Nomad Century: How to Survive the Climate Upheaval by Gaia Vince - review by Paul Morland

Paul Morland

A Place in the Shade

Nomad Century: How to Survive the Climate Upheaval


Allen Lane 176pp £20

As an ancient Greek poet taught us and Isaiah Berlin reminded us, the hedgehog knows one thing and the fox knows many things. Midway through Nomad Century – or more accurately around two thirds of the way through – Gaia Vince transforms herself from a hedgehog to a fox. It makes for an uneven book of two very different parts in which the author describes the challenges of, and prescribes solutions to, ‘the climate upheaval’.

There is no doubt that Vince is most reliable as a fox. The latter part of Nomad Century is full of common sense and useful observations. As a fox, she is the very opposite of a catastrophiser. She is brave in acknowledging that large parts of the globe will actually benefit from warmer temperatures and that, whatever its drawbacks for humans, more carbon is good for plant growth. She recognises the benefits of modern farming methods and the fact that the more intensive they are, the less extensive they need to be, leaving more space for nature to thrive. Vast areas once tilled by humans have already been abandoned to natural flora and fauna thanks to increasing yields per acre. Vince is optimistic about advances in the generation of low- or zero-emission energy and has little truck with those who want us to rein in our lifestyles for reasons of puritanical zeal rather than ecological necessity.

In the larger, hedgehoggy part of the book, Vince makes the case that, given the impending climate disaster, we must open the doors of the wealthy, cooler north to the growing masses of the soon-to-be-uninhabitable south, welcoming the ethnic transformation of our societies. ‘This is the century of

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