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Time's Up!: An Uncivilized Solution to a Global Crisis Paperback – 12 Mar 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Green Books (12 Mar. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 190032248X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1900322485
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,098,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


Keith Farnish has it right: time has practically run out, and the 'system' is the problem. Governments are under the thumb of fossil fuel special interests - they will not look after our and the planet's well-being until we force them to do so, and that is going to require enormous effort. --Professor James Hansen, Columbia University

I think we are beginning to see mounting awareness of the gravity and scope of the crisis afflicting life on earth. Keith's Time's Up! is a huge contribution to understanding the extremity of our situation and providing ideas for facing up to ending a fundamentally false and devouring technoculture. --John Zerzan, author of Against Civilization: Readings and Reflections and other books

From the Back Cover

Time's Up! is a book about survival - about ensuring that we have the means to save ourselves from the global crisis that is unfolding. People know that the climate is changing, that species are being removed from the Earth at a rapidly increasing rate, that entire ecosystems are becoming shadows of their former richness; they know, but they do not understand. The global environmental crisis is closing in on humanity from all directions, yet the crisis barely registers on this culture's list of problems.
If things continue as they are, humanity is doomed to a collapse that will leave only a few nomads, and a toxic, barely survivable Earth in its wake. So why is nothing being done beyond changing light bulbs, recycling and buying organic food? It's certainly not for a lack of good reasons. Humans have no motivation stronger than survival, yet the culture that dominates - the culture we call Industrial Civilization - has created a set of priorities that value financial wealth, the possession of superfluous goods and short, cheap thrills, above that most basic need. In short, we are prepared to die in order to live a life that is killing us.
Time's Up! is all about changing this. It describes what our actions are doing to the very things on Earth that we depend on for survival, at scales that we rarely contemplate. It arms us with the tools to free us from the culture that has blinded us for centuries, and which will allow us to live lives that will give the Earth, and ourselves, a future.
Time's Up! proposes something radical, fundamental and frightening; something long-term, exhilarating and absolutely necessary; something totally uncivilized.

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Customer Reviews

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9 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Williams on 14 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
Time's Up is an unusual book. It begins with a series of chapters that zoom out from the microscopic to whole ecosystems - an elaborate way of showing the sheer scope of our meddling in the earth's systems, from viruses to forests, and the extent to which we have left ourselves vulnerable. It could be the little things that get us, the changing disease patterns that climate change and industrial farming are creating, or it could be the big things, like deforestation. Either way, "nothing is so dependent on other forms of life as humans, the ultimate consumers."

So who are we to have put ourselves outside the rest of creation in this way? And does it matter? Having set out the parameters of the problem, Farnish spends the next section of the book examining humanity and our place in the world. Eventually he narrows our dilemma down to cultural factors: "much of humanity has become a commercial entity" he concludes, and "sustainability is not just about the use of natural resources; it is about the use of our lives."

The solution is to reconnect to the earth, and the only way to do that is to unplug from civilisation. Industrial civilization is "fatally flawed and needs to be removed from the face of the earth, before the inevitable ecological collapse brings it down in far more horrible circumstances." It's an extreme and controversial solution, choosing a primitive wilderness rather than trying to fix or change what we have. This all-or-nothing approach is bound to alienate a lot of readers. If you're an environmentalist or campaigner, it basically tells you that you're wasting your time, and you should give up and go and live in the woods. That's a rather hopeless outlook, and in my opinion a needlessly final solution that Farnish hasn't even taken himself, but it will be music to the ears of those with survivalist ambitions.

In summary, a real mix of the insightful and the impractical, but worth a read all the same.
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Neil C. Taylor on 11 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like books that make me think or at least present a coherent argument. This is not one of them. The thrust behind this work is to provide the reader with capitalised catchphrases such as "The Culture Of Maximum Harm" and to build a wall with them behind which the "anti-science" eco-warriors can hide in self-satisfied, smug, self-righteousness. It reads very much like a Scientology handbook; redefining the rest of "us" as dysfunctional individuals and selling a solution to problems we never knew we had.

If modern culture is a badly leaking boat then the target audience of this book are trying to scuttle it instead of helping to bail it out or to make better boats. They want us to swim with the natural currents of life... and other such meaningless metaphors. The irony here is that I am already very familiar with self-suficiency arguments and ideas such as going "off-grid" and disconnecting yourself from being dependent on any sort of "society" or "civilisation" - I was introduced to them decades ago in the science-fiction novels of Robert A. Heinlein. In those, the libertarian and anarchic ideas of self-reliance and self-sufficiency were presented as the gateway to a technological sci-fi future where "science" was very much king. The complete opposite of Keith Farnish's Shangri-La.

I've also come across this same idea of abandoning the herd-like masses to become self-reliant "producers" and not parasitic "consumers" in Ayn Rand's excellent "Atlas Shrugged" novel. Once again, there, the idea is presented as a way to achieve scientific progress and to advance humanity into a new age - as individuals and not sheep. The ideas in "Time's Up!" would not produce individuals just a new breed of sheep.
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8 of 16 people found the following review helpful By N. A. Osborne on 23 April 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Farnish has put together a timely and important work that transcends environmental writing and puts itself firmly down in the realm of sociology. We do have a problem and we hear the evidence, but the prevailing politics and our own role as willing partners of the flawed system does not allow us to listen. The solution to climate change and much more lies within us, in the actions we take. We cannot palm our responsibilities off on some leader or the fact we do a bit of recycling. We have to go further.

If your looking for a comforting list of things to do to save the planet you will not find it here. This book is much more radical in its suggestions and it requires a deeper commitment to carry them out. I recommend it to all, but especially to those who are on the cusp of realizing that man as consumer was a stupid idea in the first place.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. W. Bradbury on 19 April 2011
Format: Paperback
Some two hundred years ago, the Reverend Malthus wrote the first of these 'harbingers of doom' type books. The 'Malthusian Crisis' is named after him, but although there have indeed been numerous famines between his times and our own, civilization did not collapse as he predicted. In fact the British population has increased massively since that time, our biggest problem today being overeating not starvation! Why? Because in any age, those attempting to predict the future can only base their judgements on the social/industrial realities around them and must obviously be unaware of future technological/scientific developments. As steam engines, railways, petrol engines, electricity, aircraft, organic fertilisers, nuclear power etc... did not exist in the good Reverend's times; he was unable to factor them into his calculations. Hence he saw looming disaster when by the standards of his age, the future was amazingly bright.

Today's prophets of doom make this same mistake. Example:- Pres. Obama may feel America no longer has the industrial strength to lead humanity out into the Cosmos; but China, India and Japan all have plans to establish human colonies on the planet Mars within fifty years, regarding that planet just as Europe's buccaneers once regarded 'The New World'; a vast untapped treasure-house awaiting those with the courage to claim and tame it.

The liberal/socialist 'doctrines' now gripping the Western World may well bankrupt us as their Soviet counterparts bankrupted the USSR, but despite egalitarian/welfare legislation, homosexual liberation, punitive taxation, political corruption, abortion, credit crunches etc..... mankind as a species today is still as resourcefull, intelligent and determined as ever.
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