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The Big Answer


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Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?

a book by Bill McKibben

(our site's book review)

Has Our Future Run Out of Steam?

The Amazon blurb says that Thirty years ago Bill McKibben offered one of the earliest warnings about climate change. Now he broadens the warning: the entire human game, he suggests, has begun to play itself out.

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.

New technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics threaten to bleach away the variety of human experience and kill jobs
New technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics threaten to bleach away the variety of human experience and kill jobs

Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? 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: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? is a powerful and sobering call to arms, to save not only our planet but also our humanity.

We are all merely serfs of the corporatocracy royalty
We are all merely serfs of the corporatocracy royalty


McKibben injects a note of optimism with a final section of proposed solutions like non-violent political action
McKibben injects a note of optimism with a final section of proposed solutions like non-violent political action

We Could Have Averted Most of the Devastating Effects of Climate Change

McKibben outlines the deliberate misinformation and misdirection on the part of corporations and politicians that has squandered 50 years during which we might have forestalled the devastating effects of climate change we are living with now. But money, profit, and the bottom line are king and we're all merely serfs of the corporatocracy. Or, if you will, consumer cows to milk. But McKibben injects a note of optimism with a final section of proposed solutions such as solar panels and non-violent political action. "He examines how Ayn Rand’s outsize influence prevented American government from effectively responding to global warming and how Exxon concealed its own researchers’ findings about the threat" —Publishers Weekly

Money, profit, and the bottom line are king, and after the elite tycoons collect enough wealth, they roll around in their money bins cackling evily, screaming 'greed is good!'
Money, profit, and the bottom line are king, and after the elite tycoons collect enough wealth, they roll around in their money bins cackling evily, screaming 'greed is good!'


We are consumer cows to milk, and the corporatocracy does just that
We are consumer cows to milk, and the corporatocracy does just that

McKibben Finds the Most Hope in Solar Panels and Non-Violent Political Action

If solar panels and wind and hydropower replaced oil, we could begin cleaning up our planet. McKibben injects a note of optimism in his book with a final section of proposed solutions such as solar panels and non-violent political action. Like McKibben, we know we are up against the power of a small group of wealthy capitalists and the Fossil Fuel Industry who pay big bucks to create big, expensive misinformation campaigns that includes climate denialists doing the talk show circuit.

If solar panels and wind and hydropower replaced oil, we could begin cleaning up our planet
If solar panels and wind and hydropower replaced oil, we could begin cleaning up our planet


Like McKibben, we know we are up against the power of a small group of wealthy capitalists and the Fossil Fuel Industry who pay big bucks to create big, expensive misinformation campaigns that includes climate denialists doing the talk show circuit
Like McKibben, we know we are up against the power of a small group of wealthy capitalists and the Fossil Fuel Industry who pay big bucks to create big, expensive misinformation campaigns that includes climate denialists doing the talk show circuit

McKibben is one of our great science writers, on climate change, artificial intelligence, income inequality, and the merits and perils of unconstrained growth and technological advance. His diatribe against the heartless wealthy and powerful elites who are killing the planet out of greed is well-meaning but we cannot see a way for his message to get to the eyes and ears of the elite, who are busy reading profit sheets.

His diatribe against the heartless wealthy and powerful elites who are killing the planet out of greed is well-meaning but we cannot see a way for his message to get to the eyes and ears of the elite, who are busy reading profit sheets
His diatribe against the heartless wealthy and powerful elites who are killing the planet out of greed is well-meaning but we cannot see a way for his message to get to the eyes and ears of the elite, who are busy reading profit sheets

McKibben Says We Still Have the Opportunity to Choose Our Future, for the Moment

McKibben says we still have the opportunity to choose our future, for the moment. We may choose an Anthropocene ecological dystopia of transhumanism, relegating humanity to the dustbins of history, or we can embrace our collective humanity and transcend our hard-wired tribalism and self-indulgence for the greater good and enjoy our human gifts. Alternatively, ignorance, inaction, or indifference will not end well for us. We like McKibben's efforts to debunk the notion of space colonization as a way out of our predicaments on earth. We have to fight for what we have on this planet and preserve it. Example: With Carbon Pricing proposals, companies pay fines for releasing carbon dioxide. The money can be used to build wind power and solar power equipment to replace fossil fuel burning plants.

The government and its leaders knew about the oncoming climate change devastation, but did nothing; something is rotten in Washington, and it STINKS!
The government and its leaders knew about the oncoming climate change devastation, but did nothing; something is rotten in Washington, and it STINKS!

Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? Has Many Good Reviews

"After instilling sufficient terror, McKibben cycles briskly through the intersecting forces that lie behind decades of inaction. Among them: Exxon’s deliberate efforts to mislead the public about fossil fuel emissions, and Ayn Rand’s pervasive influence on the most powerful people of the past several decades, including President Ronald Reagan and the Koch brothers. Randian ideology, which McKibben sums up as 'Government is bad. Selfishness is good. You’re not the boss of me,' precludes the possibility of tackling climate change, because that would require the government to flex its strength. In the words of a Koch-funded economist: 'The best policy regarding global warming is to neglect it.'" (Source: It’s not too late to stem climate change. But we have no more time to waste., Meara Sharma, Washington Post)

The conversation about achieving net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions has not gotten far, said John Oliver. 'Unless you like bad-faith conversations about farting cows'
The conversation about achieving net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions has not gotten far, said John Oliver. 'Unless you like bad-faith conversations about farting cows'

The Green New Deal is a comprehensive plan to reorient the economy around clean energy. "Rather than laying out specific programs, Oliver said the Green New Deal 'is a nonbinding resolution that very briefly sets out some extremely aggressive goals, including achieving net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions, meeting 100% of the country’s power demand through clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources and creating millions of good, high-wage jobs.' Ocasio-Cortez, per Oliver, in drafting the proposal meant 'to kick-start a conversation, set some aggressive targets so that we could then figure out how to hit them.' That conversation has not gotten far, said Oliver. 'Unless you like bad-faith conversations about farting cows.'" (Source: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/bill-nye-in-defense-of-the-green-new-deal-the-planets-on-fking-fire-2019-05-13, Shawn Langlois, Marketwatch)

There is a common fable frequently used to explain inaction on climate change. Drop a frog into a pot of boiling water, and it will immediately hop out. But place it in slowly warming water, and it will be cooked to death. However, this is a myth. The frog would, in actuality, jump out and save itself. Maybe we can, too.

Drop a frog into a pot of boiling water, and it will immediately hop out. But place it in slowly warming water, and it will be cooked to death, say the climate change advocates
Drop a frog into a pot of boiling water, and it will immediately hop out. But place it in slowly warming water, and it will be cooked to death, say the climate change advocates

"Now people are beginning to worry very much about the cities that they live in that are near the coasts. Now we’re seeing—perhaps you saw the story in yesterday’s Times about how climate change has become the main driver for those immigrants having to leave their homes in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, not because they want to, because there’s such a deep drought that they can’t grow anything there anymore. Those are the opening salvos in what’s going to be a century of shrinkage."

Thirty years ago there were things we could do that weren’t very hard, but then we let the fossil fuel industry delay action for three decades wih their lies, so we’re now at the point where everything is hard—we must pull our heads out of the sand or die
Thirty years ago there were things we could do that weren’t very hard, but then we let the fossil fuel industry delay action for three decades wih their lies, so we’re now at the point where everything is hard—we must pull our heads out of the sand or die

"I mean, think about what we saw in California last fall. I mean, literally, in an hour, a city called Paradise turned literally into hell. You know, everybody who watched it could imagine dying in a car trapped in a road as they tried to get out of a forest fire. If California, the place we’ve always identified with a kind of golden ease, you know, is now in a paranoid sense of fear for much of the year as they look over their shoulder for the next fire, well, that’s another sense in which this board has begun to shrink. . . . Exxon began building all its drilling rigs to compensate for the rise in sea level they knew was coming. They just didn’t tell the rest of us. Instead, they devoted billions of dollars to building this architecture of deceit and denial and disinformation that’s kept us locked for 30 years in an utterly sterile debate about whether or not global warming was real, a debate that both sides knew the answer to from the start. It’s just one of them was willing to lie. And so, now we’re at the point where we have no choice but to hope we can build movements big enough, loud enough, beautiful enough to challenge that power." (Source: Falter: In New Book, Bill McKibben Asks If the Human Game Has Begun to Play Itself Out, Amy Goodman, Bill McKibben, Resilience)

Trump is now tilting at windmills. Trump came under fire earlier this month for falsely claiming windmills cause cancer. He made the remarks in a speech to the National Republican Congressional Committee, where he touted U.S. oil and gas drilling while mocking renewable energy
Trump is now tilting at windmills. Trump came under fire earlier this month for falsely claiming windmills cause cancer. He made the remarks in a speech to the National Republican Congressional Committee, where he touted U.S. oil and gas drilling while mocking renewable energy

Green New Deal's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Saying the Right Things

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted last week, “The far-right loves to drum up fear and resistance to immigrants. But have you ever noticed they never talk about what’s causing people to flee their homes in the first place? Perhaps that’s because they’d be forced to confront THE major factor fueling global migration: Climate change.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a 29-year-old representative in Congress, very popular with social media such as Twitter
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a 29-year-old representative in Congress, very popular with social media such as Twitter

On February 7, 2019, Ocasio-Cortez submitted her first piece of legislation, the Green New Deal, to the Senate. She is a democratic socialist. She is very popular with social media such as Twitter. In 2007, Thomas Friedman wrote that ". . . if we undertake the [Green New Deal], it has the potential to create a whole new clean power industry to spur our economy into the 21st century." On December 14, 2018, a group of over 300 local elected officials from 40 states issued a letter endorsing a Green New Deal approach. One of its provisions is: Meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources. The more we do this, the less of a Hell our future will be. See Resources Wasted.

Trump has spoken out against the Green New Deal and has referred to climate change as a 'hoax', which means he is chicken to face it, so you know it must be good because Trump hates it
Trump has spoken out against the Green New Deal and has referred to climate change as a 'hoax', which means he is chicken to face it, so you know it must be good because Trump hates it


Trump has said he is for America First, but his actions will put the coastal cities of the USA underwater
Trump has said he is for America First, but his actions will put the coastal cities of the USA underwater


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez


The major factors fueling global migration in past centuries was better opportunities, safety, jobs, oppression, religious and ethnic persecution
The major factors fueling global migration in past centuries was better opportunities, safety, jobs, oppression, religious and ethnic persecution


The major factor fueling global migration today is climate change—here immigrants wait to formalize their citizenship
The major factor fueling global migration today is climate change—here immigrants wait to formalize their citizenship

"What explains near-total inaction? Inertia was a factor, McKibben shows, and society had other priorities, but he describes how democratic processes that might have responded were hijacked by shrewd distortion of evidence and by demagoguery. . . . McKibben then locates global warming within a matrix of other disruptions. His greatest contribution with this new book is to consider how overreliance on extractive and combustive fossil fuels is connected with the most egregious economic inequality in human history." (Source: Book Review: 'Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?' by Bill McKibben, Jim Schley, Seven Days)