On Nature Reports Climate Change today, writer Christine Woodside interviews Bill McKibben about his new book, Eaarth, and on his transition from journalism to activism. Woodside writes:
In 1989, American environmentalist Bill McKibben wrote a book about climate change, for ordinary people. In The End of Nature, McKibben sounded one of the first warnings that the industrial age was altering Earth and argued that unless greenhouse gas emissions were cut back, the planet would change irrevocably. “I wrote The End of Nature and thought, ‘People will read this and be all set,’” he says. Governments would limit greenhouse gas emissions. Citizens would change their expectations. Some 20 years later, the global average temperature is still rising. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that McKibben’s latest book, eerily titled Eaarth, reflects a darker view. In Eaarth, McKibben writes that now it’s clear Earth will never be the same; it ought to be renamed.
McKibben argues that we must abandon the notion that economic growth and environmental sustainability are compatible. He mocks New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman as being a cheerleader for growth in his book Hot, Flat, and Crowded, writes Woodside, and even takes a dig or two at Friedman’s wife’s family’s mall development business. Woodside writes:
He hopes that soon it won’t be practical for anyone to just jump on a plane for fun or take long showers or live in huge houses. Instead, he suggests that people travel vicariously on the Internet, make energy on their roofs and view local food production as the norm instead of a fad… In many respects, the world he outlines seems like a trip back in time: small communities living with local economies, with most people practicing part-time farming and producing power on rooftops near to where it’s used.