There is no shortage of authors who gladly transform trees into books about the environment. Even when you narrow the field down to Canadian writers, the bookstore shelf bends under the weight of them. But Zeporah Berman’s This Crazy Time: Living Our Environmental Challenge is surprisingly as fresh as it is thoughtful.
Berman’s own story, her experiences and personal struggles, would alone make for fascinating reading. Her personal discovery of Clayoquot Sound, organizing the mass protests, her arrest… are all conveyed in a lively manner that serves both as classic journalism as well as in-depth biography.
From her on-the ground exploits we follow Berman to the political lines as she slaloms through legal, media and corporate obstacles. For those who remember the protests and boycotts that sprang out of the clashes on B.C. logging roads in the 1990s, Berman fills in the gaps that major media outlets never covered.
The final section of This Crazy Time becomes less narrative and focuses on the current and specific perils we face due to human-directed climate change. If you read Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything, you will recognize and appreciate the serious tone here.
Despite the many battles waged by Berman and her colleagues, it is clear that the war continues. The disappointment and frustration are clear, but her writing lacks a bitterness that one might expect. Early on in her book, Berman writes: “Change is difficult, often painful, and so are real-world solutions, because they require compromises and cooperation.” This humbling acknowledgement sets the tone for her message, one that balances the human condition with the scientific realities of our current environmental situation.