If you want to read a depressing but true book on the changes in our planet and it’s environment… not changes coming in a generation, but the changes that are HERE NOW, then pick up a copy of “Eaarth” by Bill McKibben (who 20 years ago tried to warn us with “The End Of Nature.” The spelling of the planet’s name is not a typo… McKibben wants us to see that our planet is somewhat familiar to us, but has changed enough to be not quite the same… and we will have to get used to it.
One of his scariest points is that, even if everyone in the world were given an electric car tomorrow, changed all our lightbulbs to the low output variety, grew all our own food and collected our own water from rain, ended all wars we are involved in and brought everyone home, it would still be hundreds of years before we recovered the world of the mid 20th Century, if at all.
Here’s a video of McKibben on the book:
To me, starting the change in how we live, what we eat, how we power what we do must begin now, even if it is my grandchildren’s grandchildren who start to see the results. But, as McKibben points out, change has to be complete and worldwide, either voluntarily or by political force, for anything to really matter. Of course, this brings up the conflicts of economics, progressive growth of economies (which must end…especially in huge countries like China and India as well as with us), and views of climate change moving faster than all predictions by politicians and scientists.
And it brings up the problem of religious belief.
For instance… there is reason why some extreme right leaning Christian fundamentalists might do nothing to help change our ways of living”
Many Christian fundamentalists feel that concern for the future of our planet is irrelevant, because it has no future. They believe we are living in the End Time, when the son of God will return, the righteous will enter heaven, and sinners will be condemned to eternal hellfire. They may also believe, along with millions of other Christian fundamentalists, that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed — even hastened — as a sign of the coming Apocalypse.
Then there are those who take a Biblical view that there is no change which is going to effect our climate and therefor our lives. God’s promise to Noah:
“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” (Gen 8:22)
… and if you think intelligent people do not take this seriously, then you miss the views of members of our own Congress:
-IL Rep John Shimkus tells us how climate change is bullshit via the theological argument. March 2009
Well, some of us see this, and try to get the word out, but I’m not sure it works. For instance:
– Rachel Maddow April 2009
And major religions, like the Lutherans, are assuming that God is behind everything and will keep radical change from destroying us.
From God, Creation and Climate Change:
Despite all the negativities—such as the disruption and destruction occurring due to climate change—we still trust that God is at work in this world, often hidden beneath its opposite.
– published by the Lutheran World Federation, 2009
And then there are the people who, while not in Congress anymore, are the big pushers of the Tea Bagger’s movement:
What I’m suggesting is we have a sort of an eco-evangelical hysteria going on and it leads me to almost wonder if we are becoming a nation of environmental hypochondriacs that are willing to use the power of the state to impose enormous restrictions on the rights and the comforts of, and incomes of individuals who serve essentially a paranoia, a phobia, that has very little fact evidence in fact. Now these are observations that are popular to make because right now its almost taken as an article of faith that this crisis is real.
Let me say I take it as an article of faith if the lord God almighty made the heavens and the Earth, and he made them to his satisfaction and it is quite pretentious of we little weaklings here on earth to think that, that we are going to destroy God’s creation.
– Dick Army
I guess I am, and McKibben is, and Rachel Maddow is a pretentious little weakling…I believe that all of “creation” can be destroyed.
Believe what you want…but think about changing at least one element of your energy consumption or carbon output. And think about who you vote for and will they end the war, or will they promote conservation of water and air, or will they stop our economy from growing–since growth increases consumption.
And read McKibben’s book if you don’t do anything else.
“We simply can’t live on the new earth as if it were the old earth. We’ve foreclosed that option.”
– Bill McKibben, the respected environmentalist and author of the pioneering “End of Nature.”
OK, now in order to get really serious about how we are going to have to think about living on this planet which McKibbon says is not dying but is already dead. The article in Salon called “Eaarth”: Earth is over, reviewing his new book, is scary… not just because he can pinpoint the problems but because he shows how our political and economic situation as a world power keeps us from accepting the solutions. It’s worth reading.
More on the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, April 22nd, later.