As I write this, much of the American West is on fire, unprecedented floods have swept across Texas in the U.S. as well as a wide swath of South Asia, Hurricane Irma devastated the Caribbean before wreaking damage in Florida, and Hurricane Jose remains an uncertain threat.
Some might say that the middle of a series of tragedies is not the right time to bring up climate change. But I disagree. It is most urgent to do so, especially when those tragedies are tied to climate change.
Naturally, one book that has my attention these days is The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, by Amitav Ghosh.
Ghosh weaves history, personal memories, and a thoughtful analysis of history, culture, and politics to reveal that one of humanity’s weaknesses when it comes to climate change has been a failure of imagination and a strong desire to deliberately turn away from the obvious.
He uses literature as the center of his argument when he writes that future civilizations will conclude that:
ours was a time when most forms of art and literature were drawn into the modes of concealment that prevented people from recognizing the realities of their plight…this era, which so congratulates itself on its self-awareness, will come to be known as the time of the Great Derangement.
Today we are dealing with the very real impacts of our refusal to acknowledge climate change, both in worsening storms and in our inability to recover from their aftermath. In his timely and essential book, Ghosh challenges us to confront climate change in our lives and in our art.
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Talia Lakshmi Kolluri is an attorney and writer living in California’s Central Valley. She is currently at work on a novel and an animal-themed collection of short stories. Find her at taliakolluri.com.