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The End of Nature

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  2,149 Ratings  ·  100 Reviews

This impassioned plea for radical and life-renewing change is today still considered a groundbreaking work in environmental studies. McKibben's argument that the survival of the globe is dependent on a fundamental, philosophical shift in the way we relate to nature is more relevant than ever. McKibben writes of our earth's environmental cataclysm, addressing such core issu
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Hardcover, 226 pages
Published September 23rd 1989 by Random House Inc (T) (first published 1989)
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David Schaafsma
Sep 19, 2016 David Schaafsma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: environment
I read parts of this book in 1989 when it came out, excerpted in various liberal and environmental journals and in the NY Times. McKibben, one of the leading environmental writers of our time, wrote here a groundbreaking and powerful and angry book which I have now re-read in its entirety. Well, as you can guess from the title, it is not a hopeful little book about what you can do to contribute to saving the planet; it is, rather, a story documenting everything that happened because, having been ...more
Anna
Jun 18, 2007 Anna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: environment
The great problem with this book was the way it approaches nature--namely that he wants to leave humans out of it. He seems more angry that we exist as a part of the world than interested in thinking of productive ways of dealing with the the concerns regarding the environment that we are facing.
Kate
Dragged myself through this puppy. It was a tough go, but I somehow felt it was the environmentally responsible thing to do. Basically he makes the point very forcefully that we really have paved paradise. Damn. I recommend putting away all sharp objects and hiding anything that can be used to hang yourself before reading this book. Dead bird on cover says it all.
Nina
Jul 07, 2008 Nina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps as an environmental studies student who has studied the 30 years of theory that followed and partly responded to The End of Nature, I was unable to see the book without bias. That said, I have never been so frustrated with a book before. Bill McKibben is an excellent writer, and a very good person, but his treatment of the notion of nature is misleading and lacking in depth.

His major thesis is that in the past (a generalized, Western past), we saw nature as being clearly autonomous from
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Michael
Read this one several years ago, but it's been much on my mind lately so I thought I'd put up my review. In 1988, a 19 year old me was living quite happily in a cloud of pot smoke in Orono, Maine. My roommate, a great guy we called Woody (because that's what he was) was waving a copy of this book around and explaining to me an idea he'd just learned about in one of his tree-hugger classes (he was a Forestry major) called 'the green house effect.' Apparently, Woody told me, mankind was releasing ...more
Camille
This book holds a lot of truth and McKibben's argument is convincing and strong, and thus it may be the most depressing book I've ever read.
Jonathan
Nov 28, 2012 Jonathan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was a let-down. I know that Mckiben is an important thinker and leader when it comes to getting folks to acknowledge climate change and in moving folks to attempt to take action to address the causes of climate change. I am not sure what I would have thought about it had I read it twenty years ago, but reading it today, while I found the descriptions of the problems of climate change and certainly the idea of an “end of nature” compelling, I found McKibbin’s construction of the ways we ...more
Jack
Aug 10, 2009 Jack rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This long essay asks two questions: What would our lives be like if nature were not bigger than us? And what would it be like to imagine ourselves smaller?

The first question -- which takes up the first half of the book -- is fascinating. McKibben argues that a core part of what Nature does for us is let us know that the world has rhythms, predicability. That there is beauty out there that transcends us. It gives us a sense that there is something more than us out there. He has a very nice secti
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AJ
This book was okay... McKibben's main thesis is that humans have done such a grand job dominating nature that it is no longer natural. Thanks to climate change, our weather is no longer due to nature, it's due to human activity, which is why the book is titled The End of Nature.

I think that Michael Pollan offers an interesting counter-argument to this idea in Second Nature A Gardener's Education, where he asks, what is nature when man has been playing around with it for so long? Is man truly dis
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Andrei Taylor
The end of nature is a enviromental awareness novel about the end of nature as we understand it. We have ended nature through our need for growth.

Bill shows that it is not nature itself that is ending but rather the nature that has been blossoming for years. Through genetic engineering we may be able to save our world, but this created world will lack the beauty of the old world. We will have trees and plants but these genetically modified versions of our trees and plants will not do justice to
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Michael
May 29, 2009 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Written in the late 80's, this is a disturbing book to read as we approach the second decade of the 21st century. Disturbing because so little of our dialogue about climate change has progressed beyond what was being discussed two decades ago. Doubly so because McKibbin's nightmare, that we might delay action for 20 or more years, is precisely the course we have chosen, and the consequences are sure to be all-the-more dire because of it.

Much of this book is dated now... The science, for certain
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Beth
Jan 21, 2008 Beth rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature
I gave this book a quick re-read after initially reading it for academic purposes years ago and being put off by the doomsday approach of McKibben. Even though I agree with McKibben in general, I don't like this book. It offers nothing but commentary. It leaves the human species out of the equation. Instead of motivating one to action, it takes the winds out of the sails.


Jeremy
May 04, 2007 Jeremy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, environment
The thesis is clear and probably true: Human beings are now causing so many changes in the world that we cannot think of "nature" as an independent force that acts on us. In other words, "nature" is now (partially) man-made. Parts of the book were moving, but there's better stuff around.
Laura Callanan
This book is part plea and part funeral dirge. But it articulates quite clearly the state of our current environmental crisis as envisioned 39 years ago. The decisions we have to make are still the one he articulates in the final chapters. It is well worth the read.
Richard Reese
Apr 07, 2015 Richard Reese rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Long, long ago, in scorching-hot 1988, Bill McKibben was busy writing The End of Nature, a book that cranked up the global warming warning sirens. It was the first climate change book written for non-scientists, and it was a smash hit. It makes an eloquent effort to convince those entranced by the dominant culture to radically change their thinking and lifestyles, this week if possible, because the biosphere is more damaged than we think. It’s about living with great care, fully present in reali ...more
Christopher
While I appreciate the importance of this book in the climate movement, I simply couldn't make myself slog all the way through it to completion. I read about 3/4 of it and decided to cut my losses. McKibben's writing--to me--feels like it's fueled by "speed." Important subject matter; vast knowledge of the ecological crisis; great work in environmental activism. I guess I just don't care for his writing style...
Kelsey Breseman
Interesting, romantic, and theologically based in parts. I liked some of it (the first chapter creates a better sense of scale than any others I've read– I prefer it even over The Sixth Extinction). Other pieces were so philosophical that they lost me and might detract from the compelling painting elsewhere in the book.

This isn't really a book about science. It's a book about the relationship between humans and nature, with global warming as the setting.
Kenny
Jun 12, 2014 Kenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McKibben’s purpose in writing his book, The End of Nature, is to warn his audience by showing the pollutions and any other things humans do to have an impact on nature. The End of Nature offers great information on the elements of nature that readers can follow along to see if they change their minds on their decisions in life. It makes the reader think twice about the things they do, and they may not see the world the same again. The End of Nature is an enlightening book. It makes the reader wi ...more
Jessica
Jul 12, 2013 Jessica rated it it was ok
Firstly, I have to remark that I am an admirer of McKibben and his environmentalist work, particularly his participation as of late in stopping the Keystone XL pipeline. And the End of Nature does have some useful information and thought-provoking moments. I stand by and relate to McKibben's discussion of the inevitable hypocrisy of any modern-day environmentalist, the urgency of global warming, the disturbing possibilities that bio-engineering makes possible, the unfortunate dilemma of whether ...more
Katie
May 29, 2009 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been thinking about this book for the week since I finished it. Initially it pissed me off. It's the kind of book that an environmentalist finds depressingly fatalistic. I was frustrated, angry, demoralized, downtrodden. This book is about the past and present state of the environment. It was written in 1989, but may as well have been written in 2009. Its vision of the future is speculative, at best, and relevant only as it elaborates on McKibben's ideas of the present.

My problem with this
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Matthew Ciarvella
Mar 10, 2016 Matthew Ciarvella rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
There are more comprehensive books about climate change out there. There are books with facts and models and hard science. There are scarier books, too, with more dire predictions about what will happen. It might seem hard to imagine what this little book's niche actually is, its role in the ecologist's reading canon, until you remember that it was written in 1989. It was written years before an Inconvenient Truth, years before Gore, years before Bush dismantled the Kyoto Protocol, and years bef ...more
Joan
Jun 16, 2012 Joan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: environmental people
Today I answered a comment on a group I belong to asking if there is any real point in trying to prevent climate change, and suppose it is too late and we are still fighting to keep it from happening. I reminded the person of what was left in Pandora's box (hope) and that even if it is too late, driving a Prius/Volt or carrying recyclable grocery bags to the store isn't going to hurt anything. I also said I want to be able to at least tell my theoretical grandkid that I tried my best to keep it ...more
Chris Trevino
Jan 05, 2017 Chris Trevino rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
This is more summation than opinion.

Nature has ended insomuch as humans' long-standing relationship with nature has forever changed. No longer are we amidst a larger presence. Humankind has become larger than nature and our actions now no longer just affect a locality, but the entire globe. Nature, as a concept of being wild, untamed and a pure state of being uninfluenced by man does not exist any more and may never exist again. McKibben continually points to global warming through our insatiabl
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Chris Gager
Jul 17, 2012 Chris Gager rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Starting tonight. I'm sure it'll be depressing but it's a good thing to awknowledge reality. This book was first published in 1989 and this edition came out in 2006 so there's a more contemporary introduction by the author. Pretty much everything he talked about then is worse now. Predictably discouraging. I'm one who does like to get out into the wild places and feel like they're somehow protected from the generally degrading influence of human culture but the author's point in this book is tha ...more
Martin Peel
Mar 09, 2016 Martin Peel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I wanted to broaden the range of my reading on the issue of Climate Change which is why I chose this book. Bill Mckibben has been writing on the Climate Change since the 80s and this book originally came out in 1989. The copy I read had been updated and revised with a new introduction written in 2005.

I wondered if this book would be out of date in terms of the Climate Change debate. I wondered if the recent statistics produced by the science would have made the book irrelevant, but that is just
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Annette
Jun 10, 2006 Annette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bill McKibben is a well-known author and environmentalist. [return][return]The End of Nature by Bill McKibben was written in 1989 and a new forward was added on the tenth anniversary in 1999. This book provided one of the first well-researched "wake-up calls" related to global warming. I originally read the book nearly twenty years ago and decided to re-read it before jumping into his new book, Eaarth.[return][return]Other than references to current events that now seem dated, the book has stood ...more
Greg Collver
I found this book long on speculation and short on facts. In the middle I considered not finishing the book because the author spent quite a bit of the section "The End of Nature" on his own personal philosophies. He seemed to get back on track in the next part of the book, but the book still seemed like a loose collection of anecdotes, speculation and personal opinion. Not that I disagree with all of his opinions, I found myself agreeing with some of it, but he does not have the clear, systemat ...more
Evanston Public  Library
I'm typing this review on a computer, with my lunch and a cell phone at hand. Nothing special, right? Wrong, McKibben would say. This scene is unfathomable from any perspective except our own--and perhaps unsustainable too. The computer runs whenever I want on electricity from a coal-fired plant. The lunch includes citrus trucked in from Florida. The cell phone kited in from Asia. I have access to these items because I live in a culture of affluence, obviously--but also a "culture of effluents." ...more
Eileen
Oct 21, 2009 Eileen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's not a bad book. It's actually thought provoking in some parts because it was published in 1987 and is about the catastrophe our planet is going to face as a result of global warming. It displays hardcore, factual evidence that would convince the '80s skeptical, when we could pretend the environment was in a somewhat manageable state. It's almost comical now to read McKibben's sense of urgency then and to look at how much reform has changed since that point. Let me summarize, next to nothing ...more
Janet Gardner
McKibben writes beautifully, and his heart is in the right place, but finally this book fell just a little flat for me. The biggest problem was that I read it twenty years too late: I do not need convincing that the world is warming or that human beings are in large part to blame for that. (I had a similar reaction when I recently attempted Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring: Gee, you mean spraying a lot of DDT around isn’t a good idea? Who knew?)

Also, I couldn’t quite buy McKibben’s arguments that
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Bill McKibben is the author of Eaarth, 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 maga ...more
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“There is a tendency at every important but difficult crossroad to pretend that it's not really there.” 46 likes
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