The End of the Long Summer by Dianne Dumanoski
TITLE: The End of the Long Summer: Why We Must Remake Our Civilization to Survive on a Volatile Earth
AUTHOR: Dianne Dumanoski
DATE PUBLISHED: 2009
From the blurb:
"For the past twelve thousand years, Earth’s stable climate has allowed human civilization to flourish. But this long benign summer is an anomaly in the Earth’s history and one that is rapidly coming to a close. The radical experiment of our modern industrial civilization is now disrupting our planet’s very metabolism; our future hinges in large part on how Earth responds. Climate change is already bearing down, hitting harder and faster than expected. The greatest danger is not extreme yet discrete weather events, such as Hurricane Katrina or the calamitous wildfires that now plague California, but profound and systemic disruptions on a global scale. Contrary to the pervasive belief that climate change will be a gradual escalator ride into balmier temperatures, the Earth’s climate system has a history of radical shifts–dramatic shocks that could lead to the collapse of social and economic systems.
The question is no longer simply how can we stop climate change, but how can we as a civilization survive it.
The guiding values of modern culture have become dangerously obsolete in this new era. Yet as renowned environmental journalist Dianne Dumanoski shows, little has been done to avert the crisis or to prepare human societies for a time of growing instability. In a work of astonishing scope, Dumanoski deftly weaves history, science, and culture to show how the fundamental doctrines of modern society have impeded our ability to respond to this crisis and have fostered an economic globalization that is only increasing our vulnerability at this critical time. She exposes the fallacy of banking on a last-minute technological fix as well as the perilous trap of believing that humans can succeed in the quest to control nature. Only by restructuring our global civilization based on the principles that have allowed Earth’s life and our ancestors to survive catastrophe——diversity, redundancy, a degree of self-sufficiency, social solidarity, and an aversion to excessive integration——can we restore the flexibility needed to weather the trials ahead.
In this powerful and prescient book, Dumanoski moves beyond now-ubiquitous environmental buzzwords about green industries and clean energy to provide a new cultural map through this dangerous passage. Though the message is grave, it is not without hope. Lucid, eloquent, and urgent, The End of the Long Summer deserves a place alongside transformative works such as Silent Spring and The Fate of the Earth."
This is a clearly written and well-organized book that that describes how our current planetary civilization must transition to the "Planetary Era." This is the era in which we are currently living, in which the human species forced Earth's living planetary system beyond its normal operating range, and in which we must face the future together as a global community. Dianne Dumanoski explains how climate change, pollution, ozone layer destruction, species loss etc are all just symptoms of a larger problem, and suggests means to restructure human society to cope with fast-changing planetary systems.
Dumanoski discusses everythig from the Ozone Hole issue, ice core data, historic climate change, the rise of civilization, geoengineering, and the vulnerability and apathy of governments to plan for the future. She also discusses the survivability of human civiilization in a changing world.
I found the book interesting, with minimal hand-wringing by the author. This is one of the few climate change books that I've come across that deals with the larger picture, looks at where we stand realsitically, and has a long term (though not easy) solution to human survival.
"...in bringing the long summer to a premature close and engaging with vast planetary systems, we have opened the door to nature's return as a major, perhaps decisive force in human history." - Dianne Dumanoski.