Last week, Elizabeth Kolbert, a respected New Yorker journalist who writes admirably about our climate catastrophe and the environment, wrote a scathing attack on my book, No Impact Man. Sadly, casualties on the battlefield of Kolbert’s wrath included not only me, but also the work of James MacKinnon and Alisa Smith (authors of 100 Mile Diet), Henry David Thoreau (author of Walden), and other writers who used their own experiments in alternative lifestyles as narrative vehicles to, hopefully, propel into the popular discourse vital cultural issues that transcend the particularities of their experiments.
MacKinnon and Smith wrote about their year of eating locally as a means of publicizing — and very successfully — the tremendous failings of our centralized, industrialized food system in delivering healthy food to people in a way the planet can sustain. Thoreau, of course, attempted to use his year in the woods to bring to our attention the diminishing adherence to any sort of transcendent human values as we veered into unmitigated materialism in the wake of the industrial revolution.
Kolbert dismisses these writers and others as something similar ... Read more