The Granta collections are always a treasure chest. With enough variety to suit nearly every taste, some are clearly more desirable due to focus. In this issue, "This Overheating World" is a topic needing further coverage and attention. Of the fourteen items assembled, half are devoted to climate change, its impact and our response to it. All are well written and worthy of close attention. The other essays are more varied, but nearly as important. Although there are some contentious issues under scrutiny here, the topics are, for some, an introduction needing further notice.
Bill McKibben opens this issue with an analysis of why Americans seem bent on ignoring the climate change going on around us. He recapitulates the research that has gone into revealing the evidence of climate change, such as ice, tree and sediment cores. He thinks enough data has been accumulated and presented to the public to cause some shift in thinking and behaviour. Little, if any, of that has been achieved. He calls for an "Orwell" or a "Thoreau" to produce a book or film that will awaken the public to the hazard. His admission that his own book failed in this regard makes sad reading.
Following essays by Maarten t' Hart, Philip Marsden, Matthew Hart and Mark Lynas recount local manifestations of the climate change phenomena. Mighty dust storms, loss of water supplies and reduced rainfall are having significant impact on the lives of many people. How those people will react and whether the rest of the world will be dealing with their fate remain questions still unasked. Solutions aren't even being debated at this point.
"This Overheating World" is occurring in the political world, as well. Three essays on the American crusade in Iraq and its results conclude the book. In a poignant account, Huha al-Radi describes her return to Baghdad to assist her family in recovery from the invasion. Spending less than a month with her mother and their orchards. In a daily diary, she records how nature and the invaders have acted to spoil her crop and her family's livelihood. As a human account of the misery still being inflicted on Iraq, it makes disturbing reading. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]