Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

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9780805090567: Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

"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.

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Review:

Amazon Best Books of the Month, April 2010: Since he first heralded our era of environmental collapse in 1989's The End of Nature, Bill McKibben has raised a series of eloquent alarms. In Eaarth, he leads readers to the devastatingly comprehensive conclusion that we no longer inhabit the world in which we've flourished for most of human history: we've passed the tipping point for dramatic climate change, and even if we could stop emissions yesterday, our world will keep warming, triggering more extreme storms, droughts, and other erratic catastrophes, for centuries to come. This is not just our grandchildren's problem, or our children's--we're living through the effects of climate change now, and it's time for us to get creative about our survival. McKibben pulls no punches, and swaths of this book can feel bleak, but his dry wit and pragmatic optimism refuse to yield to despair. Focusing our attention on inspiring communities of "functional independence" arising around the world, he offers galvanizing possibilities for keeping our humanity intact as the world we've known breaks down. --Mari Malcolm

About the Author:

Bill McKibben is the author of 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. In 2010 The Boston Globe called him "probably the nation's leading environmentalist," and Time magazine has called him "the world's best green journalist." He studied at Harvard, and started his writing career as a staff writer at The New Yorker. The End of Nature, his first book, was published in 1989 and was regarded as the first book on climate change for a general audience.

He is a frequent contributor to magazines and newspapers including The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, Orion Magazine, Mother Jones, The New York Review of Books, Granta, Rolling Stone, and Outside. He has been awarded Guggenheim Fellowship and won the Lannan Prize for nonfiction writing in 2000. He is a scholar in residence at Middlebury College and lives in Vermont with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, and their daughter.

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