Learning to Die in the Anthropocene: Reflections on the End of a Civilization

City Lights Publishers
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"In Learning to Die in the Anthropocene, Roy Scranton draws on his experiences in Iraq to confront the grim realities of climate change. The result is a fierce and provocative book."--Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

"Roy Scranton's Learning to Die in the Anthropocene presents, without extraneous bullshit, what we must do to survive on Earth. It's a powerful, useful, and ultimately hopeful book that more than any other I've read has the ability to change people's minds and create change. For me, it crystallizes and expresses what I've been thinking about and trying to get a grasp on. The economical way it does so, with such clarity, sets the book apart from most others on the subject."--Jeff VanderMeer, author of the Southern Reach trilogy

"Roy Scranton lucidly articulates the depth of the climate crisis with an honesty that is all too rare, then calls for a reimagined humanism that will help us meet our stormy future with as much decency as we can muster. While I don't share his conclusions about the potential for social movements to drive ambitious mitigation, this is a wise and important challenge from an elegant writer and original thinker. A critical intervention."--Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate

"Concise, elegant, erudite, heartfelt & wise."--Amitav Ghosh, author of Flood of Fire

"War veteran and journalist Roy Scranton combines memoir, philosophy, and science writing to craft one of the definitive documents of the modern era."--The Believer Best Books of 2015

Coming home from the war in Iraq, US Army private Roy Scranton thought he'd left the world of strife behind. Then he watched as new calamities struck America, heralding a threat far more dangerous than ISIS or Al Qaeda: Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, megadrought--the shock and awe of global warming.

Our world is changing. Rising seas, spiking temperatures, and extreme weather imperil global infrastructure, crops, and water supplies. Conflict, famine, plagues, and riots menace from every quarter. From war-stricken Baghdad to the melting Arctic, human-caused climate change poses a danger not only to political and economic stability, but to civilization itself . . . and to what it means to be human. Our greatest enemy, it turns out, is ourselves. The warmer, wetter, more chaotic world we now live in--the Anthropocene--demands a radical new vision of human life.

In this bracing response to climate change, Roy Scranton combines memoir, reportage, philosophy, and Zen wisdom to explore what it means to be human in a rapidly evolving world, taking readers on a journey through street protests, the latest findings of earth scientists, a historic UN summit, millennia of geological history, and the persistent vitality of ancient literature. Expanding on his influential New York Times essay (the #1 most-emailed article the day it appeared, and selected for Best American Science and Nature Writing 2014), Scranton responds to the existential problem of global warming by arguing that in order to survive, we must come to terms with our mortality.

Plato argued that to philosophize is to learn to die. If that’s true, says Scranton, then we have entered humanity’s most philosophical age--for this is precisely the problem of the Anthropocene. The trouble now is that we must learn to die not as individuals, but as a civilization.

Roy Scranton has published in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, Boston Review, and Theory and Event, and has been interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air, among other media.


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About the author

A war veteran, journalist, author, and Princeton PhD candidate, Roy Scranton has published in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, Boston Review, and Theory and Event, and has been interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air, among other media.

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Additional Information

Publisher
City Lights Publishers
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Published on
Sep 7, 2015
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Pages
144
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ISBN
9780872866706
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Political
Political Science / World / General
Science / Global Warming & Climate Change
Social Science / Sociology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Over the past few years, and certainly since the publication of the "Stern Report", there has been increasing recognition that climate change is not only an environmental crisis, but one with important social and economic dimensions. There is now a growing need for multi-disciplinary research and for the science of climate change to be usefully translated for policy-makers.Until very recently, scientific and policy emphasis on climate change has focused almost exclusively on mitigation efforts: mechanisms and regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The success of such efforts to date is debatable. In fact, the impact of ever more stringent emission control programmes could potentially have enormous social consequences. Little effort has been expended on the exploration of a systematic evaluation of climate stabilization benefits or the costs of adapting to a changed climate, let alone attempting to integrate different approaches. There is an increasing recognition that the key actors in the climate crisis also need to be preparing for change that is unavoidable. This has resulted in a greater consideration of vulnerability and adaptation.The book, based on the research programme "Vulnerability, Adaptation and Mitigation" (VAM) which ran from 2004 to 2010, funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), presents a cluster of case studies of industries, communities and institutions which each show how vulnerability, adaptation and mitigation analyses can be integrated using social behavioural sciences. Each chapter makes specific recommendations for the studied industry sector, community or institution, analyses the latest research developments of the field and identifies priorities for future research.

The book argues that the inherent complexity of climate change will ultimately require a much more integrated response both scientifically – to better understand multiple causes and impacts – as well as at the scientific/policy interface, where new forms of engagement between scientists, policy-makers and wider stakeholder groups can make a valuable contribution to more informed climate policy and practice.The book is particularly timely as the scientific research and policy debate is shifting from one of problem-framing to new agendas that are much more concerned with implementation, the improvement of assessment methodologies from a multi-disciplinary perspective, and the reframing of current scientific understanding towards mitigation, adaptation and vulnerability. A critical element in responding to the climate change challenge will be to ensure the translation of these new scientific insights into innovative policy and practice "on the ground". This book provides some fundamental elements to answer this need.The Social and Behavioural Aspects of Climate Change: Linking Vulnerability, Adaptation and Mitigation will be essential reading for social science researchers and policy managers in the area of climate change, as well as for those who want to know what the social and behavioural sciences can contribute toward coping with climate hazards. NGOs, law firms and businesses in the energy sector or other climate related fields will also find the book of great value.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • "The Uninhabitable Earth hits you like a comet, with an overflow of insanely lyrical prose about our pending Armageddon."—Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon

It is worse, much worse, than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible. In California, wildfires now rage year-round, destroying thousands of homes. Across the US, “500-year” storms pummel communities month after month, and floods displace tens of millions annually.

This is only a preview of the changes to come. And they are coming fast. Without a revolution in how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth could become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.

In his travelogue of our near future, David Wallace-Wells brings into stark relief the climate troubles that await—food shortages, refugee emergencies, and other crises that will reshape the globe. But the world will be remade by warming in more profound ways as well, transforming our politics, our culture, our relationship to technology, and our sense of history. It will be all-encompassing, shaping and distorting nearly every aspect of human life as it is lived today.

Like An Inconvenient Truth and Silent Spring before it, The Uninhabitable Earth is both a meditation on the devastation we have brought upon ourselves and an impassioned call to action. For just as the world was brought to the brink of catastrophe within the span of a lifetime, the responsibility to avoid it now belongs to a single generation.
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The 100 most substantive solutions to reverse global warming, based on meticulous research by leading scientists and policymakers around the world

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