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Published: 2009

‘Yes we can’: a manual for grassroots climate action

Mary-Lou Considine

Two years ago, Ecos reviewed the book Greenhouse Solutions with Sustainable Energy, in which author Dr Mark Diesendorf – academic, author and former CSIRO scientist – argued that the solutions for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions already exist. These include efficient energy use, solar hot water, gas, bioenergy, wind power, improved public transport and fuel efficient vehicles.

Climate Action
A Campaign Manual for Greenhouse Solutions
Mark Diesendorf
UNSW Press
2009, Paperback
ISBN: 9781742230184 – AU$34.95

In that book, Diesendorf – currently Deputy Director of UNSW’s Institute of Environmental Studies (IES) – asserted that the main barrier to implementation of these solutions was the significant lobbying pressure applied by powerful economic players – the so-called ‘Greenhouse Mafia’ – such as the mining sector, on federal and state government politicians.

In his latest book, Climate Action: A Campaign Manual for Greenhouse Solutions, Diesendorf takes his concerns a step further. Rather than just attempting to educate readers about climate change, sustainable energy and the science behind them, he also encourages people to get actively involved in demanding greater action by federal and state governments, which he says are failing to enact effective climate change reduction policies.

The book is indeed a well-organised manual, with chapter subheadings listed on the contents page, making for easy navigation. The first chapter, ‘Threat and hope’, summarises the scientific evidence for climate change and the need for grassroots action. The next chapter, ‘Greenhouse Mafia and their fallacies’, is followed by ‘Technologies for stopping global warming’, ‘Essential policies for the 21st century’ – including setting stronger targets for emissions cuts, energy efficiency and renewable energy, stabilising population growth, and individual carbon ‘rations’ – and ‘Strategies for defeating the Greenhouse Mafia’.

In the penultimate chapter, ‘Winning campaign tactics’, the author’s advice to climate action organisations (CMOs) on how to lobby, educate and mobilise is tempered by a cautionary aside about the need for non-violent action and management of legal risks.

The Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, has recommended the book as ‘a welcome call to action on the climate crisis’. And while it is designed as a practical ‘how to’ guide for citizens, the book also offers a wealth of good ideas about how we, as a nation, can embrace a less emissions-intensive future.

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