New Door Books, December 2020, 148 pages, $15.95
Review by Steven Strong
Nathaniel Popkin refers to the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the atmosphere, plastics in the ocean, permafrost melting, glaciers receding, ocean temperatures rising, thousands of species going extinct, massive wildfires around the globe, more frequent and powerful typhoons and hurricanes – all accelerating climate change, as creating a “Hyper Object.”
A Hyper Object is one so massive in scale and all-encompassing that our civilization is unable to take action. Since the United Nations’ Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro back in June of 1992, little real progress has been made in even agreeing on a global path forward, let alone following that path.
While some progress is being made in individual initiatives, essential global consensus is drifting further out of reach. Authoritarian leaders are actively accelerating the crisis in the quest for profits. Brazil’s President Bolsonaro has declared open season on plundering the Amazon Rain Forest while Donald Trump has opened U.S. coastal waters and the pristine Arctic Wildlife Refuge for the oil companies to desecrate.
Popkin cites capitalism as “invading every aspect of life on earth” where green shoots of concern and demand for action are smothered by an unending torrent of disinformation from powerful multinationals. These are led by the fossil fuel industry and supported by enabling politicians, that cast doubt on the very reality of the crisis facing our planet.
Drawing on his years of experience as a climate activist and referencing past world crises from the bubonic plague of the dark ages to our Covid-19 pandemic, Popkin shows how challenging it is to achieve consensus on climate action and then shows us why we must.
Compounding resource extraction coupled with exponential economic and population growth is simply not possible on our finite Earth. What will be left for our children and our grandchildren?
By illuminating how our reverence for Earth is intrinsically connected to our capacity to hope and to heal, leading to an inexorable yearning to act, Popkin has offered us a way forward. Popkin’s To Reach the Spring is a needed clarion call to climate action.
Steven Strong is Founder and President of Solar Design Associates, a firm of engineers and architects working world-wide to make renewable energy mainstream. He is the author of The Solar Electric House and Solar Electric Buildings, an Overview of Today’s Applications and the editor and contributing author of Photovoltaics in the Built Environment, a Design Guide for Architects and Engineers as well as contributing author to Green Design – From Theory to Practice with architect Ken Yeang.