Jane Fonda, What Can I Do

Jane Fonda, What Can I Do? The Truth About Climate Change and How to Fix It (London: HarperCollins, 2020), 337 pp. £14.99.

HB ISBN 978-0-00-840458-1. TPB ISBN: 978-0-00-84059-8

What Can I Do? is an activist’s personal journey. At the same time, it is replete with scientific facts about the increasingly critical state of our planet. Fatalist thinking is not an option, argues Fonda: action must be taken to reduce emissions; prevent species from becoming extinct; reduce the impact of massive droughts and flooding; ensure that children do not breathe in polluted air, and whales do not ingest massive quantities of plastic, to name just a few examples. What Can I Do? is a call for action: individual as well as joint.

Referring specifically to the United States, Fonda claims that we have ‘almost everything’ we need ‘to transition to a renewable energy economy that will make our country healthier, safer, fairer to all, and more prosperous’ (p. 319). So, what is missing? Her answer, ‘the power to drive the changes we need’ (p. 319), is perfectly clear. Demonstrations around the world have shown that mass action is possible. We must speak about climate change, vote for climate leaders who understand the present crisis, and act. What Can I Do provides many ideas for action – ideas that match the reader’s skills and interests.

The final four lines sum up Fonda’s message:

‘This is our moment. For the first time in our country, a majority of people are with us in sharing our concern and grief about climate and our desire for government action. It’s time now to put that concern into action and solve this crisis. Every day we delay, the challenge ahead of us grows. So let’s do this’ (p. 323).

Jane Fonda is both inspirational and knowledgeable. As an activist, she works in the real world, with real problems that affect our entire planet and all life on it, including us. As a writer, she shares with us speeches by leading climate scientists and inspiring community organisers, weaving together a personal as well as a global story that does not have to end in catastrophe. But could.

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