Bill McKibben: Prophet of Doom and Hope
Global Warming. Climate change. Mass extinction of species.
The effects of CO2 on our planet are growing, and those who deny climate change is happening are finding it harder and harder to argue their case. Public support for the environmental movement is increasing, but only gradually. Most people recognize the seriousness of intensifying weather patterns and melting ice sheets in the arctic, but still no coordinated global effort exists on the scale needed to address the problem.
It’s not like we haven’t known about the problem for a long time. As early as the 1970s some scientists predicted increasing temperatures, and in 1989, Bill McKibben warned us all about what was to come in his book The End of Nature. This work outlines baseline issues affecting climate change, presenting facts and science about the nature of this global problem. It predicted the extent of changes to weather and climate in the last two decades, by addressing the hard science that backs the issue of climate change. McKibben didn’t stop there, and in 1998 took on the issue of overpopulation. This issue underlies the problems we have with waste and pollution. Increasing human population correlates directly with increased use of the planet’s resources, and in the amount of CO2 produced as waste in industrial processes. His book, Maybe One: A Personal and Environmental Argument for Single Child Families, is one of only a few made by climate scientists that publicly recognizes this connection.
A newer book, Eaarth: Making Life on a Tough New Planet, published in 2010, describes in detail the ways that climate change might irrevocably alter the face of our planet. The warnings first offered by McKibben in 1990 in The End of Nature are, in this vision of a possible future, realized here. Many of the changes described in this book we can already see happening around us, and while this foreboding look at the logical consequences of our industrial civilization may threaten our world view, McKibben argues passionately that we can change our destiny, if we are able to muster the will for dramatic and substantive fundamental changes.
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