Thursday, August 29, 2013

mini review: EAARTH: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet by Bill McKibben

St Martin's Griffin, New York 2010, 219 pages

This book takes a daring leap. Bill McKibben steps out beyond the warnings we're getting all the time now, documents the damage already irrevocably done to our planet, and presents us with a vivid, compelling picture of the revolutionary way of life we must choose.

We no longer live on the Earth we were born into, McKibben says, but on a transformed, more hostile planet he calls Eaarth. In this new world, with its "spooky, erratic climate," it's too late to repair the damage. "We don't know how to refreeze the Artic or regrow a rain forest."

McKibben wants us to "break the growth habit," jettison our consumer ways, and downsize to "a different kind of civilization." Then he shows us how.

The second half of Earth is a compelling, sometimes thrilling, evocation of the future he believes we'll have the smarts to accept. It's already happening in places like his beloved Vermont: we are treated to charming vignettes, including his village diner, farmer's markets, small farms, neighborhood self-reliance, and "community-supported energy." The world that comes next will be one of "dispersed and localized societies that can survive the damage."

The premise of Eaarth is that rather than continuing to tumble wildly into oil and coal induced disaster,"we might choose instead to manage our descent."

McKibben's style has a folksy, "gosh darn" tone that makes his arguments easy to follow, but does not hide his incredible guts or scalpel intelligence. He is a great leader. Let's go where he's taking us.

McKibben's next book is on the verge of appearing. The title is Oil and Honey. I can't wait.

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