Re: Hope Jahren’s “The Story of More”

By now, many of you may already be familiar with Hope Jahren’s book, “The Story of More:  How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here.[1]It was first published in March of 2020.  If you’re not yet familiar with this work, I highly recommend it to you.  It is staggering in its scope and the quality of the research employed.  It is both a seminal and transformative look at where we are today, as we come to grips with the enormity of the challenges we face in the urgent work needed to save our fragile planet.  While the data and doomsday documentaries are legion in number, few offer the pragmatic and critical steps we each need to take to start the healing process AND manage to present these steps in such a logical and easy-to-understand manner. 

Hope begins her chapter, “The Action You Take”, with the question “Do you want to live in a more equitable world with a brighter future?”[2]  If you answer in the affirmative, she prescribes 5 steps that will help:

  1. Examine your values.  There are lots of issues involved in our planet’s plight.  Pick ones that resonate with you and rank them. Identify the one issue that you are willing to sacrifice for.
  2. Gather information.  “Go through your habits and possessions in order to take stock of how, as with most of us, your personal life is working against your values.”  E.g. How much of the food that goes into your garbage is still edible?
  3. Can you make your personal activities consistent with your values?  Pick a change you can make and keep a journal of how it goes recording the numbers and the outcomes.
  4. Can you make your personal investments consistent with your values?  Every time you make a purchase you are investing in something. 
  5. Can you move your institutions toward consistency with your values?  You are now armed with the “magic criterion to advocate for change:  personal experience.  Go to your children’s school, your house of worship, your place of employment, and start a dialogue with those in charge.  Share your values, your struggles, and your experience.  Listen to them talk about their restrictions and concerns.  Thank them for their time.  Write a follow-up letter emphasizing your values, your struggles, and your experience, and ask for another appointment…. Keep going back, keep advocating for the things that you believe in.  It takes time and perseverance, but people (even politicians) and their institutions can change.”[3]

Hope closes this section as follows: “Regardless of your mission, start in your own home and expand from there.  I promise you’ll be surprised at how far abroad it takes you.

“The above may seem like an impossible task, but so did curing tuberculosis or putting a man on the moon or building the Great Wall across China… If we can refrain from overestimating our likelihood of failure, then neither must we underestimate our capacity for success.”[4]

[1] Jahren, H.. 2020. “The Story of More:  How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here.”  Random House LLC, New York.  Kindle edition.

[2] Ibid, pg. 177 of 207.

[3] Ibid, pg.183 of 207.

[4] Ibid, pg. 189 of 207.