What great book has very many authors, runs to thousands of pages, tells of man’s folly and warns of plague, flood and fire? The Bible, of course, but also the new UN report on the impact of climate change. This 3,675-page whopper, snappily titled ‘The Working Group II Contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report’, is an extraordinary piece of writing, outlining the clear consensus among scientists that a vast loss of life is bound to come without action.
It includes 35,000 references, takes in 60,000 comments and needs 300MB of computer space to download. Yet for all the knowledge it contains and the dramatic picture that it paints, this modern epic is almost unreadable. Dealing in hard facts and cold reason, it numbs through scale. It may prove to be the most prescient book of the age, but only a few thousand people are ever likely to read it through. Indeed, its launch has been overshadowed by the war in Ukraine.
Could any book persuade the world to take action on fossil fuels? We have had thirty years of fact and fiction on the subject, as well as passionate reports by scientists, activists, politicians, economists and billionaires. Some want to scare us into action, others seek to stop us flying or eating meat, and a whole library now exists arguing that capitalism and just plain old economic growth must be ditched. Quite a lot of these books have gone to insulate my roof.
But one day we must surely reach the point at which the sheer weight of argument and evidence tips the scales towards change. Supercharge Me, by hotshot Irish hedge fund manager Eric Lonergan and McKinsey director Corinne Sawers, is intended to show how that change could be achieved.