Jonathan Safran Foer, We are the Weather

Jonathan Safran Foer. We are the Weather. Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast. London: Penguin, Random House, 2020. ISBN: 978-0-241-98491-8

We are connected.

We are in trouble.

We are the solution.

This is the main message of one of the most interesting, thought-provoking and troubling books I have read about the present climate crisis. Why ‘interesting’? Because Foer’s story is powerful and deeply personal. Why ‘thought-provoking’? Because it helps us to consider our understanding of the present crisis. And why ‘troubling’? Because, with the facts on the table, it is impossible to deny that we are in deep, deep trouble.

It is one thing to accept a fact; another, to believe in it. The first kind of denial, Foer argues, is ‘a grave error’; the second, however, is ‘an unforgivable fact’. If we don’t believe something, we don’t know it. And if we don’t know it, we cannot do anything about it.

Foer reminds us that the word ‘crisis’ derives from the Greek ‘krisis’, which means ‘decision’. What decision(s) must we make? Facts are an important part of the decision-making process. Foer tells us, for example, that while humans represent 0.01 percent of life on Earth, we have managed to destroy eight-three percent of all wild animals and half of all plants – in the space of just twelve thousand years. Sixty percent of all mammals on Earth are animals raised for food. That is ‘approximately thirty farmed animals for every human on the planet.’ The planet does not have unlimited resources. Foer asks the vital question: why not eat the crops that we grow rather than first feeding them to animals and then eating the animals?

We need to think differently about our future. We do not need to fly to the moon. Rather, we need to ‘colonise still-uninhabited parts of our internal landscapes’, argues Foer. Imagination and vision are crucial. We need to take care of the enormous resources on our fantastic planet. The challenge, which we must take up now, is to save as much as we can: ‘as many trees, as many icebergs, as many degrees, as many species, as many lives – soon, speedily, and without delay’ (Foer’s italics). And if we are to be successful, it is not enough to be merely convinced by the facts; we must be converted, just as Noah was in the Bible.

We are the Weather is a deeply personal book. Foer makes the urgency of our shared situation abundantly clear and demonstrates that we must change our lifestyles as well as radically reduce our consumption of meat. We are the Weather is a story for us all. It is also the story of our future. Above all, it is a story of collaboration in which we face the facts, change our lifestyles, eat less meat, and preserve what can be preserved for future generations. It all starts with what we eat at breakfast – or rather, what we don’t eat. While breakfast and lunch should be plant-based, at the dinner table we can eat a little meat, if we so choose. But only at dinner. We are the Weather can be a life-changing book in which the emphasis is on life on the one and only planet which has the right conditions for human-beings. We can still save the Earth, but we must do it now, and we must do it together. There is no other option. It all starts with what we eat for breakfast.

Signup and get the first three chapters of the novel for free

By submitting this form, you agree to the Terms & Conditions

Copyright © 2022 J. Ekstam