If on a winter’s night a cyclone

Thomas Jones

  • The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable by Amitav Ghosh
    Chicago, 176 pp, £15.50, September 2016, ISBN 978 0 226 32303 9

Reading Amitav Ghosh’s book, I realised something that I feel naive for not having thought of before: trying to convince ‘climate sceptics’ of the reality of anthropogenic climate change is a waste of time. By ‘climate sceptics’ I don’t mean the apparently growing number of people who don’t believe in climate change because they were freezing cold this winter and trust what Donald Trump or Nigel Farage tells them on Fox News or the BBC. I mean the people who stand to gain from the Trump administration’s America First Energy Plan, which will increase US dependence on fossil fuels: more fracking, more coal-mining, more pipelines. There’s nothing to convince them of: nobody who has worked in the hydrocarbon business can be in any real doubt that carbon dioxide causes global warming – a fact first demonstrated more than 150 years ago – or that burning fossil fuels produces carbon dioxide. They already know all that, but it doesn’t bother them. On 28 March, Trump signed an executive order – ‘On Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth’ – to rescind the modest legislative advances against climate change made in the last years of the Obama administration.

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[*] The LRB, incidentally, heads Ghosh’s list of magazines whose pieces on climate change are invariably reviews of non-fiction rather than fiction. Here we are, at it again.