McKibben appears to have a knack for timing his books. His very first book, "The End of Nature," was published on the heels of the cataclysmic Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. Now, 21 years later, with the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe as a backdrop (which by some estimates will be 10 times greater than the Exxon spill) his latest book ups the ante by painting a gritty, and realistic portayal of our society's devastating impacts on the environment of the future.
In the rabid pursuit for ever-dwindling supplies of fossil fuels, we are turning to increasingly risky methods of extraction — like mountaintop removal and offshore drilling — and whether intended or not, we are in fact creating a world that is entirely distinct from the one that created the conditions for our species to succeed. A world with extreme weather patterns (like the unprecedented Nashville floods), volcanoes triggered by melting glaciers, water too toxic to consume, food genetically engineered to drive home-grown crops extinct, and oceans that are incapable of supporting life.
It's a GRIM picture, but I encourage you to read the book. When McKibben published his first book, "The End of Nature," it foretold exactly the world in which he now find ourselves some two decades later. So if you want a glimpse at the next 20 years, read it ... if you dare.
If not, go on pretending that there is plenty more oil in the Gulf to be safely extracted. And that an unlimited supply of mountains can be blown up without consequence to get more coal, and that fisheries will continue to feed the 70 percent of the human population that depends upon them, and that life will go on as usual ... if you dare.
On the bright side, McKibben sees this as a time to rediscover what's really important to us —being connected with our families and our communities. It may turn out that this may be our most valuable resource when all is said done.
The conversation above is between Bill McKibben and Asher Miller, the executive director of the Post-Carbon Institute, a leading think-tank on climate change and one of the best sources of climate news. Check it out.
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