Bill McKibbens argument:
Human activity has murdered the planets nature;
altering the air, wildness is dead.
Three contributing problems to consider as the cause of
A. Acid rain, the high pH of fog, or precipitation downwind of power plants / cars.
B. Ozone hole, or aerosol CFC pollution destroys UV
C. Global Warming, (Greenhouse gas pollution)
An interpretation of the methane (CH4) component of the
Natural sources of methane
Soils (anaerobic) &
wetlands are major sources of methane trapped in the anaerobic layers where organisms thrive on it to live without oxygen. Once released by facultative anaerobes the methane become a gas -- trapping heat in the atmosphere
Human sources of methane
Agriculture, cows, rice, pigs
Power plants, cars
Melting of the permafrost
Mines & deforestation
The tandem quality or character means that humans generate additional
sources (anthropogenic) of CH4 that is not capable of being absorbed
by natural processes.
• Capacity of natural controls are exceeded
• More methane accumulates in the atmosphere
• Methane traps heat
• More readily retains heat than CO2
• Takes less CH4 to retain more heat
• Thermos bottle effect on the air
What is the problem of synergy? (see: more on capacity
How does an analogy of the bicycle wheel and weights relate to loading
the atmosphere with too great an amount (mass) of CH4 or methane than
it can absorb?
Relation to Leopold:
Land Ethic is the logical conclusion to
and application of an ecological conscience.
Ethics are defined as a means of imposing constraints
or limitations on otherwise inherent, intrinsic or characteristic behavior.
1. An ethical sequence
2. What is the meaning of Leopolds idea of the A
: B cleavage?
3. What is the definition of conservation?
4. How can we recognize the ecological
integrity? By what signals:
Bill McKibbens additional argument:
We have built a greenhouse, a human creation,
where once there bloomed a sweet and wild garden.
The near future
. We have killed off naturethat world entirely
independent of us which was here before we arrived & which encircled
and supported our human society.
each cubic yard of air, each square
foot of soil, is stamped indelibly with our crude imprint, our X.
We dont know, we cant know.
The salient characteristic of this new nature is
its unpredictability, just as the salient feature of the old nature was
On a global scale it [nature] has been a model of reliability.
That old dependable quality of natures stability has vanished an
we must renegotiate our relation to this new ungovernable character we
have helped to create by destabilizing the air and water of the globe.
But now it is broken for us, toonatures lifetime warranty
We are altering the climate
at ten to sixty
times the natural rate of change.
It may turn out that we are not much more suited
by our genes to quick adaptation than the musk oxen.
The uncertainty itself is the first cataclysm, and
perhaps the most profound one.
We cant count on enough snow
falling to fill the reservoirs that feed our faucets, or if we have to
worry that too much water will evaporate in the heat,
Within safe bounds is no longer available
to us. Nature has always provided the deep, constant rhythms,
is now altered beyond predictable recognition.
Does a new warming period mean a triggering of another
ice age after 10,000 years?
A period of glacial advance could commence
within a century.
[unlikely, but unknowable.]
Sea level will rise more quickly (not as great as 1990 predictions) but
will affect half the worlds people and over flood the Maldive Islands,
among others, with 187,000 residents.
New York Citys draw on the fresh water supply of the Delaware River
would have to be curtailed.
And the literally blinding sunwill rob us of our sense of
we live in a different world; therefore life feels different.
McKibben's idea | McKibben summary | What is wild? | Question | Overview
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