Voices of Resilience and Systems Change – Book Review of Climate Adaptation

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  • Carolina Carvalho is a network ecologist from Portugal who researches the interconnectedness of living beings and how we might apply this knowledge to help the human species live harmoniously within the web of life.

Despite the extensive literature on the pressing topic of climate change, there are few books taking a systemic look at the problem. There are also few such books today that include the voices of those that already are most affected by this global menace. The newly released Climate Adaptation: Accounts of Resilience, Self-Sufficiency and Systems Change, edited by Arkbound Foundation, bravely sets out to do just that.

The book does not shy away from looking at the hard facts and the living reality of the challenge we face with climate change. The first part of the book describes the effect of current emissions, the state of our oceans, the impacts on our ecosystems, and our underlying worldviews, cultures, and economic systems.

As aptly stated by the authors, “At present, simply by participating in the current socio-economic system – based on unsustainable extraction, production and consumption – there will always be environmental damage, whether we intend it or not”, and socio-economic collapse is indeed likely to happen.  

The book does not downplay the severity of the circumstances, but what makes it stand out is the constructive approach it takes to the problem. The second and third parts of the book gather the voices of more than 20 authors from around the world sharing their views on how we can adapt and gain resilience in the face of this global challenge. Most importantly, there are several voices from the Global South, perspectives that too often are severely under-represented in climate change publications.

Readers are taken on a journey from the mountain villages of Nepal to the drought stricken Lamu County in Kenya, from the islands of the Pacific to other vulnerable groups who are already taking steps to adapt. In Nepal, the Glacier Trust is helping to set up community-led agroforestry, in Vanuatu women are empowering each other to become activists and community leaders forwarding climate adaptation, and in Kenya activists are working together with local communities to manage the water landscapes and minimize human-wildlife conflict. These chapters provide an in-depth insider’s look at these case studies and what we can learn to apply elsewhere.

Other authors urge us to consider the importance and need for a just agroecological transition and for dignified conditions for climate migration. We are also introduced to well thought-out models for how to move towards systemic change, including Carol Manetta’s framework of worker-cooperatives regenerating degraded lands.

As a member of the Systems Change Alliance, I am obviously a bit partial in my preference for the third part of the book: Systemic Change. This section starts out by addressing a much-neglected topic in climate conversations—the importance of the inner-work needed to change our deep-rooted worldviews of disconnection from Nature and from our communities. The old worldviews that have led us to where we stand at this point in time, and which author Karen Scott aptly names “the Great Disconnect”. In most chapters, there is a sense of introspection, thought and visioning (individual or collective) that is needed before transformative action can take place. The pivotal role of environmental education in its different forms is also addressed.

The current economic system is scrutinized at length in this part of the book–as it should. In one of my favorite chapters, Ester Barinaga and her co-authors urge us to question even our most basic view of money as a thing that some have, and others don’t. Community currencies, the commons, the Progressive Utilization Theory, and localization–all these ideas and perspectives get a seat at this packed table of alternatives.

While some chapters are more accessible than others, this book is a diverse collage of voices and lessons that is bound to have something special for anyone interested in exploring the possible futures available to humankind. The book made me deeply reflect and learn, and left me with an uplifting feeling that all is not lost. In the words of the editors: “When we embrace such possibilities, rather than surrendering to hopelessness and the sense of deserved doom, the future is a little bit brighter.”

Lean more and get your copy of the book: https://arkbound.com/product/climate-adaptation-accounts-of-resilience-self-sufficiency-and-systems-change/


  • Carolina Carvalho is a network ecologist from Portugal who researches the interconnectedness of living beings and how we might apply this knowledge to help the human species live harmoniously within the web of life.

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