Why social, racial, and economic justice are just as crucial as science in determining how humans can reverse climate catastrophe
We are facing a climate catastrophe. A plethora of studies describe the damage we’ve already done, the droughts, the wildfires, the super-storms, the melting glaciers, the heat waves, and the displaced people fleeing lands that are becoming uninhabitable. Many people understand that we are facing a climate emergency, but may be fuzzy on technical, policy, and social justice aspects. In Is Science Enough?, Aviva Chomsky breaks down the concepts, terminology, and debates for activists, students, and anyone concerned about climate change. She argues that science is not enough to change course: we need put social, racial, and economic justice front and center and overhaul the global growth economy.
Chomsky’s accessible primer focuses on 5 key issues:
1.) Technical questions: What exactly are “clean,” “renewable,” and “zero-emission” energy sources? How much do different sectors (power generation, transportation, agriculture, industry, etc.) contribute to climate change? Can forests serve as a carbon sink?
2.) Policy questions: What is the Green New Deal? How does a cap-and-trade system work? How does the United States subsidize the fossil fuel industry?
3.) What can I do as an individual?: Do we need to consume less? What kinds of individual actions can make the most difference? Should we all be vegetarians?
4.) Social, racial, and economic justice: What’s the relationship of inequality to climate change? What do race and racism have to do with climate change? How are pandemics related to climate change?
5.) Broadening the lens: What is economic growth? How important is it, and how does it affect the environment? What is degrowth?
About the Author
Aviva Chomsky is a professor of history and the coordinator of Latin American Studies at Salem State University. The author of several books including Undocumented and “They Take Our Jobs!”, Chomsky has been active in the Latin American solidarity and immigrants’ rights movements for over 30 years. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts.
“In each very readable section, Chomsky dissects the root questions behind current conversations…Chomsky deftly navigates the questions that muddle people’s thinking on the issue, like those having to do with food, air travel, and whether or not to buy a Prius…This book will give them some ideas on what to do and how to do it.”
“Chomsky makes a convincing case that capitalism bears a heavy responsibility for the current situation, and she offers a superb education on efforts to reduce emissions.”
“This is a worthwhile contribution to the growing body of work on the ethics of climate change.”
“Highly readable and accessible.”
“Avi Chomsky’s essential primer on climate change goes beyond the usual scientific, technical, and policy dimensions to focus much-needed attention on the ways power and inequality matter too. It deftly and lucidly puts the impending ecological disaster in proper perspective, framing it as an environmental and social crisis.”
—Chad Montrie, author of A People’s History of Environmentalism in the United States
“In a world where everyone seems to have answers but only to the wrong questions, Chomsky offers clear, next-level inquiries into what science and technology can actually deliver. Should you buy an EV? Become a vegetarian? Invest in energy tech? Chomsky’s grounded and astute questioning charts a brave path through the dubious assumptions and hype holding us back from meaningful action.”
—Ozzie Zehner, author of Green Illusions and producer of Planet of the Humans
“When reading books or articles purporting to address the climate emergency, I typically find plenty to disagree with. But reading Aviva Chomsky’s Is Science Enough? Forty Critical Questions About Climate Justice, I found myself nodding my head all the way through. Dr. Chomsky asks all of the most crucial questions and answers each in clear-eyed, logical, fearless, plain-spoken prose. She brings to life the scientific, technical, and economic concepts that must be understood if predatory exploitation and degradation of the ecosphere, including our own species, is to be ended. Every climate bookshelf should include Is Science Enough? in a prime spot.”
—Stan Cox, author of The Green New Deal and Beyond
“This is a book every aspiring—or even seasoned—climate activist should read. Climate activism can only be climate justice activism, Aviva Chomsky argues, guiding future activists along the way on everything they need to know about the science and politics of climate change.”
—Giorgos Kallis, author of Limits: Why Malthus Was Wrong and Why Environmentalists Should Care
“Are you feeling a bit lost in the climate change debate? This book will provide a clear, concise, and incisive response to all your questions. This is one of the most important issues of the twenty-first century, and Is Science Enough? one of the most important books about it. Don’t miss it!”
—Federico Demaria, coauthor of The Case for Degrowth
“Climate change isn’t just about science. It’s also about justice. Chomsky ties it all together in this book: a brilliant primer on the most important issues of our generation.”
—Jason Hickel, author of Less Is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World
“Is Science Enough? clearly and cogently explains the physical, social, and political issues raised by climate change, including the consequences of inaction. It is an excellent introduction for undergraduates.”
—Joan Martínez Alier, senior researcher in the Environmental Science and Technology Institute of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, past president of the International Society for Ecological Economics, and author of Ecological Economics
“Coming to terms with climate change can feel overwhelming. But Aviva Chomsky is an expert guide to the most pressing questions facing us today, from the dilemmas of individual action to the structural forces driving the climate crisis. Comprehensive, frank, and lucid, Is Science Enough? is an indispensable primer for those who are just beginning to explore the social and political dimensions of climate change and an invaluable reference for those returning to them.”
—Alyssa Battistoni, coauthor of A Planet to Win
“From COVID to climate change, ‘Believe the science’ is a mantra. But as Aviva Chomsky’s powerful book shows, science is not enough to confront the planetary emergency of global warming and environmental destruction. Despite decades of research, politicians and firms have engaged in predatory delay; meanwhile, technology alone won’t solve a multifaceted crisis with roots in capitalism and social inequality. Chomsky provides a compelling, accessible guide to the causes and consequences of climate change—and the thorny debates over the policies and technologies deployed to address it. Ultimately, she argues, the only way forward is widespread collective action for climate, economic, and racial justice.”
—Thea Riofrancos, coauthor of A Planet to Win