Skip to main content
An optimistic view on climate change

Cooler Heads for a Warming Planet

Maarten Boudry

Exactly half a century ago, a number of influential scientists and other thinkers predicted that the world was heading for catastrophe within the next couple of decades: depletion of the earth’s natural resources, ever-increasing pollution of air and water, an unstoppable population explosion, a dangerous and growing hole in the ozone layer. Their warning was stark and simple: we had to put an end to economic growth, or we would all be heading for a cataclysm. And yet, today poverty and hunger are at their lowest-ever levels worldwide, pollution has dramatically improved, the ozone layer is restored, and no natural resource is about to be depleted; the last five decades have been the best-ever for our species by almost any measure. So why did these doom-mongers turn out to be so wrong? How exactly did we manage to avert the predicted calamity?

In this provocative and wide-ranging book, philosopher of science Maarten Boudry explains how we can solve our current climate crisis, just as we warded off earlier potential environmental disasters. Fossil fuels have been fantastic engines of progress that have made humanity wealthier and more prosperous than ever before, but now we need to wean ourselves off them, and fast. It’s perfectly possible to achieve this, argues Boudry, without sacrificing our hard-won victories. But to do that, we need to escape the ideological dogmas and taboos of mainstream climate activism, which today presents a bigger obstacle to effective climate policy than the remaining ‘climate sceptics’ who deny there’s a problem in the first place. Facing a challenge of this magnitude, we urgently need a different, more rational and pragmatic approach, embracing technological and economic solutions that actually work. If we want to solve climate change, we have to think big and bold, we have to resist the lure of false remedies that have been tried for at least half a century, and we have to keep our heads cool. If we manage to do all that, we can make the next half-century even better than the previous one, for all of humanity and for nature.