He has gathered the most vivid statistics, distilled history to its juiciest turns, and made the case as urgently and clearly as can be: The whole breadth of our existencethe ‘human game’is in jeopardy.” The Washington Post
“[An] unsettling look at the prospects for human survival. . . . Readers open to inconvenient and sobering truths will find much to digest in McKibben’s eloquently unsparing treatise.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A compelling call for change.” Kirkus Reviews
“[A] deeply caring, eloquently reasoned inquiry into environmental and techno-utopian threats. . . . Profoundly compelling and enlightening, McKibben balances alarm with hope.” Booklist (starred review)
“McKibben provides a fresh perspective with surprising examples and an engaging writing style.” Jared Diamond, The New York Times Book Review
“[A] lyrical masterpiece . . . [and] a humane and wise book, even a beautiful one, if that’s not oxymoronic, given its subject . . . Falter provides ample evidence that we are on the cusp of an avoidable disaster.” Los Angeles Review of Books
“Fascinating. . . McKibben is a mighty orator on the page here, just as he was in The End of Nature (1989) and Eaarth (2010), and his call for creating more compassionate and equitable societies is inspiring.” Pacific Standard
“Falter is McKibben’s most powerfully argued book, and maybe his most important since The End of Nature 30 years ago. . . . It affirms him as among a very few of our most compelling truth-tellers about the climate catastrophe and the ideological forces driving it.” Wen Stephenson, The Nation
“Falter is the work of one of America's most skillful long-form journalists. . . . [McKibben has] an uncannily entertaining way of combining information with interpretation and insight.” Seven Days
“A deeply reported, broad-spanning investigation. . . . Compelling.” Outside
“McKibben, a veteran environmental writer, is never hectoring or hyperbolic; here, he turns the possibility of human extinction (from climate change, artificial intelligence, etc.) into an absorbing analysis with a glimmer of hope.” The New York Times Book Review, Editor’s Choice
“Falter is a book about which it would be impossible to say too much. . . . McKibben has positioned himself on the cutting edge of history.” The Progressive
“The strength of [McKibben's] writing on climate change is that its specificity burns away the mist from what, to most people, is a hazy issue.” The Times (London)
“Falter is a bracing call to arms, one that concerned readers ignore at their peril.” Palo Alto Weekly
“A love letter, a plea, a eulogy, and a prayer. This is Bill McKibben at his glorious best. Wise and warning, with everything on the line. Do not miss it.”Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine
“McKibben himself is a hopeful soul . . . Rather than pushing us toward despair, McKibben situates his book as a call to action. Hope is a useful tool only if you know the shape of reality that you face.” The Christian Century
“I braced myself to plunge into this book about the largest and grimmest of situations our species has faced, and then I found myself racing through it, excited by the grand synthesis of innumerable scientific reports on the details of the crisis. And then at the end I saw the book as a description of a big trap with a small exit we could take, if we take heed of what Bill McKibben tells us here, and act on it.”Rebecca Solnit, author of A Paradise Built in Hell and Hope in the Dark
“It’s not an exaggeration to say that Bill McKibben has written a book so important, reading it might save your life, not to mention your home: Planet Earth. Falter is a brilliant, impassioned call to arms to save our climate from those profiting from its destruction before it’s too late. Over and over, McKibben has proven one of the most farsighted and gifted voices of our times, and with Falter he has topped himself, producing a book that honestly, everyone should read.”Jane Mayer, bestselling author of Dark Money
“No one has done more than Bill McKibben to raise awareness about the great issues of our time. Falter is an essential bookhonest, far-reaching and, against the odds, hopeful.”Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction
“McKibben describes just how much trouble we’re in, yet his voice is so calm, his examples so fresh and unexpected . . . that you easily glide into his lucid, engaging contemplation of the potential end of human civilization. Later in Falter, when he describes just as equably what we must do to prevent it, you believe it’s still worth trying.” Alan Weisman, The New York Review of Books
“McKibben . . . has a charming writing styleinclusive, funny, intelligent and lucid. And he is a delightful companion on the journeyso delightful in fact that the terrifying nuggets are slipped in like a stiletto knife, in and out before you even notice. . . . [Falter is] one of the most articulate and compelling descriptions of our changing climate that I have yet read.” Gabrielle Walker, The Times Literary Supplement
The noted environmental activist reprises his proposals to save humanity.
For the past 30 years, McKibben (Environmental Studies/Middlebury Coll.; Radio Free Vermont: A Fable of Resistance, 2017, etc.), founder of the environmental activist organization 350.org, has been issuing urgent warnings about the consequences of climate change and the need to promote sustainable energy sources. In Enough (2003), he added to his concerns genetic engineering and artificial intelligence, which he sees as posing dire threats to humanity. Ticked off by "a dozen high profile books devoted to the idea that everything in the world is steadily improving"—notably Enlightenment Now (2018), in which Steve Pinker demonstrated his "trademark perkiness"—McKibben underscores his arguments and proposes cautiously hopeful solutions. He blames the fossil fuel industry, headed by greedy energy moguls such as the Koch brothers and Exxon executives, for impeding reforms that could stave off disaster. Offering ample evidence of the damage caused by climate change, the author feels certain that people around the world "are not just highly concerned about global warming, but also willing to pay a price to solve it" by seeing their energy bills rise, with the money spent on clean energy programs. He cites a study that concludes that "every major nation on earth could be supplying 80 percent of its power from renewables by 2030." McKibben is less persuasive in his analyses of the threats of artificial intelligence and gene editing, mainly because he gleans his information from newspaper and popular magazine articles rather than peer-reviewed scientific studies that would give his assertions more weight. Against both technologies, he recommends nonviolent resistance. Although open to the idea that new jobs will emerge when robots replace people for much work—solar panels can be installed only by humans, for example—he would like us all to take it slowly. Similarly, we need to resist gene-editing technology. While now such techniques can repair or eliminate genetically caused disease, he sees, in a dystopian future, the creation of designer babies.
A compelling call for change that would benefit from stronger sources.