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Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse [Format Kindle]

David W. Orr

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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

passionate and accessible (Jeremy Spoon, Human Ecology: An Interdisciplinary Journal)

Présentation de l'éditeur

The real fault line in American politics is not between liberals and conservatives.... It is, rather, in how we orient ourselves to the generations to come who will bear the consequences, for better and for worse, of our actions. So writes David Orr in Down to the Wire, a sober and eloquent assessment of climate destabilization and an urgent call to action. Orr describes how political negligence, an economy based on the insatiable consumption of trivial goods, and a disdain for the well-being of future generations have brought us to the tipping point that biologist Edward O. Wilson calls the bottleneck. Due to our refusal to live within natural limits, we now face a long emergency of rising temperatures, rising sea-levels, and a host of other related problems that will increasingly undermine human civilization. Climate destabilization to which we are already committed will change everything, and to those betting on quick technological fixes or minor adjustments to the way we live now, Down to the Wire is a major wake-up call. But this is not a doomsday book. Orr offers a wide range of pragmatic, far-reaching proposals--some of which have already been adopted by the Obama administration--for how we might reconnect public policy with rigorous science, bring our economy into alignment with ecological realities, and begin to regard ourselves as planetary trustees for future generations. He offers inspiring real-life examples of people already responding to the major threat to our future. An exacting analysis of where we are in terms of climate change, how we got here, and what we must now do, Down to the Wire is essential reading for those wanting to join in the Great Work of our generation.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 493 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 284 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 0195393538
  • Editeur : Oxford University Press; Édition : 1 (17 septembre 2009)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B002Z2QS7K
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Composition améliorée: Non activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°556.370 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)

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Amazon.com: 3.9 étoiles sur 5  17 commentaires
40 internautes sur 42 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A must-read whatever your opinion 2 janvier 2010
Par sandyt - Publié sur Amazon.com
Dr. David Orr is a university professor, trustee of a major environmental group called the Bioneers, and a participant in the Presidential Climate Action Project, which proposed global warming policies to the incoming Obama administration. In this book, he presents a case that our present form of society is doomed. Either we change it ourselves, or it will be extinguished by the stresses of climate change. Dr. Orr devotes his book to advocating the former, and to discussing how it might be done.

The scope of Dr Orr's thinking is quite impressive, to put it mildly. Readers of this book can expect numerous provocative references to writings in the fields of science, philosophy, law, government, religion, psychology, economics, ethics, history and political science. Dr. Orr discusses the ideas of a wide range of thinkers, from Deuteronomy to eighteenth-century English conservative Edmund Burke to the latest from the scientists working on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The list of sources at the back of the book is more than twenty pages long, and each is referenced somewhere in the body of the book. Dr. Orr locates the source of our troubles not with the greed of modern capitalists, but with the shortcomings of the Enlightenment philosophers and their predecessors; he singles out Francis Bacon, Rene Descartes, and Galileo, who, despite their great accomplishments, taught us to man is separate from nature, that mind is separate from body, and that whatever cannot be counted doesn't count(123, 147).

Dr. Orr begins his case with the assertion that we should have started working on climate change thirty years ago. We did not, and now we have used up our margin of safety. We have to cut carbon emissions 90 percent by 2050, and there is no time to lose.
I don't know enough science to know whether Dr. Orr is right about our margin. But I do know that a large number of the scientists doing climate change work agree with his sense of urgency. Anyone is free to disagree, of course. But those who do so need to be aware of the risks they are taking with posterity's lives. If we keep on merrily producing greenhouse gases, and the scientists turn out to have been right, we will have gambled and lost on the biggest bet in human history.

So, if we take the prudent course and commit to the changes needed to avoid climate disaster, Dr. Orr has a lot to say to us. He unequivocally denounces the gospel of economic growth (31), points out that corporations have no interest in the long-term future (36), and observes that we have no system of governance adequate to the tasks presented by climate change. (35)
He demolishes, at length and in detail, the mindset that treats climate change as a technical problem amenable to technical fixes. The buildup of dangerous concentrations of pollutants in the atmosphere is only one symptom among many; the others include our unwillingness to provide a living for millions of people (politely termed 'poverty'), greed, war, and the whole familiar panoply of social failings. He argues that all of these point to a fundamental failure of our model of civilization (160)
He calls for decentralized production of food and energy (175) and for democratic decisionmaking (63-67)
He has not the slightest confidence that corporations can play a constructive role without active government guidance. He calls on us to rein in their power and reminds us that the grant of a corporate charter comes with an expectation that the public interest will be served (208).
He thinks global capitalism is headed for history's ash heap, alongside communism, and calls on us to develop a better alternative.
He advocates the idea of the rights of posterity, a concept which has no standing in current law, and calls for a Constitutional amendment to protect it (72-76, 208)
He features extensive, and terrifying, descriptions of what climate change would really mean (17-21, 182-184)
Dr. Orr calls - not surprisingly - for better leadership, and opens his third chapter with extended discussions of Lincoln's leadership during the Civil War and Franklin Roosevelt's Hundred Days. The essential thing about Lincoln's transformative leadership, according to Dr. Orr, is that he held close to fundamental principles (slavery is wrong, the Constitution and the nation must be preserved) and sought to achieve healing and unity rather than demonizing his opponents. He understood that slavery was the fundamental issue of the day, taking priority over all others (tariffs, growth, etc). In that spirit, Dr. Orr calls on leaders to eschew sugar coatings, happy talk, and other forms of condescension, and to pay the public the compliment of assuming it can handle the truth.
His real faith, however, is in the grass roots, and he closes his book with stories of how local governments, universities, churches and citizens' groups are taking the lead in developing new economies.

Dr. Orr aims to provoke with this book, and he succeeds. His tone can be off-putting, his assumptions may not be entirely correct. But for anyone who has ever wondered whether business-as-usual is really sustainable in the face of modern problems, he provides an abundance of ideas about how we might order human affairs differently. For those who want to take action against climate change, he provides encouragement and inspiration by example. He makes a case that might lead to despair, but calls us to heed our better angels and overcome the most monumental challenge in history.
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 After the Race 6 mars 2010
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
David Orr is one of my gurus, but the first time I read this book I was disappointed by its repetitiousness, vagueness, lack of sequential structure or sustained, fully supported and defended claims, and its preaching to the choir, who have already heard most of this many times. The central points were hardly controversial or new for us, but still unacceptable to the great majority of citizens who are looking more than ever at short term rescues or pleasures. For that reason the urgency and insistence of the tone seemed irritating and disrespectful of the audience. Compared to his last book, Design on the Edge, which contained a fascinating autobiographical narrative and a detailed account of the remarkable history of the building he was responsible for planning, designing and financing at Oberlin College, this book felt vague, uninspired, and sentimental. What does it mean after all to insist that what we should do is "deepen our humanity." (202)

I also found it sadly dated. Though filled with topical references to the impending Obama adminstration, the events of the fifteen months since his inauguration made many of the proposals about transforming governance and launching a revolution in Washington seem painfully overoptimistic. Nevertheless I decided to give it another try, either to be able to articulate specifically what I found wrong with the book or to give it a more sympathetic and engaged reading.

First, I confirmed what I suspected about the book's process of composition. Most of the material here was previously published in the form of essays that Orr writes for the journal Conservation Biology and others. Many of these can be found at the website, [...]. That accounted for and in a way justified the sense that each chapter recovered much of the same territory and started from scratch rather than building on what preceded. Viewed from this perspective, each chapter had the coherence and scope of his remarkable speeches, such as the one I heard at the organizing conference for Focus the Nation in Las Vegas <[...]>And even when general points were repeated, Orr seemed in each essay to summon up different examples and sources.

A second reading also revealed an overall structure of chapters that moved forward from beginning to middle and end despite the backtracking. Preface and Introduction both state the predicament and his solutions. We are facing what has been called a long emergency or a bottleneck, a worldwide period of crisis brought on by the environmental degradation and climate change that misguided human impacts have produced over the last 200 years. The way out will be long and arduous, and only possible with strong, transformative leadership, primarily in the presidency but also at all levels of government and society. Leaders have three leading tasks: move the citizenry out of a state of denial to a recognition of the dangers, develop energy policies that reverse our dependence on carbon and promote renewables, and foster a deepening of public morality emphasizing fairness, compassion, nonviolence and a sense of purpose and reverence for nature grounded in appreciation and gratitude.

These three mandates are reaffirmed throughout the book.
The three chapters of section I, Politics and Governance, assert that Government is the only agency strong enough to effectively address the emergency but that government needs to be transformed. Chapter 1, Governance, asserts that the challenges of mitigating and adapting to climate change and its associated catastrophes can be faced by reversing the trend toward unregulated corporate power, trivialized and ineffective journalism, excessive consumerism and rule by lobbyists. This can be done by redistribution of wealth and privilege, publicly funded elections, smartening land use and agricultural policy, promoting universal access to communication media and promotion of small community autonomy. But first government itself must be transformed from its present corrupt and dysfunctional state to a just, effective and elevating one. This will have to be accomplished through a mechanism like a new Constitutional Convention and the establishment of a new consensus.

Chapter 2 is a meditation on democracy, the form of government most likely to succeed despite its faults, the failures of its alternatives, like natural capitalism, and unregulated free-market capitalism, and the proposal of a legal, constitutional framework for instituting the kinds of social transformation needed to address climate change based on the new idea of the legal standing of future generations.

Chapter 3, Leadership in the Long Emergency, compares today's crisis with those faced by Lincoln and Roosevelt, and concludes that Obama can learn leadership lessons from both his great predecessors, which include the necessity of understanding and framing those crises both as legal-constitutional issues requiring preservation of law and tradition and as moral issues requiring deep personal insight and unshaken commitment. Orr repeats the laundry list of reforms mentioned earlier that Obama needs to accomplish. Chapter 4, Leadership, defines true leadership, like that of those predecessors, as the capacity to energize and give direction to the populace.

Part II, Connections, is transitional in the overall structure of the book, but provides a sample of some of Orr's strongest qualities as a writer, manifested when he lets a more imaginative, associative principle guide his design. Chapter 5, The Carbon Connection, juxtaposes two powerful narrative descriptions: nature's devastation of humans in New Orleans by Katrina, presumably caused by climate change, and humans' devastation of nature in Coal Companies' mountaintop removal, causing climate change. This is connected to Chapter 6, The Spirit of Connection, which explores spiritual and religious perspectives on Climate Change, differentiating the apocalyptic fundamentalism that both affirms and brings it on with the subjective experiences of wonder, reverence and gratitude for the gift of life that provide meaning and hope for those struggling to protect it.

Part III, Farther Horizons, contains three chapters overlapping earlier chapters and one another in content. Chapter 7, Milennial Hope, lists factors blocking us from taking the steps necessary to confront and deal with the coming crisis and solutions, psychological, political, and spiritual, concluding with a story of Gandhian non-violence displayed by Amish toward a mass murderer who shot a number of their children. Chapter 8, Hope at the End of our Tether, expands the emphasis on anti-militarism, Gandhian Satyagraha and other Gandhian principles like anti-materialism--shift from wealth to happiness--social justice, and localism.

The final chapter, The Upshot: What is to be Done? echoes both Aldo Leopold and Lenin, verbally in the titles of two of their well known works, and thematically in calling for the creation of a community that includes natural beings and systems and in calling for a total revolution to be initiated by a vanguard of leaders, giving direction and energy to an awakened populace. The first section covering the same ground as the preceding chapters, this chapter and section ends with a powerful vision of a desireable outcome from the long emergency only ten years in the future, located in his home town of Oberlin Ohio, where the very specific programs he has set in motion as an activist and educator have run their course. The vision is startlingly similar to the kinds of programs and visions activists at Cal Poly and in San Luis Obispo County have dedicated themselves. More than anything in this book, these few pages (212-215) provide some of the grounds for hope that present conditions don't encourage in regard to most of the books larger recommendations.

"Postscript: A Disclosure" is vintage Orr. It's a recollection of the extraordinarily hot summer of 1980 when he and his brother worked like slaves on a farm in Arkansas, as the temperature reached 111 degrees and stayed there. It was then that he became interested in climate change. He says he felt it viscerally, the memory recorded in his body. That's why it's presented as a disclosure. But the impact of that memory, I'm afraid is unlikely to be felt until the rest of us consistently experience such nasty conditions, and by then it's likely to be too late.

Taking issue:

"leadership"--is Obama like Lincoln and Roosevelt, sticking to the moral vision, keeping legal and constitutional integrity at the fore, reaching the people?

Seemed so at inauguration, but less so now, largely because of loss of confidence resultant from bailouts and compromises, failure to seize the opportunity with courage--e.g. Copenhagen

The long emergency--less perceivable now than in 2006, when much of this was written and when Katrina and An Inconvenient Truth and IPCC and oil spike converged to shake people up.

Non-violence, Satyagraha--true, and a manifestation of deeper humanity, but desperation is less likely to bring it to the fore, especially when the rulers and perpetrators are becoming more brazen

Coupling peace, justice and sustainability has advantages but also makes any progress seem hopeless, because it will leave so much undone.
22 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 If there was only one book on climate change, would I pick this one? 31 janvier 2010
Par R S Cobblestone - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
If there were only one book on climate change, would I pick this one?

No. But not because there is anything wrong with its content. I don't have any complaints about the material, except to say Orr hasn't written this book for Joe and Jane Public. Trust me. This is not a book for those who enjoy American Idol's preliminary screenings!

David Orr says climate change is coming. This is not news, since every (and I mean EVERY) professional scientific organization, from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to the American Geophysical Union (AGU), agrees that the climate is out of wack, and getting weirder. There are many popular books that say this as well.

Orr's book is more of a... complaint? Work on the issue faster and harder? Take it more seriously? Blame Bush and the industries in bed with the petro-companies?

His writing style, and this book, is not for the Outdoor Life crowd. It is more for the Atlantic Monthly crowd. And since it, in many places, is critical of that same crowd, what is Orr expecting? "The 'American way of life' is thought to be sacrosanct. In the face of a global emergency, brought on in no small way by the profligate American way of life, few are willing to say otherwise. So we are told to buy hybrid cars, but not asked to walk, bike, or make fewer trips, even at the end of the ear of cheap oil. we are asked to buy compact fluorescent light bulbs, but not to turn off our electronic stuff or avoid buying it in the first place. We are admonished to buy green, but seldom asked to buy less or repair what we already have or just do without. We are encouraged to build LEED-rated buildings that are used for maybe ten hours a day for five days a week, but we are not asked to repair existing buildings or told that we cannot build our way out of the mess we've made. We are not told that the consumer way of life will have to be rethought and redesigned to exist within the limits of natural systems. And so we continue to walk north on that southbound train" (p. 186-187).

"We are now engaged in a global conversation about the issues of human longevity on Earth, but no national leader has yet done what Lincoln did for slavery and placed the issue of sustainability in its larger moral context. It is still commonly regarded, here and elsewhere, as one of many issues on a long and growing list, not as the linchpin that connects all of the other issues" (p. 88).

This depends on who you talk to, of course. If you are talking to the Deer Hunting with Jesus crowd, or the Dittohead crowd, there's no conversation even on a local level. In the US, global warming is not considered an issue by the millions of poor (although it will certainly affect the poor), and seemingly only a fund-raising opportunity for the right-wing political pundits (who milk this cow very successfully). Prius owners may think they speak for the trees, but for the tens of millions on government assistance, or in need of assistance, they are simply considered owners of an elite car. By the way, I don't own a Prius, but I did buy a used Civic Hybrid, as well as an ultra-low emission conventional gas car. I normally bike, bus, or carpool to work (except car-free Fridays... no cars).

What else does Orr claim?

"There is no simple remedy for public apathy, carelessness, ignorance, or meanness, but there is a steep price to be paid if such qualities become the national character. ...Whether or not we have reached the level of farce or tragedy, it is clear that the press is no longer the alert watchman it once may have been and that it no longer plays the role the founders thought necessary for a healthy democracy" (p. 61). The New York Times and the Washington Post don't play this role? This seems to be an indictment of the broader issue of "dumbing down" the news. Thank you, FOX Broadcasting!

"It is clear by now that we have seriously underestimated the magnitude and speed of the human destruction of nature, but we seem powerless to stop it" (p. 122). Agreed. Why? "We tend... to see things that are large and fast but not those that are small and slow. It is harder for us to see and to properly fear long-term trends, such as soil erosion over centuries or the nearly invisible disappearance of species. ... We know, too, that we are prone to deny uncomfortable realities at both the personal level and the societal level" (p. 163).

"A great deal now depends on what we do to develop the stamina, vision, and institutional resources necessary to carry the best of civilization through to the other side" (p. 160). And who defines "the best of civilization"?

"What do I propose? Simply this: that those who purport to lead us, and all of us who are concerned about climate change, environmental quality, and equity, treat the public as intelligent adults who are capable of understanding the truth and acting creatively and courageously in the face of necessity - much as a doctor talking to a patient with a potentially terminal disease" (p. 189).

So, if I can sum up Orr's message, it is these sixteen words: "We need to do something about climate change. Now. All of us. Leaders and leadership welcome."

I expect to be dinged for, of all things, not giving Orr's book five stars. So it goes. However, it's worth the paper it is printed on (and the carbon it took to produce) IF some readers don't use it as another justification why, with their Prius, they can commute to their work 40 miles away everyday (and 40 miles back) and think they are doing what it takes to solve the climate crisis, IF local, state, and national leaders find their backbones, or IF every reader, every day, does SOMETHING to support a sustainable world. I believe Orr would pass this test. I think I do. But there are millions of people who listen to talk show hosts every day repeating the mantra that the climate change crowd is unAmerican. Somehow, I don't think Orr's book has an answer to that. And I wish it did.
7 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A top pick for any science or social issues collection 18 décembre 2009
Par Midwest Book Review - Publié sur Amazon.com
Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Change comes from one of the founders of the Presidential Climate Action Project and advocates that individual steps to change won't solve the problems looming upon us. His is a realistic look at how the world is and what will need to be done to fix it: it advocates leadership at the government level and is a top pick for any science or social issues collection.
23 internautes sur 31 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 dauntless inspiration 26 octobre 2009
Par N. lynn ivey - Publié sur Amazon.com
David Orr is the Moses of our times. I have read all the books he has written since discovering him a year ago at the Bioneers conference in San Rafael. In DOWN TO THE WIRE, he critiques cultural and constitutional history bedrocked by current scientific research aided by incisive analysis and steered by a faith that unerringly speaks truth to power and calls out the best in us. Words fail me in describing his erudition, expertise, and ineffable determination to stand up for life and for all of us and our children and all future generations of humans and all our relations on this exquisite planet. David Orr's newest book should be on the Christmas list for all those who care about and support life.
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