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The End of Nature

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  2,432 ratings  ·  120 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, 195 pages
Published May 1st 2006 by Random House Trade (first published 1989)
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3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,432 ratings  ·  120 reviews

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Manuel Antão
Oct 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2006
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Trust the Science: "The End of Nature" by Bill McKibben

(original review, 2006)

"Climate is a Chaotic System
Chaotic Systems cannot be predicted
Climate, therefore, cannot be predicted.
The IPCC has stated this explicitly."

I've been hearing this almost since forever. But is it right?

Predicting a Chaotic System is BY DEFINITION impossible. Climate is a Chaotic System. Ensembles are used to try to mitigate the nature of a Chaotic System by ex
David Schaafsma
Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 18, 2007 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.
Lisa Vegan
May 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who cares about the state of the earth
This book presents the sobering idea that there is no longer such as thing as nature, because humans have caused such massive changes by their presence and behaviors; that humans have altered everything (including all forms of plant and animal life) on earth. I read the book when it was first published in hardback form, and it made immediate sense to me, unfortunately. I’ll never be able to look at “nature” in exactly the same way as I did, although I can still enjoy what there is of it, and fee ...more
Oct 09, 2007 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.
Jul 07, 2008 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 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
Carol Storm
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Makes a lot of important points, but I could do without the holier-than-thou attitude and the constant undercurrent of hysteria. Oh, and this guy name drops the wild animals he runs into in the woods the way Donald Trump name drops the lingerie models he slept with in the Eighties.
Apr 08, 2017 rated it liked it
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.
Nov 28, 2012 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
Ian Robertson
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Bill McKibben has become a force in the environmental movement through his writing and his leadership at the climate change advocacy and activism organization ‘’. His first book, The End of Nature, is an important call to action to combat climate change, and a natural successor to Rachel Carson’s seminal book, Silent Spring, which focused more narrowly on the impact of pesticides on the environment. McKibben’s book is, given the additional twenty years of environmental impact studies and ...more
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: eco
"We are no longer able to think of ourselves as a species tossed about by larger forces--now we are those larger forces." This is from the 2006 introduction to Bill McKibben's now classic (tragic?) The End of Nature.

But the book was first published in 1989, so how is it? Well, there's a lot of concern about carbon dioxide, and he introduces the measurements coming out of Hawaii. McKibben is already worried about methane releasing from the permafrost. The warmest years on record at the time? 1988
Guy Barnhart
Jun 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
Be prepared for an incredibly depressing read. This book was originally published in 1989, which was when I was a toddler. While many of the predictions in this book have come true, we're still finding out how much of an impact climate change will have on our planet, from increasing ocean acidity, to mega droughts and powerful hurricanes which are already exacerbating other issues. Obviously, this book will feel dated in some sections if you've been keeping up with the growing body of knowledge ...more
Sean Chick
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
A poetic and meandering meditation on the future of a world transformed by humanity, written before the really bad stuff happened. His thoughts on genetic engineering have not come to pass (yet) but the world he feared, one of runaway environmental destruction and climate change, has occurred. This book will likely be studied by the monks of the new dark age just peeking over the horizon. That said, knocked off a star for his romantic musings on raw nature that he sprinkles in the text. I get it ...more
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Still important reading, 30 years later.
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
Aug 10, 2009 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
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
Andrei Taylor
Mar 13, 2013 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
May 29, 2009 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
Jun 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: science, ecology
Bill McKibben is more than a science writer: he is a poet. His descriptions of forests ravaged by acid rain are more deeply moving now than when this book was written ten years ago. He issued a clarion call that was taken up by many people, but still we are struggling with the issues presented in this book. If you have not read any of McKibben's other works, this is the place to start.
Jan 21, 2008 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.

May 04, 2007 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.
Laura Callanan
May 19, 2016 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.
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: environment
Among the earliest popular treatments of global warming, The End of Nature is a lyrical, near-metaphysical meditation on the meaning of how humans have changed the planet through production of CO2. Though originally published in 1989, because it is not focused on numbers or cutting edge science, the book feels evergreen and relevant, even decades later.

What McKibben means by the "end of nature" is the end of nature as a force outside of and greater than the human imprint on our planet. Because o
Richard Reese
Apr 07, 2015 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
Last week I read my first book by McKibben, Radio Free Vermont: A Fable of Resistance and it was his only fictional one. I knew it wasn't the best place to start with his work, but it was short and after just reading some longer books, I wanted a quick read. The subtitle of that book made it more intriguing so I did start there. It wasn't an overwhelmingly environmental novel as it was more overwhelmingly local. Oh, but yes, local is part of being more "green".

Anyway, since I'm planning on atten
Dec 03, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a book that id long on questions but disappointingly short on answers. It is nearly impossible to take away any message other than that there are perhaps no good answers to our environmental dilemma, and that the only possible outcome is whichever one occurs.

McKibben's heart tells him that we must give up our dominion over nature if we are to succeed, that we must cease enslaving the Earth -- lest she rise up and swallow us alive. His gut, though, tells him that we won't: he himself doe
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I often found instances that fulfill the predictions and warnings from the 80s during the time this book was written. Bill McKibben warns us of the dangers of living unsustainably through our continued reliance on fossil fuels. He describes the difficulties we face and acknowledges the challenges we have. Nature has ended through mans actions. It now requires human intervention and ingenuity to stabilize nature in order to provide a world for our children that we knew during our lifetime. Can we ...more
Briar Wyatt
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“But this could be the epoch when people decide at least to go no farther down the path we’ve been following - when we make not only the necessary technological adjustments to preserve the world from overheating but also the necessary mental adjustments to ensure we’ll never again put our good ahead of everything else’s. This is the path I choose, for it offers at least a shred of hope for a living, eternal, meaningful world”

1989. Particularly profound reflecting on these words today, not long
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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
“There is a tendency at every important but difficult crossroad to pretend that it's not really there.” 48 likes
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