writing on climate change?
“Let us make no mistake: the climate crisis is also a crisis fo culture and thus of the imagination.” – Amitav Ghosh
It is not that there are no books on climate change but they are far and few and often in science fiction category. Ghosh wants climate change, one of the biggest phenomenon affecting humanity, to find more prominence in mainstream literature.
“When we see a green lawn that has been watered with desalinated water, in Abu Dhabi or Southern California or some other environment where people had once been content to spend their water thrifty in nurturing a single vine or shrub, we are looking at an expression of a yearning that may have been midwifed in the novels of Jane Austen” – Amitav Ghosh
But this books is not all about the above-mentioned question. Ghosh explores climate change and its portrayal in history and culture. And, his exploration is a brilliant read. His first hand experience of storm in his student life in Delhi in 1978, to his rumination over Mumbai and its vulnerability showcase what an accomplished author can do when they decide to write about a topic that is often confined to technical reports and scientific journals.
His take on role of liberal individualism, colonisations, imperialism and the greed for “Power” and their impact on climate change spans an entire section of the book. This is very educative for those who have not been immersed in the climate change and politics of climate change.
There is also a very interesting comparison of IPCC and Laudata Si– Pope Francis’s letter to all churches. Ghosh analyses these two documents, both published in 2015. The result is very interesting read!
Bottomline, if you are afraid of reading the boring, jargon-strewn drab narration on climate change, this is the book that you must read.