The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 10, 2002


Contemplating The End of Nature

Has the human race so affected wilderness that nature is in fact man-made? Author Bill McKibben makes that argument in The End of Nature, the book under discussion by the eight book group members attending the third meeting of the Ends of Civilization program hosted by the Gleason Library on Tuesday, April 30.

"It's a race between humility and arrogance," said Sandy Stott, dean of Concord Academy and discussion facilitator for the session. "We are a species that wants to know things, and get ourselves into uncontrolled experiments." The McKibben book, written in 1989, focuses on global warming as a potentially deadly uncontrolled experiment. Stott called on more current material to demonstrate that many of The End of Nature's dire climate predictions for the millennium have come true and the global situation is in fact worse than anticipated.

The program attendees discussed the global warming problem, and possible ways to address it. McKibben recommends grass roots activism to affect local politics. In fact, five of the meeting's attendees belong to the organization Religious Witness for the Earth. McKibben has spoken to the group, and supports its efforts to raise public awareness of and political action on global warming issues.

"If there ever is a hope, it's in human imagination," said Stott, calling on McKibben's more recent works such as Hope, Human and Wild and Long Distance. The books are less pessimistic and more spiritual in nature. The facilitator asked rhetorically, "When we consume everything, is that when we begin our intergalactic exportation?" Stott concluded that it is more realistic to follow McKibben's advice for the world by backing "people who know a lot and are humble, rather than arrogant."

Addressing the end of science

The Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities provides the reading materials and speakers for the Millennium discussion program. The program will conclude this year having made visits to 27 libraries. The program consists of five sessions held two weeks apart. The fourth session in Carlisle will review whether the human race has reached its limits in The End of Science by John Horgan. The discussion will take place on Tuesday, May 14, at 7 p.m. in the Hollis Room of the Gleason Library. To enroll for the next session or to inquire about future ones, call the library at 1-978-369-4898.

Ed. note: McKibben gave a sermon at The First Religious Society within the past year.

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito