... an eye-opening collection of mostly short essays expressing both despair and hope over the climate crisis, especially around individual choice. It’s a wide-ranging book, but it has a point, and that is to persuade us to eat fewer animal products ... best read as a collection of Foer’s thoughts about life and crisis ... [Foer] brings both personality and passion to an issue that no one has figured out how to address in a way that inspires an adequate response ... We Are the Weather is a 'Why?' book; what we need are more 'How?' books.
In a style rarely found in books about global catastrophe, [Foer] interweaves personal stories, bulleted factoids and a delicious serving of metaphor. The effect is dazzling at first, dizzying in the long run. Yet even a weary reader might hope that this millennial novelist may do what traditional jeremiads have not: Wake us up ... The first 60 pages of are little short of brilliant ... Just when he should be going beyond breakfast, Foer detours into dithering. To prop up his vegan solution, he denigrates electric cars and other sensible innovations as impractical. (Never mind that transportation contributes 14 percent of greenhouse gases, and electricity and heating contribute 25 percent.) Then he descends into personal trauma. He tells us of his grandmother’s recent death, his angst as a parent of two sons and his deep doubt that anything, even veganism, will save us. The doubt, filling a 35-page dialogic 'dispute with the soul,' is as numbing as any talk of polar bears or melting Arctic ice ... So now what? One of our best young novelists brilliantly defines our denial, offers a partial solution and returns to despair ... Had Foer used his abundant talent to remain global instead of going personal, his wake-up call would not have put us right back to sleep.
... thoughtful (albeit anguished) ... His last book, Eating Animals, championed vegetarianism principally on the grounds of ethics. This one makes the case on environmental grounds. It’s convincingly done ... Compared with wacky ideas such as geoengineering, Foer’s solution is a boring one: vegetarianism. Foer is a passionate advocate. Sometimes off-puttingly so ... 'Come on mate,' I wanted to say, patting him consolingly on the shoulder. 'I know you’re a New York liberal, but please stop beating yourself up like this'.
Like so many well-intentioned liberals, Foer individuates a collective problem ... While hardly a conservative ideologue, Foer can often sound like one ... What’s so unsettling and even tragic about Foer’s book is that his moralizing is illustrative of a broader self-flagellating despair among many liberals who are troubled by the ominous climate forecasts but who have absorbed right-wing nostrums that it’s a problem of our shared making ... Foer never makes it entirely clear how giving up yogurt and BLTs will lead to any significant change in the atmospheric temperature in the short time frame that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has given us to mitigate climate catastrophe ... Not unlike his description of World War II, the picture that Foer paints of US agriculture is as the sum total of American consumer choices. But reality tells a different story ... therein lies the problem. For Foer, climate change is first and foremost an issue of personal morality, not corporate power ... There are a lot of missed opportunities in this book ... Foer ultimately gets bogged down by his climate anxieties and his painfully inchoate view of the problem he’s describing. For Foer, ultimately, the main culprit in the ongoing climate crisis is individual apathy ... readers get what they should expect: a novelist offering his inner thoughts to the world styled in the same brand of brooding supposed realism that allowed Foer and a whole generation of literary men to make their names in the late 1990s and early 2000.
... this is a life-changing book and will alter your relationship to food for ever. I can’t imagine anyone reading Safran Foer’s lucid, heartfelt, deeply compassionate prose and then reaching blithely for a cheeseburger.
... what Foer does best is push metaphors until they move ... The experience of reading this book allows us to see more fully what is before our eyes. It tries, simultaneously, to bring us out of the present moment and back into it ... I was certainly moved by this book.
We Are the Weather is filled with beautiful writing about the Earth’s uniqueness, including two breathtaking pages about the 'overview effect,' or the experience of transcendence shared by astronauts who have seen our planet from space ... But there is a narrative hole in We Are the Weather— It does not fully connect the moral imperative to confront the climate crisis with the moral imperative to end animal agriculture. Mr. Foer enumerates largely familiar facts about the disturbing scale of factory farming ... His imagery of our beautiful planet remains unconnected to the idea that factory farming is the absolute antithesis of it, turning Earth into a monstrous, unrecognizable thing ... he makes veganism sound utterly joyless (it isn’t), and that’s hardly likely to persuade skeptical readers ... what if instead of focusing on disciplining himself, Mr. Foer used the book to explore how we are going to collectively dismantle the industries that profit from tormenting animals and wrecking the Earth? That might offer a vision not just for reforming ourselves, but for reshaping the fate of our planet.
... remarkable ... Yet contains little actual analysis of the contribution of animal agriculture to global warming ... Foer is an innovative writer whose skills are deployed here most effectively in analysing what motivates people to sacrifice short-term comfort and convenience for the sake of salvation in the longer term — and what makes them believe a crisis is real at an emotional level rather than acknowledging it intellectually and carrying on regardless ... Sadly, Foer’s rather disjointed jumble of brilliance does not conclude with a sparkling idea for how to engage everyone emotionally in the world war against warming. There has been some progress since Foer finished writing his book, with the emergence of Extinction Rebellion and climate strikes inspired by Greta Thunberg. But the majority of people who accept the idea that human activity is causing climate change will need to do far more on the home front than forsaking meat and milk until dinner.
... a bleak, discursive examination of persistent passivity in the face of the horrible future ... How to Prevent the Greatest Dying, a section of Weather in which Foer bullet-points chilling facts related to food and climate crisis, reminds me of the thinspo binders I used to compile with paste and pictures of gaunt models cut from magazines, though I think his project has the stronger flavor of futility. Covetousness is more propulsive than terror, which is as likely to paralyze as it is to motivate ... Foer pays lip service to collectivity, but he seems to think of it as spontaneous, semi-instinctive synchronicity, like a wave at a baseball game, rather than intentional collaboration.
In an unconventional but persuasive manner, novelist Foer (Here I Am) explains why taking meaningful action to mitigate climate change is both incredibly simple and terribly difficult ... Foer’s message is both moving and painful, depressing and optimistic, and it will force readers to rethink their commitment to combating 'the greatest crisis humankind has ever faced.'