Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

by Bill McKibben

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Overview

"Read it, please. Straight through to the end. Whatever else you were planning to do next, nothing could be more important." —Barbara Kingsolver

Twenty years ago, with The End of Nature, Bill McKibben offered one of the earliest warnings about global warming. Those warnings went mostly unheeded; now, he insists, we need to acknowledge that we've waited too long, and that massive change is not only unavoidable but already under way. Our old familiar globe is suddenly melting, drying, acidifying, flooding, and burning in ways that no human has ever seen. We've created, in very short order, a new planet, still recognizable but fundamentally different. We may as well call it Eaarth.

That new planet is filled with new binds and traps. A changing world costs large sums to defend—think of the money that went to repair New Orleans, or the trillions it will take to transform our energy systems. But the endless economic growth that could underwrite such largesse depends on the stable planet we've managed to damage and degrade. We can't rely on old habits any longer.

Our hope depends, McKibben argues, on scaling back—on building the kind of societies and economies that can hunker down, concentrate on essentials, and create the type of community (in the neighborhood, but also on the Internet) that will allow us to weather trouble on an unprecedented scale. Change—fundamental change—is our best hope on a planet suddenly and violently out of balance.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312541194
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/15/2011
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 172,579
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Bill McKibben is the author of Eaarth, The End of Nature, Deep Economy, Enough, Fight Global Warming Now, The Bill McKibben Reader, and numerous other books. He is the founder of the environmental organizations Step It Up and 350.org, and was among the first to warn of the dangers of global warming. He is a scholar in residence at Middlebury College and lives in Vermont with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, and their daughter.

Read an Excerpt

PREFACE

I'm writing these words on a gorgeous spring afternoon, perched on the bank of a brook high along the spine of the Green Mountains, a mile or so from my home in the Vermont mountain town of Ripton. The creek burbles along, the picture of a placid mountain stream, but a few feet away there's a scene of real violence a deep gash through the woods where a flood last summer ripped away many cubic feet of tree and rock and soil and drove it downstream through the center of the village. Before the afternoon was out, the only paved road into town had been demolished by the rushing water, a string of bridges lay in ruins, and the governor was trying to reach the area by helicopter.

Twenty years ago, in 1989, I wrote the first book for a general audience about global warming, which in those days we called the "greenhouse effect." That book, The End of Nature, was mainly a philosophical argument. It was too early to see the practical effects of climate change but not too early to feel them; in the most widely excerpted passage of the book, I described walking down a different river, near my then-home sixty miles away, in New York's Adirondack Mountains. Merely knowing that we'd begun to alter the climate meant that the water fl owing in that creek had a different, lesser meaning. "Instead of a world where rain had an independent and mysterious existence, the rain had become a subset of human activity," I wrote. "The rain bore a brand; it was a steer, not a deer."

Now, that sadness has turned into a sharper-edged fear. Walking along this river today, you don't need to imagine a damned thing the evidence of destruction is all too obvious. Much more quickly than we would have guessed in the late 1980s, global warming has dramatically altered, among many other things, hydrological cycles. One of the key facts of the twenty- first century turns out to be that warm air holds more water vapor than cold: in arid areas this means increased evaporation and hence drought. And once that water is in the atmosphere, it will come down, which in moist areas like Vermont means increased deluge and flood. Total rainfall across our continent is up 7 percent,1 and that huge change is accelerating. Worse, more and more of it comes in downpours.2 Not gentle rain but damaging gully washers: across the planet, flood damage is increasing by 5 percent a year.3 Data show dramatic increases 20 percent or more in the most extreme weather events across the eastern United States, the kind of storms that drop many inches of rain in a single day.4 Vermont saw three flood emergencies in the 1960s, two in the 1970s, three in the 1980s and ten in the 1990s and ten so far in the first decade of the new century.

In our Vermont town, in the summer of 2008, we had what may have been the two largest rainstorms in our history about six weeks apart. The second and worse storm, on the morning of August 6, dropped at least six inches of rain in three hours up on the steep slopes of the mountains. Those forests are mostly intact, with only light logging to disturb them but that was far too much water for the woods to absorb. One of my neighbors, Amy Sheldon, is a river researcher, and she was walking through the mountains with me one recent day, imagining the floods on that August morning. "You would have seen streams changing violently like that," she said, snapping her fingers. "A matter of minutes." A year later the signs persisted: streambeds gouged down to bedrock, culverts obliterated, groves of trees laid to jackstraws.

Our town of barely more than five hundred people has been coping with the damage ever since. We passed a $400,000 bond to pay for our share of the damage to town roads and culverts. (The total cost was in the millions, most of it paid by the state and federal governments.) Now we're paying more to line the creek with a seven-hundred-foot-long wall of huge boulders riprap, it's called where it passes through the center of town, a scheme that may save a few houses for a few years, but which will speed up the water and cause even more erosion downstream. There's a complicated equation for how wide a stream will be, given its grade and geology; Sheldon showed it to me as we reclined on rocks by the riverbank. It mathematically defines streams as we have known them, sets an upper limit to their size. You could use it to plan for the future, so you could know where to build and where to let well enough alone. But none of that planning works if it suddenly rains harder and faster than it has ever rained before, and that's exactly what's now happening. It's raining harder and evaporating faster; seas are rising and ice is melting, melting far more quickly than we once expected. The first point of this book is simple: global warming is no longer a philosophical threat, no longer a future threat, no longer a threat at all. It's our reality. We've changed the planet, changed it in large and fundamental ways. And these changes are far, far more evident in the toughest parts of the globe, where climate change is already wrecking thousands of lives daily. In July 2009, Oxfam released an epic report, "Suffering the Science," which concluded that even if we now adapted "the smartest possible curbs" on carbon emissions, "the prospects are very bleak for hundreds of millions of people, most of them among the world's poorest."5

And so this book will be, by necessity, less philosophical than its predecessor. We need now to understand the world we've created, and consider urgently how to live in it. We can't simply keep stacking boulders against the change that's coming on every front; we'll need to figure out what parts of our lives and our ideologies we must abandon so that we can protect the core of our societies and civilizations. There's nothing airy or speculative about this conversation; it's got to be uncomfortable, staccato, direct.

Which doesn't mean that the change we must make or the world on the other side will be without its comforts or beauties. Reality always comes with beauty, sometimes more than fantasy, and the end of this book will suggest where those beauties lie. But hope has to be real. It can't be a hope that the scientists will turn out to be wrong, or that President Barack Obama can somehow fix everything. Obama can help but precisely to the degree he's willing to embrace reality, to understand that we live on the world we live on, not the one we might wish for. Maturity is not the opposite of hope; it's what makes hope possible.

The need for that kind of maturity became painfully clear in the last days of 2009, as I was doing the final revisions for this book. Many people had invested great hope that the Copenhagen conference would mark a turning point in the climate change debate. If it did, it was a turning point for the worse, with the richest and most powerful countries making it abundantly clear that they weren't going to take strong steps to address the crisis before us. They looked the poorest and most vulnerable nations straight in the eye, and then they looked away and concluded a face- saving accord with no targets or timetables. To see hope dashed is never pleasant. In the early morning hours after President Obama jetted back to Washington, a group of young protesters gathered at the metro station outside the conference hall in Copenhagen. It's our future you decide, they chanted.

My only real fear is that the reality described in this book, and increasingly evident in the world around us, will be for some an excuse to give up. We need just the opposite increased engagement. Some of that engagement will be local: building the kind of communities and economies that can withstand what's coming. And some of it must be global: we must step up the fight to keep climate change from getting even more powerfully out of control, and to try to protect those people most at risk, who are almost always those who have done the least to cause the problem. I've spent much of the last two de cades in that fight, most recently helping lead 350.org, a huge grassroots global effort to force dramatic action. It's true that we've lost that fight, insofar as our goal was to preserve the world we were born into. That's not the world we live on any longer, and there's no use pretending otherwise.

But damage is always relative. So far we've increased global temperatures about a degree, and it's caused the massive change chronicled in chapter 1. That's not going to go away. But if we don't stop pouring more carbon into the atmosphere, the temperature will simply keep rising, right past the point where any kind of adaptation will prove impossible. I have dedicated this book to my closest colleagues in this battle, my crew at 350.org, with the pledge that we'll keep battling. We have no other choice.

Table of Contents

Preface
 
1. A New World
2. High Tide
3. Backing Off
4. Lightly, Carefully, Gracefully
 
Notes Acknowledgments Index

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Eaarth 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 reviews.
plappen More than 1 year ago
Mankind has irreparably changed the Earth's climate and weather conditions. This book gives the details, and tells how to survive on this new world. The Earth that mankind knew, and grew up on, is gone. A new planet needs a new name; hence Eaarth. It is a place of poles where the ice caps are severely reduced, or gone. It is a place where the oceans are becoming more acid, because of excess carbon absorbed into the water, not to mention the toxic chemicals and other pollutants being dumped into it. It is a place of more extreme weather patterns. The average person might not care if an entire glacier completely melts away, like the Chacaltaya Glacier in Bolivia. Those living downstream, dependent on that glacier for their water supply, will certainly care. Since 1980, the tropics have expanded worldwide by 2 degrees north and south. Over 8 million more square miles of land are now tropical, with dry subtropics pushing ahead of them. The chances of Lake Mead, which is behind Hoover Dam, running dry in the next 10 years, have reached 50 percent. The residents of an oceanside town in North Carolina are spending up to $30,000 each to place large sandbags in front of their homes to keep the ocean at bay. The times when America, or the world, can simply grow its way out of its financial problems are gone forever. Building enough nuclear power plants to get rid of even a tenth of the climate change problem will cost at least $8 trillion. According to one estimate, America needs to spend over $200 billion a year for decades, just on infrastructure, to avoid the kind of gridlock that will collapse the economy. A small village in Alaska is being evacuated, because of rising sea levels, at a cost of $400,000 per person. There is not enough money on Earth to evacuate everyone threatened by rising sea levels. What to do? Some people are taking another look at small-scale agriculture, getting away from a dependence on artificial chemicals and fertilizer. Eliminate the middlemen, like advertising and transport, and put more money in the farmer's pocket. Along with local agriculture, consider local power generation. This is a really eye-opening book. The first half is pretty bleak, showing just how bad things have gotten. But, there is plenty of hope in the second half of the book. It is very much recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bill McKibben says the reason his book's title has an extra "A" is we're already living on a different planet, because so much has changed in such a short time. We have to look at our world in a different way to understand this. His easy way of writing, laced with humour and unforgettable images, make this book readily understandable for everyone. And it's short: You can read it in just a few days. In the first half, he explains how life on our planet today has been changed by global warming, Some of what you read will surprise you and even shock you, but all of it is interesting. On page 99, he starts writing about solutions -- possibilities for our future and methods for adapting to our new environment. He writes, "Like someone lost in the woods, we need to stop running, sit down, see what's in our pockets that might be of use, and start figuring out what steps to take." He tells us how we can manage the changes that will be affecting our lives, rather than just let them happen to us. He says, "We've got to make our societies safer, and that means making them smaller. It means, since we live on a different planet, a different kind of civilization." He describes how we can make this very different world workable -- "how we might keep the lights on, the larder full, and spirits reasonably high." Alan Weisman, author of The World Without Us, writes, "With clarity, eloquence, deep knowledge, and even deeper compassion for both planet and people, Bill McKibben guides us to the brink of a new, uncharted era. This monumental book, probably his greatest, may restore you faith in the future, with us in it." I'll give this book five stars any day. My children and grandchildren will be getting copies to keep by their bedsides, to be read and re-read in the years to come.
isbjorn More than 1 year ago
Finally, a book that really sums up our building environmental situation without so much confusing scientific clutter. As a student of environmental law, I have learned to navigate my way through the lingo, but most people find it somewhat alienating and abandon any notions they may have had to try and understand climate change. This book is filled with important information that is explained clearly and concisely. Also, there are few sources that can be trusted more than Bill McKibben when it comes to this subject matter. His heart and his priorities seem to be exactly where they should be. He walks the precarious line between economic viability and environmental responsability very clearly, while too many others leave issues muddied and confusing. I have gifted this to many already and will continue to get it into the hands of as many people as possible this year. This really is a book I think everyone must read.
Hikerguy More than 1 year ago
Anyone wishing to learn what is coming for the world and how to work to reduce the global warming which is already here, must read this book. McKibben takes a complicated issue and reduces it to simple actions we can take to help avoid a catastrophe.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book over a year ago, but the earth's climate is changing quickly. Do believe that we can turn around now and reduce CO2 to below 350 ppm is a fallacy. Otherwise this book was very informative and I applaud Mr. McKibben for his work.
Sean257 More than 1 year ago
Excellent thought provoking book about the environment, consumerism and the what is happening to our world as we currently know it. You'll want to read it twice.
Christiane Erwin More than 1 year ago
I wasnt going to read this book because of the silly title, but I was pleasantly surprised. After tiring of the collapsitarian and doomer scenarios in other books, McKibbens book is a pleasant reminder of the benefits of slowing down a little, appreciating stuff less and people more. There are no grand save-the-earth schemes here, no deus ex machina, just common sense about our need to be resilient, patient, and neighborly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I will admit I sped through the middle a bit, but I will definitely use this in the classroom. Excellent start for a debate and fact verification. On a more personal level it made me just that more vigilant about turning lights off, driving less, etc.
fred007cartoon More than 1 year ago
watching the news and reading this book bill mckibben hits the nail on the head definite reading for everyone if we want to save the world we live in
JFBallenger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is not an attempt to educate or persuade skeptics about the reality of climate change; there are many books that do that. McKibben takes the reality of climate change as a given ¿ which is entirely reasonable given the strength of the scientific consensus about climate change, which is as clear and solid as anything science can produce. Instead, the book is about the consequences of climate change and what they will mean for the way we live. McKibben persuasively argues that it is to late too avoid significant impacts from global warming, which are becoming increasingly evident and will inevitably worsen in the coming decades - though we must act quickly reign in greenhouse gas emissions if we are to avoid a global catastrophe. McKibben then makes the case that the complex, interconnected global economy of endless growth that we have grown accustomed to is no longer viable, and that a society organized around smaller, more localized economies to sustainably provide for basic human needs provides the best hope for adapting to the challenges of this new planet. McKibben may not be have all of the answers, but he is surely asking the right questions. What is clear is that our way of life will inevitably change; the endless growth of the global economy simply cannot continue indefinitely. The question is whether we will fearfully try to pretend that we can go on this way forever until society crashes into panic and chaos, or whether we will have the courage and foresight to acknowledge that it must inevitably change and fashion a simpler, more solid and sustainable way of life to take its place. We need to be thinking and talking about this now, and this book is a good place to start.
SqueakyChu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What Bill McKibben tells us in Eaarth is that the planet on which we now live is no longer the planet that it formerly was due to how man has changed it. He uses the word Eaarth purposely as a metaphor to give a visual indication that our planet's change is permanent. Additionally, he says that we have no choice at this time other than to drastically modify how we live so that we and future generations can lessen our exposure to increasing food shortages and natural disasters such as drought, torrential rains, fires from increased lightening, and floods.This is the kind of book that makes me want to jump onto the bandwagon. McKibben may talk about gloom and doom, but he does so in an enjoyable, conversational tone. His statistics come forth frequently, always jaw-dropping and never boring. An example would be when McKibben states that "already the ocean is more acid than anytime in the last eight hundred thousand years, and at current rates by 2050 it will be more corrosive than anytime in the past 20 million years." Scary? You bet! Well researched, Eaarth comes complete with notes in the back which are footnotes for the main work and could also be used as a springboard for additional reading later. I¿ll definitely be looking for more work by this author as I found so many of his ideas thought-provoking.In the past, I¿ve heard much about global warming but not to the extent that Bill McKibben explained it. It makes more sense to me now. So, too, do the solutions that he proposed, although I feel that this area of his book could have been developed a little more. He basically promoted the local lifestyle that he himself lives in his home state of Vermont. Nevertheless, I suggest that you grab this book, read it, and then join the author and me in making a difference in this changing world.
amanderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The author discusses global warming and what changes we can make to try and mitigate the damage we've done and what we can do to survive (get small community-wise, food-wise, energy-wise). My takeaway - we're doomed. Water wars and much civil unrest will commence across the globe. Already have commenced actually. Pretty good read though. Follow it up with the YA dystopian novel Ship Breaker for a preview of future times. And then have a stiff drink.
plappen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mankind has irreparably changed the Earth¿s climate and weather conditions. This book gives the details, and tells how to survive on this new world.The Earth that mankind knew, and grew up on, is gone. A new planet needs a new name; hence Eaarth. It is a place of poles where the ice caps are severely reduced, or gone. It is a place where the oceans are becoming more acid, because of excess carbon absorbed into the water, not to mention the toxic chemicals and other pollutants being dumped into it. It is a place of more extreme weather patterns.The average person might not care if an entire glacier completely melts away, like the Chacaltaya Glacier in Bolivia. Those living downstream, dependent on that glacier for their water supply, will certainly care. Since 1980, the tropics have expanded worldwide by 2 degrees north and south. Over 8 million more square miles of land are now tropical, with dry subtropics pushing ahead of them. The chances of Lake Mead, which is behind Hoover Dam, running dry in the next 10 years, have reached 50 percent. The residents of an oceanside town in North Carolina are spending up to $30,000 each to place large sandbags in front of their homes to keep the ocean at bay.The times when America, or the world, can simply grow its way out of its financial problems are gone forever. Building enough nuclear power plants to get rid of even a tenth of the climate change problem will cost at least $8 trillion. According to one estimate, America needs to spend over $200 billion a year for decades, just on infrastructure, to avoid the kind of gridlock that will collapse the economy. A small village in Alaska is being evacuated, because of rising sea levels, at a cost of $400,000 per person. There is not enough money on Earth to evacuate everyone threatened by rising sea levels.What to do? Some people are taking another look at small-scale agriculture, getting away from a dependence on artificial chemicals and fertilizer. Eliminate the middlemen, like advertising and transport, and put more money in the farmer¿s pocket. Along with local agriculture, consider local power generation.This is a really eye-opening book. The first half is pretty bleak, showing just how bad things have gotten. But, there is plenty of hope in the second half of the book. It is very much recommended.
bragan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the first part of this book, McKibben makes the case that global climate change has now essentially passed the point of no return. The climate has already been altered, he claims, in dangerous, chaotic ways that few of us are fully aware of, and that is still only the tip of the rapidly-melting iceberg. Even measures such as emission reductions and the development of green energy technologies, he says, worthy and laudable as they are, are not remotely enough to counter the chain reaction of warming that is occurring, and the alteration of the planet into a much more hostile environment is now inevitable. I honestly have no idea whether McKibben is right about this -- although I sincerely hope he isn't -- but he does at the very least make it sound plausible. Terrifying, but plausible.In the second part, he offers up the idea that the only way to survive in this future is by paring back, choosing sustainability over growth, and shifting the emphasis of our government, agriculture, and energy production onto the local level. Again, I'm not convinced by all of it, but he makes some serious and reasonable points on the subject; we're not talking about a back-to-nature hippie pipe dream here.What I do know is that, whether McKibben is right or not, he is worth reading. If nothing else, this is an interesting and thought-provoking contribution to the current environmental discussion and debate.
firstcitybook on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bill McKibben in Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet argues that the world we once knew no longer exists because of global warming, which currently includes a one-degree Celsius rise in temperature and an increased amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Although the atmosphere currently contains 390 ppm of carbon dioxide, McKibben believes that the amount of carbon can brought down to 350 ppm, an amount that scientists see as the upper limits of that safe range. McKibben devotes the first chapter to accounts of how global warming has affected climate by examining not only extreme weather events, particularly stronger and more devastating rainfall, but also disappearing glaciers, losses in sea ice, and permanent shifts in climate patterns. These manifestations of global warming will only become more widespread and more destructive. Countries located in the northern hemisphere can reduce the amount of carbon used, he says, by increasing the cost of both gasoline and coal. Those developing nations will ultimately use fewer amounts of fossil fuels if those nations in the northern hemisphere offer alternatives by providing green energy¿e.g., wind turbines. Unfortunately, America is too saddled with debt to make significant changes nationally. McKibben also believes that the American government has grown too large because of large nationwide projects like the construction of the interstate system. Now the federal government needs to shrink in size while individual states learn to create their own energy and their own food. This call for simplicity, while also requiring the end of consumerism and complexity on many levels, can allow people to make changes not only locally but also nationally and globally by communicating via the Internet and by working together to make the new world that we inhabit a somewhat more welcoming kind of place. McKibben has created an important book that makes radical statements and that calls for drastic actions. As Americans, the world¿s largest consumers and largest users of fossil fuels, we have no choice but to change how we live on this planet.At times, particularly in the later chapters, it seems as if McKibben wrote the book in haste, perhaps because of the urgency to get the book into print and to make others aware of the topic. It was difficult at times to discern the direction of his third chapter, which is one of four chapters. Personally, I would have preferred more attribution for some of the quotes because some of them are simply dropped into the prose and accompanied with a footnote when the quote, if it deserves to be used, should be identified within the prose. Despite these criticisms, the book needs to find a wide audience so that others can learn of the severity of global warming and what we can do as a nation, as a community, and as individuals.
ThorneStaff on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A book that mostly has me convinced we will need to be prepared for drastic changes as climate change accelerates in the next 20 years
LCB48 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an important book that I hope many will read. McKibben makes it clear that global warming isn't coming, it's here. The 1st half is a bit scary, the 2nd gives some good ideas on what we will need to do to cope.
onthequest on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am going to reiterate Barbara Kingsolver's plea: Please, please read this book. As soon as you can. Sure, have dinner first. But the internet cartoons can wait.I got it at 9 last night. I finished it at 7:30 this evening. I worked several hours, slept several hours, and made a garden bed and emergency repairs to the chicken coop in between. But I kept coming back to the book.The first half is hard going. It's really, really hard going, because there's nothing in it I didn't already know, suspect, or fear. I started reading about and writing about climate change in the early '90's, and it is heartbreaking at this point... I never, never, never wanted to be able to say, "I told you so" about this one. Nobody did. But. Um. We kind of did.So, read this one. Read [Climate Wars] if you need more doom and gloom. But if you need possibilities, hope, and action, keep reading. The second half left me with a to-do list of people to call, organizations to join, farms to emulate, and so, so happy that Bill McKibben has spent the last 20 years trying to figure this out. And writing about it. I still have despair, but not quite so much as I did yesterday.
mitchellray on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is not an easy book to read. Its central message is one we do not want to hear. Author Bill McKibben contends that global warming is not a threat; it is a reality. And he gives plenty of evidence to support that claim. We no longer live on the planet we have known as Earth. We are entering a new reality on a new planet. The change is great enough, according to McKibben, to require a new name for our planet¿Eaarth. But just as you are ready to plunge into total despair about the future of humanity, McKibben gives us the obligatory hopeful ending. Though climate change is already underway, we can lessen its affects by acting now. What we need to do, says McKibben, is go small and local. The author does a fine job showing us how our intertwined global systems threaten the well-being of the planet and us. He also points to what we need to do. And there are signs that those positive changes are occurring. What has me fearful is that those in power will not have the courage and the will to do what is required for our survival. When we still have decision makers in business and government in denial about the reality of global warming or believing that we still have plenty of time to act, I am not too hopeful that we are going to be able to prevent catastrophic consequences for us and the rest of the planet¿s inhabitants.I recommend McKibbin¿s book. It is time we get real about what is happening on our planet. We must begin to shape a new life on a new planet. Welcome to Eaarth.
KeithAkers on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bill McKibben really gets it. He gets so much of it, that part of me just wants to pass over the parts that he doesn't get. But he seems to consistently come up short on details, just as he did with "Deep Economy," which also had so much right but bungled the ending; so this is a well-written, important, but flawed book.The really important thing, and what McKibben gets right, is that the basic problem that we have is with economic growth. Dealing with climate change, not to mention peak oil, soil erosion, deforestation, and the "environment" generally, means an end to economic growth. Because virtually every political leader (at least in public) does NOT get this fundamental point, this book is important. Living on Eaarth means living without economic growth, and this means that the huge amount of debt that we have (not primarily government debt, by the way) just isn't going to be repaid, and our economy is going to come crashing to a halt. It means a completely different economic system and a completely different way of life. But McKibben does not show, while he tries, how we can feed ourselves and stay warm in the winter. There is actually some significant debate over whether organic agriculture can feed the world. This is not just a "culture war" -- even people who understand the importance of organics aren't sure. And what about soil erosion? To me this is a critical issue for the long term. He quotes Jules Pretty as saying that farmers can create a meter of soil in ten years. I'm sorry, I can't take this seriously without more evidence. That would be a rate perhaps 1000 times greater than the normal geological rate of soil formation! If it's too good to be true, it probably is. More to the point would be the insight that we have to drastically change our diet to a largely or entirely vegan diet. He does acknowledge eating less meat, but misses the point that vegetarianism / veganism has to be the starting point of a new food policy, not a throwaway line in to keep the vegans happy. Anyone who thinks we are going to keep up anything faintly resembling the current American diet on "Eaarth" is fooling themselves, and this should be the starting point, not a casual aside.Moreover, so far as staying warm in the winter goes, he advocates using wood. He acknowledges not everyone can "do" wood, but he misses the essential point: biofuels, including wood, can't begin to meet current energy needs. The vast preponderance of the needed approach lies elsewhere: like, using less energy. The one important point in the second half that I agree with is his comments about the internet. Of all the toys of industrial civilization, this is the one we will probably keep, although it's quite energy intensive and takes a lot of obscure metals. So we may be vegans employed on the organic farm living in our communal super-insulated housing and playing music for each other in the evening, but we'll still have computers and the internet. In short, I can confidently recommend the first half of the book for which I would give five stars, but when he starts getting into specifics, he starts to stumble.
eduscapes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A long anticipated update to Bill McKibben's The End of Nature book, Eaarth stresses that we've waited too long to address the causes of climate change. He uses the word "Eaarth" to reflect the new planet in which we now live. Long on gloom and short on solutions, the book stresses mistakes of the past that have had a negative impact on the environment.While the book does a nice job exploring the environmental issues that have been building the past couple decades, it provides few innovative insights or suggestions. From stories about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to descriptions of the slow food movement, the book rehashes topics already covered in other publications.I was looking for a unique perspective, instead I found the standard appeal of the environmental movement for making fundamental changes in our society. This book would be a useful tool for those new to the environment movement, but as a long-time advocate for change, I was disappointed.
St.CroixSue on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book begins with a terrifying new reality for earth, but McKibbon guides his readers through to very real and practical solutions to living on an unpredictable planet. The author of 'Weather Makers,' Tim Flannery, states, "Bill McKibben is the most effective environmental activist of our age, anyone interested in making a difference to our world can learn from him. I highly recommend this book.
jefware on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
We are locked into a disaster. If we halt emissions of CO2 so that we do not exceed 350 ppm then we can avoid the apocalypse. We would exceed 350 ppm by 2020 if we continue on as planned expected and demanded, IF we were to succeed in stabilizing the CO2 at 350 ppm then life on the new Eaarth might be like what this book describes,
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you still think there is no such thing as global warming, then your not living in the real world. This book sums up what is happening in are world with FACTS and personal account of whats going on atmospherically. This is effecting our ecosystems all over the world. Which in turn effects all of humanity, you and me.