Eaarth—Making a Life on a Tough New Planet by @BillMcKibben—A New World (1)

This looks at the first chapter of the book Eaarth called A New World. Here are the concepts covered in the first chapter.

1. Holocene à Anthropocene

The fates lead those who will – those who won’t, they drag.” Nietzsche

The Holocene period is the geological period we were in until recently which covers roughly the last 10,000 years. During the entire time our human civilization grew and flourished, the average global temperature has been between 58 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

The first major point of this chapter is that we are now leaving that “comfort zone. Bill McKibben mentions the Apollo 8 Earthrise photograph, the iconic photograph taken below, which was the midwife to the birth of the ecology movement.

Since that photograph was taken in 1968, the global average temperature has risen 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit. We no longer live on the same planet as we did back then; hence the term “Eaarth” as Bill McKibben thinks of a new name to call our planet in this new geological period (which some term the Anthropocene).

2. Consequences of higher global average temperature

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre”—The Second Coming, W.B. Yeats

Text section of the chapter outlines some of the consequences for the Earth’s air, land, and oceans of the higher global average temperatures that are occurring. The problem from my standpoint was that the various statistics he gave were mind-numbing, and I tried to make sense of them by showing how they were all connected in the following diagram:

The temperature increase affects the temperature of the land, the water (oceans and fresh water), the air, and the ice which covers the land (mountain ranges such as the Himalayas, the land masses of Greenland and the Antarctic) and the water (the Arctic sea).

The temperature increases in these domains are creating the following effects:

Some of these effects are related; for example, higher temperatures means that the earth’s atmosphere can hold more moisture, part of which it takes from the land. This explains why some portions of the land such as Australia have drought, while other portions are experiencing increasing rainfall.

Now that the various global warming effects have been catalogued, Bill McKibben goes to the next level of the question “Why?”, and shows that the temperature increase is linked to the amount of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere.   This will be covered in the next post.  


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