Hope, Human and Wild: True Stories of Living Lightly on the Earthby Bill McKibben
Divided into three sections, Hope, Human and Wild profiles the efforts of three caring communities to preserve wilderness and reverse environmental devastation. They include the reforestation of McKibben’s home territory, New York’s Adirondack Mountains; solving traffic and pollution problems in the densely populated Curitiba, Brazil; and how/i>
Divided into three sections, Hope, Human and Wild profiles the efforts of three caring communities to preserve wilderness and reverse environmental devastation. They include the reforestation of McKibben’s home territory, New York’s Adirondack Mountains; solving traffic and pollution problems in the densely populated Curitiba, Brazil; and how the citizens of Kerala, India have demonstrated that quality of life doesn’t depend on overconsumption of resources. This edition features a new introduction that revisits these places and explores how they’ve changed over the years.
Meet the Author
Bill McKibben is the author of ten books, including The End of Nature, The Age of Missing Information, and Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age. A former staff writer for The New Yorker, he writes regularly for Harper’s, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New York Review of Books, among other publications. He is a scholar in residence at Middlebury College and lives in Vermont with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, and their daughter.
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In a time when many people finally accept the fact of global warming and of continuing human assault on the environment, Bill McKibben has launched this wonderfully written, inspiring, and informative book, another in his continuing series of important essays on the complex relationship between humankind and the planet we inhabit. McKibben, a former writer for The Atlantic Monthly magazine, transplanted himself and his small family in the Adirondack region of upstate New York in the late 1980s, from whence he has come once more to deliver a healthy dollop of insight, whimsy, and wisdom concerning the way we continue to walk not so lightly on the earth. Like most environmentalists, McKibben is deeply concerned about the continuing onslaught on the skin of the planet, and about our continuing disregard for the welfare of everything within the natural environment we most depend upon to have a continuing quality of life. Yet he is also propelled by aspects of his own experience with the ecology of his local area to set off on what he terms to be an exploration of hope, in the sense that he was searching for examples of recovery and progress in the natural landscape. One wonderful example he uses is that of the recovery of the amount of land reforested since the signal journey of one Timothy White, who in traveling in the early 1800s found very little land not cut and turned to the plow. Yet some two hundred years later, much of the Northeast forest is once again covering the landscape, and all of this in spite of the vastly increased population over the landmass in question. Of course, as McKibben admits, must of the reforesting took place based on the gradual abandonment of the lands of the Northeast in the so-called western migration as we fulfilled our "Manifest Destiny", and this migration also spelled further deforestation efforts in those area under active migration. Once again, part of the genius of the natural environmental processes can be viewed in such a way, requiring not so much in the way of human intervention as in a kind of purposeful benign neglect (my own hackneyed term, not McKibben's). Left alone long enough, natural processes are underway that are restoring the Northeast forests to their primordial glory. And, like McKibben, I wonder at the good fortune some of us have to live in relatively sparsely developed and populated areas, where we can enjoy nature on amore personal level, where deer and bear and moose and all sorts of birds are free to live and roam. I sit in wonder with my friends the Labradors and watch, enraptured as the geese soar noisily above me this time every year..... Moreover, one must share his frustration and sadness at the prospect of such massive forces denuding and despoiling the ecosystems even as we read and write. While he offers some reasons for hope, the truth may be that things will have to become much worse for human beings to begin to act more responsibly in following his advice to find many more ways to walk more lightly on the earth. It is imperative for those of us who understand the magnitude of the dangers confronting us act to continue to try to inform others, while also preparing to gradually break our own bonds to this culture of waste and wanton destruction. This book is more fuel for our own sustenance as we begin the long journey back to what Joni Mitchell once called "the garden'. See you there! Enjoy!
Hope, Human and Wild is an inspiring book about things that we can do -- ways that we can try to mold our culture and community into sustainability. It is inspiring, emotional, and realistic. Highly recommended!