At Work in the Ruins: Finding Our Place in the Time of Science, Climate Change, Pandemics and All the Other Emergencies
'One of the most perceptive and thought-provoking books yet written about the multiple intersecting crises that are now upending our once-familiar world. . . Essential reading for these turbulent times.' Amitav Ghosh, author of The Great Derangement
'Hine's brilliant book demands we stare into that abyss and rethink our securest certainties about what is actually going on in the climate crisis. It's lucidly unsettling and yet in the end empowering. There is something we can do, and it starts with where we look, how we see and what we choose to change.' Brian Eno, Musician
Dougald Hine, author and social thinker, has spent most of his life talking to people about climate change. And then one afternoon in the second year of the pandemic, he found he had nothing left to say.
Why would someone who cares so deeply about ecological destruction want to stop talking about climate change now? At Work in the Ruins explores that question.
"Climate change asks us questions that climate science cannot answer," Hine says. Questions like, how did we end up in this mess? Is it just a piece of bad luck with the atmospheric chemistry--or is it the result of a way of approaching the world that would always have brought us to such a pass?
How we answer such questions has consequences. According to Hine, our answers shape our understanding and our thinking about what kind of problem we think we're dealing with and, therefore, what kind of responses we go looking for. "But when science is turned into an object of belief and a source of overriding authority," Hine continues, "it becomes hard even to talk about the questions that it cannot answer."
In eloquent, deeply researched prose, Hine demonstrates how our over-reliance on the single lens of science has blinded us to the nature of the crises around and ahead of us, leading to 'solutions' that can only make things worse. At Work in the Ruins is his reckoning with the strange years we have been living through and our long history of asking too much of science. It's also about how we find our bearings and what kind of tasks are worth giving our lives to, given all we know or have good grounds to fear about the trouble the world is in.
For anyone who has found themselves needing to make sense of the COVID time and how we talk about it, At Work in the Ruins offers guidance by standing firmly forward and facing the depth of the trouble we are in. Hine, ultimately, helps us find the work that is worth doing, even in the ruins.
'A book of rare originality and depth--profound, far-reaching, mind-altering stuff.' Helen Jukes, author of A Honeybee Heart has Five Openings