Eaarth | Bill McKibben

Summary of: Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
By: Bill McKibben


Immerse yourself in the vital topics and themes of ‘Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet’ by Bill McKibben. Explore the author’s detailed account of the irreversible impacts of climate change, the crucial need for a transition from the racehorse economy to a workhorse one, and the significance of fostering a sense of local community. This summary enables you to unravel key discussions around CO2 levels, global warming’s devastating consequences, and the challenge of maintaining a stable civilization. Through instructive, well-organized, and engaging language, embrace the profound insights offered on how to cultivate a sustainable, diverse, and conservation-oriented world.

Climate Change: A New World

In the book, The Uninhabitable Earth, author David Wallace-Wells presents a stark picture of Earth’s future with climate change. The beautiful blue and white planet seen from space is long gone. The world, through the effects of global warming, is turning brown as its oceans grow darker, and everyone suffers. Burning fossil fuels has increased temperatures by more than 1.5°F, causing stronger storms that carry more rain and lightning, leading to more forest fires. Climate change affects the tropics, causing permanent drought conditions in Australia and the US, while glaciers melt in Tibet and Bolivia, changing regional ecologies and economies. Oceans absorb more CO2, increasing water acidity, destroying coral reefs, and making it harder for oysters to reproduce. People were caught off guard as they realized they had inflicted long-term damage on the Earth. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have surpassed the dangerous level of 350 ppm, but political leaders have not done enough to address the situation. To repair the damage, new thinking is needed to take a different scale approach — thinking about states, towns, neighborhoods, and blocks to preserve the remaining planet.

The Catastrophic Effects of Global Warming

The consequences of global warming are dire and include increased temperatures, extreme weather, crop failure, pests and diseases, flooding, higher costs, and inaccurate risk assessments.

The world is heading towards a catastrophic future as the effects of global warming continue to worsen. Rising temperatures are causing more frequent heat waves and devastating weather changes. Additionally, rainfall is becoming more erratic, and droughts are becoming permanent. With the changing environment, storms are getting stronger, and forest fires are becoming an annual event. Such changes are leading to less productive cropland and smaller animals carrying less protein. As the climate changes, some plants will not be able to grow where they once did.

Moreover, global warming has led to various pests and diseases affecting plants and animals, leading to decreased agricultural productivity. As winters become shorter, pests breed faster and devastating their target crops. Flooding is becoming more common, leading to the overflowing of rivers and rising ocean levels. It is expected that the cost of food production will increase in these difficult circumstances as infrastructure has to be built to meet the needs of a changing world. Finally, as the climate and environment change, society will struggle to assess potential risks and prepare for them, leading to further damage and difficulties.

The Need for a Post-Growth Economy

The old growth reflex of the contemporary Western civilization is unfit for the new world. The green growth advocated by Al Gore and Thomas Friedman is no longer feasible as it requires developments that should have begun decades ago. The changed track of Eaarth calls for a slow and steady workhorse economy to replace the fast and flashy racehorse economy. Communities across the country have begun to transform themselves by slowing down and downsizing major economic elements such as organizations that become too big to react well to changed conditions. The shift requires a serious mental overhaul and redirection towards a post-growth economy.

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