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How to Change Everything    by Naomi Klein & Rebecca Steffof order for
How to Change Everything
by Naomi Klein
Order:  USA  Can
Puffin, 2021 (2021)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Here's an important volume for the young activist, or anyone concerned about the accelerating environmental crises. How to Change Everything: The Young Human's Guide to Protecting the Planet and Each Other is written by author and social activist Naomi Klein, with Rebecca Steffof, and aimed at ages ten and up.

In her Introduction, Klein talks about the unfair aspects of climate change, saying that her book 'is about how our response to climate change can help create not just a less polluted world but a more just one for all of us who share it.' She tells us that young people are leading the way forward for climate justice, and encourages the reader to be part of that. This volume is divided into three parts: WHERE WE ARE, HOW WE GOT HERE, and WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, followed by a Conclusion and Afterword.

Part 1 covers young people's activism, like School Strikes for Climate, Greta Thunberg's work and lawsuits for climate action. Klein emphasizes that many activists already live in a climate crisis, e.g. those who breathe the worst air pollution on the planet in Delhi. She addresses the World Warmers that resulted in polar melts, heat waves, fires, floods and droughts, cyclones and tornados - all part of climate disruption. Klein goes on to explain 'why the movement to stop climate change must be a movement for social and economic justice as well.'

Part 2 goes into what led to the climate crisis with chapter titles like Burning the Past, Cooking the Future (the development of the steam engine). Klein explores how the culture arose 'that people could take whatever they needed from the natural world'. She explains the Greenhouse Effect; shows how 'Fossil fuels built the modern world'; and reviews the rise of environmentalism. She talks of the harm done by climate change denial, and covers activism like resistance to pipelines.

Part 3 reminds us that though it 'is impossible to completely avoid climate disruption', some approaches are already promising. She discusses possibilities in carbon capture and storage; geoengineering; space travel and terraforming; reforestation; renewable energy sources; greening towns; A Green New Deal; and a global Marshall Plan for the Earth. Klein emphasizes that 'we need a plan that tackles climate change and reforms the economic model that drives it', and offers a toolkit for young activists.

Finally, in conclusion, Klein says it very clearly: 'The climate crisis is a threat to the future of our species. The threat has a firm, science-based deadline.' She asks her young readers the most important question of all: 'Are you ready to change everything?' Her Afterword presents the pandemic as a portal to the future, a tragic crisis that also presents an opportunity for change. Will young people help the world seize that opportunity?

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