Why This Book? “This book is thirty eight years in the making. That’s how long I have known Sweden, its culture and people.
I was intrigued the first time I crossed the border on the train at Helsingborg, opposite Hamlet’s castle on Denmark. It felt open, steady, quiet and strong. Everything seemed in order, organized. It was clean.
That was October 1973. I was traveling north to visit the woman I’d fallen in love with a month earlier in Spain — and with whom I am still in love. But something did beckon from the outset. Something I would to need to learn. There is no simple way into the complex mess of problems upon us. We manage as best we can in our daily day to make the best choices, the right decisions. Or to avoid them. We are amply provided with simplistic but all too persuasive attempts to hedge our bets, confuse any hope for common sense. Facts are twisted, bias poses as truth, personal opinion trumps scientific inquiry.
As an American living in Sweden, reality checked in when influential voices in American media began suggesting during the 2008 election campaign that an Obama administration would seek to change the United States into Sweden. What kind of shorthand code was this? How could its mere utterance signify something almost evil, connote treachery, even treasonous intent by a candidate for president of the United States? What is it about Sweden that scares certain Americans enough to skew a national political debate that has turned increasingly bitter, divisive and dangerous? That’s where this book comes in.
I decided to take a good hard look and I stumbled across facts that shouted at me. In fact I was stunned. And I began to wonder about these two countries and came to one massive conclusion: If the United States of America had matched Sweden’s reduction of greenhouse gas emissions since 1970, we would not have the global climate crisis today. It’s that simple. What did this mean? How could the country I love have gone so wrong? Could there be any learning that could help us avert what Dr. James Lovelock told me that same year of 2008, that time had nearly run out on civilization as we have known it?
The year before I had experienced my most dreaded moment when time ran out. I began reflecting on the journey of my life, from the South to the North, the same journey being made by all manner of flora and fauna on a warming planet.
Then you start to reflect on the complexity in nature’s eternal moment. If every mangy critter and every rangy sprout on Earth are reacting to minute changes in their own specific living conditions, what in heaven’s name will all this add up to? The Butterfly Effect flapping amok? Where does the Arctic Fox or the American Pika go when there’s no up or north left? Where does Miami go, caught between the Everglades and the Deep Blue Sea? Where do I go? What’s wrong with us? Are we too distracted to see what common sense tells us? Too self-absorbed that we have lost touch with Mother Earth? Too invested in our own immediate self-interest? Or are we just plain stupid? Hence the learning journey of this book. Have we world enough, and time?”