Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Christopher MiddletonNotes on a Viking Prow
(PN Review 10)
Next Issue Gwyneth Lewis ‘Spiderings’ Ian Thomson ‘Fires were started: Tallinn, 1944’ Adrian May ‘Traditionalism and Tradition’ Judith Herzberg ‘Poems’ translated by Margitt Lehbert Horatio Morpurgo ‘What is a Book?’
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Reader Survey
PN Review Substack

This review is taken from PN Review 78, Volume 17 Number 4, March - April 1991.

ESCAPES Bill McKibben, The End of Nature (Viking Press) £12.99

In spite of its helpful directness and amiable tone, there is much in this book to surprise and shock the reader. The book contains not only a mass of quoted scientific evidence to support its central argument, but a great deal to persuade us of the writer's good sense, his ability in drawing together ideas on a mass of subjects, from the writings of Thoreau, to the Book of Job, from commentaries on other environmentalists to a long description of what practically is meant by the greenhouse effect. In much the same way, the facts of a nuclear strike were described by Jonathan Schell in The Fate of the Earth, published two decades ago. But this is not about something that might happen; McKibben's aim is to persuade us that something no less cataclysmic and alienating has already happened. It is virtually like having the definitive details of nuclear war explained to us when the news has gone out that the missiles are on their way.

The escape demands simply a radical change in our way of life. Yet McKibben wouldn't call himself a radical. What interests him is a necessary change, first, in our habits of thought. The history of our relationship with Nature is entering a new phase. The argument is that through human consumption of fossil fuels such levels of carbon dioxide now exist that the chemical state of the entire global atmosphere has been tranformed. What used to be called spring is now ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image