cover image To Reach the Spring: From Complicity to Consciousness in the Age of Eco-Crisis

To Reach the Spring: From Complicity to Consciousness in the Age of Eco-Crisis

Nathaniel Popkin. New Door, $15.95 trade paper (148p) ISBN 978-0-9995501-6-8

In a ruminative but urgent treatise, historian Popkin (The Year of the Return) takes a philosophical approach to climate change, drawing analogies to other crises in human history. He begins by discussing the climate crisis as a global rallying point and by pinpointing its major causes, from the outsize political influence of fossil fuel companies to consumer culture, while recalling how his experience working for an environmental group demonstrated to him why activism is often ineffective. Popkin’s analysis picks up steam when he cites Hannah Arendt’s notion of the “banality of evil”—originally formulated in reference to those who actively or passively facilitated Nazism’s crimes—to argue that, with humanity careening toward another historic catastrophe, silence and inaction about climate change is morally unacceptable. He also discusses, more briefly, how the medieval world reacted to the Black Death, and draws from the works of Italo Calvino, Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, and more. Admitting that concrete solutions to the climate crisis are beyond his purview, he concludes by urging others who are concerned about the environment to channel their concerns into action. In a glut of books on the topic, Popkin’s is notable for its thought-provoking longview perspective on how to think about and face climate change. (Dec.)