Climate change and the destruction of the earth is the most urgent issue of our time. We are hurtling towards the end of civilisation as we know it. With an unflinching honest approach, Rupert Read asks us to face up to the fate of the planet. This is a book for anyone who wants their philosophy to deal with reality and their climate concern to be more than a displacement activity.
As people come together to mourn the loss of the planet, we have the opportunity to create a grounded, hopeful response. This meaningful hopefulness looks to the new communities created around climate activism. Together, our collective mourning enables us to become human in ways previously unknown.
Why Climate Breakdown Matters is a practical guide on how to be a radical, responsible climate activist.
Prologue: The Attention-Shift From Climate To Corona - And Back Again?
Introduction: On Climate, Ecological And Societal Breakdown
Chapter 1: Just How Much Do You Care About The Future Of Humanity?
Chapter 2: Is Climate Breakdown A White Swan?
Chapter 3: Is This Civilisation Finished?
Chapter 4: The Great Gift Of Community That (Climate) Disasters Can Give Us
Chapter 5: How Climate Grief May Yet Be The Making Of Us
Chapter 6: Can We Understand Cetacean Society? Can We Change Ourselves?
Chapter 7: How Today To Live In Truth
Epilogue: The Lessons From Corona For Climate
Rupert Read is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of East Anglia, UK. He is the spokesperson for the Extinction Rebellion collective, an environmental activist and a former Green Party councillor. His most recent books include Extinction Rebellion: Insights from the Inside (with Samuel Alexander) (2020), This Civilisation is Finished: Conversations on the End of Empire - And What Lies Beyond (2019) and A film – Philosophy of Ecology and Enlightenment (2018).
"Climate and ecological breakdown is happening now. In this uncompromising, powerful and provocative book, Read challenges us to face up to that reality and to recognise that our collective survival depends on our responding not just with logic but, crucially, with love. Stark and searingly honest, it's vital reading for our time."
– Caroline Lucas, MP, Green Party of England and Wales, UK
"Why Climate Breakdown Matters is an essential read for all who know and care about the climate and ecological emergency and, even more so, for those who don't. Pulling no punches, Rupert Read warns us that, whatever action we now take to reduce emissions, things are going to be grim. Recognising this really is the first step in preparing to meet and adapt to a future that will be very different to the default one we unthinkingly expect, and in driving the transformative action that stops a bleak future becoming a cataclysmic one. As the darkness draws in, this book will continue to shine, shedding light that picks out the path we must follow if we are to prevent climate breakdown driving all-pervasive societal collapse."
– Bill McGuire, writer, broadcaster, activist and Professor Emeritus of Geophysical & Climate Hazards, University College London, UK
"This is what philosophy written down on Earth – rather than adrift in the stratosphere – looks like. This is philosophy that is eco-logical, grounded in reality rather than in dangerous fantasies. This book explains the origins of our troubled times, and offers a guide on how to transform a civilization that is on the brink of collapse. Please read it."
– Giorgos Kallis, co-author of The Case for Degrowth
"In this philosophically masterful book Read reminds us that anthropogenic climate change and ecological collapse pose a grave and imminent threat to human civilisation. Collapse is not a potential 'black swan' event he explains, but a white swan, an expected event. His analysis is tough to read. He aims to wake up his readers to reality, and demands we re-examine our lives. But he also provides radical, active hope; a route towards transformation that requires the jettisoning of shallow optimism and futile fantasies. A powerful read."
– Ann Pettifor, author of The Case for The Green New Deal
"A deeply moving account of where humanity stands in the age of climate breakdown. Read stares unflinchingly into the abyss of civilizational collapse, not to terrify us or to give us false hope but to help us reimagine what it means to be human in a time of transformational change."
– Byron Williston, Professor of Philosophy, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada
"I might paraphrase this book this way: climate change represents a kind of final exam for humanity. If we pass, we move on to a new and interesting life as a species. If not, well [...] "
– Bill McKibben, 2014 winner of the Right Livelihood Award, and founder of www.350.org
"Rupert Read is one of the few honest philosophers writing about the climate crisis. He makes it clear how confronting breakdown matters not just for saving our skins, but for saving our souls – for re-igniting the human spirit which has burnt so nearly down to the socket in these desperate times."
– John Foster, author, Realism and the Climate Crisis
"This is an urgent and necessary book. Rupert Read is one of the deepest thinkers of the green movement, and at the same time one of the most clear-headed. He urges us to face the reality of likely climate, and thus societal and ecological, breakdown, and act accordingly; nothing less is needed than a transformation of our politics, our economics, our society, and ultimately our philosophy. This is a book for realists not naive optimists, a book for those who are prepared to face scientific fact rather than rely on conventional thinking – and technology – to deliver us from this emergency. We need to shift the entire political and economic paradigm both to prepare for breakdown and mitigate it. Rupert Read gets it, and so should you."
– Carne Ross, founder of Independent Diplomat, and author of The Leaderless Revolution