By Susanne Billig

“Save the world”: writer and scientist Fred Vargas calls for rethinking. (Deutschlandradio / Limes)

She is a historian and her real name is Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau. As a writer she made a name for herself with weird detective novels under the name Fred Vargas. Now she has published a book on climate change – written with strength and passion.

Nothing exists until he is named. Therefore, someone has to forcefully call what is happening a crime – the greatest crime of all time.

This is the starting point of Fred Vargas’ new book, “Climate Change – An Appeal”. How can the publisher weigh down a book like this, which tries to rush at lightning speed through the minds of its audience, with such an incredibly boring title? Because it is remarkable what Fred Vargas releases from a subject which already seems so worn out on the book market that one would hardly want to resort to such a title, although the threatening upheavals so far do not send ” that ‘warning signs.

Blunt language

In a tour de force, the author works on sources of CO2 and methane emissions, rare earths and meltwater, meat consumption and drowning islands, rainforest decline and consumption of pesticides. As a writer of detective novels, Fred Vargas is not afraid of brutal, sometimes almost raw language, she greets her audience and insists on calling the culprits by their names: inactive governments, the food and textile industries, the transport and agrochemicals. .

“For forty years and even though they know very well what is at stake, THEY are hiding from us what we should have known, so that we have continued to walk blindly, unsuspectingly and confidently in life,” grumbles Fred Vargas.

Well thought-out solutions

The great climate speech of Fred Vargas comes out without any structure. What she has to say begins with the first word and ends with the last. In between are facts, temper tantrums, appeals, and carefully considered solutions.

Alternative braking systems that generate fewer particles? Exact Differences In Water Consumption Of Conventional And Organic Vegetables? Ultra-thin membranes, impregnated with nanopores and coated with a special enzyme, which can convert CO2 into hydrogen carbonate ions for 40 US dollars per tonne captured? The author has all of this in view.

It is rare to notice that the original French version of the book was published two years ago. The large amount of information is still valid – unfortunately, because what Fred Vargas crushes on the pages reads in places, for example when calculating when the earth’s raw material reserves will be exhausted.

Natural gas, copper, iron – everything goes out

Tin, lead, diamond and helium will come to an end between 2028 and 2039, and with it the construction of magnets, screens, medical imaging and cooling circuits in nuclear power plants. Around the same time, the electrical industry had to do without copper – hardly imaginable.

In the early 2070s, natural gas will run dry and a few years later there will be no more iron. Between 2110 and 2350, phosphorus is finished, removed from the life cycle of fertilizers. No living thing can do without this building block.

And the view? Fred Vargas knows him. “Let’s roll up our sleeves,” she said, “and get to work”.

Fred Vargas: “Climate Change – A Call”
From American French by Waltraud Schwarze
Limes Verlag, Munich 2021
285 pages, 14 euros