Being The Change (Book Review)

Being The ChangeBook review by Dan Gair (as published in from Permaculture North america Magazine)

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In “Being the Change”, NASA climate physicist Peter Kalmus takes us on a journey, mostly by bicycle, to a future where humans learn to live in harmony with nature, and themselves. That future also happens to be Kalmus’s present.

In the first third of the book, Being the Change offers a sweeping survey of current climate science, before moving on to explore how individuals can effect real change on a personal level, while elevating that change to a pilgrimage of spirit. Through Kalmus’s  entertaining story, the reader is able to imagine transforming one’s own life into a more balanced, sustainable whole. Never losing site of the practical, Kalmus offers solutions for those wishing to reduce the environmental impact associated with work, travel, eating, play and even poo’ing!  

Throughout the book, Kalmus offers useful chapter sub-headings that function as guideposts on the road to change. Among these the reader will find general suggestions for opting out of the broken banking and consuming systems, how to best effect political change, and how to strengthening local community ties. In addition, there are practical, sidebar topic tips for getting started with “humanure” composting, converting diesel vehicles to WOV’s (waste oil vehicles), backyard chickens, “slow travel”, wild foraging, labor saving gardening practices, bicycle commuting, and calculating one’s carbon footprint. One aspect of “Being The Change” that I particularly enjoyed was learning about how embracing a lower impact lifestyle has contributed to Kalmus’s spiritual practice, and loving connection to the world around him.

The only things I felt could have made the book more comprehensive would have been the inclusion of a broader discussion of green urban planning, and more information about back-to-the-landers, eco villages, and the global Permaculture movement.

The author’s inherent authority as a leading climate scientist, combined with his passion for freeganism dumpster diving, bee keeping, bicycles, composting, and community, plus misadventures in his waste veggie oil vehicle “Maeby” (maybe it will make it) all shape this book into a deeply inspiring, informative read.

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