The first section of  “Not Too Late,” edited by Rebecca Solnit and Thelma Young Lutunatabua, examines the state of the climate crisis and the solutions at our disposal. Writers from frontline communities, Indigenous leaders, scientists, and policy experts contributed essays to this section that speak of hope and possibilities for fighting climate change. 

As Gloria Walton, president and CEO of the Solutions Project, wrote in her essay: “It’s audacious and it requires tenacity to have a vision for a world we cannot materially see. It takes courage to challenge old ways and build a better future. And it requires love, the source of transformational power — love for ourselves, our people, and the places we call home.” 

We’ve been reading this book together! If you’d like to participate in our virtual book club, there’s still time to join

The essays explore a wide range of solutions through stories — like how the Philippines pushed global leaders to agree to the Paris target of 1.5°C of warming, lessons from Indigenous principles of kinship and care networks, calls for homeowners to ditch the “mini fossil fuel plants” running in their homes, and more. There are many callbacks to the title of the book, reminding readers that we are not too far gone — many actions remain on the table that will reduce suffering and protect a livable planet. 

The section wraps up with a timeline of the fight so far, showing just how much work has been done to reduce emissions and fight climate change. Many of our book club members were inspired by the essays in this section. Here’s what some participants had to say:

  • I really needed to hear that last essay “An Extremely Incomplete List of Climate Victories.” It was a good reminder of all the accomplishments that we have made, largely driven by the voices of a group of committed individuals, building collective momentum. This chapter lifted me up and will be my motivation this weekend for when I’m on a panel at a conference discussing sustainable initiatives that veterinary clinics to lessen our environmental impact of delivering care. — Danielle Scott
  • The crisis is dire and solvable. It is arrogance for us to believe that we will turn the climate crisis around in our lifetimes. But if we don’t start now, with an all-hands-on-deck approach, there won’t be a seventh generation after us. — Robert Whitehair, California, U.S.
  • It’s time that I truly get off my keister and passionately act on all of my ideas to mitigate warming. There’s so much that I now know I can, and will, do. — Vic Harris, Canada
  • I feel more empowered to act, and in particular to join efforts with others, trying to build a community, albeit an imperfect one, to help and sustain each other in a new society. — Annalisa, Italy

Book club readers were also frustrated by the decades of inaction from policymakers, companies, and even other individuals.

  • WE are definitely not doing enough, and that causes me great angst and sadness. It leaves me feeling mad and hopeless. I feel I have done what I can — i.e. solar panels, forgoing meat, driving electric and also less, hanging my clothes on the line, and teaching my science students about climate change so that they can also make better choices down the line. When I see others not doing what I feel is as much, I get mad. This is my work! How do I let go of what I see others NOT doing and find solace in doing what I feel is my best? Ugh. — Rachele, California, U.S.
  • I still believe there are issues of scalability, but the essays certainly have a more optimistic spin. The issues regarding an equitable transition to cleaner energy were touched on but not fully fleshed out in my opinion. The feasibility of limiting our warming to 2 degrees C is still related to politics, and I am still quite pessimistic that those politics can be overcome. Nevertheless, I am not giving in to doomerism and inaction. — Stacy, Ohio, U.S.
  • Overall, the entrenched powers will resist change, but as more people experience their own climate stories, (e.g. heat waves and flooding in this country, we may be able to engage all the levers necessary to move the needle. As Mary Heglar said, “Climate conversation has landed on the streets and on everyone’s lips.” — Nick Snow, Virginia, U.S.

Our book club is global. Check out where members are reading:

Don’t forget that there’s still time to join our book club. We’ll be reading the second section, “The frameworks of possibility,” until July 26, 2023.

Samantha Harrington, director of audience experience for Yale Climate Connections, is a journalist and graphic designer with a background in digital media and entrepreneurship. Sam is especially interested...