Twenty years ago, with "The End of Nature", Bill McKibben offered one of the earliest warnings about global warming. Those warnings went mostly unheeded; now, he insists, we need to acknowledge that we've waited too long, and that massive change is not only unavoidable but already under way. Our old familiar globe is suddenly melting, drying, acidifying, flooding, and burning in ways that no human has ever seen. We've created, in very short order, a new planet, still recognizable but fundamentally different. We may as well call it Eaarth. That new planet is filled with new binds and traps. A changing world costs large sums to defend - think of the money that went to repair New Orleans, or the trillions it will take to transform energy systems. But the endless economic growth that could underwrite such largesse depends on the stable planet we've managed to damage and degrade. We can't rely on old habits any longer.
Our hope depends, McKibben argues, on scaling back - on building the kind of societies and economics that can hunker down, concentrate on essentials, and create the type of community (in the neighbourhood, but also on the Internet) that will allow us to weather trouble on an unprecedented scale. Change - fundamental change - is our best hope on a planet suddenly and violently out of balance.
Bill McKibben is the author of "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" magazine has called him "the world's best green journalist." He studied at Harvard, and started his writing career as a staff writer at "The New Yorker." "The End of Nature," his first book, was published in 1989 and was regarded as the first book on climate change for a general audience. He is a frequent contributor to magazines and newspapers including The "New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, Orion Magazine, Mother Jones, The New York Review of Books, Granta, Rolling Stone," and "Outside." He has been awarded Guggenheim Fellowship and won the Lannan Prize for nonfiction writing in 2000. He is a scholar in residence at Middlebury College and lives in Vermont with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, and their daughter.