Wednesday, September 1, 2010


In Eaarth, Bill McKibben paints a picture for us, a picture detailing the intricacies and interwoven nature of this planet we call Earth. He then goes on to tell us that this pale blue dot that we call home is no longer the Earth that we evolved on and the Earth that evolved right along with us, sustaining us all the while, this is a new Earth, one that we no longer know anything about. This new Earth is unpredictable, hauntingly beautiful and seemingly angry. This new Earth no longer plays by the rules we once thought we understood. This new Earth that we find ourselves residents of is a volatile place in which melting ice causes the sun to reflect off the blue of the ocean causing a temperature rise, which in turn causes a myriad of consequences, everything from the release of methane, to peat bogs drying out, to water shortages and hurricanes.

This new Earth is a place in which the poorest and most vulnerable of species, those members of our community that are causing the least amount of harm, are paying the highest price, millions are paying with their lives. This new earth is a place in which most of us avoid personal responsibility, pushing our problems off on someone else, leaving the hard work to the next generation to deal with. But, as McKibben writes, this problem can only be pushed off for so long, because this new Earth, the only home we’ve ever known, is being killed, one drop of carbon and one demolished tree at a time. Future generations are staring back at us through time, silently pleading to us, and begging us to see past our own selfishness and greed.

McKibben bombards his readers with shocking statistics about the acidity of our oceans, the un-breathability of our air, and the annihilation of our forests. He shares with us stories of struggling agrarians and fisherman who are trying desperately to feed their families and of entire countries facing the possibility of evacuation. And this is all happening today, not in the future, and although we haven’t had that much time to study this new Earth we do know one thing, things are speeding up. Processes that used to take hundreds and thousands of years now take a decade or less. The time has run out. As Mckibben tells us, even if every environmental bill was passed that has ever been proposed and every politician kept her promise about cleaning up the air and creating clean energy, it still wouldn’t be enough. We have caused irreparable amounts of damage to the very thing that keeps us alive and now we are left with the consequences of those actions. So now the question is, what are we going to do about it?