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Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet Paperback – March 15, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition edition (March 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312541198
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312541194
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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



Amazon Exclusive: A Conversation Between Curt Stager and Bill McKibben

Curt Stager is the author of Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth.

Bill McKibben: How'd you come to worry about this global warming stuff in the first place?

Curt Stager: When your book, The End of Nature, first came out, I already knew about global warming but wasn't very worried about it yet. I'm a paleoclimatologist, so I was used to thinking about huge climatic changes of the distant past, and I also wasn't convinced by what was then the available evidence that humans are driving most of today's trend. But now so many excellent studies clearly demonstrate our central role in the warming of the last 30-40 years that I've moved on from "is it really happening" mode to "what does it mean" and "what can we do about it?" Another factor was a project that you asked me to do in support of one of your articles several years ago - to study the weather records in our home region in and around northern New York and Vermont. The latest data show that much of this area is actually warming faster than the global average, and ice stays on our lakes two weeks less in an average winter than it did a century ago. Because of all this, I suppose you could say that I'm a "reformed climate skeptic" now.

Bill McKibben: What kind of timescales do we need to be thinking on to really understand what's happening?

Curt Stager: We've got to expand our view of this issue a thousand-fold to really grasp it. According to the latest research, much of the heat-trapping carbon dioxide we release during our lifetimes will linger in the air not just for centuries but for tens of thousands of years, long enough to affect future ice ages.

Curt Stager: Eaarth is one of the most amazing book titles I've ever seen; in a single word it beautifully captures the essence of what you're trying to tell us about our influences on the planet. How did you come by it?

Bill McKibben: Well, I wanted a way to get across the idea that we're already living on an altered planet. Not as altered as it's going to be, but--for people my age, the iconic image of our planet was that first photo back from the Apollo spacecraft. And the world does not look like that any more. A lot less white up top! Somehow we have to figure out how to get the message across that global warming is not a problem for the future, it's a desperate crisis already.

Bill McKibben: Scientists are forever struggling to communicate effectively with the general public. You're a whiz at it, as this book, and your work in places like National Geographic, make clear. What advice would you give your colleagues?

Curt Stager: That's a fine compliment coming from a master wordsmith like yourself, but it's particularly nice to hear in my case because when I first started my scientific career, back in the 1980s, communicating with the public was openly frowned upon. Nowadays I'm glad to see that it's much more widely accepted, even encouraged, and there are many great opportunities for scientists to be trained in such things. I was fortunate enough to attend a public communications workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation, for example. But don't be fooled, you science types; there's a lot more to writing effectively for the public than you may think. When it's done properly it appears smooth and natural, but that's not because it's easy; it's a sign of skill and effort. Pay this craft the respect it deserves and learn from people who know what they're doing, then go out and really earn your grants by letting us all know how you spent our tax dollars!

Curt Stager: You do a good job of keeping up with the latest developments in climate research even though you're not a professional scientist. Do you have any advice in that regard for non-science types who are trying to wade through the information jungle in search of current, reliable information about climate change?

Bill McKibben: Like any other huge field, you need some guides--picking someone like Jim Hansen who's been right again and again seems like a good strategy. You need to keep abreast of the important science as it develops. And you need to find some journalists who have paid attention for a long time: Bryan Walsh at Time, Andy Revkin at the New York Times, and so forth. But the trick is not to be too caught up in the details, and keep your eye on the main current: the debate about whether we're warming the planet is no longer interesting. What's interesting is what we're going to do about it.

From Publishers Weekly

The world as we know it has ended forever: that's the melancholy message of this nonetheless cautiously optimistic assessment of the planet's future by McKibben, whose The End of Nature first warned of global warming's inevitable impact 20 years ago. Twelve books later, the committed environmentalist concedes that the earth has lost the climatic stability that marked all of human civilization. His litany of damage done by a carbon-fueled world economy is by now familiar: in some places rainfall is dramatically heavier, while Australia and the American Southwest face a permanent drought; polar ice is vanishing, glaciers everywhere are melting, typhoons and hurricanes are fiercer, and the oceans are more acidic; food yields are dropping as temperatures rise and mosquitoes in expanding tropical zones are delivering deadly disease to millions. McKibben's prescription for coping on our new earth is to adopt maintenance as our mantra, to think locally not globally, and to learn to live lightly, carefully, gracefully—a glass-half-full attitude that might strike some as Pollyannaish or merely insufficient. But for others McKibben's refusal to abandon hope may restore faith in the future. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Bill McKibben is the author of The End of Nature, Deep Economy, 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. He is a scholar in residence at Middlebury College and lives in Vermont with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, and their daughter.

Customer Reviews

I found the book very readable with information ( well documented) from a host of sources.
R. Goodhall
In fact, I would go so far as to say the book makes it sound like we may actually be happier and find our lives more fulfilling in new "eaarth".
J-J-J-Jinx!
The change is great enough, according to McKibben, to require a new name for our planet--Eaarth.
Mitchell R. Alegre

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

297 of 316 people found the following review helpful By AIROLF VINE VOICE on February 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The front cover of Bill McKibbean's "Eaarth" contains a quote by Barbara Kingsolver urging the reader to drop everything and read the book straight through. What Kingsolver doesn't mention is that once you begin reading the book it'll be impossible to stop.

McKibben describes a place so strikingly different from the planet Earth we have always known, that it has to be renamed to "Eaarth." McKibben's writing is easy to read and his ideas are clear, but his thesis is overwhelming to any reader: "The earth that we knew--the only earth that we ever knew--is gone." (pg 25) At times, reading the book is similar to the experience of watching a carwreck - it's heart-wrenching but you can't force yourself to look away.

A lot of readers will probably dismiss Eaarth based on its "environmentalist agenda" - they'll say that McKibben is simply another tree-hugger attempting to instill fear about the world of the future, or to borrow McKiben's explanation as to why we haven't stopped climate change thus far - "the world of our grandchildren." But if this is true, then we definitely need more people like the author of Earth, as it doesn't seem that anyone is listening - currently, "44 percent Americans believe that global warming comes from 'long-term planetary trends' and not the pumps at the Exxon station." (pg 54)

McKibben is probably one of the very few to steer us into the the direction of thinking that we can't restore the old Planet Earth. Thinking that driving hybrid cars and taking shorter showers will restore the ice caps in the Arctic is unrealistic. We need a major overhaul of our infrastructure and our logic to even adapt on this New Earth we created.
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100 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Diane Kistner TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What would it be like to live on another planet? Like the proverbial frogs sitting in a pot of water slowly coming to a boil, we'll all eventually find out whether we want to or not.

Bill McKibben maintains that we NOW live on a very different planet, a planet that's rapidly becoming less and less like the one humans have inhabited for many thousands of years. And it's too late to turn our space ship around and go back "home." No, we have to wake up and start learning how to live on the planet as it is--not the one we still would like to imagine that we live on.

The first part of this book is bleak, and it needs to be. Too many of us are in complete denial about the condition of our planet and the mass extinctions now in process. So, who cares about how many species are going extinct? Anyone who understands that no man is an island. And that cold/wet weather we've had in 2010 that proves "there is no such thing as global warming"? That weather will only get more unpredictable and violent as time goes by--and, yes, it's due to global warming.

James Hanson and so many other scientists were right, except for the fact that they underestimated how quickly climate change would occur. It's not a matter of what you believe: Nobody is going to be able to sleep through the earth changes--and isolationism, a cache of arms, and a lot of hateful rhetoric is not going to feed anyone's family or keep them secure.

Skills are the new gold, and we need to return to the days when neighbors helped neighbors. We need to press our technologies into service to help us survive, but we also need to return to a Depression-era sense of frugality and saving for rainy days. There will likely be many more "rainy days" in the future than there were in the past.
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302 of 355 people found the following review helpful By jd103 on March 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Although I'm in complete agreement with Bill McKibben that we are at the end of our old way of life, and find the future he imagines appealing, I believe that future is a fairy tale and that this book is of little value.

The first half of the book amounts to this percent, that fraction, some year, some place, another measurement of volume, height, area, money, population. Meant to incite to action, I found it tedious but then, I've never been interested in this kind of homocentric environmentalism. The self-centered world view it demonstrates is the exact cause of the problems it worries about. What interested me in this part of the book were the brief mentions of ecological changes occurring---trees dying because of insects surviving warmer winters, mosquitoes spreading dengue fever farther and more rapidly, etc.

McKibben's analysis of the Carter--Reagan election and its effects is good but although he writes of Reagan's optimism as being the problem, he commits the same error in this book. He writes off those predicting collapse, not because he thinks collapse is impossible (in fact he provides several reasons that it's likely), but because he sees them as being unwilling to accept other possibilities. To me, the problem is just the opposite---folks like McKibben aren't willing to face the facts.

He prefers to imagine that we will voluntarily choose to make a gradual change to a different way of life. Not to say that some of us aren't already living a very different way of life or that the examples he gives aren't admirable, but to imagine that U.S. society as a whole is going to turn smoothly and peacefully away from consumerism and economic growth and urban life is simply ludicrous.
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