Wednesday 5 April 2023

We Are The Weather Jonathan Safron Foer


Subtitled Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast, this claims to be a book about giving up eating animal products, but mostly focuses elsewhere. 

The first section of the book is full of interesting facts and thoughtful insights into the overall planetary crisis.  We are told how in some places, there are so few bees that people are employed to pollinate plants, an appalling situation that shows how out of touch we are with nature. The whole section highlights the need to engage people with the crisis on an emotional level and shows how difficult it is for us to realise the enormity of what we're living through as we're living it. Things are only seen with full clarity with the benefit of hindsight. "We can't read the history we're creating" as Foer has it. 

This section also includes such fascinating topics as:

* how the increased availability of glass mirrors lead to an increase in self portraiture, first person novels and a self centered approach to life,

* how the Mona Lisa only became really renowned outwith art circles after being stolen from the Louvre,

Foer states that the four most impactful things people can do to personally address the climate crisis are to: fly less, drive less, eat less animal produce and have fewer children. He suggests that everyone can start by cutting out animal products at their next meal, and that cutting out all animal products from breakfast and lunch can be a very effective way of reducing your carbon footprint. This is the takeaway message of the book.

After the promising start, the book deteriorates rapidly. It includes several pages of statistics (so much for emotional engagement!) and then a tedious section whee Foer interviews himself at great length about why he hasn't been able to reduce the amount of meat he eats himself, which is where he loses all credibility.  

We Are The Weather by Jonathan Safran Foer, published (2019) by Hamish Hamilton (an imprint of Penguin)

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