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 I read parts of this book in when it came out, excerpted in various liberal and environmental journals and in the NY Times. 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 warned of the coming environmental crisis already in the seventies, we did almost nothing over twenty years to respond to what scientists continue to scream about. Who is this "we" that I McKibben refers to?
With the advent of such global environmental problems as acid rain, the greenhouse effect, the depletion of the ozone layer, and the massive destruction of tropical rain forests, humankind has lost its sense of nature as an infinitely renewable resource capable of absorbing any amount of human alteration.
Whatever we think nature is—the external world, wilderness, the biosphere, the source of life, God—it can no longer be considered a force independent of human impact.
The air, the water, trees, land, and oceans all have become increasingly subject to environmental degradation to the point that they have lost their natural resiliency.
In his title essay, McKibben laments the loss of the concept of wilderness, or unspoiled nature. Increasingly, everything in the natural world is in some way altered by human use.
Along with the loss of the last remnants of pristine natural environment, McKibben suggests, we are losing our idea of nature, so that we can no longer appreciate the value of an unspoiled natural environment.
Unspoiled nature is our Eden, our genesis, our point of departure. Surrounded by a monotonous, artificial landscape of urban sprawl, we feel the need for pristine nature, untouched by human presence. Such wilderness is valuable for its own sake, for its spiritual value, as Henry David Thoreau and other naturalists have argued.
The existence of wilderness reminds us of those natural forces beyond human control, but such places are increasingly difficult to find.
Western man has traditionally viewed the natural world as a collection of natural resources to be developed—as sources of food, habitat, and raw materials—or as an adversary to be conquered rather than as a sacred, nurturing habitat in which humans take their place alongside other forms From the end of nature bill mckibben essay life.
With the loss of the health of the natural environment, McKibben argues, humans will be forced to manage the entire planet as an artificial environment—as a convalescing patient whose health must be constantly monitored. Huge natural cataclysms have occurred periodically in the history of the earth, McKibben concedes, and aside from computer-generated models or extrapolations, there is no clear way of predicting the effects of possible human global alterations of the natural environment.
The warning signs, however, of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, with dire forecasts of global warming, massive changes in weather patterns, melting of the polar ice caps, and a consequent rise in the level of the oceans, have given scientists pause for thought.
In much the same way that studies of the global consequences of nuclear war led to the hypothesis of a nuclear winter, McKibben is warning of the equally serious cumulative effects of global atmospheric pollution from the burning of fossil fuels.
Perhaps we are indeed reaching a great watershed in human civilization, akin to the introduction of domesticated crops or animals, as a result of which we will henceforth become stewards of a domesticated global environment; perhaps, however, the natural world is more resilient than McKibben imagines.
The untamed wilderness whose passing McKibben laments is perhaps as much an aesthetic concept as an ecological reality. This natural sublimity, however, is not always peaceful or serene; it can be violent or cataclysmic as well, as in the case of volcanoes, avalanches, tornadoes, hurricanes, and forest fires.
All nature is in a state of dynamic change, and evolution means that living forms must adapt to these changes in order to survive. There is no denying that man is destroying the habitat of many creatures and threatening their extinction through the sheer rapidity and scope of habitat destruction, but life is tenacious, and some forms of life have been able to coexist with man very successfully.
It is certainly possible, however, that massive extinctions will occur because of the global destruction of habitat, and no one is sure of the long-term consequences for life on a planet with less diverse biota, since the complexity of living systems tends to produce stability and monocultures do not work well in nature.
In a manner reminiscent of fellow contributors to The New Yorker John McPhee and Jonathan Schell, McKibben has assembled a detailed examination of the complex and uncertain global environmental consequences of unrestricted technological growth.
There is a certain rhetorical justification for his approach, but some who need to hear his message may be put off by his gloom-and-doom scenario. McKibben writes with the self- righteous, almost sanctimonious, passion of a true believer; moreover, he graphically describes problems without offering much in the way of either collective or individual solutions.
McKibben seems to cast his analysis in moral or theological terms when the issue might better be seen as an economic problem. Ecology is, after all, the economy of nature, and our environmental problems occur at the intersection of human and natural economics.
We have shifted from producing food, clothing, and household needs at home or locally to importing them from a distance—and we are purchasing and consuming these items in ever greater quantities.
At the same time, in the name of progress and comfort, the consumer economy has shifted from human or animal energy to fossil energy, which we have also been conditioned to use in ever greater quantities.
Reducing this monumental wastefulness will require an absolute reversal of our cultural habits and behavior, a complete change in our root values and assumptions.
The alternative is to create a culture in which people find basic satisfaction in something other than material possessions, in which acquisitiveness can be replaced by some other, nonmaterial, goal or purpose for human life.
McKibben is correct insofar as he points to the pending environmental crisis as the end of the materialistic, growth- and consumer-oriented era of Western culture. If humankind is to survive as a species, the next century must bring about some radical changes in global human behavior.
These changes must be predicated on the notion that maintaining the health of the global environment is our paramount concern.
May 11, · The End of Nature should perhaps more properly be read as a pamphlet or essay on human thoughtlessness. The End of Nature: Humanity, Climate Change and the Natural World, by Bill McKibben. Published by Bloomsbury. Long, long ago, in scorching-hot , 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/5. The End of Nature Book Excerpt. Nature, we believe, takes forever. It moves with infinite slowness throughout the many periods of its history, whose names we dimly recall from high school biology—the Devonian, the Triassic, the Cretaceous, the Pleistocene.
The total human population will have to be kept within the carrying capacity of the earth. All sources of ail; water, and land pollution will have to be minimized. We must find new ways to recycle waste products and restore damaged and degraded environments.THE MESSAGE OF The End of Nature justifies its ominous title: According to Bill McKibben, true nature, which was independent of human influence, has been replaced by an artificial nature in whose processes human beings play a part.
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 org, and was among the first to warn of the dangers of global warming/5.
May 11, · The End of Nature should perhaps more properly be read as a pamphlet or essay on human thoughtlessness. The End of Nature: Humanity, Climate Change and the Natural World, by Bill McKibben.
Published by Bloomsbury. Summary: Bill McKibben’s The End of Nature (pages 47 to 91) Just like the game “the name of the game is the game itself,” The End of Nature is a book written by Bill McKibben that talks about the end of .
McKibben'sd End of Nature illustrates problems of artificial nature. THE END OF NATURE. Written by Bill McKibben. Random House.. pages, $ By EVA REGNIER.
THE MESSAGE OF The End of Nature justifies its ominous title: According to Bill McKibben, true nature, which was independent of human influence, has been replaced by an artificial nature in whose processes human beings play a part. The End of Nature Book Review Introduction 1 a) When Bill McKibben originally wrote this book in the late s, the two observations were that we tell time badly and that our sense of scale is awry.