Matt's Reviews > Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

Eaarth by Bill McKibben
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's review
May 31, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: non-fiction
Read from May 20 to 28, 2011

Pretty depressing stuff: climate change has already altered the world to the point where its ecology, climate, and geography has irreversibly changed or will change soon. Because of the permanent transformation, we might as well call it “Eaarth” and begin working within the new ground rules and not the rules that used to govern existence on the old planet. The first half of the book, McKibben states the dire evidence of the damage that climate change has already done. This section is punctuated with drawn out whines and smug “I told you so’s” (with a heavy dose of insults directed at Thomas Friedman who must have snubbed McKibben at a party to have inspired such wrath). Although the evidence is absolutely convincing, it is done a disservice by McKibben's "voice" which is so abrasive and snarky that any empathy I may have towards his cause is undermined by his smartest-kid-in-the-class persona. He even manages to fit in an obnoxiously long version of the dissenter’s cliché: look at me; I’m just like the founding fathers.

The true value of the book comes in the second half where McKibben writes of what some people are doing to work within the confines of the new climate and how others are trying to prevent further damage. Although educational and occasionally inspiring (I bought a compost barrel after reading one chapter); I am not sure those qualities make up for the outright terribleness of the first half of the book. I did buy that barrel though, so maybe it was worth something.

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Reading Progress

05/20/2011 page 10
05/26/2011 page 130
51.0% "Half way there. Depressing stuff. Although I agree with much of what he's positing, I am consistently on the brink of saying "enough of this sad sack writing, I want to kill myself". It doesn't help that McKibben's "voice" is so abrasive and snobby that any empathy I may have towards his cause is destroyed by his smartest kid in the class persona."
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