This is a tough book to write. When you tell people, “climate change is coming, you need to get prepared”, you don’t make many friends. Those who would rather not think about climate change at all – and it’s unpleasant, so why would you – don’t appreciate it. And those who are thinking about it want to know why you’re giving up so easily on stopping climate change from happening.
We’re not saying it’s time to give up on stopping climate change. It is time to give up on stopping it altogether, because we’ve left that too late. But we can still choose between “things are a bit rough, but I can handle it” climate change and “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore” climate change.
There is no shortage of books, websites, videos, legislation and protests that can tell you how to change your life or your government to reduce the level of climate change we face. We’ll leave that to others.
What we want to do is talk about what might be coming, and some different ideas on how to get ready for it.
One of the biggest problems with climate change preparation is that we still don’t really know what’s going to happen. There are a lot of very good projections of what will happen at a worldwide level; some get down to countries and parts of countries. But if you want to know whether your neighbourhood is going to be hotter, or wetter, or further underwater, and by how much and for how long, that information is harder to get. If you want to know how your neighbours or your kids are going to react when it gets hotter, wetter and further underwater, that’s another matter altogether.
We can’t see the future. Instead of pretending we can, we have talked to a lot of people who know a lot about getting through tough times. We’ve found out about keeping your house cool and dry, dealing with worry and fear, and the behaviours that will help you get through a sudden crisis. We’ve asked how much self-sufficiency is too much, and how to know when you’ve stopped being a sensibly well-prepared citizen and become a bunker-dwelling, gun-toting survivalist.
In San Francisco, pretty much everyone has an earthquake survival pack - non-perishable food, bottled water, a torch and a battery operated radio - stashed somewhere safe. They don't know when the next earthquake will happen, whether it will be bad enough to cut off the power and water, and whether they'll even be in the mood to eat canned beans when the time comes. But they prepare anyway. Why? Because it doesn't make sense not to.