NAMED A BEST BOOK OF 2021 BY THE NEW YORKER AND PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“[Warmth] is lyrical and erudite, engaging with science, activism, and philosophy . . . [Sherrell] captures the complicated correspondence between hope and doubt, faith and despair—the pendulum of emotional states that defines our attitude toward the future.” —The New Yorker
“Beautifully rendered and bracingly honest.” —Jenny Odell, author of How to Do Nothing
From a millennial climate activist, an exploration of how young people live in the shadow of catastrophe
Warmth is a new kind of book about climate change: not what it is or how we solve it, but how it feels to imagine a future—and a family—under its weight. In a fiercely personal account written from inside the climate movement, Sherrell lays bare how the crisis is transforming our relationships to time, to hope, and to each other. At once a memoir, a love letter, and an electric work of criticism, Warmth goes to the heart of the defining question of our time: how do we go on in a world that may not?
Climate activist Sherrell brilliantly balances despair and hope in his searing debut that confronts the impending climate catastrophe. A 30-something organizer who led the successful Sierra Club campaign to pass clean energy legislation in New York State, he shares his inner struggle with what he refers to as "the Problem": the looming threat to all life from global warming. Written as a letter to Sherrell's hypothetical future child, the story opens in 2018 with the fatal self-immolation of civil rights lawyer David Buckel, in protest to reliance on fossil fuels. Harrowing as it was, Sherrell notes, the suicide was quickly forgotten. That somber realization led to Sherrell's nuanced reflections on how a caring and thoughtful person should respond to climate change by paying attention and taking action, and his fears "that maybe it didn't matter what you did." He also powerfully details the impacts of climate change, notably the devastation wrought by an "accelerating chain" of storms, including Hurricanes Sandy (2012) and Maria (2017). His framing device, however, allows him to look beyond the grave immediate challenges exacerbated by the Trump administration's "aggressive course of fossil fuel expansion" to imagine his child alive at 90 in a world that (hopefully) still exists. This indelible, necessary work makes a global issue deeply personal.