Thursday, September 23, 2010

Read this Book: Eaarth by Bill McKibben

Barbara Kingsolver, who I love and adore and love some more says: "Read it, please. Straight through to the end. Whatever else you were planning to do next, nothing could be more important."

I couldn't agree with her more. Eaarth by Bill McKibben is such an important book to read. It will reshape the way you think about climate change and really challenge you to think about what to do now, since we have already irreversibly changed the climate on our planet. McKibben says, "Imagine we live on a planet. Not our cozy, taken-for-granted earth, but a planet, a real one, with darkpoles and belching volcanoes and a heaving, corrosive sea, raked by winds, strafed by storms, scorched by heat. An inhospitable place. It’s a different place. A different planet. It needs a new name."

You have to read the first half of the book quickly. It is a depressing picture of our world and the harsh realities of climate change and our culture of growth and bigness. McKibben says, "We have, in short, goosed our economy with one jolt of Viagra after another, anything to avoid facing the fact that our reproductive days were past and hence constant and unrelenting thrust was no longer so necessary. (I suspect global warming is the planetary equivalent of the dread 'erection lasting more than four hours' that we're warned about on the TV commercials.)" (I thought the metaphor was pretty funny, anyway).

Much of his solution to living on this new planet, Eaarth, has to do with investment and revitalization of local economies. The first local economy he discusses in the book is the food economy. He says, "So it's unsettling (but also the first unambiguously good news this book has to offer) to learn that serious people have begun to rethink small-scale agriculture, perhaps just in time to help us deal with the strains of our new planet." I enjoyed his presentation of the many facets of local economies and how to meet human needs on Eaarth (not just in the US but around the world, even in the developing world).

Another part of the solution is working to get our atmosphere back on track by lowering the amount of CO2 to 350 parts per million. Scientists say that 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere is the safe limit for humanity. Currently, we are over 388 parts per million. You can check out his organization on their website There are organizing a global action day on 10/10/10. Check it out here.

Read the book, check out the website, and really start thinking about ways you can help solve the complex issues we are confronted with by McKibben.

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