Book Report VII: The Climate Book

“It’s never too late to start saving as much as we can possibly save.” - Greta Thunberg

Climate is a huge and polarising topic, it feels overwhelming to try to understand its many interconnected pieces and where you fit in. In The Climate Book, Greta Thunberg does an incredible job breaking the biggest pieces of the Climate conversation into digestible chunks to reveal the whole story. She invited her peers and colleagues to walk us through how the climate is changing, how these changes affects us, what we’ve done so far to avoid climate disaster, and what we need to do to successfully do it. It’s a powerful, terrifying, and energising read - we have so much to do, and so much is at stake. 

“Tell it like it is.”

I’ll start with the ending: it’s an absolutely piercing mic drop. Instead of a conclusion, she challenges us to connect the dots ourselves, and gives us “just one piece of advice. Simply: tell it like it is.” 

Polar Embassy is a card game publishing company, not a newspaper, but we take our responsibilities as producers of products and content seriously. In the spirit of “telling it like it is”, we’ve organised our priorities into a manifesto and updated our language. In particular, we are phasing out the terms “carbon-neutral” and “sustainability”. 


Producing and shipping decks of playing cards emits pollution. We’ve worked to make it the smallest footprint possible, but it’s still a footprint. Carbon-dioxide is one pollutant among many, but we use it as our benchmark metric. 

Our printer “offsets” all of their emissions from printing, packing, and shipping the decks plus an additional 10% via reforestation projects in the Global South. This is awesome! These projects are important and worth doing, but Karl-Heinz Erb and Simone Gingrich’s chapter on Forests gave us a deeper understanding of how this works. The pollution byproducts from making our cards can only be actually “offset” when we’ve sequestered all the carbon that would have been absorbed if we hadn’t made them in the first place. Your deck should last a very long time before it harmlessly degrades back into plant nutrients, but while your deck is a deck, its plant material is not absorbing carbon. So the timeline to reach “carbon-neutrality” is much longer than the lifespan of the deck itself, and the terms “carbon-neutral” and “carbon-negative” don’t make that clear enough. 

Going forward, we’ll shift focus to the emissions of each deck, and we invite other card, games, and Tarot publishers to do the same so our customers can make the lowest-carbon choices. 


You’re smart enough to decide what “sustainable” is, and “green” is just a color. Instead of using flattering non-descriptors, we’ll put extra spotlight on the certificates our suppliers have earned from independent judges on a range of criteria. 


It will be difficult, but it can be delightful, too

Living a life within planetary means usually gets framed like a sacrifice of all our high-carbon pleasures: no planes, no beef, etc. But I was surprised by how the book reframes climate justice as a juicy opportunity for “edit” the world in ways that increase well-being for us all. Many environmental discussions fail to highlight how lovely environmentally benign activities are. The chapters on the food industry have nudged me personally into a more plant-based diet, and Berlin has honestly surprised me with its truly delicious vegan options that don’t feel like a sacrifice at all.

There is, in reality, absolutely no reason to believe that the necessary changes will make us less happy or less satisfied. If we manage to do this right, then our lives will be given more meaning than selfish, shallow overconsumption can ever give us. Instead, we can make time and space for community, solidarity and love. In no way should this be considered a step back in our development. On the contrary, this would be human evolution – human revolution. - Greta Thunberg

Kate Raworth, a pioneering theorist of post-growth economics (our third book report was on her seminal book, Doughnut Economics), reminds us of the things that actually give us joy:

When it comes to consumerism, perhaps the poverty that we aim to conceal lies in our neglected relationships with each other and the rest of the living world… five simple acts that are proven to promote well-being: connecting to the people around us, being active in our bodies, taking notice of the living world, learning new skills and giving to others.

Raworth also offers, “for anyone who is curious to try moving towards a 1.5°C lifestyle, the grassroots citizens movement Take The Jump offers six principles for getting there:

  • End clutter: keep electronic products for at least seven years.
  • Holiday local: take short-haul flights only once in three years.
  • Eat green: adopt a plant-based diet and leave no waste.
  • Dress retro: buy at most three new items of clothing a year.
  • Travel fresh: don’t make use of private cars, if possible.
  • Change the system: act to nudge and shift the wider system."
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