A call to action from Jane Fonda, one of the most inspiring activists of our time, urging us to wake up to the looming disaster of climate change and equipping us with the tools we need to join her in protest
"This is the last possible moment in history when changing course can mean saving lives and species on an unimaginable scale. It's too late for moderation."
In the fall of 2019, frustrated with the obvious inaction of politicians and inspired by Greta Thunberg, Naomi Klein, and student climate strikers, Jane Fonda moved to Washington, D.C., to lead weekly climate change demonstrations on Capitol Hill. On October 11, she launched Fire Drill Fridays, and has since led thousands of people in nonviolent civil disobedience, risking arrest to protest for action. In What Can I Do?, Fonda weaves her deeply personal journey as an activist alongside conversations with and speeches by leading climate scientists and inspiring community organizers, and dives deep into the issues, such as water, migration, and human rights, to emphasize what is at stake. Most significantly, Fonda equips us all with the tools we need to join her in protest, so that everyone can work to combat the climate crisis.
No stranger to protest, Fonda's life has been famously shaped by activism. And now she is once again galvanizing the public to take to the streets. Many are already aware of the looming disaster of climate change and realize that a moral responsibility rests on our shoulders. In 2019, we saw atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases hit the highest level ever recorded in human history, and our window of opportunity to act is quickly closing. We are facing a climate crisis, but we're also facing an empathy crisis and an inequality crisis; the surge of protests over police violence against black Americans has once again highlighted the links between racism and environmental degradation in our country. It isn't only earth's life-support systems that are unraveling. So too is our social fabric. This is going to take an all-out war on drilling and fracking and deregulation and racism and misogyny and colonialism and despair all at the same time.
As Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA and Fonda's partner in developing Fire Drill Fridays, has declared, "Change is inevitable; by design, or by disaster." Together, we can commandeer change for the positive--but it will require collective actions taken by social movements on an unprecedented scale. The problems we face now require every one of us to join the fight. The fight for not only our immediate future, but for the future of generations to come.
100% of the author's net proceeds from What Can I Do? will go to Greenpeace
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Oscar-winning actress Jane Fonda is no stranger to outspoken political activism. Now in her eighties, she’s still as engaged as ever, speaking out about the pressing issue of climate change. With this wonderfully thoughtful and occasionally acerbic memoir, she explains the path that led her to organize weekly demonstrations in Washington, DC, starting in 2019. We enjoyed reading about how Fonda’s good troublemaking streak was reawakened, and were equally captured by the sections where Fonda hands the mic to scientists and experts who dig into how climate change affects everything from human rights to the world’s water supply. Even when she’s outlining the harshest realities, Fonda makes us aware of all the positive developments she’s witnessed (and, in many cases, helped bring about). We love that the actress-activist provides checklists of direct actions we can all take to reduce our own climate footprint, along with suggestions on how we can most effectively make our voices heard. If you’re looking for a path forward in a time of extreme turmoil, What Can I Do? provides an inspiring road map.
Activist and actor Fonda (Prime Time) offers an informative guide to getting involved in the fight against climate change. Contending that "it's too late for moderation," Fonda credits Naomi Klein's book On Fire and Greta Thunberg's activism with inspiring her to move to Washington, D.C., in October 2019 and partner with Greenpeace to launch Fire Drill Fridays, a series of weekly demonstrations in support of the Green New Deal, the end of new fossil fuel extractions, and the phasing out of existing fossil fuels for clean, renewable energy sources. The protests, which resulted in Fonda being arrested four times, also included "teach-ins" on the climate crisis. The book quotes extensively from those speeches and panel discussions, addressing how climate change affects oceans, forests, jobs, food, and health, and offering guidance on actions individuals can take, such as campaigning to have politicians sign a #NoFossilFuelMoney pledge. Fonda recaps messages delivered by fellow celebrities including Lily Tomlin ("hugging trees isn't enough today"), environmentalist Bill McKibben, and indigenous leaders such as Ta'Sina Sapa Win Smith, who spoke about protests against the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines. Enriched by photographs from the demonstrations and colorful charts and graphs, this is a useful and appealing primer on environmental activism.