Hope, Human and Wild: True Stories of Living Lightly on the Earth By Bill McKibben

    McKibben lit me up with his exploration of issues close to my heart and frequently on my brain: sense of place, sustainability, humanist economics and sane environmental policies, intriguing urban redevelopment, alternatives paths towards a happier healthier world. Central messages: Use less stuff. Treat more kindly all your neighbors, human and otherwise. Foster inter-connectedness. Hope, but work to realize it. 9781571313003 This is the third McKibben book I've read and the one I have connected with the least. I get the sense that after his first book, 1989's The End of Nature, was a success, he felt, as sometimes writers seem to feel, that he had to offer something hopeful in contrast to gloomy view of first book.

    I would compare this book to Bregman's Utopia for Realists (which is the best version of this kind of book I have read) or Greider's Soul of Capitalism (a not-so-successful version). These books basically say: Ok, there are a lot of hard to solve problems out there, but it's not all bad! Here's some silver linings or reasons for hope, even if they are slim! Unfortunately, the reasons for hope are rarely anywhere close to the scale of the problem and these books just sort of feel like a waste of time to me.

    McKibben here talks about his own region of the Adirondack mountains, as well two other examples of cities managing to adapt well and live relatively sustainably, Curibita, Brazil, and Kerala, India. McKibben is a talented enough writer to keep things engaging but it sure feels like this is a weak reed to hold the entire weight of this book.

    It was published in the mid-1990s, so I guess it was an overall more hopeful time. Here in the summer of 2022, as heatwaves buckle the roads and warp the steel train tracks of Europe, it feels hopelessly pollyannaish. 9781571313003 Loved it - one of those for activists who think their achievements are too small to count - cause for optimism! 9781571313003 This was an uplifting book to read. It documents Bill McKibben's optimism about things environmental, at least when he wrote it in 1995. (McKibben is, of course, perhaps the foremost environmental writer in America today.)

    The most interesting chapters were those about the city of Curitiba Brazil, and the southern Indian state of Kerala. McKibben writes about these places with a sense of wonder and, as the book title says, hope. As the subtitle of his book says, these are true stories of living lightly on the earth. Both Curitiba and Kerala have a decades deep history of progressive (left-leaning, even Communist) governments, which have fostered (in utterly different circumstances, and very different ways) places for people to live light on the earth. And despite this light living, their quality of life (health care, transportation, literacy, fertility, life expectancy) is unarguably high (unless one defines quality of life simply in terms of GNP and consumption levels!).

    Of course the book is somewhat dated, over fifteen years old, and McKibben's 2007 Afterward, though still expressing optimism, has to me a note of regret to it, a sense of opportunity lost, or maybe opportunity slipping away. He asks, has the world taken any note of the successes of these places? And although there are some examples of such notice having taken place, most of the world has ignored them.

    The world, right now, is choosing between two ideas. In one, the American-GATT-Wal-Mart model, the individual counts for everything. In the other - the Kerala-Curitiba-Adirondack version - the idea of community is a little more crucial ... (this) revolutionary idea of Jaime Lerner that a city can be made gregarious, the revolutionary idea of the Kerala left that the key to progress is raising the poor majority, not the rich minority.
    McKibben in more recent times fights on (350.org, the anti-Keystone protest), but his Eaarth reveals a man sliding into a new stance, one of starting to emphasize local sustainability as the fall-back position to a fight for the global environment which looks more and more desperate.

    This is one of those books, like Lester Brown's Plan B 4.0, that one reads with a sense of painful loss, a feeling that in a couple decades people will read them and think My god, if only people had listened ....

    9781571313003 I've admired Bill McKibben from the moment I started reading End of Nature on its 10-year anniversary in 1999. His books have pinpointed with startling accuracy the direction we (Americans, in particular, but the global population, too) are heading with regards to our relationship with the planet's air, water, land, flora, and fauna. The case studies in this book - the Adirondack region of America's northeast, a city in Brazil that I'm now obsessed with, and the Indian state of Kerala - are fascinating, and give a sense of how to do things WITHOUT involving politics, and also how to do things without the need to consume more and more, but being happy with less because the things we will have in those situations will be worth so much more. Highly recommend this book for a dose of hope! 9781571313003

    Although this book was written in 1995, it seems very current and pertinent as the global warming discussion heats up. There are four sections to the book. The author begins the book by giving some positive environmental changes made in our country and then discusses the challenges we have yet to conquer.
    The second section examines the city of Curitiba, Brazil where the author lives for a month. Curitiba's visionary mayor made some hard but worthy decisions. One program he implemented was garbage exchange for food. The residents of a low income neighborhood had a problem with garbage and the city trucks couldn't negotiate the narrow streets for municipal pick up. So the neighborhood residents would pick up the trash and bring to a collection site on designated days and in exchange for their trash bags, they recevie boxes of food. This addtitionally benefits the peasant farmer in the outlying areas of the city. The money they would have used to hire a private garbage collection service funded the program.
    He then visits Kerala, India where although the poverty rate is high, the literacy rate is 100%. This I find impressive since recently learning that Inida's women have a 50% literacy rate. People are very happy in Kerala even though the majority do not sleep on beds. They don't have the modern conveniences of Western culture and their community is sustainable.
    The final section of the book returns to the Northeast U.S. and the possible scenarios if our country is to become sustainable. For example: building furniture factories near the forests where logging is occuring, eating locally, using solar energy to power our homes, even if we may have to do with out lighting in the evening during winter months.
    Thought provoking.

    9781571313003 Read for a class. McKibben wrote this as a response to his earlier book, The End of Nature. From reading this, especially the last chapter, I feel as though McKibben is very disconnected from the reality of what will work in combating the environmental crisis. Assisted suicide before incurring too many medical costs and a return to patriarchal small towns modeled after 1700's New England isn't going to cut it. (For a real life example, in the years since - I'm adding this to goodreads in 2010 - look at how well death panels coming to kill your grandma went over in the US media.)
    Not impressed with this one. 9781571313003 More than ever, we need examples of hope to provide a restorative way forward. This is not a collection of stories about granola-crunching Birkenstock-wearing recyclers (not that there’s anything wrong with that). McKibben takes a wider view. He examines communities that have found a way to function and respect the people and the ecosystem to which they belong. These communities are not utopia, rather communities...Continued at http://www.examiner.com/x-4002-Green-... 9781571313003 Interesting cases studies of cities in Brazil and India that defy the odds and achieve much higher quality of life than nearly all other third world cities. The book challenges notions of what's possible in achieving more sustainable lifestyles in developed countries. The author also looks at changes occurring in the eastern US, particularly the Adirondacks of New York, New England and Appalachia, and considers how the lessons learned in Brazil and India might be applied here. 9781571313003 I'll be reviewing McKibben's new book for a journal, so for now I'll just say that Hope, Human and Wild offers three imaginative visions of an ecologically sane way of living, based on profiles of Curitaba, Brazil; Kerala, India; and pockets of northeastern United States. The book runs into challenges related to profiling places (as opposed to characters) and dramatizing success (as opposed to danger), yet McKibben's curiosity provides a guiding torchlight. I would have liked for more of his personal story of seeking to live in a way that makes sense, and perhaps his new memoir will provide that. 9781571313003


    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. Hope, Human and Wild: True Stories of Living Lightly on the Earth

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