The strongest point of Assaad Razzouk’sbook is its readability, crisp chapters, arguments, fact-checks, disclosures and very fine exposés
Every now and then, there are books coming out in the market on the topic of climate change and the ensuing crisis, unfolding in its ugliest form today, related to it. Some of the books are good, some are sheer propaganda and some are indeed very great. In the “great” category, there are some books which are hard-hitting and into your face. One of the books falling in this category is ‘Saving The Planet Without The Bullshit, What they don’t tell you about the Climate Crisis’ by ‘Assaad Razzouk’, a Lebanese-British clean-energy entrepreneur and thought leader.
The strongest point of the book is its readability, crisp chapters peppered with facts, arguments, fact-checks, details, disclosures and very fine exposés. It is divided into 28 chapters, giving a smattering of almost everything related to the issue of climate change. Unlike many other books on the topic which focus on the changes to be made by individuals at their own small and intangible levels, this book presses on and on the need for the systemic changes to be ushered in by the governments, the conglomerates, big corporations, fossil fuel behemoths, law firms, etc in order to make any sizeable impact on the path to stop the Earth from heating up beyond 2 degree Celsius by the end of this century. This line of argumentation by the author is strongly backed by cutting-edge research, path-breaking reports and a storm of facts.
At the very outset, the book focuses on the city of Taiyuan, in the Shanxi province, of China, on its trajectory traversed from embarrassed smiles, unrealisable flights, putrid smells and suffocating smoke to the one today with its entire 8,000-strong taxi fleet completely electrified today, the first one to do so in the world. In having achieved it, the author says the city didn’t resort to extreme habitational and behavioral individual choices like going all-vegan, moving off from the animal-based diet, wearing organic clothes, not reproducing children and the related less-practical choices. It did the basic stuff correctly, i.e. made proper use of renewable energy like solar and wind, focused more on electrification, recycled more, made every ounce of economy circular, acted responsive to the growing environmental protests’ demands, promised to build an ecological civilization and did away with siloism in the governance structure through the legislation of a superagency into practice, where all decisions from planning to implementation were coordinated.
Through the subsequent chapters, the book has busted many a myth. It has elaborated on the plastics and microplastics having become an integral part of our life, food and blood, in the process amplifying the concentration of carcinogens in our bodies. The author has called the plastics-into-microplastics the carpet-bombing campaign against the planet Earth and its denizens. The solution suggested is the inclusion of premium in plastic products and bioplastics and their easy composting. We have only been able to recycle 7 percent of the total plastic produced, therefore the way to go is long, fractious and most likely to be obstructed by the big companies. There are some remarkable changes made in this direction like in Rwanda and Singapore, but they are few and far in between.
The author has mentioned the palm oil production mad-rush in South East Asia, having led to the large-scale deforestation of the lush Tropical Evergreen forests and the near-extinction of elephants and Bornean Orangutan there. As is the constant thread throughout the book, the author has stressed on making the oil production and enabling will of the Multinational corporations integral to making themselves transparent, legally responsible and making it clear that their imports ain’t linked to even a patch of deforestation.
The book has exposed the hollow claims of the mega-brands about their products being eco-friendly and sustainable. In this respect, the author has called the brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Nike, Adidas, etc, all appealing to the emotions of the people, using plastic in the most pervasive way and drooling out around 20 percent of the global wastewater. While the inconsistencies and gaps are rife, there is a near-eclipse on any disclosure or leakage of information regarding their production lines, some of the brands like H & M, Nike, Lululemonetc are moving towards using renewable energy in their production and treatment of the wastewater produced by them on a large scale.
In the subsequent chapters, the author has opened threadbare the widespread trends and arguments like not eating fish to let them grow at a steady rate and not understanding the scale of destruction unleashed by the countries using commercial trawlers, deploying naval intelligence, etc; the wider use of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in order to carry out the greenwashing (pretend-doing) projects of afforestation by the businesses of oil, gas and coal; advising people to not have children because that increases the family carbon footprints in the ever-squeezing per capita carbon spaces; not flying because flying is all emissions because of the dirty jet oil; not using air conditioning because it creates heat islands around, and going vegan all the way because the non-veg proteins have higher unaccounted carbon footprints in their prices. While such choices are surely non-negative and helpful in mitigating the impact of the climate change crisis on us, the author calls them to be a part of recalcitrant and manipulative walkathon propaganda of the fossil fuel industry.
The author is very resolute about the future belonging to electric vehicles. He calls them to be a complete break away from the cognitive rigidity of the oil, gas and coal industry companies, who sold us the world where the who-but-you is fossil fuel cars, trucks and trolleys. In it, he calls foul to every report, which says that electric cars are far more expensive than traditional vehicles, without the addition of environmental premium in the latter and neglecting the carbon improvement curve scenario of the newer electric vehicles.
The book makes a pitch up when it waxes so very clearly on the role of the oil and gas industry in obfuscating the reality of their role in deteriorating the only planet we have. In it, the book talks about the information asymmetry we have been made to endure over the last 4 decades and a half just because a few people in oil, gas and coal were benefiting. The media, the social media and the law firms are just the vital parts of the larger ecosystem of obfuscation. While there are companies like Danone in France ( food company), which have gone solely ecological and ethical, the existent business order is so iniquitous that the market has kept punishing the company and its shares. The book warns us that unless the world insurance, finance and banks break their hip connection with each other, there will be more droughts, more migrations, more extreme climate events and the general loss of reliance on the existent and evolving climate research and climate change models available to us.
Seeing the information and urgency of that information in the book, one is surely not done with reading it once. It will need multiple readings to imbibe the depth and width of this book. Given its butteriness in language, problems on the horizon highlighted, the large-scale untruths purveyed at ease being ripped and the solutions suggested and coming, my rating for the book is 5.0 out of 5.0. Absolutely loved it!