Thirty Years Ago Bill McKibben Offered One Of The Earliest Warnings About Climate Change Now He Broadens The Warning The Entire Human Game, He Suggests, Has Begun To Play Itself OutBill McKibben S Groundbreaking Book The End Of Nature Issued In Dozens Of Languages And Long Regarded As A Classic Was The First Book To Alert Us To Global Warming But The Danger Is Broader Than That Even As Climate Change Shrinks The Space Where Our Civilization Can Exist, New Technologies Like Artificial Intelligence And Robotics Threaten To Bleach Away The Variety Of Human Experience Falter Tells The Story Of These Converging Trends And Of The Ideological Fervor That Keeps Us From Bringing Them Under Control And Then, Drawing On McKibben S Experience In Building , The First Truly Global Citizens Movement To Combat Climate Change, It Offers Some Possible Ways Out Of The Trap We Re At A Bleak Moment In Human History And We Ll Either Confront That Bleakness Or Watch The Civilization Our Forebears Built Slip AwayFalter Is A Powerful And Sobering Call To Arms, To Save Not Only Our Planet But Also Our Humanity if greed warps your life, you assume it must warp everyone s. if bill mckibben s prescient warnings had been heeded some thirty years ago, perhaps his new book wouldn t be so urgent and grievous presuming the question asked in falter s subtitle isn t a rhetorical one, has the human game begun to play itself out , a preponderance of the evidence seems to offer a resounding, unequivocal yes in reply the 350.0rg founder s writing remains incisive and engaging, but falter isn t likely to find many readers among the audience for whom it would be most necessary broadening the scope of existential threats beyond climate change, mckibben also considers the increasing dangers of gene editing germline engineering and artificial intelligence in all, falter is a deeply unsettling book and mckibben doesn t mince words when writing about the very real possibility that it s too late for our species to make the changes necessary to ensure our survival that is not to say, however, that he is without hope, for the whole last part of the book is titled an outside chance falter is fascinating, falter is frightening, but, perhaps most importantly, it s unflinching in its observations of the present human moment and the growing likelihood of a dark future waiting ahead the extra heat that we trap near the planet because of the carbon dioxide we ve spewed is equivalent to the heat from 400,000 hiroshima size bombs ever day, or four each second. Bill McKibben goes after much than climate change in this book He goes after the posthuman movement, libertarians, and the far right, oil companies, Ayn Rand, Ronald Reagan This book takes in the sweeping panorama of the moment which is on the precipice and addresses most of the major players on the political stage at the moment McKibben is an environmentalist so he knows things are dire but his analysis of what got us here is some of the best political writing of the American scene and his portrayal of major players and many of the fatally flawed visions is critiqued here Even if you don t read environmental books this one does a good job of explaining much than the environmental crisis but the crisis of capitalism itself recommended.https www.youtube.com watch v wAAUb A cri de coeur for the planet All the things we work on and worry about will be brought to naught if these existential concerns are not addressed The simultaneously worst and best thing is that the solutions exist and are feasible The clock is running down This book should be required reading for everyone it is by turns sobering, infuriating and eye opening and written throughout in clear, conversational and even at times humorous prose that manages to make a scientific study read like a page turner Bill McKibben begins Falter with a survey of the symptoms of climate change that are currently threatening our planet although I was familiar with these issues on some level already, he marshals so many frightening examples and statistics that the urgency of the situation hit me like never before Part 2 is a look at how we got here the infuriating part , detailing the missed opportunities and insidious the deliberate misinformation and misdirection on the part of corporations and politicians that squandered 50 years during which we might have forestalled the devastating effects of climate change we are living with now McKibben then shifts from environmental threats to a discussion of existential threats to our very humanity itself, such as genetic engineering and artificial intelligence AI This turned out to be the most fascinating part of the book for me I was particularly riveted by anecdotes from Silicon Valley that would be risible were they not so frightening Having laid out the problems in the bulk of the book, McKibben injects a muted note of optimism with a final section of proposed solutions such as solar panels and non violent political action As I said, everyone, regardless of their politics, should read this book although I do wish McKibben had resisted a few political comments which while I am in complete agreement might alienate some readers Not an easy topic, but a necessary discussion Thank you to NetGalley and Henry Holt for providing me with an ARC of this title in return for my honest review. This book presents a good overview of what McKibben refers to as the human game human life and our responsibility to the planet as well as future generations, and the factors that are shaping the present moment and threatening our future climate change, AI, corporate greed, gene modification McKibben makes some excellent critiques and his writing is engaging enough that it kept me interested throughout I particularly liked the notion of the game, even if it does seem rather romantic What is the objective of our game Can we agree to the rules collectively In some ways, this is the scariest book I have ever read McKibben s object is questioning whether humans because of natural limits or the consequences of our actions are doomed to plateau, regress, or die out.McKibben takes a panoramic view of the poor choices we have made and the various precipices we have driven ourselves off of as a species In the same way that Yuval Hariri whom he name drops multiple times in this short book chronicles all of the ways in which humans may be progressing, McKibben gives us an oddly lighthearted survey of the dangers we face yet refuse to recognize It s scariest and most effective as an accounting of how utterly we have fucked ourselves, by way of fucking our planet, our only home and source of resources McKibben s goal of scaring his reader was so complete that when he started to introduce solutions, I wasn t even receptive to his suggestions They seemed too much like half measures Massive solar panel banks Nonviolent resistance What in the world would make him think that such things are sufficient, given the knowledge we already have about how irreversible the damage we have done is Instead, when he trots out ideas like we have to genetically engineer subsequent generations to be empathetic, to understand that the consequences of their actions accumulate and are difficult to chart out my thought was not atrocious we must not sacrifice our principles but instead yeah, we must just be flawed as a species to have gotten to this place let s just change the entire paradigm Probably not the goal he intended, but an evocative book nonetheless An important read in this day and age. Scientists believe the end of the Cretaceous period came with a rock larger than Mt Everest traveling twenty times faster than a bullet slammed into the Gulf of Mexico leading to a 1,000ft tall tsunami and a blizzard of meteorites Scientists believe the end of the Cretinous period, will when Americans stop believing in endless growth on a finite planet A barrel of oil is equal today to 23,000 hours of human labor Unburned methane that escapes to air, traps heat 80x efficiently than carbon dioxide 270,000 sharks are killed every day Without the oceans to cool the heat, the temperature on the planet since 1955 would have risen a whopping 97 degrees Fahrenheit Bill says of Obama that He was elected to run a political system based on endless growth Ten years before Hansen s report, Exxon knew it was destroying the planet Their public affairs manager released in a secret memo, Emphasize the uncertainty That disinformation campaign costs us ten vital years to try to save the planet The cool new term for that greedy stuff is predatory delay When you fight a right wing Ayn Rand fan, ask if they know that she was scathing about Christianity Donald Trump said Ayn Rand s Fountainhead is his favorite book yes, right after Stuart Little Bill very coolly reduces the entire American Right s and Ayn Rand s mindset into If greed warps your life, you assume it must warp everyone s Then Bill goes AWOL for five chapters 15 19 and he starts speculating how many humans will become genetically enhanced while regular people will be called Naturals and will work as our servants How this will somehow happen after a global total financial collapse worse than the Great Depression, fishery collapse, electrical grid collapse, or routine extinction level events, Bill does not say During the five chapter blackout, Bill waxes on about AI and high tech stuff that has no business being in this book En route, will he dare mention that Silicon Valley has Super Fund sites than anywhere else No On page 231, Bill dismisses the entire subject of scale in a single paragraph will explain later Thankfully he mentions the steady state economy but only briefly and refuses to tell us about CASSE or Herman Daly or steady state thinking today This book gave me cool Jeopardy style answers to questions, than it made me think about our collective future Two 2019 much better books, by Dahr Jamail and David Wells, took far risks than this book did Last cool fact in this book spaceflights are risky for so many reasons, but you may have a bigger chance of cancer by cosmic radiation bombardment while you are up there than dying by a flight accident Wow But important for Jeopardy than saving a carbon constrained planet Bill McKibben was the Climate Change Voice 1, whatever happened In 2008, Pat Murphy s book Plan C had it all 90% reduction in energy use by all us in the west was needed immediately, end of subject Does Bill talk here about needing 90% reduction in our profligate energy lifestyles No Does Bill see our future problem as critically compounded by overpopulation, inequality, the end of growth, upcoming collapse, capitalism, permanent war, industrial agriculture, or failure of BOTH parties, no He mentions none of these Evidently Naomi Klein s anti capitalism s stance is far to the Left of Bill Will he even remind his many rich followers of the costs to the planet of their plane rides and explain why Greta takes the train no Bill won t And how can Bill write this book and not mention the obvious elephant in the room Green energy cannot save us because it CANNOT be scaled up sufficiently Whether you read Ozzie Zehner s book, Green Illusions or Derrick Jensen s unpublished book on the Myth being saved by green energy, the answer is clear You cannot scale green energy up to the scale of industrial civilization Bill apparently cannot conceive of the role of scale in our green future Green energy requires fossil fuels for their manufacture Rare earth and elements will disappear if you really scale up green energy Energy intensive to make, turbine blades need maintenance and replacement Some say, ramping up solar to just 10% uses up all the silver in the world Try doing that to every element needed and scaled up for a Green Economy Then do the math and or envision the actual mining Bill ignores the Peak movements running out of in this book which we are experiencing right now Peak Water, Peak Sand, Peak Oil, Peak Soil, Peak Resources, and the list goes on But, will Bill mention any of them in this book No It is wildly irresponsible for Bill not to mention that all of us must strive to live to lower our energy footprint 90% , as well as the footprint of our all consuming capitalist nation Bill Richardson and Jimmy Carter were destroyed for suggesting Americans self sacrifice but that is what the future demands of us, so why doesn t Bill McKibben stand up here and say so as well And why not write in 2019 about climate change like Naomi Klein, by attacking the 1 culprit Industrial Capitalism I thought Bill knew there was no green future without at least 90% reduction, without addressing structural inequality, and that green tech can t save us Oh well I had high hopes for this book, but honestly, I don t even know its point apparently it was to fulfill a publishing contract and keep his name out there. 57th book for 2019.I would like to find nice things to say about this book, as I am sure McKibben s heart is in the right place, but this book is a hot mess McKibben s basic contention is that the human dream whatever that is is faltering We are rushing at high speed into climate change, designer babies and AI superlords, and this all has to do with the 1% having been weened on the cold dry objectivist nipples of Ayn Rand His solution, which isn t really spelt out in any detail, is solar panels and collective action Mixing in designer babies and AI super intelligence as worries with global warming does a real disservice tackling the existential threat that is climate change His proposed solutions are unfortunately presented so superficially to have the weight of a bumper sticker.2 stars. Easy to read, full of witty moments, and full of SOME information, I enjoyed reading this book, especially the weird science stuff There re parts about billionaires wanting to freeze their bodies, other billionaires who can t wait for nanotechnology and gene tweaking, so they can live forever Also, infuriatingly there s the Princeton professor, Lee Silver, who runs GenePeeks, who unashamedly says all aspects of the economy, the media, the entertainment industry, and the knowledge industry will be controlled by members of the GenRich class Meanwhile, Naturals will work as low paid service providers or laborers p 153 He s referring to the class of Humans that will be gene edited as embryos, into super humans As to all the money being put into AI and robotics, that will eventually take away most jobs, Tyler Cowen, America s hottest economist Business Newsweek and proprietor of the country s most widely read economics blog, had some advice for young people develop a skill that can t be automated, and that can be sold to the remaining high earners be a maid, a personal trainer, a private tutor, a classy sex worker p.155 But here s the surprising thing about this book about human s causing so much damage and pollution to the planet that we may not be around much longer this author did not bring up than two sentences about animal agriculture, what some estimate as being responsible for 65% of climate abuse and change We also need to eat lower on the food chain p.211 just as raising cows and cutting forests contribute to climate damage alongside power plants p.216 That s it So either Mckibben is a meat eater who recognizes he is a hypocrite, or he s been threatened by BigBoys in animal agriculture Also, Alex Steffen, an environmental writer, coined the term predatory delay, the blocking or slowing of needed change, in order to make money off unsustainable, unjust systems in the meantime p.79 Libertarian money is responsible for a huge amount of destruction to the planet The Koch brothers wanted no regulations standing in the way of them making obscene amounts of money from oil Libertarians emotional core, channeled perfectly by Ayn Rand, is simple government is bad Selfishness is good Watch out for yourself Solidarity is a trap Taxes are theft You re not the boss of me p.91Are you pissed off yet I m sorry, my children.
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 In 2010 The Boston Globe called him probably the nation s leading environmentalist, and Time maga
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- Bill McKibben
- 23 June 2019 Bill McKibben