April 2, 2003
We are on the verge of crossing a line – from born to made, from created to built. Sometime in the next few years, a scientist will reprogram a human egg or sperm cell, spawning a genetic change that will be passed down into eternity. We are sleepwalking toward the future, and it’s time to open our eyes.
Nearly fifteen years ago, in The End of Nature, Bill McKibben demonstrated that humanity had begun to irrevocably alter – and endanger – our environment on a global scale. Now he turns his eye to a new and equally urgent issue: the dangers inherent in an array of technologies that threaten not just our survival, but our identity.
Imagine a future where lab workers can reprogram human embryos to make our children “smarter” or “more sociable” or “happier.” Some researchers are doing more than imagining this future; having worked such changes on a wide range of other animals, they’ve begun to plan for what they see as the inevitable transformation of our species. They are joined by other engineers, working in fields like advanced robotics and nanotechnology, who forsee a not-very-distant day when people merge with machines to create an “post-human” world.
Enough examines such possibilities, and explains how we can avoid their worst consequences while still enjoying the fruits of our new scientific understandings. More, it confronts the most basic questions that our technological society faces: Will we ever decide that we’ve grown powerful enough? Can we draw a line and say this far and no further?
McKibben answers yes, and argues that only by staying human can we find true meaning in our lives. A warning against the greatest dangers humans have ever faced, this wise and eloquent book is also a passionate defense of the world we were born into, and a celebration of our ability to say, “Enough.”
Bill McKibben writes regularly for The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Outside, and many other publications. His first book, The End of Nature, was published in 1989 after being excerpted in The New Yorker; it was a national best-seller and appeared in twenty foreign editions. His other books include The Age of Missing Information, Maybe One, and Long Distance: A Year of Living Strenuously. A scholar in residence at Middlebury College, he lives with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, and daughter in the mountains above Lake Champlain.