Eaarth. Bill McKibben. Reviewed. In the Argo catalog.
Bill McKibben blew me away years ago with his book The End of Nature. I read several other books by him and have long thought that he is among the five people I would most like to have coffee with. His book Deep Economy gave me a hope for the future that I had lost, I gave the book to several friends, they all thanked me for it. In his most recent book Bill changes the name of the planet we live on, like Gary Snyder who offered us Turtle Island, Bill wants us to realize that the planet is very important, it is literally our number one asset. I suspect he would agree that in a sense it even trumps our health, because a healthy man can do little in the face of a hurricane. He changed the name because, as he has been saying for 20 years, we have seriously changed the planet for the worse. But as he suggested in Deep Economy all is not lost.
In Eaarth McKibben offers up a view of the planet that demonstrates the climate has already changed. He argues it is time to stop saying “save the planet for your grandchildren” and start saying “save it for me” because the shift is already irrevocably underway. The stability of the planet has been compromised. This section of the book is sad and frightening but McKibben is a good writer and works his share of humor into the mess. He goes through the routine of scaring people, but knows his readers are generally familiar with the facts, or at least the narrative they tell.
The key to the book is his hopeful second half. Entitled Lightly, Carefully, Gracefully, it argues that not only can we still survive on the planet we can do so in a way that most people will find relatively comfortable and happy. He persuasively writes that our federal government (and Canada is similar enough to America on this front) has a new purpose, a smaller one, one that requires it to downsize and allow communities to control a greater share of their lives and futures (and tax dollars). I have long thought that the city level is where the power needs to be and I think McKibben is very articulate as to why. In Eaarth he shows communities that are actively getting things right and offers ways for everyone to get involved. I hope you listen to him. Please visit 350.org.