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I really enjoyed a lot of the points made in this book, but there wasn’t a lot of real information or solutions to back them up. I definitely agree with the point he starts to make at the beginning and end of the book: that capitalism is a big problem for environmentalism, and that individual people living their lives aren’t at fault but rather tha people who are in power allow the status quo to continue damaging the earth. However, a reader without any background in environmentalism probably wouldn’t get this, because he really doesn’t provide any support for it, and I just agree because I already know that. I wasn’t surprised to find out that the author is a philosopher and doesn’t have a background in science, because he frames the discussion in the way we think about environmentalism, without providing any ways to heal the earth humanely and with people in mind.
- Bruckner descrives capitalism as both one of the things damaging the planet and a mechanism for people in post-colonial countries to live comfortably. Do you agree, and do you think he is more pro- or anti-capitalism?
- How has the Christian idea of the apocalypse shaped ecologism and its fear-mongering?
- Do you think campus environmental advocacy groups such as Tree House and E and W club fall into the trap of ecologism? In what ways?
- Is it even possible for seven billion people to live comfortably on earth in a sustainable way? Can we protect the planet without marginalizing or losing huge chunks of our population?
- The earth will continue to exist and heal even if conditions eventually become inhabitable to humans. Is environmentalism, at its core, selfish and human-centric? Is this part of why Bruckner calls for a more human- friendly environmentalism?
- Why was the bit about immortality at the end necessary? If we were immortal, would the environment be more or less of a pressing issue?
- If individual humans are not the ones responsible for harming the planet, who is? Don’t we have to put the blame on some humans for creating an economy that allows endless consumption and waste?
- One passage mentions an “evil genius who may lead the faint-hearted to save their own skins” taking over in the event of a catastrophe, and obviously, even though it wasn’t intentional, this relates to our current political climate. Is the current regime leading people further into ecologism, since it’s taking away all of our faiths in humanity and making us feel powerless? Or is the apathy towards the planet of the people in power leading people to see who the real enemies of the environment are?
- Are sustainability measures that harm people, such as the banning of DDT, “worth it”? Obviously Bruckner feels otherwise, but are there some measures that are necessary to heal or protect the planet even if they cause some people to have a lower qualiy of life?
- Speaking of the last question, imagine a perfect world where we all live sustainably and all have the same quality of life. Would what we consider living successfully/ comfortably have to change? Can we continue to allocate resources in such an unequal way and truly call our lives sustainable, and do we have enough resources that if they were distributed equally everyone would be able to live well?