Right off the bat, one thing you should know is that this book is not for everyone. If you are unprepared for a brutally honest truth, are unsupportive of alternative lifestyles and ideas and/ or do not care one wink about solving the environmental crisis, Daniel Pinchbeck’s latest work might make for an uncomfortable read. However, if by chance you are none of the above, are a fan of his previous books, or are simply daring enough to step outside of your comfort zone; what Pinchbeck has to say is well worth a read.
Pinchbeck begins with an account of what he describes as both his proudest and most humiliating incident: He tried to spark an environmental revolution at Burning Man and failed miserably. From the start you know that this won’t be a generic manifesto of how we can fix the planet, but rather a deeply personal (true) story of how one man not only learned that we should undo the damage we have caused but also how we can go about doing so.
While this revelation was largely due in part to psychedelic party drugs and a new age mind-set, his ideas remain valid. They are well researched and logical (and in all honesty, blatant truths about the world that do not require much thought or effort to observe for yourself).
How Soon Is Now: From Personal Initiation to Global Transformation is, at its core an eye-opener about how destruction is engrained in our DNA. We are only inspired to take action when it’s necessary, and are most creative when we are desperate. Combine this evolutionary flaw with the human capacity for industrial innovation and we are faced with the extremely likely possibility that we will make this planet so uninhabitable, we will cause our own extinction.
We want to waste the planet’s resources because it’s just so comfortable to do so. While we are aware that something must be done, we refuse to accept that the action we must take directly opposes the ways in which we enjoy living; less meat, less pollution, less industry and more restoration. Sacrificing our comforts is too big a price to pay to preserve the necessities, so we sit back and do nothing.
These are excellent truths, that we will all do well to remember, but there are flaws in Pinchbeck’s writing that some will be unable to overlook.
It’s difficult to take Pinchbeck, an environmentalist, seriously when, early in his story, after going through great pains to express his sympathies for (and experiences with) Hurricane Katrina and other environmental crises, he goes on to describe how he escaped the North American Blizzard of 2015 in a private jet. He tends to point fingers at the elite, expressing views that revolution begins with the big guns, as though he is disconnected from them. It is safe to say that concerning a bestselling author who has minds such as Sting and Russell Brand contributing a preface and an introduction respectively for him, this could easily be taken as a contradiction, if not for the underlying understood nudge that all of us need to lead by example.
Speaking of his status as a bestselling author, he mentions his previous books often. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with this and he is fully within his right to do so, in telling his stories he tends to come across as a bit of a throwback fan. That is not to say this is a negative point; it was most likely intended as a callback to both memorable history pivot points and personal facts, however, it does act as a distraction from the main theme of preventing a climatic disaster.
That said, the above should not deter you from giving this book a chance. There is much to learn from it. In the best-case scenario, you will be inspired to take action. In the worst-case scenario, you will see the world in a different light, but be warned, it is not a pretty light – it is the type of light that is shed upon the world to point out the underlying truths.
You don’t have to rally against the big corporations, pledge yourself as a vegan, or move out of the city and into an eco-village to make a positive impact on our planet.
What is necessary is a change in your mind-set.
One of the many lessons we can learn from Pinchbeck is that sustainability is not a viable option in Earth’s restoration. Regeneration is; undoing the cruelty we have inflicted upon the face of the Earth and allowing the planet to return to its former glory.
It begins with your mind-set; but it ends in one of two ways:
We unite and transform the entire world, or we meet our inevitable end. The situation is worse than what is advertised to us, and we are the problem.
Whether or not environmental awareness interests you, this book is recommendable. At the very least, you will get some fascinating first-hand accounts of the experiences of an activist. You will explore different cultures, different belief systems and various behaviours, and you will see the world for what it is: A place in desperate need of serious changes.
And so we return to environmental flaw. At which point will our need for survival override our need for destruction and comfort? When will we change, so that we can implement that change into our world? And when will we learn that prevention is better than cure?
This book is a great place to start in overcoming the denial humanity has when it comes to global warming. It might not be perfect, but it is important, and for that reason is highly recommended to activists, armchair adventurers and naysayers alike.