Book: The Handbook

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The handbook: Surviving and living with climate change by James Whitmore and Jane Rawson

Transit Lounge Publishing (2015)

In a parallel to the stages of grief, it appears many of us are approaching the prospect of a warming planet with something like acceptance – or at least an acknowledgment that, even if action sufficient to halt carbon emissions were taken tomorrow, we will inevitably face changes to our way of life.

In the previous issue of Cosmos we reviewed Tim Flannery’s new work, Hope, that looked optimistically at the technology and inventiveness that may help us cope with rising temperatures.

This fascinating book takes a pragmatic look at the world to come. It asks questions such as: How will we survive (including how to survive extreme climate events)? Where and how should we live? What kind of dwellings should we build?

One of the authors, James Whitmore, an occasional contributor to these pages, says the genesis of the book was the 2013 election of former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott, a climate-change sceptic. Whitmore and co-author Jane Rawson looked on with alarm. There was little chance the government would take meaningful action to prevent climate change, so what could they do? Prepare for the worst, was the answer.

The Handbook is a detailed practical guide to future-proofing our lives. It is premised on the idea that no matter what we do, climate change will occur. The world has committed to 2°C of warming – and that may be on the low side given present inaction. 

For Australia that inevitably means more droughts, heatwaves and bushfires along with power outages and frequent disasters.

Rawson and Whitmore look at what we can do to make ourselves more comfortable  with the changes set to rock our world.

It covers topics such as becoming more self-sufficient, building a bunker, fireproofing your home, surviving a flood and overcoming power outages by building community microgrids.

The book closes with a rallying call to arms. 

In all this lies an opportunity to create grassroots changes that go to the heart of how we live. They observe that how much climate change matters “depends a great deal on the kind of society we decide to live in”. They acknowledge that the more money you have the less you will suffer.  

“Right now you may be one of the well-off, but climate change could undo that more quickly than you realise. Whether you’ll make it through may depend on who you vote for now.”

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