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Bookmonger: Tackling climate change takes individual initiative, cooperative action

A review of Mary DeMocker’s ‘The Parents’ Guide to Climate Revolution’

Published on June 5, 2018 12:01AM

Last changed on June 6, 2018 4:18PM

Author Mary DeMocker

Courtesy New World Library

Author Mary DeMocker

Courtesy New World Library

If you believe, as I do, that climate change is happening, and that human activity is a factor in that change, your feelings about this phenomenon may range, as mine do, from quivering dread to steely determination to make things better.

But after switching to CFC light bulbs, dialing back on hot-water showers and composting your coffee grounds and carrot peels — how much more, really, can one be expected to do?

Eugene author Mary DeMocker can answer that — in spades. And while her new book, “The Parents’ Guide to Climate Revolution: 100 Ways to Build a Fossil-Free Future, Raise Empowered Kids, and Still Get a Good Night’s Sleep,” is obviously geared toward families, there’s a lot of information, cogently presented, that anyone can incorporate into his or her life while striving to live in a more environmentally responsible way.

After an enthusiastic foreword from nationally prominent climate activist Bill McKibben, and then an overly chatty introduction by DeMocker, she lays out 100 actions that can impact climate change.

And as she reminds her readers, “These ideas are offered as a menu of possibilities, not a ‘to-do’ list …”

She aims to make these ideas as creative and fun as possible so that folks don’t burn out and give up the fight.

She clumps the ideas into loose categories. The opening chapter, titled “Harmonize Family Life-Ways with Earth-Ways,” puts forward 18 ideas, from ”Ditch the Diaper” to “Keep the Clunker — Until You Can Afford Cleaner Transportation.”

Another chapter about how to grow community connections gives pointers like “Have a Beer with Cousin Max” or “Chainsaw the Fence.”

And the nifty thing about all of these is that DeMocker recognizes that not everybody is going to be comfortable with moving ahead full-throttle into climate activism, whether it’s for lack of time or due to an introverted disposition.

So she offers variations on a theme — actions you can accomplish in one minute, ten minutes or an hour. Or she suggests different strategies depending on the age of your children, from toddlers to teens.

And, as the cofounder and creative director of 350.org’s Eugene chapter, she is gung-ho about developing participatory, creative interventions to draw attention to issues.

But DeMocker also affirms the power of more conventional approaches. She urges readers not to underestimate the power of consistent letter-writing and phone-call campaigns to let your local and state elected officials know where you stand on legislation that moves us toward a fossil-free future, despite the U.S.’ withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord.

Finally, the author points out that once you start implementing your own personally curated selection of actions, you’ll discover other benefits. Kids become less dependent on prepackaged entertainment and electronic devices and learn to think and speak up for themselves. Healthier choices in food, transportation and energy consumption lead to feelings of empowerment and interconnectedness. Families and communities draw closer together in common cause.

This book is pragmatic, cheerful and chock-full of ideas — so get cracking!

The Bookmonger is Barbara Lloyd McMichael, who writes this weekly column focusing on the books, authors and publishers of the Pacific Northwest. Contact her at bkmonger@nwlink.com.


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