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The End of Nature

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,031 Ratings  ·  93 Reviews
Reissued on the tenth anniversary of its publication, this classic work on our environmental crisis features a new introduction by the author, reviewing both the progress and ground lost in the fight to save the earth.

This impassioned plea for radical and life-renewing change is today still considered a groundbreaking work in environmental studies. McKibben's argument that
Paperback, 224 pages
Published June 13th 2006 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 1986)
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Community Reviews

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Jun 18, 2007 Anna rated it it was ok
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.
Dec 05, 2007 Kate rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 11, 2008 Nina rated it liked it
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
Jan 22, 2014 Michael rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 12, 2009 Jack rated it liked it
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
Andrei Taylor
Mar 13, 2013 Andrei Taylor rated it it was ok
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
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
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
Jun 27, 2009 Michael rated it really liked it
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
Laura Callanan
May 19, 2016 Laura Callanan rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 12, 2014 Kenny rated it really liked it
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
Matthew Ciarvella
Mar 11, 2016 Matthew Ciarvella rated it it was amazing
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
Richard Reese
Apr 14, 2015 Richard Reese rated it it was amazing
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
May 01, 2015 Jane rated it it was ok
The title of this book refers to how we have brought about the end of nature as something that is separate from human society. For a book written in 1989, it's impressive how the author looks ahead to the possibilities of genetic modification of plants, much of which has now been realized.

I really liked McKibben's stance that "possession of a certain technology imposes on us no duty to use it." He goes on to say that "Of course we can splice genes, But can we *not* splice genes?" In other words,
Jan 21, 2008 Beth rated it it was ok
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.

Martin Peel
Mar 25, 2016 Martin Peel rated it really liked it
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
May 04, 2007 Jeremy rated it liked it
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.
Oct 04, 2015 evenlake rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed, nature, 2014
McKibben lays out the causes of climate change and explores the possibilities of what it means for the future, and the present. [return][return]He doesn't offer many answers, as he recognizes that it's impossible to know exactly what will happen. He does, however, make the case that it's already too late, we've already changed the atmosphere and everywhere on Earth is now touched by humankind. [return][return]This is what he means by "end of Nature," our idea of Nature as that which is unspoiled ...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
Oct 22, 2012 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
Feb 10, 2010 Eileen rated it liked it
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
Jun 16, 2012 Joan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Greg Collver
Jun 21, 2010 Greg Collver rated it liked it
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
Janet Gardner
Feb 01, 2013 Janet Gardner rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Chris Gager
Aug 01, 2012 Chris Gager rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jun 15, 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
Jan 11, 2012 Hilary rated it it was amazing
Shelves: environmental
Although this was written 2 decades ago, it (unfortunately) is still very relevant. As expected, we've chosen the "defiant" path towards our eventual doom. The facts in this book were mostly not news to me, but I found McKibben's concept of the "end of nature" interesting. The final chapter was the one I found the most profound, as it offered outlooks on the future and some possible paths that we, as a civilization theoretically have to choose from, though the choice doesn't work on the individu ...more
Feb 11, 2009 Kurt rated it really liked it
Even though this book was written 20 years ago in 1989 it is still very relevant and even more insightful today. The author laments the loss of the entire natural world. With the consensus recognition (yes, it was consensus even back in 1989 despite what Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, & Faux News feed you) that humans have literally caused long term significant changes to the atmosphere and climate, virtually no place on the planet remains intact and free from the touch of man.

As a lover of Na
Dec 31, 2014 David rated it did not like it

Nonsense. I guess my problem is that for some reason environmentalist seem to think that mankind is unnatural and that we are changing the “natural” order of things. This seems to imply that natural evolution is "ordered" or somehow either better than man, or benign or even more disturbingly, guided intelligently. Not to sound like a Neanderthal but the earth is a rock. If everything was exterminated on it the earth would not care. The plants, trees and animals would not care. The only ones who
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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, 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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