“We’re running Genesis backwards, decreating.”
– Bill Mckibben –
Prophet. During the course of the Monday Evening Book Group’s March 18, 2013 discussion of Eaarth: Making Life on a Tough New Planet, somebody referred to Bill McKibben as a prophet. I think that’s an apt description given his gaunt visage, reminiscent of an old school ascetic, and his perpetual preaching of profound Gaian gospel. Speaking of wise men, the evening marked the return of Richard “The Professor” Schneider, who did a superlative job of moderating a rather large and enthusiastic ensemble of disciples of the author’s scriptures. I would also like to say thanks to Tri County NY Transition for helping to promote the event.
As for me, I’ve been reading Bill McKibben for what seems like forever, and for the most part, his head and heart seem to be in the right place. On the other hand, I have not always agreed with him. For example, I strongly disagreed with his thinking in Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age. No surprise there, any writer who traffics in serious issues is bound to kick-up a little controversy.
Analysis of the work reveals that it can be neatly divided into two elements, which we’ll dub descriptive and prescriptive. The initial portion of the work concerns itself with describing how humanity’s fossil fuel use has already altered the planet. Mr. Mckibben makes a rather overwhelming case in this regard. Given this, I was not surprised to find that many members found this aspect of the work quite convincing, but faulted it for generating a sense of helplessness.
Controversy arose, however, when the discussion moved to the prescriptive portion of Eaarth. At this point, I would like to compliment the group on its decorum. Twenty-three passionate people spoke from a wide variety of perspectives, and everybody was kind enough to entertain notions that were likely far removed from what they considered ideal. I also want thank everybody for putting-up with my playing devil’s advocate. My decision to do so stems from an Aristotelian ideal that states:
It is the mark of an educated mind to entertain a thought without accepting it.
I think that the adoption of this sort of mindset is vital if we’re to solve what Mr. McKibben labels “the biggest challenge humans have ever faced.” If we’re to succeed we must be well-informed, and we’re going to have to consider all of our options with an open mind. I promised to provide proof that there are smart folks proffering solutions other than those advanced by Mr. McKibben, and they will be the subject of a number of upcoming posts. To get the ball rolling in this direction, check-out my post on Stewart Brand’s wonderful Whole Earth Discipline, which is well-worth the time it will take to read it.
Bill McKibben’s Home Page
NPR On Point Interview
Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
5 McKibben Must Reads
Bill McKibben is prolific with a capital P. With that in mind, please allow me to share five of my favorite McKibben creations, which serve to illustrate the breadth of his work.
The Global Warming Reader
Hundred Dollar Holiday
Our next gathering is slated for April 15, 2013, and will feature John Green’s spectacular novel The Fault in Our Stars. This will be the group’s first foray into the Young Adult genre, and I am quite confident that it’s going to be a smashing success. Afterall, it comes highly recommended by Michelle “Gonna Be A Great Librarian” Lettus. But don’t just take our word for it, check out Amazon’s enthusiatic summary:
“In The Fault in Our Stars, John Green has created a soulful novel that tackles big subjects–life, death, love–with the perfect blend of levity and heart-swelling emotion. Hazel is sixteen, with terminal cancer, when she meets Augustus at her kids-with-cancer support group. The two are kindred spirits, sharing an irreverent sense of humor and immense charm, and watching them fall in love even as they face universal questions of the human condition–How will I be remembered? Does my life, and will my death, have meaning?–has a raw honesty that is deeply moving.”