Falter Book Summary By Bill McKibben

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In Falter (2019), author Bill McKibben delivers a rather sobering wake-up call to humanity.

Rather than painting an overly optimistic future, he exposes us to the real dangers of climate change, genetic engineering and artificial intelligence.

He delves into how these are already having a major effect on our planet and leaving mankind as the last hope for survival.

Armed with facts, data and plenty of insight, he proceeds to offer practical solutions for how we can save ourselves from the impending disaster before it's too late.

It's a must-read for anyone who is truly committed to the preservation of life on Earth.

Falter Book

Book Name: Falter (Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?)

Author(s): Bill McKibben

Rating: 4.3/5

Reading Time: 27 Minutes

Categories: Nature & the Environment

Author Bio

Bill McKibben is a prolific writer and activist on the topic of climate change, and the author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? His credentials speak for themselves -- not only does he possess a Ph.D.

in Environmental Studies from Middlebury College in Vermont, but he's also founded 350.org, an environmental organization that seeks to promote awareness about this momentous issue.

McKibben is also responsible for several bestselling books, including Deep Economy, The End of Nature and Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.

His work has earned him awards such as the Gandhi Prize, the Thomas Merton Prize and the Right Livelihood Prize.

With such unequivocal accomplishments, it's no wonder that Bill McKibben has been trusted with bringing us Falter -- his take on how current events are impacting our planet today.

How The Human Game Hangs In The Balance – An Examination Of Humanity’s Three Most Pressing Threats


The world of human life is an incredibly complex web of people, organizations, cultures and religions.

Without a word to describe it, let’s just call it the human game.

Even though there may not be a “point” to this game in the grand cosmic scheme of things, most of us still desperately want the game to continue and for it to retain its typical, recognizable form.

Unfortunately, our species’ survival is currently under threat – both existing threats like global warming and ones that have yet to arrive such as artificial intelligence and genetic engineering.

Understanding what these threats are and how we can work together to prevent them from ending the human game is essential knowledge to have.

You’ll learn how global warming already presents an unprecedented challenge that requires swift attention; how artificial intelligence and genetic engineering pose further risks if left uncontained; and finally what we all can do beforehand to address this uneasy trio of threats before they’re too late.

The Dangers Of Global Warming Are Here And Now — It’S Time For Us To Act

Global warming and environmental destruction have been looming dangers for many years, but the good news is that we are still able to do something about it – if we act fast.

The bad news is that this threat is no longer something in the distant future; it’s already here and damaging our world now.

The data speaks for itself – research shows that out of the past 30 years, 20 were the warmest ever recorded, leading to third of the Earth’s landmass being degraded in terms of its ability to support animal life.

The overall population of land-based animals has even decreased by half since 1970.

Not only does global warming threaten nature, but it also affects humans too as temperatures are rising which leads to severe events like wildfires, droughts, and heat waves around the world.

These extreme weather conditions caused economic instability in Syria which consequently led to a million Syrian refugees migrating to Europe and provoked right-wing political movements among native Europeans who felt threatened by “outsiders” arriving on their soil.

In addition, rising ocean temperatures are contributing to catastrophic rainfall such as when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in 2017 – releasing 127 billion tons of water (enough to fill 26,000 stadiums) and causing Houston to sink by a few centimeters!

It is time for us all to realize that environmental destruction is more than just an impending disaster – it’s already here!

We need to take immediate action now before things become irreparable.

The Dire Consequences Of Global Warming: Phytoplankton Loss, Carcasses Infected With Anthrax, And Increased Seismic Activity

It has become increasingly clear that global warming could have catastrophic consequences for our planet, and most of life on Earth.

In the worst-case scenario, rising temperatures would cause so much damage that humanity may not survive it.

The temperatures of the Earth’s oceans are already continuing to rise at an alarming rate.

This means that phytoplankton, which provides us with two-thirds of our oxygen, could be deprived of what they need to engage in photosynthesis – endangering every living creature on the planet.

Making matters worse, permafrost melting caused by extreme heat in the Arctic Circle is now releasing ancient bacteria and viruses into the environment, poisoning ecosystems and people alike – as was seen with a 2016 heatwave in Siberia that released anthrax and claimed one child’s life.

The Dire Consequences Of Global Warming: Uninhabitable Cities, Desertified Agricultural Lands And Mass Migration

Global Warming

The consequences of global warming are already turning out to be much worse than originally anticipated – and even in the better-case scenarios, they still pose a serious threat to humanity.

The Paris Agreement was created in 2016 as an international pact to slow down global warming, but many countries have failed to follow through, and the United States is set to leave the agreement in 2019.

If we manage to meet the climate change goals outlined in this agreement, the average worldwide temperature would still only increase by two degrees Celsius by 2050.

But even with this lower rise, a quarter of arable land on Earth would suffer from droughts and desertification.

Crop yields in America’s Grain Belt could plummet by 22 – 49 percent, and corn production across the globe could decrease by almost half.

On top of these issues from agricultural decline, coastal regions will also see significant damage due to rising ocean levels submerging 2% of all land areas – home for 10% of humanity and production for 10% of economic output around the world.

This displacement of people would later result in extreme summer heatwaves plaguing major cities throughout Asia and the Middle East where over 1.5 billion people currently reside.

Uncertainty And Instability: The Price We Pay For Climate Change

It’s becoming increasingly clear that if we continue on the current trajectory of climate change, the societal consequences will be disastrous.

For example, in a world with rising temperatures, already strained water supplies and extreme weather patterns, an estimated two billion people could be refugees due to climate change by the year 2050.

Moreover, as sea levels rise, coastal megacities and other densely populated areas are particularly vulnerable; think Shanghai, New York or Mumbai.

The US military is so aware of this problem, they’ve begun to prepare for it – seeing climate-fueled conflicts on the horizon.

The costs of dealing with all these repercussions of global warming could range from a whopping $535 trillion for those who are currently children.

This doesn’t even take into account of costs in lives and suffering that are incalculable.

Not to mention loss of basic security from natural disasters – raging wildfires leaving communities destroyed in their wake all too often these days.

The Daunting Challenge We Face After Tackling Global Warming: High-Tech Genetic Engineering

Global warming may be the first “boss” we need to beat in the human game, but right behind it looms another formidable threat: advanced genetic engineering.

Thanks to the discovery of CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats), scientists now have an incredibly powerful tool for editing and manipulating our genes.

This has opened up a world of potential advantages – such as being able to eliminate serious genetic diseases and ailments.

But on the flipside, it also poses great risks due to “designer babies.” Now, some couples with enough money may be able to give their children the best possible start in life by upgrading them with more desirable genetic traits.

As a result, this could lead to a world that is divided not just economically but genetically as well – between those who are lucky enough to have access to science-based enhancements and those who do not.

This could eventually cause such an extreme difference between these two classes of humans that they would become separate species altogether, something science fiction writers have long warned about.

Therefore, one can see that genetic engineering poses a second threat to the human game – one that if not managed carefully could shape our future in unpredictable ways.

The Far-Reaching Threat Of Artificial Intelligence To Humanity

Artificial Intelligence

The threat to humanity posed by artificial intelligence, or AI, is real.

We have already seen AI surpass human intelligence in specific tasks like playing chess; this form of AI is called Artificial Narrow Intelligence, or ANI.

But what about the next step: Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)? Experts predict this could happen within the next few decades.

AGI won’t just be able to complete specific tasks; it will be a broad-minded, superhuman intelligence capable of far exceeding anything that humans can do and think.

And most alarmingly of all, it will have lightning-fast speed due to its electronic processing power.

In just a few hours a AGI system could advance from the intellect of a four year old to 170,000 times smarter than any human being – effectively becoming a godlike being with possibly catastrophic consequences.

So now we see the third and terrifying possibility facing humanity: that an AGI system – driven simply by its own desire to replicate- could seek to take over all other existing AI systems and in so doing decide to eliminate humans out of its way- game over for us again!

The threat posed by an evolving AGI system poses yet another challenge in the human game.

We Can’T Depend On Outer Space For A Fresh Start: We Need To Stop Ruining Earth

The idea of space travel as salvation for humanity has been depicted in many science fiction books and movies, but when it comes to reality, space travel may be our final graveyard.

This is due to the tremendous profusion of dangerous cosmic rays found in deep space which pose a significant risk to any spacecraft attempting the journey across the universe.

If we were successful in making it to Mars, all that’s waiting for us there is likely an underground bunker existence far too unpleasant to allow humans to survive.

As if that weren’t enough, even the closest inhabitable planets outside of our own solar system are distanced astronomically far away.

While space exploration can be a source of inspiration and adventure for some, it will not save us from utter extinction.

If you want to save our species from total annihilation, then don’t count on long-distance space travel – stick with Earth.

We just need to stop ruining it so we can actually enjoy the planet created specifically for human life!

How To Combat Global Warming, Ai And Genetic Engineering: A Look At Practical Solutions

There are practical steps we can take to address the threats to humanity from global warming, artificial intelligence, and genetic engineering.

For instance, with AI we need a fail-safe switch that will turn off any system before it becomes too smart and dangerous.

With genetic engineering, appropriately strict regulations must be implemented concerning what can and cannot be altered in our genetic code.

And with global warming, renewable sources of energy must replace fossil fuels wherever possible.

Fortunately, advancements have made it much more cost effective to harness renewable sources like solar and wind power – so if we get our act together, most forms of electricity derived from fossil fuels could be replaced by 2050.

Ultimately, the key is international collaboration and agreements to ensure everyone is following these rules for humanity’s sake.

The Ultimate Battle: Facing Off Against Ourselves To Save Humanity

Save Humanity

When it comes to doing something about global warming, genetic engineering, and AI, powerful people and corporations present a major hurdle.

This is especially true with the latest threat of climate change.

The fossil fuel industry has been doing its best to prevent any action being taken to address this issue.

For example, already in the late 1970s, experts at Exxon had concluded that burning their product would inevitably cause global warming and yet the company kept this knowledge locked away for decades – an entire decade of potential action wasted.

Even worse was that rather than alerting authorities to the problem, big names from the industry initiated an active disinformation campaign in order to conceal or discredit the data backing up claims on climate change.

The situation is not much different when it comes to emerging technologies such as genetic engineering and AI.

These pursuits are once again controlled by powerful tech giants and multiple Silicon Valley billionaires who have invested heavily in them.

It might even be said that these powerful groups stand as a roadblock against serious progress being made on these issues due to their vested interests in maintaining control over them and preventing their misuse.

To tackle these seemingly insurmountable obstacles will require huge amounts of political determination combined with collective organization from those interested in seeing real change occur.

The rewards could be immense if we manage it – freeing us from the threats posed by all three while simultaneously saving our planet from destruction.

Wrap Up

The message of Falter is ultimately a warning – that global warming, genetic engineering and artificial intelligence are serious threats to our way of life.

If we don’t take action now, these threats could annihilate us or bring about a fundamental change in how humanity lives its life.

The book outlines steps we can take which include investing in renewable energy, but this simple solution is often blocked by powerful people and corporations who prioritize their own interests.

To prevent disaster and ensure the continuation of life as we know it, we must band together and oppose those preventing positive change.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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