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Falter by Bill McKibben
Social sciences

Falter

by Bill McKibben

Quick take

The end of the world is here. Read all about it.

Why I love it

Ben Goldfarb
Author, Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter

As an environmental journalist, I’m a connoisseur of bad news: Every day I read about how we’re exterminating wildlife, demolishing forests, and cooking the planet. It’s hard, sometimes, to balance realism with optimism, to retain faith in humanity while acknowledging our misdeeds. That’s why I’m grateful for Bill McKibben’s Falter, a book that manages the difficult trick of both terrifying readers and inspiring them. Never has our demise been so entertaining.

McKibben rose to prominence with his 1989 climate exposé The End of Nature; his latest work is about the end of us. At the moment, he admits, Homo sapiens are having a good run, blessed with declining rates of poverty and violent conflict. But climate change and its symptoms—heat waves, hurricanes, wildfires—are reversing social progress. Economic inequality threatens to unravel society, while Artificial Intelligence and gene editing may distort what it means to be human. Silicon Valley might finish us off, if fossil fuels don’t get us first.

That sounds bleak, but McKibben’s lively prose makes Falter a deeply engaging read, if not exactly a pleasurable one. And he offers two sources of solace: the proliferation of solar panels, which are providing carbon-free electricity to the masses; and the growing trend of climate activists protesting for a fairer, cooler future. Falter may not leave you hopeful, but it’s a bracing reminder that our species can’t go down without a fight.

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Synopsis

Bill McKibben’s groundbreaking book The End of Nature—issued in dozens of languages and long regarded as a classic—was the first book to alert us to global warming. But the danger is broader than that: even as climate change shrinks the space where our civilization can exist, new technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics threaten to bleach away the variety of human experience.

Falter tells the story of these converging trends and of the ideological fervor that keeps us from bringing them under control. And then, drawing on McKibben’s experience in building 350.org, the first truly global citizens movement to combat climate change, it offers some possible ways out of the trap. We’re at a bleak moment in human history—and we’ll either confront that bleakness or watch the civilization our forebears built slip away.

Falter is a powerful and sobering call to arms, to save not only our planet but also our humanity.

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Preview

Get an early look from the first pages of Falter.

Member thoughts

All (33)
All (33)
Love (15)
Like (11)
Dislike (7)
39 ratings
  • 38% Love
  • 28% Like
  • 18% Dislike
  • Melbourne, FL

    This book was an incredible learning experience & I think anyone who isnt extremely conservative (ie flat earth believers, or those who think religion Trumps science) should invest the time to read it

  • Waterford, WI

    Very insightful look into human impact on the environment, how we got here and what we can do to fix things going forward. Definitely got me thinking and changed the way I look at many things.

  • Milford, OH

    Environmentalist McKibben offers a disturbing yet "hopeful" book about climate change and technology and how these two disruptive forces need to redefine how we live in the world today.

  • Kissimmee, FL

    A heavy subject but they author finds a way to include comedic relief which is much needed. Great read for those just getting into the climate discussion.

  • Centerville, UT

  • The Bronx, NY

  • Wooster, OH

  • Bloomington, IN

  • Cincinnati, OH

  • Spring, TX

  • Arvada, CO

  • Glenwood Springs, CO

  • Boiling Springs, SC

  • Minneapoli, MN

    Timely. This book is not an easy read. It asks us to really look at ourselves and everything about the way we choose to live. The things McKibben writes about are essential for us to consider.

  • Bronx, NY

    Great for those who are less into the science of climate change and more into the ways in which social constructs impart our environmental future.

  • New Orleans, LA

    Interesting book, though connections between ideas were weak for me. I’m convinced that solar power is the way, though!

  • Chocowinity , NC

  • Topeka, KS

  • Indianapolis, IN

  • Dover, PA

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