Have you ever read a book that affects you so deeply that your life for ever more will be separated into “before” and “after” reading said book? For me, eaarth is such a book.
I am certainly no climate change sceptic and some would consider our family to be quite “green” – we recycle and compost; we don’t take foreign holidays; we cycle and use public transport as much as possible; we eat organic food…
However, until reading McKibben’s book, I don’t think I had fully appreciated the scariness of the predicament that we humans have placed this planet in. McKibben gives example after example after example of the effects of global warming. And these are not predicted effects. These are things that are happening RIGHT NOW. This is not a problem just for our grandchildren. This is not even a problem just for our children. This is our problem. Now. Right now. As McKibben puts it:
The planet on which our civilization evolved no longer exists.
Although the first half of the book was seriously terrifying (it quite literally gave me nightmares), McKibben does go on to talk about solutions for the future and there is hope BUT only if we radically change things. A few green tweaks here and there are not enough. We need to do some serious scaling down. In McKibben’s words:
The project we’re now undertaking – maintenance, graceful decline, hunkering down, holding on against the storm – requires a different scale. Instead of continents and vast nations, we need to think about states, about towns, about neighbourhoods, about blocks. Big was dynamic; when the project was growth, we could stand the side effects. But now the side effects of that size – climate change, for instance – are sapping us. We need to scale back, to go to ground. We need to take what wealth we have left and figure out how we’re going to use it, not to spin the wheel one more time but to slow the wheel down. We need to choose safety instead of risk, and we need to do it quickly, even at the sacrifice of growth. We need, as it were, to trade in the big house for something that suits our circumstances on this new Eaarth. We need to feel our vulnerabilities. It’s not just people in poor nations who are exposed to the elements now, but all of us. We’ve got to make our societies safer, and that means making them smaller. It means, since we live on a different planet, a different kind of civilization.
From a personal point of view, this has triggered some serious thinking about how I can prepare for this future, and as a home-educating parent, how I can help prepare my children for this new Eaarth. I strongly believe that compassion and kindness will become more important than ever. But I also think that we need to become more self-reliant and resilient. The skills for life on Eaarth are probably quite different to those emphasised in our current educational model. I believe that we need more practical skills. I undertake to help our family to learn skills like:
- growing and cooking our own food
- mending and making our own clothes
- basic property maintenance
- holistic health care
Our throw-away, consumer, growth-driven way of life must end soon. These forgotten skills (that would have been second nature to our forefathers & mothers) are in serious need of renewal. What better place to start than right here, right now?
How will you prepare for life on Eaarth?