Reduce fossil fuel consumption now, or our grandchildren will suffer." That's the old wisdom, and it has its critics. Some think environmentalists exaggerate; Bill McKibben believes they don't go nearly far enough. Global catastrophe, he says, is already here. The earth has changed so radically that it needs a new name: he suggests Eaarth.
McKibben has been dubbed "probably the nation's leading environmentalist" (The Boston Globe) and "the world's best green journalist" (Time). He is also a churchgoing, Sunday-school-teaching Methodist who has written that church people should be at the fore of the environmental movement, because Christianity teaches social justice, creation care, and selfless concern for others (The Christian Century).
In his newest book, Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet (Times Books) , McKibben argues that "the earth has changed in profound ways, ways that have already taken us out of the sweet spot where humans so long thrived." For 10,000 years we bumped along quite nicely with 275 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Then we started burning fossil fuels, and the CO2 level began to rise. Respected scientists now estimate that the maximum safe level is 350 parts per million. According to McKibben's website, 350.org, we are currently at 387.
The results are already devastating. If we were able to turn back the clock and reduce CO2 levels to 350ppm or lower, we would still have a thawed Arctic, acidified oceans, changed rainfall patterns, and higher temperatures. "We're not … going to get back the planet we used to have, the one on which our civilization developed," McKibben writes."We're like the guy who ate steak for dinner every night and let his cholesterol top 300 and ...