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Showing 1-8 of 8 reviews(1 star). Show all reviews
on May 23, 2013
How can a committed "environmentalist" not produce a digital (e.g. Kindle) PRINT version)?

Furthermore, how can they allow all the dead-tree versions (yes, I know the publisher blah, blah, but the AUTHOR has the POWER to NOT release a book to those publishers who will publish in a non-environmentally-conscious manner)?

Pedants reading this: there is NO Kindle PRINT version: I do NOT consider audio as digital as I know how to flaming-well READ (i.e. I don't need it read to me, get it?).
I'll remove this review when there's a digital PRINT version available.

Pedants need NOT reply as I will NOT waste my precious time on YOU! The Kindle store on this book is pushing the AUDIO (i.e. NOT digital print) version of this book; got it?????
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on July 6, 2012
This "book" is disorganized, poorly written, badly in need of an editor, and could all be said in twenty pages or less.

Bill McKibben made a name for himself by being one of the first to identify what we now refer to as "global warming", and it seems that he has been cashing in on that ever since. I am all for a good author making pots of money off of a well-written book, but in this case, there's nothing new, and it's all been said elsewhere.

You have been warned.
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on February 4, 2012
I agree that our current lifestyle can't be sustained, but this guy is a joke. I could only read the first few chapters before I had to drop the book. It is just unorganized and a headache to read. He keeps throwing out numbers, percentages, and some crap attempt to scare the readers with some occasional irrelevant information. This book is junk.
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on July 8, 2010
McKibben starts this rant off with the standard boilerplate litany of environmental doomsday porn: peak oil, global warming, rising sea levels, etcetera; defines the culprit: economic growth; and then offers the solution: localism and managed decline. He argues that since the drive for economic growth is leading to massive resource depletion and if left unchecked, will cause a catastrophic environmental and economic meltdown (both of which he argues we are already in the midst of), we might as well abandon it now and manage our decline to a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. This is preposterous for many reasons and people like McKibben have been preaching this gospel (and offering themselves and their ideas up as saviors) since the begging in of industrial society. McKibben's solution, unlike most of his contemporaries, is more of "bottom-up" one.

First: the environmental doomsday porn. Despite what you may personally believe about the scientific debate over global warming and associated enviroporn, McKibben routinely presents environmental problems in their worst case forecasts. He has to, or the entire factual nature of his entire argument falls apart if this isn't true. Even the widely discredited predictions from the Club Of Rome are reinterpreted as being "ahead of the curve". (so far ahead of the curve I guess that you aint ever gonna see its peak!)
The earth is going to warm over 10 degrees this next century bringing increased sea levels and hurricanes and an environmental apocalypse unless we do something now! But records indicate that the mean surface temperature has increased roughly 1.5 degree Fahrenheit during the last century. Is that really enough evidence for us to dismantle our entire economic system through taxation and regulation in order to satisfy what is apparently a philosophical and not a scientific perspective. If you are McKibben it certainly is.

Second: economic activity and resource depletion. McKibben claims that resource depletion is happening at such a rapid pace that if we don't force the crash now, it will be forced on us in the future. The main crux of this argument lies with his overuse of peak oil. While oil (and other resources) are cheap now, peak oil will destroy the economy and lead to mass starvation because of lack of fertilizers and pesticides/herbicides. How oil affects fertilizer production is beyond me as synthetic nitrogen and a large majority of petrochemical feedstock is made from natural gas, but since McKibben is an expert I suppose I will bow to his superior intellect. I guess when researching "peak oil" and resource depletion, McKibben must have skipped over previous discussion about "peak whale", "peak wood", "peak salt", and "peak copper" that were once predicted to land civilization in the same boat as peak oil. Innovation and creativity solved those "peak" problems, but according to McKibben, we are all out of creativity. Because McKibben cant personally see how mankind overcomes our present day problems, he assumes they must be insurmountable. After all, if a self proclaimed genius like McKibben can't find a solution one must not exist.

McKibben also ignores that fact that countries that produce the most (per-capita) also tend to have to have the most well managed natural environments. Ignoring CO2 emissions (as I do because I think its bull), first world nations that produce and consume more than the developing world are much cleaner. It's no surprise that McKibben overlooked this as it seriously undercuts his thesis.

Like much of the above, McKibben's solution to our problems is equally asinine. We should all move to the country, produce locally, eat locally and live "sustainably". Forget that this sounds more like an argument that primarily philosophical in nature than economic. Its easy for McKibben for live the "simple life" on his rural Vermont farm but what about the average urbanite or suburbanite who doesn't have millions of dollars from book deals and syndicated columns? I guess McKibben and the rest of his enlightened pals will have more than enough room on their farm for us serfs ... I mean ... fellow brothers in the spirit of community, to help plant and harvest all that organic arugula. What happens though when regions on this new "Eaarth" are afflicted with drought and crops fail? If everything is local and distribution networks are geared for local production and consumption, does that mean famine becomes widespread again as the infrastructure that once compensated for these local events no longer exists? What about the fact that things like vaccines, MRI's, network routers, telecommunications equipment and the like requires a massive industrial infrastructure to research, develop, maintain and build? Are we supposed to give up all of this?

McKibben's thoughts on nuclear power are equally ridiculous. He argues that nuclear power is so expensive to build that it would triple electric utility rates and we should abandon it. Interestingly enough, solar and wind would also triple electric utility rates (and without the advantage of reliable generation) but is the exact solution McKibben pushes for "carbon free" electricity. Contradictory, of course, but welcome to the world of Bill McKibben. But what do you expect when McKibben relies on idiot extraordinaire Joe Romm's weblog as his primary source for this.

In short save your money and read a timeless classic like "The Ultimate Resource" by Julian Simon.
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on May 18, 2010
This is a hysterical book. Its message is one of unrelenting doom and hopelessness. He isn't selling fear, he is selling despair. In his world, its already too late. Nothing that could be done will matter. Even if the entire environmentalist agenda were implemented tomorrow, it would have no effect.

The solution he does offer is useless. Turning back the clock to a pre-industral civilization based on subsistance farming is about the best he can offer. The plain fact that even a subsistance farming economy would result in
more emissions than his models consider acceptable is overlooked. He talks of looking at reality but the reality his argument ends at is that the only solution is mass depopulation of the planet over a short period of time and he doesn't want to deal with that because it involves thinking the unthinkable.

The message in the end is that there is no future, no hope and nothing that can be done that will make any difference. Even the author realizes the bleak vision he is presenting but makes the argument that giving into despair makes hope possible. And somehow presenting to people the idea that they have no future regardless of their actions will rally them to dramatic political action. However, the opposite is true.

The problem with these sorts of books is that each generation of them has to present images even more frightening than the last generation. McKibben has reached the end-game in that escalation. If the end of all human civilization, the death of nearly the entire human population and a return to subsistance farming is inevitable as he says, there is no value in doing anything at all. Rather than environmentalism, its unintentionally an argument in favor of the survivalists and their bunkers.
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on May 17, 2010
This poorly written and even more poorly conceived wandering discussion of how to live in a self-contained world independent of food producers, energy producers, etc. is a boring treatise of how to survive the inevitable decline of civilization in a post-man-made-global-warming world. Reminiscent of the Ehrlich days of the sky is falling population growth outstripping food supply, this book will similarly be cast aside in twenty years as another crackpot warning of a problem that didn't occur and a solution that wasn't needed. At least McKibben could have taken a creative writing course so his science fiction could have been an entertaining read.
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on May 9, 2010
McKibben's book is what one might expect of a bored dull high school sophomore trying to remake the world. There are so many factual errors that any intelligent reviewer hardly knows where to begin. The problems begin on page 1 where McKibben states "Temperatures barely budged" for over 10000 years. Not quite. Around 1000 AD there was a medieval warming period that had average temperatures several degrees warmer than the present day. Before that there was the Roman warm period circa 500 BC with even somewhat warmer temperatures. And from 8 to 4 thousand years ago the earth was in the generally even warmer Holocene Climate Optimum. Actually recent temperatures are a recovery from the Little Ice Age that existed circa 1680 AD with temperatures several degrees colder than today. See Dennis Avery and Fred Singer Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years, Updated and Expanded Edition.

On page 3 McKibben claims that increasing anthropogenic carbon dioxide caused world temperatures to rise a degree Celsius in the last century. Again wrong. John Zyrkowski, Ken Gregory [...], and many others have demonstrated statistically that the earth's recent temperatures are much more related to solar irradiance that atmospheric carbon dioxide. Henrik Svensmark The Chilling Stars: A Cosmic View of Climate Change has demonstrated how solar irradiance effects cosmic rays and earth temperatures.

Carbon dioxide only reflects infrared rays from the earth of certain wavelengths. Most of these wavelengths are already reflected by the much more prevalent atmospheric water vapor. Contrary to some environmentalists carbon dioxide does not stay in the atmosphere long. Most reputable studies found the average stay to be fifteen years or less.

Blithely ignoring these and many other facts McKibben wails about the coming age of scarcity. Human living standards are going to have to be reduced. This rant, of course, is incoherent with his discussion of nuclear energy. According to McKibben, nuclear energy is too costly to develop. He ignores that nuclear energy is widely used in France, Japan, Taiwan, and many other countries. He also ignores that nuclear power plants are being built in Russia, China, and elsewhere. He also neglects to mention that the reason nuclear power plants are so expensive to build in America is ecofreak obstructionism.

I could go on, but it would take pages. Just note that this book offers nothing in the way of science or any other type of knowledge. Do yourself a favor and ignore this dull highschooler tantrum.
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on May 8, 2010
McKibben speaks to his audience on Book TV C-Span 2 as if they were 6 years old. He fails to make clear that the risk is total obliteration of our planet. The remedy is for people to realize their only chance to prevent the risk of starvation.
When people like McKibben keep ignoring urgency and the risk of horrific obliteration of our food supply as billions of people are currently starving right now the public will never want to elect a third party committed to make changes. The obvious answer is to only manufacture fuel cell hydrogen powered vehicles starting this minute. Its time to get real.
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