An existential manual for tragic optimists, can-do pessimists, and compassionate doomers
With global warming projected to rocket past the 1.5°C limit, lifelong activist Andrew Boyd is thrown into a crisis of hope, and off on a quest to learn how to live with the "impossible news" of our climate doom.
He searches out eight of today's leading climate thinkers – from activist Tim DeChristopher to collapse-psychologist Jamey Hecht, grassroots strategist adrienne maree brown, eco-philosopher Joana Macy, and Indigenous botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer – asking them: "Is it really the end of the world? and if so, now what?"
With gallows humour and a broken heart, Boyd steers readers through their climate angst as he walks his own. Boyd's journey takes him from storm-battered coastlines to pipeline blockades and "hopelessness workshops". Along the way, he maps out our existential options, and tackles some familiar dilemmas: "Should I bring kids into such a world?" "Can I lose hope when others can't afford to?" and "Why the fuck am I recycling?"
He finds answers that will surprise, inspire, and maybe even make you laugh. Drawing on wisdom traditions Eastern, Western, and Indigenous, Boyd crafts an insightful and irreverent guide for achieving a "better catastrophe". This is vital reading for everyone navigating climate anxiety and grief as our world hurtles towards an unthinkable crisis.
Prologue: It's the End of the World. Now What?
Chapter 1: Impossible News
Interview: Guy McPherson "If we're the last of our species, let's act like the best of our species."
Interview: Tim DeChristopher "It's too late - which means there's more to fight for than ever."
Chapter 2: The Five Stages of Climate Grief
Interview: Meg Wheatley - "Give in without giving up."
Chapter 3: Existential Crisis Scenario Planning
Interview: Gopal Dayaneni - "We're going to suffer, so let's distribute that suffering equitably."
Chapter 4: How to Be White at the End of the World
Chapter 5: Is There Hope
Interview: Joanna Macy - "Be of service not knowing whether you're a hospice worker or a midwife."
Interview: Jamey Hecht - "Witness the whole human story through tragic eyes."
Chapter 6: What Is Still Worth Doing
Interview: adrienne maree brown - "How do we fall as if we were holding a child on our chest?"
Interview: Robin Wall Kimmerer - "How can I be a good ancestor?"
Chapter 7: Experiments on the Verge
Chapter 8: Another End of the World Is Possible
Epilogue: Now Is When You Are Needed Most
Epi-Epilogue: Passing the Torch
Appendix: Stuff You Can (Still) Do
Andrew Boyd is a writer, humorist, activist, and CEO (Chief Existential Officer) of the Climate Clock, a global campaign that blends art, science, and grassroots organizing to get the world to #ActInTime. He also co-created the grief-storytelling ritual the Climate Ribbon and led the 2000s-era satirical campaign Billionaires for Bush. Andrew's previous books include Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution, Daily Afflictions: The Agony of Being Connected to Everything in the Universe, and Life's Little Deconstruction Book: Self-Help for the Post-Hip. His lifelong ambition, cribbed from Milan Kundera, is "to unite the utmost seriousness of question with the utmost lightness of form". Andrew lives in New York City.
"Urgent, sobering reading."
– Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"The most realistic yet least depressing end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it guide out there."
– Foreword Reviews, starred review
"The book is stunning. By delivering its devastating news in imaginative, engaging, and sometimes even hilarious ways, it marks the emergence of a new and genuinely exciting kind of realism."
– Brian Eno, musician and environmentalist
"A profound meditation on how to live in a world on the brink of collapse. Boyd moves gracefully beyond the usual talk of hope and despair to provide a startling vision of a future shaped not only by chaos, but also by compassionate care."
– Jenny Offill, author, Weather and Dept. of Speculation
"A heartfelt and humorous take on how to show up at 'the end of the world as we know it'."
– Britt Wray, PhD, Human and Planetary Health Fellow, Stanford University and author, Generation Dread
"I Want a Better Catastrophe is unlike anything else I've ever read about climate change, and how to keep living through it. For a start it's extremely funny. It is also angry, passionate, curious, honest, surprising, and very well-researched. Beyond its signature gallows humor, it brings a kind of deeply felt "gallows love" for the beauty and wonder of the world, and how we must fight to defend it."
– Nick Hunt, co-director, Dark Mountain Project, and author, Outlandish
"Time is clearly short – but I Want a Better Catastrophe proves it's never too late for a good laugh, a good cry, and a good call to action!"
– Bill McKibben, author, The Flag, the Cross, and the Station Wagon
"Through expert interviews, compassionate analysis, and deliciously dark wit, Boyd beats a path through the messy emotional and psychological terrain we must travel in order to face the future."
– Onnesha Roychoudhuri, author, The Marginalized Majority
"A rowdy, taboo-busting get-together of climate emergency thinkers."
– Josephine Ferorelli, co-founder, Conceivable Future
"A must read for its wit, and for the insights it offers."
– Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky