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Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  3,996 ratings  ·  551 reviews
Our old familiar globe is suddenly melting, drying, acidifying, flooding, and burning in ways that no human has ever seen. We've created, in very short order, a new planet, still recognizable but fundamentally different. We may as well call it Eaarth.

That new planet is filled with new binds and traps. A changing world costs large sums to defend--think of the money that wen
Hardcover, 253 pages
Published April 13th 2010 by Times Books (first published 2010)
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Dave Schaafsma
Oct 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: environment
So, you probably think you don't want to read this book or this review, because it is about bad news you maybe think you already know, and will include not enough good--or really new--news about imminent solutions. But I'll tell you: It's well written and important, from the world's premier climate change writer.

I recently reread Bill McKibben’s 1986 The End of Nature, the first book about global warming for a general audience, in preparation to read this more recent book, Eaarth: Making a Life
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was ok
I cannot remember exactly when I heard about global warming for the first time. I’m sure it was not in school since I was already a college graduate at that time. I was not a voracious reader then and all I was dreaming about was how to land a good job and convince my father to let me get married as I could already support my own family.

That was approximately in the mid-eighties. Few years after the AIDS spread around the world. It was also the time when my handsome brother was egging us, his 3
McKibben argues that the place we now live has been changed by humans sufficiently (in totally bad ways) so that we no longer live on the same planet on which human society has developed over the last several thousand years. (Hence we no longer live on Earth, but "Eaarth".) I think he is probably right, and this is a profoundly disturbing fact to contemplate. He has pretty much given up attempting to “solve” the problem of global warming (we can’t any more) though of course he is still devoting ...more
May 01, 2010 rated it it was ok
It was tough to rate this as two stars. I have deep admiration and respect for Bill McKibben's environmental work. I also appreciate that this book says point-blank what I think a lot of environmentalists are afraid to say: that we have passed the tipping point, widespread damage is inevitable, and now we should focus on controlling the damage.

However, McKibben then falls into the trap that I've seen spread across the environmental movement since An Inconvenient Truth. I've often wondered if to
Jul 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
Last week the Senate showed its lack of backbone by refusing to take up climate legislation. The proposed bill was extremely modest, but it apparently involved too much political risk for Democrats facing re-election, and of course the Party of No held to its predictable position. One does have to wonder why it's so easy for our "leaders" to turn their backs on finding ways to mitigate a likely global catastrophe. I think the answer is that, although there are a few visible signs of a coming cli ...more
Apr 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
I’ve read in the past one or two of Bill McKibben’s articles in maybe Mother Jones, but this is the first of his books I’ve read. I think it’s also the first book I‘ve read about environmental issues. Eaarth is indeed a great introduction about what we have done to the planet, particularly here in U.S. If we listen to loud mouths like Sarah “drill baby drill” Palin, Glenn Beck, and other non-scientific minded and intellectually deprived individuals, we’re not going to understand the full scope w ...more
Apr 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read "The End of Nature" for a college class 14 years ago, so it's a little fuzzy in my mind. From what I remember, it was pretty unsettling. It introduced me to a new way of thinking about the natural world, to the concept that humans have, indeed, touched or altered every square inch of the planet's surface.

Eaarth, rather than being merely unsettling, is straight-up frightening. The compelling premise is that we have pumped too much carbon into the atmosphere at this point to halt climate ch
Keith Akers
Jul 06, 2010 rated it liked it
Bill McKibben really gets it. He gets so much of it, that part of me just wants to pass over the parts that he doesn't get. But he seems to consistently come up short on details, just as he did with "Deep Economy," which also had so much right but bungled the ending; so this is a well-written, important, but flawed book.

The really important thing, and what McKibben gets right, is that the basic problem that we have is with economic growth. Dealing with climate change, not to mention peak oil, so
C.J. Shane
Feb 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
About midway through reading this book, I had this weird feeling that I was reading a science fiction/ horror book. It reminded me of post-apocalyptic fiction in which an old text from right before the apocalypse is found and read by those living in the future. In the old text, the author is discussing a monster looming on the horizon which is almost completely ignored by everyone until the monster is upon them. That pretty much sums up what's happening to our planet now and only a few of us are ...more
Jose Moa
Dec 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
350ppm is the level of carbón dioxide that most of the climatologist think is the tipping point to save the planet of a catastrophe and also is the name of the organization founded by Bill Mckibben;but this point is already surpassed and now we are arround 400ppm and the earth thoug we dont emit a more gram of carbón dioxide would be yet storing heat and warming because the sistem is yet out of equilibrium by the enormous heat capacity by the oceans,when the eqilibrium be reached the planet posi ...more
Jun 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
I hated this book. Scary shit is going down on this planet that we call Earth (which Bill McKibben insists is a new planet- eaarth - so altered is she). That is Bills's purpose, I think. To scare the crap out of you so that you start DOING something - not to save her since she's already gone, but to learn how to salvage what we do have. Much like the chronic smoker trying to save their dying, cancer-ridden body.
Being scared is not an effective emotion for me and much of what this book did was p
Bill McKibben is a world-famous environmentalist. He is the founder of, a very big organization whose purpose is to solve the climate crisis. Without a doubt, he has written a very scary book. Well worth reading, to help put climate change into context.

The main point of this excellent book, is that our planet is not the same as it used to be; hence, the title Eaarth. Climate change is happening right now. Sea level is rising faster than expected. Dry areas are becoming drier, while wet r
Bradley Jarvis
Jun 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first part of this book will scare the daylights out of anyone who isn't blinded by oil company hype or willful ignorance. It even scared me, and I already had some pretty dark ideas about the future. Global warming is here, it's irreversible, and it's going to get a lot worse very quickly. Deniers like to point out that science isn't always right, and in this case they're correct; the scale and progression of the changes we have made to our planet have been seriously UNDERESTIMATED.

The seco
Apr 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Even though Bill is one of the first authors on climate change, I had never heard of him until Long Distance - his book about endurance and skiing and losing his father. I loved that book, and when Bill came to Colorado to promote Eaarth, I decided to go. I was only finished with part I of the book when I saw him, and I liked the way he avoided relying on data that came out of discredited climate models and institutes. His book is based on observable phenomena that have HAPPENED - disappearing g ...more
Bob Redmond
Jul 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-and-farms
Here's a book to keep you up at night; it did me. Yes, for much of it McKibben explains what he means by "Eaarth:" we have used up the old one, good old "Earth." We killed it. The author of the first general book on global warming (1989's THE END OF NATURE), McKibben pretty much knows what he's talking about.

Ecological disasters are happening with more and more frequency. They are not random events happening more often, either; they are systematic responses to a planet under duress. The polar ca
Zoe Aleshire
Apr 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Well, I had some problems with McKibben (if you're curious, find the history of the ecofeminist movement, a response in part to the DeepEcology movement he spearheaded in the late eighties/nineties) and I feel like maybe, yes, this book has responded to these issues. He spends half the book convincing the reader that this earth we have grown used to living on and with is a thing of the past (hence the title). This new eaarth is more hostile in many ways, irreversibly different... but maybe not w ...more
Apr 10, 2010 rated it liked it
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book through Library Thing's Early Reviewer giveaway program.

The first time I read a book whose thesis was small scale, local systems as a method to move away from our problems of mindless globalization, unending growth, and hurtful economies was a few years ago in Mindful Economics. Bill McKibben offers a similar solution to climate change. Getting to know our neighbors, having local farms and tight knit communities is one way to forestall the endle
Jun 01, 2010 rated it liked it
The incredibly depressing first part of this book is redeemed by the hopeful ending. A lot of the hope boils down to "know your neighbors, band together, make a micro-community" and a lot of the doom and gloom boils down to "we've really, really screwed up the world". I don't think I learned a whole lot of brand new stuff here, but I've been specializing in this sort of book for the last several months. McKibben is a good writer and an engaging teller of tales. I did learn that Wal*Mart is the l ...more
Oct 28, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
this is depressing stuff, people.

especially the first (and most convincing) chapter, in which mckibben adds an extra "A" to the planet we inhabit. "eaarth" is not the world we've been trying to pin solar panels to for the well-being of our "grandchildren" since the 70's; it's the planet that's already begun changing irrevocably for the worse. in the first portion of eaarth, mckibben calls for a transformation in our approach to environmental action in the wake of the dire circumstances of the 21
"Eaarth" is founded on the premise that the world we live in is already so significantly altered by climate change that it deserves a slightly different name. The first module of the book proves this point. The oceans have acidified, glaciers and ice caps are melting, animals are shrinking; droughts, floods, storms, crop failures, massive tree die-offs (due to environmental change and pests that need warmer weather to survive), etc, have gone from exceptional to expected. The next chapter illust ...more
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: eco
"Americans eat 200 pounds of grain directly, and 1,800 pounds that’s been run through an animal first. By contrast, the average Chinese eats 850 pounds of grain with his chopsticks, and only 154 pounds indirectly, via cow or pig. It takes eleven times as much fossil fuel to raise a pound of animal protein as a pound of plant protein” (177).

If you want in and you're looking for a good place to start, how about eating lower on the food chain? Meatless Mondays didn't work for me, but eating one mea
Update: this book only offers part of the first step (urgency of the issue), but it does not clearly diagnose the issue. To paraphrase Vijay Prashad, the issue is not "climate change", as if the climate decided to change; the issue is Capitalist climate destruction, the system that puts profit over people and environment.

This was the book that put Climate Change on a critical status for me. In the First World, we have a sense of mass procrastination; even reasonable people just shrug and offer
Apr 30, 2019 rated it liked it
good facts and statistics, unfocused design and ideology. eschewing ANY class analysis or even reference caters to McKibben's audience (and, in his defense, convincing his audience may be more important than convincing say, me), but weakens the recommendation section basically to "plant a garden and shop at farmers markets". not super helpful if you rent an apartment in an urban food desert vs. own a house in a verdant New England forest.

the first section about the severity of the problem is gre
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Stunning! Eye-opening! Filled with extraordinary information and staggering predictions, made so very much more momentous by the fact that it was written ten(!) years ago. I knew the world was in terrible trouble but I didn't know how severe and almost totally irreparable the problems were. Most unfortunately, over the past two years situations have changed such that the United States is now going downhill even faster than before. It's difficult to be optimistic, but we must try. Else we (human ...more
Catherine Siemann
Jun 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
McKibben is very honest about the disaster we're already in (and this was written several years ago before our carbon levels hit 400). ...more
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have never read something that has made me this upset with the world we live in. Our planet is dying and we are killing it! Please give it a read politics aside!
This is an odd book. The first section is a really upsetting read, and is unfortunately the most convincing part of the book. This part of the book is best summed up as saying that we have already lost the battle and had better deal with it. Here McKibben describes all the reasons that reversing or even stopping climate change is impossible to do now, and posits that we now live on a new Earth, which he calls Eaarth, and that we have no way to know what challenges it will have except that they w ...more
McKibben doesn't pull any punches in the first two-thirds of this book. He argues that global warming isn't something that just our grandchildren will have to worry about, which is so often what is touted by politicians and people in general. Nope, he argues that the stuff that will happen in the hazy future is already beginning to happen TODAY. He fills the pages with of facts, observations, and hypotheses he draws from those facts, painting a bleak picture of humankind's future. We're pretty m ...more
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ten years, it's been, since this book was published. It's an alarm bell of a book, one that I'd read in excerpt but never in its entirety. I did the full read through as research for a manuscript I'm working on, and Jeez, it's a hard read.

Not because there's a thing wrong with McKibben's writing. But because reading it, you can feel the urgency, an urgency reinforced with a relentless pyroclastic flow of data about our warming world.

Did we listen? Well, some of us did. But most of humanity conti
Ruth Cho
Nov 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Probably given the fact that it was written in 2010, it felt outdated and naive (solutions centering around eating locally, using the Internet to leverage community), although the part about decentralized power and food systems was super interesting! Definitely thought provoking/painful to read the first half where he outlines the extent to which humanity has (and continues to) destroy the planet (and how poor people/countries are the least responsible but the most destroyed and impacted by clim ...more
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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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