The End of Nature

by Bill McKibben

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How does Bill McKibben address environmental problems and solutions in The End of Nature?

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Bill McKibben's book The End of Nature explains in detail how the world is experiencing its sixth mass extinction event, precisely because of human civilization. McKibben points to rising sea levels, the absurd rate of daily species extinction, acid rain, the greenhouse effect, and the trajectory of global climate catastrophe as a whole as a result of human alteration of the natural environment. McKibben explains how humans, particularly through mass agriculture and industry, have created an artificial environment on the Earth that is destroying and replacing the natural environment of the Earth. This book, published in 1989, is considered by many to be the first book written for a general audience that speaks to global warming and global climate change. McKibben implores his audience to address climate catastrophe by living more simpler and humbler lives.

McKibben believes that a culture of mass consumption and the prioritization of convenience are root causes to the climate disasters that plague our era. There is certainly some truth in this statement—after all, companies rely on consumers to exist. Unfortunately, McKibben does not analyze or address the fact that corporations are massively more responsible for climate change than individual consumers. For example, household garbage makes up 3% of the world's waste, while industry makes up 97% of the waste. Studies that point to individuals/consumers as root causes of the world's pollution often ignore that consumer pollution is the secondhand pollution of companies. For example, the majority of water waste is not attributed to taking long showers or other individual actions, but to the companies who use massive amounts of water in producing products that consumers then use.

Industrial civilization is the cause of the sixth mass extinction event, and unfortunately, it is protected and enforced by massive armies and police. People who clearly understand that industry is the cause of ecocide are labeled as terrorists and subjected to political repression or outright assassination, as is often the case in the Global South. Individual consumption choices are simply not enough to alter the trajectory of climate catastrophe. "Go green" propaganda has only served to create green capitalism, in which companies profit off individuals' desires to live environmentally friendly lifestyles. Truly, the only way to stop destroying the Earth is to completely alter our entire existence that is rooted in industrial civilization and to live in a world free from the horrors of industry.

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