Bill McKibben's new book Eaarth: Making a life on a tough new planet, will turn your view of the world and your world view upside down with endless factual body blows!
Most everyone working to dawn the Eco Enlightened Age knows of Bill McKibben. He is the author of a dozen books about the environment beginning with The End of Nature in 1989, which is regarded as the first book for a general audience on climate change. He is a founder of the grassroots climate campaign350.org, which has coordinated 15,000 rallies in 189 countries since 2009. Time Magazine called him 'the planet's best green journalist' and the Boston Globe said in 2010 that he was 'probably the country's most important environmentalist.' You can read more about him at his site,http://www.billmckibben.com.
His thought leadership and tireless campaigns are certainly a key factor in the dawning of the Eco Enlightened Age.
Below is a brief overview but it only scratches the surface. Eaarth is a MUST READ for everyone who lives on Earth!
Why an extra "a"? Because even though for the most part it looks and feels like the old Earth our green house gas emissions have irrevocably changed the planet we inhabit. The slight change in the name signifies this change.
Even though the change may seem small the results are huge. The effects of the near 1 degree Celsius (1.5 degree Fahrenheit) increase that has already occurred has had significant impacts on humans, animals, and the rest of the environment but also on our economy. Most important, climate Change is 100 years ahead of schedule.
For example, a December, 2008 NASA study reported that this single degree is enough to increase thunderstorms over the ocean by 45%. A warmer atmosphere evaporates moisture from arid areas more rapidly, but also holds more moisture, causing more intense downpours when it does rain.
Tropical climates have expanded to include an additional 8.5 million square miles, pushing arid subtopic regions further north and south. New aridity has created a 40 million ton reduction in wheat, corn and barley yields worldwide, not to mention an increase in wild fires and extended drought conditions.
By 2007, the Arctic ice cap was over a million square miles smaller than ever before recorded. From 2003 to 2008, an area of ice on Greenland 10 times the size of Manhattan melted, and in 2008, the West Antarctic was losing ice 75% faster than a decade before. The governments of the Maldives and the Pacific island nation of Kiribati have announced plans to buy land abroad in order to relocate their populations when rising sea levels make this necessary.
From 1995-2008, frequency of hurricanes in the tropical Atlantic increased by 75% over the previous 13 year span, and the last 30 years have seen four times as many weather-related disasters as the first three quarters of the 20th century combined. The ocean has become more acidic than at any time in the past 800 years, and by 2009, the Pacific oyster industry was reporting an 80% mortality rate for oyster larvae.
Lack of sufficient money to meet the challenges ahead will be a major problem. We have allowed the infrastructure in the U.S. to fall into serious disrepair, and as the recession softens, the price of oil will return to record highs. But in addition, the new planet we’ve created will cost us more than we are accustomed to – much more. Insurance companies estimate costs based on statistics from previous decades, but they are beginning to understand that the past is no longer a reliable guide for anticipating disasters in a warmer world. In a world where hurricanes are more frequent and powerful, where droughts that used to be occasional have become permanent, where fires occur more often and burn longer, where rains are torrential and floods more common, and where disasters follow one another so frequently that companies are unable to recover their losses before another strikes, insurance companies will go broke and taxpayers will increasingly bear the brunt of costs for natural disasters. And this is the new “developed” world.
Beginning to feel like you are being hit by body blows yet? And, so what is the solution?
Well, the need to bring our CO2 levels down from today's 392 ppm to 350 ppm along with a soon to be dwindling supply of oil on our planet and huge new energy demands by developing countries such as China make it impossible to grow our way out of the climate crisis. In addition, changing from fossil fuel dependent economies to renewable energy economies is going to be both difficult and expensive. "Clean coal", nuclear, and smart grids, are too expensive and will take too much time to solve the problem. For example, if we built four times as many windmills as in 2007 every year for the next 40 years, that would still only solve about one ninth of the global warming problem.
The solution, less "big" and more "local". In terms of companies, too big to fail is by definition "too big". Big government results in big inefficiencies, and industrialized, oil dependent agriculture leaves our whole food supply chain vulnerable to droughts and diseases. Bottom line, we need to undergo a fundamental shift in attitude. We need to give up our assumption that big economic growth is necessary or inevitable and adopt a new goal of durability and growing locally.