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2013 Group Reads > June 2013 Read: Bill McKibben's "Eaarth"

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message 1: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 923 comments I've been looking forward to reading this book.

I started it today. Far more readable than the May Monsanto book (which quite frankly was a monster, but worth the effort).

This should be just equally as informative. And just love Bill McKibben. As I'm reading, I'm hearing Bill's voice.... :-)


message 2: by Lynnm (last edited Jun 01, 2013 06:22AM) (new)

Lynnm | 923 comments A (longish) lecture from Bill on the book at Dominican University of California. His part begins at 14:00.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQ3PT...

Even though it's longer, it is really interesting. Doesn't really explain the book - just slightly. More about the origins of 350.org and some of their activism across the globe.


message 3: by Brian (new)

Brian Burt | 435 comments Mod
The 1st chapter gave me nightmares. I need a drink to settle my nerves. Are microbrews carbon-neutral? ;-)


message 4: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 923 comments Brian wrote: "The 1st chapter gave me nightmares. I need a drink to settle my nerves. Are microbrews carbon-neutral? ;-)"

I've only read part of it, but I agree!

Fortunately, I have read where he says that he starts with the bad news and then brings it to a discussion on what we can do.

Let's hope...

Plus, the doom and gloom message doesn't work. People shrug and say, what's the use of even trying then? Always has to be followed up with, what can we do and this is where there is hope.


message 5: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay Miller | 18 comments Agreed. I'm excited to read a book which fully recognizes that the very best attempts aren't nearly enough, but still promises to end with some real solutions.


message 6: by Florence (new)

Florence Millo | 41 comments I'm just on page 24 but it appears that from the methane release from the permafrost, we are pretty much doomed. There doesn't seem to be any way around it. I may skip to the back of the book to see if there is anything that can be done just to keep my spirits up.


message 7: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 923 comments Florence, I'm thinking the same thing. I had written my comments only a few pages in and based on things I had heard about the book. But this is very depressing.

But...I'm still hoping. I figure that Bill wouldn't be working so hard at 350.org if he didn't think there was some hope. And James Hansen seems to hold out hope as well.


message 8: by Lynnm (last edited Jun 02, 2013 12:03PM) (new)

Lynnm | 923 comments Any science people here? (I'm a Lit person not a science person.)

I was watching Bill Maher one night, and he had Peter Byck, the producer of the documentary Carbon Nation, on as one of his guests.

Byck said that we can suck the carbon dioxide in the air and reverse climate change by the way we graze cattle.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVd7p...

(Starts around 1:00).

Like Bill, I have no clue what he is talking about. Has anyone heard of this? Know what he is talking about?


message 9: by Brian (new)

Brian Burt | 435 comments Mod
I think Bill McK's approach in this book is "shock & awe." He wants to make it very, very clear that the situation is dire and dispel any myths that we have "plenty of time to turn the ship around." But I'm on Chapter 3 now, and he's starting to talk about how we can adapt our societies to this new planet we've created and "gracefully manage our descent." So I'm hoping this is where he'll suggest the concrete ways we can salvage the situation, make the changes we need to make, and still make life worthwhile for humanity (as well as the other living things with which we share the biosphere).

Man, I hope that's where he's headed. I need some encouraging news!


message 10: by Brian (new)

Brian Burt | 435 comments Mod
Lynnm wrote: "Any science people here? (I'm a Lit person not a science person.)

I was watching Bill Maher one night, and he had Peter Byck, the producer of the documentary Carbon Nation, on as one of his guests.

Byck said that we can suck the carbon dioxide in the air and reverse climate change by the way we graze cattle."


I'm no scientist, but I did a fair bit of reading on this stuff while researching my novel. I believe Mr. Byck is talking about the carbon cycle, soil carbon sequestration, and rotational grazing. In a nutshell, the planet's soil has immense potential to absorb and store carbon if it's healthy, which modern farming and grazing techniques inhibit. If we went back to a more traditional approach of grazing livestock on grass (instead of force-feeding them corn and antibiotics) and rotated them through different areas on the right schedule, so they don't overgraze an area, then the soil can do an amazing job of "CO2 scrubbing" for us.

Hopefully, I didn't butcher the science too badly. Here's a cool article from Mother Earth News that discusses this in more detail:

http://www.motherearthnews.com/homest...


message 11: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 923 comments Thanks Brian for both the explanation and link.

We need to have people talking more about this - and acting on it!

Not only would it help the health of the environment, but it would help humans health as well.


message 12: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 923 comments I finished the first chapter. A few points:

- Bill talked about the Copenhagen conference. I think that is one of the most depressing aspects of these issues - the inability of nations to come together to make real changes to reverse climate change. Everyone is so concerned about their own nation's economy that they refuse to take even a short term hit for long term gains. Because a green economy can bring long term gains. Think about how every single product on the planet needs to be made green. Innovation, manufacturing, etc. Where have all our strong leaders gone? We have none....

- He also talked about how the book could give people an excuse to give up. I definitely understand his fear - even dedicated environmentalists could feel overwhelmed with all these dire predictions. (I have to admit that when Bush came to office in the 2000s, I gave up for awhile working on environemntal issues. I just didn't see anything good happening when he was in office, and that we would be fighting for nothing.)

- The Apollo 8 picture - Earthrise - one of my favorite pictures. Very inspiring.

- Bill listed a number of quotes about grandchildren being the catalyst for working on these issues. I hate to say it, but sadly my generation - the Baby Boomer generation - really only cares about themselves. I think I even read somewhere that that argument doesn't work. But he's right - it is an issue hitting us NOW, not tomorrow.

- The methane release section freaked me out because I just read that the reason the dinosaurs went extinct was because of methane releases. I'm not a scientist though so could be completely different. (I hope!)

- His point about how many Saudi Arabia's we would need hit me because Saudi Arabia is building a huge solar field - even they know that oil is reaching its limits!

- One point that I disagreed with him was that the recession was caused by gas prices. That might have been part of the problem, but really, it was the actions of the banks and financial industry as a whole.

- All the information in the first chapter was discouraging, but reading about the trees hit me the most. Trees are one of the big reasons why I became an environmentalist. Love trees.


message 13: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay Miller | 18 comments I'm also done with chapter one, and so ready to see what hope he's going to offer.

Understanding the true gravity of the situation indeed can push people in both directions. My email can attest to the phases I go through just considering online petitions; one month I eagerly sign everything, then maybe I just sign the ones that sound most relevant and pressing, then I hide from my inbox for long stretches because it's filled with the same old stories in different contexts. And, it's certainly harder to stay motivated when you know the top people have no concern at all, but McKibben did allude to the ill-advised post-Obama sigh of relief. Likewise, I appreciated his point about political decision-making when the results of one's actions are not going to be felt during one's time in office.

The feedback loops were interesting to learn about, in a detached-from-the-horrifying-implications sort of way. (The Amazon as a giant water pump... cool.) Many I'd heard of, but he really did the ideas justice in a few words.


message 14: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1607 comments Mod
I heard Bill McKibben speak at a local bookstore a few years back when the book first came out. I was way at the end of the line to get him to sign my copy. When it came to my turn, I did what I always do with authors: asked him to answer a question when he signs. So I said, "How do you feel about the earth right now?" He wrote in the book: "With love for this tired, sweet old planet. Bill 350.org." I will never forget that moment.


message 15: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1607 comments Mod
When I did a discussion group at my library on Eaarth, we came to the conclusion that we were doomed, but we still had to fight the good fight. I believe we will ultimately fail. For one thing, ignorance usually wins out over intelligence. It is far easier to be ignorant. Knowledge requires hard work.


message 16: by Julia (new)

Julia (juliastrimer) What a great memory, Jimmy--and what a wonderful inscription by McKibben. Thanks for sharing that magical moment.

And you may be right about our being doomed, but I like that your group also said "we still had to fight the good fight." I was always amazed at who said the following, since he's usually portrayed in such a negative light.

"A return to first principles in a republic is sometimes caused by the simple virtues of one man. His good example has such an influence that the good men strive to imitate him, and the wicked are ashamed to lead a life so contrary to his example."

Niccolo Machiavelli


message 17: by Lynnm (last edited Jun 04, 2013 07:03AM) (new)

Lynnm | 923 comments Jimmy wrote: "When I did a discussion group at my library on Eaarth, we came to the conclusion that we were doomed, but we still had to fight the good fight. I believe we will ultimately fail. For one thing, ign..."

First, what a wonderful encounter with Bill!

I guess that I am an optimist, because I don't feel that way. I grew up during the Cold War when they made us all hide under our desks in drills in case of a nuclear attack. People have been talking about the end of the world for a couple of milleniums - the first Christians though the end was near, people thought that WWII signaled the end of the world, again the Cold War. We're still here. The planet has been through a lot (I love George Carlin's take on this in his Environment rant) and is still here.

I truly believe that we can act. At the end of the day, people tend to step up and do what needs to get done.

Especially when I see young people today. At least in my dealings with them - and Bill echoed the same in his lecture that I posted - they understand the connectivity of the world. They also aren't as - hmmm, should I be so blunt? - greedy as the Baby Boomer generation, and they understand the challenges on the environment.

I'm not minimizing what Bill is saying - there certainly is a big threat to humans. And I think that there is going to be a lot of suffering along with it. But I'm not calling the game yet. ;) Just need to keep on fighting on.


message 18: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 923 comments Julia wrote: ""A return to first principles in a republic is sometimes caused by the simple virtues of one man. His good example has such an influence that the good men strive to imitate him, and the wicked are ashamed to lead a life so contrary to his example."

Niccolo Machiavelli
"


I remember the first time that I read Machiavelli's The Prince. I was so utterly offended. I went into class and said so. I remember my professor's reaction: she just had a slight, amused smile on her face all through my "rant" against Machiavelli. After we broken it down in class, I was a bit less resistant to his ideas, but definitely understand the negativity towards The Prince. Poor Machiavelli.... :-)


message 19: by Florence (new)

Florence Millo | 41 comments A quote from Chapter 1:

On our new planet growth may be the one big habit we finally must break."

Amen and amen. But will we?


message 20: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay Miller | 18 comments @Florence - keep reading ;)


message 21: by Tanya (new)

Tanya Sousa | 37 comments I have too much on the reading list right now, but I'm definitely going to look this book up! I love Bill McKibben, and from what you've said here, it sounds like another of his successes.


message 22: by Julia (last edited Jun 04, 2013 11:56AM) (new)

Julia (juliastrimer) @Lynn

Yes, my students had only heard the adjective "machiavellian" as a synonym for evil, but after we read "The Prince" they could sense his sorrow about humanity.

Miles Unger wrote a defense of Machiavelli for the Washington Post:

"Was Machiavelli really Machiavellian? Honestly, no."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/...

Unger's biography of Machiavelli received good reviews: http://www.milesjunger.com/


Machiavelli A Biography by Miles J. Unger Machiavelli: A Biography


message 23: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 923 comments I found many of the points in Chapter 2 to be both interesting and controversial.

One of the first is Bill's views on Thomas Friedman's (and many others) ideas that a green economy will be helpful in the fight against climate change.

I actually enjoyed "Hot, Flat, and Crowded" (particulary since Friedman is one of the few - and he's not even what we think of as a traditional environmentalist - who brings up population's rule in environmental degradation. Like Friedman, I think that a green economy will not only bring in green technologies that will help the planet but provide jobs at the same time. I understand Bill's points as well, however. As he sadi, a green economy is still working within the old paradigm - growth, growth, growth.

I'm somewhere in between both of them. And I've had this discussion with other environmentalists as well. Personally, I think that in order to win people over to green technology and green products has to be tied to the economy. Others believe that we are compromising when we don't just help the environment to help the environment.

I would be interested to hear what you all think.


message 24: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 923 comments Julia wrote: "@Lynn

Yes, my students had only heard the adjective "machiavellian" as a synonym for evil, but after we read "The Prince" they could sense his sorrow about humanity.

Miles Unger wrote a defense o..."


I liked this quote in the article: "It seems best to me to go straight to the actual truth of things, rather than to dwell in dreams," Machiavelli wrote."

Sadly, it is the truth, but I wish that things were run differently.


message 25: by Lynnm (last edited Jun 05, 2013 10:26AM) (new)

Lynnm | 923 comments Other thoughts on Chapter 2:

- Bill talks a lot about how the predictions on clean energy usage was far higher than the reality. But why is that? Is it because people don't want it or because it doesn't work? It's low because we haven't put the money into it to make it work because the traditional energy sources stand in the way. Bill makes a great point that there is so much money invested in old energy sources that it will be too expensive to move. We just don't have the money any more.

- I found the points on nuclear power to be interesting. I didn't realize how much money it cost to build a nuclear plant. Happy about that because I'm not a fan of nuclear power - all that toxic waste, obviously.

- It was depressing reading about America's aging infrastructure. I know people who come from other parts of the world for the first time to the U.S., and they are surprised at how old our infrastructure is...one of the first thing that notice, particularly those coming from up-and-coming countries. As Bill pointed out, it isn't only in the U.S. - many other countries as well.

- One point that Bill made that I wish he had expanded on - he talked about how if the U.S. helped China fight global warming, Americans wouldn't be willing becuase it would be "nearly $1,900 in yearly taxes." Doesn't the U.S. owe tons of money to China? I believe that I read somewhere that every America citizen owes China about $5,000+. And Chinese citizens aren't happy about that because they need that money as well.

- I'm going to have to look for the book "Limits to Growth" in the University library. One of the points that I liked in the book: "The state of global equilibrium could be designed so that the basic material needs of each person on earth are satisfied and each person has an equal opportunity to realize his or her individual human potential." That hits near and dear to my heart. Everyone consume exactly what they need, not what they want. Would never happen, but a girl can hope.

- I also want to read Small is Beautiful - links to the prior point. As Mark Hertsgaard said in "Hot," it is overconsumption that really has caused a lot of these problems.

- I realize that there were issues with Carter's presidency, but if we had only listened to him on energy and environmental issues, we wouldn't be in this mess in the U.S.!


message 26: by Annis (new)

Annis Pratt | 80 comments Here's a link to a piece I wrote about how we can live in the world, be strong enough psychologically, now that we are past the tipping point of 400 parts per million. I list Bill's book but haven't read it yet....
Http://www.marshlanders.blogspot.com


message 27: by Brian (new)

Brian Burt | 435 comments Mod
Annis wrote: "Here's a link to a piece I wrote about how we can live in the world, be strong enough psychologically, now that we are past the tipping point of 400 parts per million. I list Bill's book but haven'..."

Cool blog, Annis! Wish I'd heard that NPR interview with Andrew Zolli. He sounds like a person with interesting insights. I've put "Resilience" on my To-Read list now!


message 28: by Brian (new)

Brian Burt | 435 comments Mod
Finished the book the other night. Have to admit, it left me a bit demoralized... but I guess it's better to be realistic about the scope of the challenges we now face. I really loved Bill's emphasis on smaller, more decentralized local systems for food and energy vs. the "too big to fail" centralized models we've been using to drive our economic expansion (which enrich a small number of people at the expense of the bulk of us). This approach really resonated with me, but it's a daunting task to accomplish this major paradigm shift on a global scale. After working for some mega-corporations (Fortune 500 types) over the years, I definitely find Bill's model more appealing: I'd relish working for a small business that focuses on quality service and pleasing the customer, not just on maximizing short-term profits.

Bill has some intriguing ideas for restructuring our society, but it will require a radical "attitude adjustment" for a lot of people. Guess we've got our work cut out for us!


message 29: by Julia (new)

Julia (juliastrimer) I'm almost near the end of chapter 1, but ran into this article that reinforces what he says about forest fires!

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/...

"Hotter Planet Creating 'Extraordinary' Wild Fires says Head of US Forest Service"

Climate change is "largest issue we face" Senate panel told.

In testimony to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, U.S. Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell said:

Around the world, the last two decades have seen fires that are extraordinary in their size, intensity and impacts. In Australia in 2009, the Black Saturday Bushfires killed 170 people. Domestically, Florida, Georgia, Utah, California, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado, have all experienced the largest and/or the most destructive fires in their history just in the last six years. On average wildfires burn twice as many acres each year as compared to 40 years ago, and there are on average seven times as many fires over 10,000 acres per year.

In 2012 over 9.3 million acres burned in the United States. The fires of 2012 were massive in size, with 51 fires exceeding 40,000 acres. Of these large fires, 14 exceeded 100,000 acres. The increase in large fires in the west coincides with an increase in temperatures and early snow melt in recent years. This means longer fire seasons. The length of the fire season has increased by over two months since the 1970s.

"The largest issue we now face is how to adapt our management to anticipate climate change impacts and to mitigate their potential effects," Tidwell told the committee.


message 30: by Lynnm (last edited Jun 06, 2013 07:36AM) (new)

Lynnm | 923 comments Brian wrote: "Finished the book the other night. Have to admit, it left me a bit demoralized... but I guess it's better to be realistic about the scope of the challenges we now face. I really loved Bill's emph..."

I just started Chapter 3 where he is talking about the Federal vs. State model of government. I'm of two minds. I like the idea of small governments. For example, my state just passed a GMO labeling law. If I had to wait for the federal government, I would never get GMO labeling. But on the other side, there are some things that the federal government can do better than state governments. I have to think about it more as I read on.

But I do like the smaller, decentralized food and business. So much more efficient than big companies. And like you, I worked for big corporations. Not pleasant places. So much happier teaching - one of the universities that I teach at while large for a college, isn't like a massive multi-national corporation.

And I agree that it will take a radical attitude adjustment. But also like you, it is disheartening because most people don't know the issues, let alone changing the way they think.


message 31: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 923 comments Julia wrote: "I'm almost near the end of chapter 1, but ran into this article that reinforces what he says about forest fires!

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/...

"Hotter Planet Creating 'Extrao..."


Thanks for the link, Julia!


message 32: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 923 comments Annis wrote: "Here's a link to a piece I wrote about how we can live in the world, be strong enough psychologically, now that we are past the tipping point of 400 parts per million. I list Bill's book but haven'..."

Thanks for the link, Annis! Very cool...


message 33: by Lynnm (last edited Jun 07, 2013 05:58AM) (new)

Lynnm | 923 comments I really enjoyed the third chapter, especially his comments on the founding of the U.S. I grew up in New England, and know very well what he means by democracy and dissent go hand in hand.

In addition, I liked that he talked about food and suburbia as examples of how we can combat climate change by going local rather than national.

However, the biggest negative of the book (to me) is that he doesn't go as in-depth as I would like or provide even more ways for people to get involved. More like a Pollan Omnivore's Dilemma type of investigative journalism effort than just brief snippets before getting back into the negative aspects of the issues.

And to be honest, if I hadn't read numerous other books/essays on suburbia and food, I might not have been able to fill in the blanks or fully understand what he was getting at.

Changes to the suburban model really interest me. While I prefer the European way of setting up towns, it would be difficult to replicate in the U.S. right now (but something new communities should aspire to). Since we have the suburbs, there are ways to make mini-communities, but it will take innovation and imagination.

And those two words - innovation and imagination - to rethink and change the way we live are missing in the book.

But, just my humble opinion... :-)

(Maybe Chapter 4 will have some of these things).


message 34: by Florence (last edited Jun 07, 2013 09:03AM) (new)

Florence Millo | 41 comments Finished Chapter 2. I thought there was such a melancholy tone to this chapter.

"What's amazing, in retrospect, is how close we came to actually listening to their message."
"that we'd passed up our last good chance to brake our momentum and head in a new direction."

It doesn't mesh well with our constant cultural admonitions to Think Positive and Look on the Bright Side..IMHO.

On to Chapter 3.


message 35: by Julia (last edited Jun 07, 2013 08:32PM) (new)

Julia (juliastrimer) I'm finding McKibben's approach in the first two chapters to be pretty overwhelming, in the sense that he piles anecdotes on top of each other so quickly my head is spinning. Perhaps that is part of what you meant, Brian, when you said that the "approach in this book is "shock & awe". So I'm just going to mention some of the ideas that hit me particularly hard.

Chapter One:

1. The U.S. betrayal, not just at Kyoto but also at Copenhagen. Obama simply reiterated the pledge of the U.S. to cut carbon emissions to 4 percent below 1990 levels--"a pledge whose stunning weakness his aides continued to blame on the difficulty of getting anything tougher through Congress." The U.S. is such a political mess--but I'm ashamed to think that the U.S. Congress is literally holding the world hostage. The U.N. is powerless against that type of stubborn ignorance.

2. He was tiring me out on pp. 33-35 with his lists--and then he himself says that the trouble with "this endless collection of anecdotes, though, is that it misses the essential flavor of the new world we're constructing." He needed to listen to his own advice!

3. On p. 46, he knocked me over with the story of the Versace hotel in Dubai, where had planned on REFRIGERATING the beaches since the sand is too hot! "We will suck the heat out of the sand to keep it cool enough to lie on," Sunland's Dubai boss, Soheil Abedian, founder and president of Palazzo Versace, told The Sunday Times in London. "This is the kind of luxury that top people want." That was December 2008. ... When Sunland abandoned its refrigerated beach project on environmental grounds in July 2009, Abedian admitted: "The idea, as good as it sounded at the time, is not right for today."

http://www.smh.com.au/world/sun-sand-...
.


message 36: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 923 comments Florence wrote: "Finished Chapter 2. I thought there was such a melancholy tone to this chapter.

"What's amazing, in retrospect, is how close we came to actually listening to their message."
"that we'd passed up ..."


It is. But at the same time, he puts some amusing one-liners in there to break up the gloom and doom message.

Overall, I love his tone. Having watched a number of his lectures on youtube and listening in on some video chats with 350.org, it "sounds" like Bill. Also, it easily readable and captures the readers attention. Even though I've felt overwhelmed at times, I'm still turning the pages.


message 37: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 923 comments Julia wrote: "I'm finding McKibben's approach in the first two chapters to be pretty overwhelming, in the sense that he piles anecdotes on top of each other so quickly my head is spinning. Perhaps that is part o..."

I'm not crazy about the anecdotes. I teach argument now and again, and I always tell my students to start with anecdotes and end with anecdotes - it serves as "pathos." But rarely use them in the middle because people are looking for the logos and ethos in the middle. Much more substantial, and provides more evidence. Anecdotes aren't evidence - they can easily be just be a one in a million scenario.


message 38: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 923 comments I'm half way through Chapter 4, and really love this chapter. It seems a bit out of place with (at least until this point) no concrete connection to climate change - it seems more a "foodie" chapter. But love the message of local farms and home food gardens.

He mentioned Wendell Berry and Julia has posted a number of Berry's poems in the poetry thread.

So, to keep our discussion moving for those who have finished, I'm posting here Berry's "Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front." When I think of Berry, this is the poem I think of.

"Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord,
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Prasie ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion--put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satify
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

DISCUSS. :-)


message 39: by Brian (last edited Jun 09, 2013 06:12AM) (new)

Brian Burt | 435 comments Mod
Overall, I struggled with the repeated message that "we're already toast." I appreciate the urgency of Bill's call to action, and his desire to make it absolutely clear that we have no more "window of indecision" to muse about potential consequences... but too much gloom & doom risks demoralizing folks instead of motivating them. I much preferred the tone of the "Do the Math" documentary and the "Carbon Nation" documentary, which energized me (green energized! ;-) and made me believe we have the power to effect "positive climate change."

I still found the book informative. But there were times when it was heavy slogging, in terms of depressing the heck out of me. I'm interested in reading "The End of Nature" at some point to see how that compares.


message 40: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 923 comments Brian wrote: "Overall, I struggled with the repeated message that "we're already toast." I appreciate the urgency of Bill's call to action, and his desire to make it absolutely clear that we have no more "windo..."

I also struggled with the gloom and doom. And agree that it will demoralize people. People have to have some sense of hope, or they will just stick their fingers in their ears or party like it is 1999. Neither are obviously what we are striving for. :-)

And I loved Carbon Nation. It was energizing. And gives very concrete ways the nation can engage in these issues.

Also, I think that Bill (and other environmental authors) should also focus on ways that individual people can help - particularly with overconsumption. That is one of our biggest problems...


message 41: by Julia (last edited Jun 09, 2013 06:47AM) (new)

Julia (juliastrimer) Lynn, thanks so much for posting Berry's great poem here--I needed a dose of his exuberant joy about now. Love these lines especially:

"Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years....

Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts."

I admire Bill McKibben for his dedication and passion--but I love Wendell Berry for his choice of joy.


message 42: by Brian (new)

Brian Burt | 435 comments Mod
Julia wrote: "Lynn, thanks so much for posting Berry's great poem here--I needed a dose of his exuberant joy about now. Love these lines especially:

"Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build un..."


I wasn't familiar with Wendell Berry, but his Manifesto is very cool! Reminds me of the tone of Joel Salatin, the owner of Polyface Farms (featured prominently in "The Omnivore's Dilemma"). My wife and I were lucky enough to hear him speak during his Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World tour a year or so back. He was funny, common-sense oriented, and very inspirational about the local food movement!

As a writer, I guess I've always been drawn to environmental themes. My first real break came from a short story called "The Last Indian War," which definitely fit into the "eco-fiction" category and dealt with greedy corporate interests willing to destroy a world for profits. (Not much of a stretch, eh?) It won the Writers of the Future Gold Award years ago and encouraged me to keep writing. If anyone's interested, it's freely available here: http://www.briantburt.com/Writing/Las...


message 43: by Julia (last edited Jun 09, 2013 08:11AM) (new)

Julia (juliastrimer) Brian, I just read the story, and it's incredible. I really like that you linked Joseph Soaring-Hawk-Who-Sees-Far back to his Cherokee heritage. And to have the puffer-owls communicate in ultrasonic music is brilliant.

This comment made me think of how the naive Taino welcomed Columbus; Shaman is a great character.

"When he saw us drop out of the clouds, he told his tribe we were sacred sky spirits. After a few weeks with the pulverizers, we'd flattened half their hunting territory and driven most of the game away. The chief labeled us demons and declared Shaman a false priest."

The sacrifice of McIntyre gave me a jolt when I found out Hawk had been in on it--but McIntyre represented all the greed of the human race, spread out to the stars.

You captured an idea in 1992 that "Avatar" expanded on in 2009--and I'm glad Hawk found a home. The story is very deserving of the award, and I'd be interested to read more of your work.

Thanks so much for sharing.


message 44: by Brian (new)

Brian Burt | 435 comments Mod
Julia wrote: "Brian, I just read the story, and it's incredible. I really like that you linked Joseph Soaring-Hawk-Who-Sees-Far back to his Cherokee heritage. And to have the puffer-owls communicate in ultrasonic music is brilliant..."

Thank you, Julia. I'm very glad you liked it! I do have a similarly themed short story, "Chrysalis," also freely available on the web site: http://www.briantburt.com/Writing/Chr... . And my new novel "Aquarius Rising" has climate change as its central theme, if you're looking for something longer: http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/s...

I'll stop babbling about my own stuff now. Feel free to visit my author space on Goodreads ( Brian Burt ) if you ever feel like it. I blog about books there, and my first blog entry happened to be about Bill McKibben and this group!


message 45: by Julia (new)

Julia (juliastrimer) Thanks, Brian--I just "became a fan" on your site :-) The only other author for whom I've done that is Neil Gaiman, and I loved that you mentioned his "Odd and the Frost Giants" on your page.

I'll definitely look into more of your work, and thanks for being so generous in sharing the online links.


message 46: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 923 comments Brian wrote: "I wasn't familiar with Wendell Berry, but his Manifesto is very cool! Reminds me of the tone of Joel Salatin, the owner of Polyface Farms (featured prominently in "The Omnivore's Dilemma"). My wife and I were lucky enough to hear him speak during his Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World tour a year or so back. He was funny, common-sense oriented, and very inspirational about the local food movement!"

He is like Joel Salatin! Who I fell in love with after seeing the Food, Inc. documentary. And wish I had a Joel Salatin type farm where I live. Lucky you that you were able to hear him speak.

And I put your web site on my "to read" list. I'm a bit crazed this week getting ready to go on vacation, but when I get back, I'll have the reminder.


message 47: by Brian (new)

Brian Burt | 435 comments Mod
Lynnm wrote: "He is like Joel Salatin! Who I fell in love with after seeing the Food, Inc. documentary. And wish I had a Joel Salatin type farm where I live. Lucky you that you were able to hear him speak...."

Yeah, you're right, we were very lucky. He mesmerized the crowd! And I have to get my act together and actually read "This Ain't Normal": always meant to, but I never got it to the top of my book queue. (What a slacker, eh?)

Have a nice vacation, Lynn!


message 48: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 923 comments The last chapter is definitely my favorite chapter. As I posted, I liked his comments on food.

But, it is going to sound as if I didn't like it. :-) Two things bothered me:

One was when he talked about "soft power." I'm so so so so so very tired of hearing that from environmentalists about solar and wind. Good grief, between making things more energy efficient, having people consume less, and having wind and solar, we won't need fossil fuels. Maybe I'm being naive, but stop being so negative! Then, he said conservation, community, and bikes are "soft" as well. Ditto the above. Conservation and community is soft? Not in my book.

Two, did not like the idea of burning wood. I am a tree person. I don't care if it is better than fossil fuels. Wind. Solar. No trees. Plus, for those who having breathing problems and associated health issues, wood is definitely not the answer.

But with that said, he did go in depth into "small" energy points. That is definitely where we need to be. Each state having wind farms, lots of solar.


message 49: by Lynnm (last edited Jun 10, 2013 03:32PM) (new)

Lynnm | 923 comments Brian wrote: "Yeah, you're right, we were very lucky. He mesmerized the crowd! And I have to get my act together and actually read "This Ain't Normal": always meant to, but I never got it to the top of my book queue. (What a slacker, eh?)
"


I haven't gotten to it either so I'm a slacker too! :-) Extremely cliched, but true: so many books, too little time....

Thanks, I will! (Or I hope I will....)


message 50: by Florence (new)

Florence Millo | 41 comments As much as I applaud Bill McKibben, as much as I am certain that climate change is real and that our lives will be altered dramatically by it, the only thing I got out of this book is depressed. The first half is unrelentingly grim and the second half is not focused on anything concrete that I either didn't already know or on things that, while touchy, feely good, aren't likely to be applicable to me.


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