Beyond Climate Breakdown
Envisioning New Stories of Radical Hope
The importance of telling new climate stories—stories that center the persistence of life itself, that embrace comedy and radical hope.
“How dare you?” asked teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg at the United Nations in 2019. How dare the world's leaders fiddle around the edges when the world is on fire? Why is society unable to grasp the enormity of climate change? In Beyond Climate Breakdown, Peter Friederici writes that the answer must come in the form of a story, and that our miscomprehension of the climate crisis comes about because we have been telling the wrong stories. These stories are pervasive; they come from long narrative traditions, sanctioned by capitalism, Hollywood, and social media, and they revolve around a myth: that the nation exists primarily as a setting for a certain kind of economic activity.
Stories are how we make sense of the world and our place in it. The story that “the economy” takes priority over everything else may seem foreordained, but, Friederici explains, actually reflect choices made by specific people out of self-interest. So we need new stories—stories that center the persistence of life, rather than of capitalism, stories that embrace contradiction and complexity. We can create new stories based on comedy and radical hope. Comedy never says no; hope sprouts like a flower in cracked concrete. These attitudes require a new way of thinking—an adaptive attitude toward life that slips the narrow yoke of definition.
“An insightful critique of the literary, political, and economic narratives that hide global warming from view, Beyond Climate Breakdown empowers us to acknowledge and repair the deep causes of the climate crisis that we're usually taught to ignore.”
Genevieve Guenther, Founding Director, End Climate Silence
“Careful, precise, and accessibly-written, Friederici's meta-perspective on climate discourse melds a journalist's clear voice with a scholar's incisive critique to ask, 'what is the matter with a society that would willingly destroy its future?'
Sarah Jaquette Ray, Professor of Environmental Studies, California Polytechnic State University, Humboldt; author of A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety
“An affirmation of our collective agency: how we all actually have it, and darned well need to use it –there is simply no dogmatically individualistic route through the climate crisis.”
Rupert Read, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of East Anglia; author of Why Climate Breakdown Matters