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The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here
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message 1: by Becky (new)

Becky Norman | 786 comments Mod
Please add your comments about The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here here as part of our June Book of the Month read.

Thanks,
Becky


Cara (cara16) | 34 comments I nominated this book but must admit that I've yet to pick it up. It's next on my list once I finish my current reads! Has anyone read this or Jahren's other book, Lab Girl?


Julie M | 241 comments Hi, Yes, I’ve read Lab Girl. It was quite the insight into trees and into the struggles of keeping a science lab financed. And she provided insights into bipolar disease too.

I started The Story of More in April. I took a break from it, yet hope to return and finish it this weekend. It’s not academic. It’s very easy to read. It does have a lot of data that builds and builds and builds the story of more!

I hope more of you are reading it and we can discuss it this month


message 4: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Zimmerman | 640 comments I have read and reviewed Lab Girl. I think it may have been a previous book of the month.
My copy of The Story of More arrived a couple weeks ago. The first section has four chapters which are mostly introduction.
I have just started the second section which addresses food production. Very interesting.


message 5: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Zimmerman | 640 comments I have read the section on grain production and meat production. Since I have heart disease I rarely eat red meat, but I am now thinking of cutting back even further.


Iris | 30 comments I found this to be a highly readable treatise on the realities of climate change and a candid appraisal of what can be done to slow its momentum. The first half of the book is highly engaging and fun to read “there are nine pigs for every person in Iowa”. The second half about energy usage, species extinction and so forth is more stark. The Appendix is brief but indispensable. In it, she suggests how each of us can do our part. I do wish I could muster her optimism about our ability and willingness to confront the problem and reduce our individual, negative impact.


message 7: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Zimmerman | 640 comments So far, I would say she is writing about environmental issues generally, but not specifically climate change.


Iris | 30 comments Yes, not just climate change but the cumulative effect of human activity on the earth.
Ray, you mentioned reducing meat consumption so I’ll throw out the question: are others in the group planning to take some of the actions suggested in the Appendix: the Story of Less? I’ve been making every effort to reduce food waste. And how can I avoid using those plastic bags in the produce department?


message 9: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Zimmerman | 640 comments Iris wrote: "Yes, not just climate change but the cumulative effect of human activity on the earth.
Ray, you mentioned reducing meat consumption so I’ll throw out the question: are others in the group planning..."


I shop with reusable bags as much as possible. I usually just put the produce loose in my cart or basket and then into one of the reusable bags. I plan on washing it when I get home anyhow.


Julie M | 241 comments Hi again, I didn't get as much reading time as I wanted over the weekend, but June is young. I'm drawn to Hope Jahren's writing for many reasons. I was born a few years before and 100 miles west of her in southern Minnesota. Out on the prairie, which these days means: big agriculture.

I now live a few hours east of that area in the Driftless Region of the Mississippi River. I am at home here in the river bluffs and hardwood forest. I need the forest surrounding me and the buffer the forest provides from big ag.

I like Jahren's use of data in reference to her life because it's similar to mine! 50+ years of big ag and constant growth of the human race.

I like her style of writing that draws me to read about environmental science without being a scientist. I read plenty of peer-reviewed articles and portions of textbooks too, but it's nice to have an easy read sometimes.

Her premise to this book was researching change, and she found plenty of it. One glimmer of environmental hope came recently, during the COVID-19 shut-down, with the numerous stories of quick reductions in pollution worldwide as the human race slowed down its activities. I'll write more about the book later, I need to get back to work!


message 11: by Ray (last edited Jun 09, 2020 03:32PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Zimmerman | 640 comments At the end of the section on food, I found myself returning to thinking about Think Little - that little book by Wendell Berry.


Julie M | 241 comments This book reads fast. It's a building and building of data. The pace of it makes me feel anxious. I'm going back now and reading parts of it in shorter sessions.

Overall, it builds a good story about more: more people, longer lives, lower infant mortality rates, more food, more production of food, more energy consumption. I disagree with some of her assumptions, especially about organic food, but I realize she's pulling together some fast thoughts with mostly data as her base and covering some topics that she doesn't have much experience with.

Ray, you mentioned grain and meat production. I have never eaten a lot of meat, but I've consumed a lot of cheese! I too have to avoid animal fat foods now. I love to cook, and I'm beginning to find some mighty fine recipes for changing my diet. I have to say though that I have seen some grass-fed beef operations near me that are amazing. They are so clean and well-managed with rotational grassing that I can't imagine them to be detrimental to the environment. The detrimental comes when we try to feed all the folks on our planet grass-fed beef!

For some reason that I've never asked, my father has always viewed the world as overpopulated. I wonder sometimes where my early environmental influences began, and this might be one of them.

I chose not to have kids due to population and pollution. I did raise three step-kids though. I lived off-grid for 27-years and had solar, wind, and generator power. I'm an organic gardener. I'm an avid recycler and reuser of everything from plastics to metals. Six years ago, I planned a way to work at home so I could drive much less than I used to.

I've been living a low-impact life, in comparison to an average American consumer, but I'm still appalled at the amount of plastic that has worked its way into my life! Most of it is from the kitchen. Whenever I cook less and buy more prepared food, it has to much plastic wrap! Every April, for Earth Day, I trace the amount of garbage my household creates, and then try to think of ways to reduce it for the next 11 months. And I don't want to replace plastic with wood products, I simply want to consume less of every kind of material.

Anyway, I generally agree with most of Jahren's thoughts in this book. I've been doing all that I can for decades to have a smaller footprint, but I've never seen a mass pull back from manufacturing, driving, flying, and production like I have with the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. I know the earth will save herself, as she has shown us in the past few months with some quick recoveries, but I have never figured out how humanity will save itself. And this disturbs me, because I have grandchildren, and I like a lot of people!


message 13: by Ray (last edited Jun 09, 2020 03:48PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Zimmerman | 640 comments This article from Orion magazine presents another view, with the focal point being the collapse following the 2007 economic downturn.
https://orionmagazine.org/article/lif...
The author claims that the only thing that will correct our environmental course is the total collapse of industrial society.


message 14: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Zimmerman | 640 comments I keep having to look up OECD.


message 15: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Zimmerman | 640 comments OECD - Organization for Economic cooperation and Drvelopment


Julie M | 241 comments I’m with the Orion writer: It’s okay to be confused.

I do the little I can to reduce environmental impact, but it’s not enough.


message 17: by Cara (new) - rated it 3 stars

Cara (cara16) | 34 comments I finally caught up and finished reading The Story of More. I found it to be a good overview and really appreciated Jahren's accessible writing. However, I must admit I was hoping for something a bit more nuanced, although I should have taken the clue that this is a really slim volume!

I got a lot more out of the latter half of the book, including the appendices. I am usually skeptical about focusing on individual actions to fight climate change (as opposed to corporations and politicians), but I did find a little bit of hope in this book. In particular, I was surprised to read that simple reductions in household energy usage could cut global emissions by 25%! These changes seemed pretty reasonable to me, although this is probably because I live in a small apartment in an area with mild climate, where I don't need to rely very heavily on heating/cooling.

The comparisons to 1965 Switzerland were pretty effective in illustrating what a lifestyle with reduced energy usage would look like. It doesn't seem so bad to me!

Ultimately, my main takeaway from this is book is that we should probably shift our focus a little bit away from developing and promoting renewable energy sources and more towards just reducing overall energy usage and consumption. This feels counter-intuitive because it means we would still be relying on fossil fuels -- just not as much. But as Jahren pointed out, it's hard to incentivize this approach because it ultimately means doing less, whereas renewable energy at least feels like doing something.

Thanks for the conversation! I appreciated reading everyone else's thoughts on this book, too.


message 18: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Zimmerman | 640 comments Doing less - using less - is indeed the key, but our society is unwilling. I remember a local discussion on protecting our water supply. When I said that the best way to do do would be to stop building more city. The conversation abruptly ended. It was online and the comments on the post just stopped.


message 19: by Julie (last edited Jun 25, 2020 08:26AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Julie M | 241 comments I thought Jahren’s recommendations at the end were very weak. Likely these are what she tells her college students.

I agree that a majority of people aren’t willing to do less, use less. Many are striving to use more.

During the global shutdown with the pandemic and the resulting drop in fossil fueled travel and manufacturing, we’ve seen a quick and remarkable reduction in pollution.

I think that climate change is the number one human issue and I can see why children are the loudest, smartest voices for change.


message 20: by Julie (last edited Jun 25, 2020 08:26AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Julie M | 241 comments I think that climate change and health disasters such as our current pandemic are the things that will slow down human population and pollution.

My long range hope is that nature will adapt very quickly to less of us, similar to how it is adapting now to less activity from all of us, and adaptations will stabilize the global climate enough to save the human race. I see nature as saving the human race, not as humans saving nature.


message 21: by Cara (new) - rated it 3 stars

Cara (cara16) | 34 comments Julie wrote: "I think that climate change and health disasters such as our current pandemic are the things that will slow down human population and pollution.

My long range hope is that nature will adapt very q..."


That's an interesting way of thinking about it: nature saving humans. I agree it's going to take mass reductions in manufacturing and production to make any real, lasting change, not just small individual actions. But I think it's not just simply about the number of humans on the planet. Even if there were fewer of us, resources would not necessarily be distributed equitably and humans could still cause massive environmental degradation. The chapters of the book focused on overpopulation were where I wanted more nuance, especially, because that can be a pretty problematic topic.

I think I will refer back to this book for some of the basic talking points and would probably recommend it as a primer on consumption and climate change. But yeah, probably geared towards a college freshman audience!


message 22: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Zimmerman | 640 comments The earth will survive and nature emerge triumphant. Humans may not.


message 23: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Zimmerman | 640 comments Chapter 13 - I Just finished this chapter.
Very important information here.
Solar. Wind, and hydro energy combined cannot be ramped up to supply even half of our existing power use.
I have also heard it said that developing these sources to the extent that we have developed fossil fuels will result in just as much environmental damage as fossil fuels cause.
Everyone wants more - that is the essential message of Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. His book is the manifesto of Capitalism.


message 24: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Zimmerman | 640 comments Socialist and Communist states are just as focused on growth economies as capitalist states, and have had some of the worst environmental disasters in history - Chernobyl for example. Beijing has the most polluted air in the world. So, those nations are just as committed to the story of more as are we, The difference being that wealth is concentrated in the hands of a different type of elite than it is here.
The story of less sounds like a fairy tale because we simply cannot think in terms of a story of enough.


Julie M | 241 comments Ha, I edited a few of my above posts. I had typed them on my phone. On my phone app the text field leaves my visual box and I can't see what I've attempted to write!

I agree Ray it doesn't matter what type of government oversees a society, the human race tends toward wanting more.

There are likely some environmentally decent countries or communities, but so far there are not enough of them to save us humans. Maybe a book about a community that is environmentally sound, would be a great book to read in this group! Does anyone know of one?

I can think of one example. I've already nominated a July book, but I could nominate this one for August: "A Precautionary Tale: How One Small Town Banned Pesticides, Preserved its Food Heritage, and Inspired a Movement." This is more organic/pollution focused than climate change focused, but learning about the amount of pesticides sprayed in apple growing operations blew me out of the water! Also, the people in this small Italian village are inspiring in their determination. Alas, their ban on pesticides might not last because it is constantly under court challenges by big apple growers. Nothing enough!


message 26: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Zimmerman | 640 comments Ecotopia by callembach


message 27: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Zimmerman | 640 comments Sction four is the most interesting. A recnet discussion with some advocates of alternate energy systems reminded me of how naive these people are in regard to the capabilities of those technologies.


Julie M | 241 comments I'm about to loan my copy of Jahren's book to some alternative energy experts and practitioners. If I receive any interesting feedback from them on Jahren's perspective, I'll share it here later.


Rachael Goodfellow Hi all,
This is the first time I have read along with the group. I really enjoyed The Story of More, it was so much more hopeful than many other books I have read on the subject. For once I actually felt like a climate catastrophe was not inevitable, it has really improved my outlook.
I found it interesting to read of the energy statistics of the USA, especially in comparison to where I live in Scotland. Currently in Scotland we are producing more renewable energy than we use! But I guess it is easily managed in a windy location with a small population.
My only issue is sections on meat consumption, I felt it did not push enough. However, the limited meatless Monday style approach did at least make a solution seem more attainable at a global level.


message 30: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Zimmerman | 640 comments Thinking back on this book is depressing. Most of her suggestions in the appendix are things she had already said wouldn’t really help. It tends to convince me that we are on a collision course with worldwide environmental destruction and there is nothing we can do about it.


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