Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Apocalyptic Planet

Apocalyptic Planet
Craig Childs

In recent years there has been an absolute onslaught of fear around issues of climate change. The media loves to accentuate the imminent apocalyptic doom destined to destroy the Earth. Supposedly civilization as we know it, and possibly even life itself, are about to vanish in an almost instantaneous way. As outrageous as those predictions of immediate and final extinction are, there are many, even if they don’t want to admit it, who are fearful of the future. Even for those who support action on climate change, it is tiresome, annoying, and depressing to be constantly bombarded with announcements of doom.

Craig Childs, author of Apocalyptic Planet, is on a mission to discover what the end of the world will really look like. He travels the world to experience the most uninhabitable regions on earth. His discoveries are both humbling and thought-provoking. His book is neither positive nor negative, but rather neutral. Childs doesn’t lambaste modernity or suggest the need for a massive paradigm shift. Instead, he cites facts and highlights the reality that the Earth is over four billion years old and is in a constant state of flux. While anthropogenic impacts are indeed accelerating certain processes, one fact remains certain: there are bigger, stronger, and slower forces at work that we are not yet able to fully understand. It’s not that Childs advocates passivity, but that he puts our role and efforts into perspective:

The Earth is a seed planting itself over and over. And we are not the gardeners.  We are no benevolent being leaving the house every morning with a watering can and a towel to dig up weeds wiping our brows midday to marvel at our handiwork.  Instead, we are within the seed itself.  We are part of its cells and the hardness of its coat, our place not to marvel at the futility and smallness of ourselves, but to keep life moving. What we do now, from the inside, determines the vigor of that seed, how long it might live and plant itself again.
This is a fantastic book, one that provides a refreshing clarity.

- Charles Bryer

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