Dumb: Bill Mckibben and Climate Change Essay

Submitted By Mariahmayonaise1
Words: 4252
Pages: 18

October 8 meeting

Book Review for CTL

The title of Bill McKibben’s latest book, Eaarth, sounds like the last cry of someone falling off a cliff. McKibben has been writing about Climate Change since he published The End of Nature 20 years ago, always mixing a prophetic pessimism about the magnitude of the danger with an activist’s optimism about how disaster could be avoided. In the two years since the publication of his last book, Deep Economy, the option of avoidance has disappeared. Eaarth is McKibben’s name for the new less friendly and more unpredictable planet humans now inhabit. Two years ago, people were still quaintly worried about the effect of Climate Change on their grandchildren. Today its effects are already upon us. “Eaarth,” he concludes starkly “represents the deepest of human failures.”

This book is worth reading now because it fully acknowledges three recent catastrophes: the acceleration of geophysical climate changes, the near collapse of the global economic system, and the failure of the U.N. Copenhagen Climate conference to arrive at any meaningful international agreement. McKibben’s prescriptions for what has changed from avoidance to adaptation are consistent with what he and many others have been advocating since 1970: recognizing limits to growth, promoting localism and decentralization, and affirming that conservation and satisfaction of basic needs must replace our inflated excesses of consumerism and greed.

During the years he was working on this book McKibben was remarkably successful in organizing two grassroots worldwide movements largely driven by young people, Step-It-Up and 350.org. Despite their failure to effect the kind of changes needed, his recommendations for adaptation to our reduced circumstances could allow us to face them “lightly, carefully, gracefully.”

SBC business

1 Personal Introductions;

2 General Introduction

1 Why do this?

2 Influence classes? Create change? Activist group? Change university?—Two committees to do that, with very limited success

3 Curricular addition or reform seems unlikely with interim leadership

4 Change in College of Ag—Hunter and group…but…

5 Books influence on me—mood and action

1 Natural Capitalism—1995,

2 Earth in Mind

3 Resilience Theory,

4 Michael Pollan;

6 Why read these books; stay oriented; everything changing fast

1 List of books and perspectives—last two years

2 Old news; sustainability is kind of old

3 Cal Poly’s shifts

4 California shifts

7 Debates and reviews and responses: Friedman vs. McKibben

1 agree and disagree; enthusiasms and rhetoric and critique;

2 Changed personal perspectives:

3 Books in retrospect--Mcdonough and Cradle to Cradle

4 Apocalyptic messages vs. retained normalcy

5 Philosophical and spiritual condition of collapse

6 Resignation vs. hope

7 Tone: frantic vs. composed

8 Exchange viewpoints and learn from other disciplines

3 Scheduling next meeting; later ones at next meeting

1 Sandy teaches Friday 10 am; OK TTH 9-11 or 12-2

2 Kate: move to third Friday

3 Jim Harris teaches Friday morning

4 Christine: Also note I will not be there on Friday, but would be happy to attend on Tuesdays or Wed/Thurs afternoons this quarter.

4 Picking book; Chris’s suggestion; my list


1 SM Comments

1 Title of his tenth book—a cry of desperation, falling off cliff

1 “Eaarth,” he concludes starkly, “represents the deepest of human failures.”

2 Emotional appeal of chapter 1—how to tell the story, sound the alarm—“Alarmism”?

3 McKibben as rhetorician: Beauty of the old earth; Apollo image; switch from grandchildren to hometown; present economic costs

2 Biblical Myth—Isaiah, Noah’s Ark, Herbert’s Dune

1 Go and tell this people You may listen and listen but you will not understand