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The Monkey Wrench Gang: Eco Action or Terrorism?

annapolis green reads

Our Green Reads book group recently discussed The Monkey Wrench Gang with an equal number of people on Zoom and in person, a true hybrid experience.

monkey wrench gangThe Monkey Wrench Gang is a novel by Edward Abbey, who was an anarchist and environmental activist; his writing heavily influenced the environmental movement, especially out west.  Our discussion really homed in on what is environmental action as opposed to environmental terrorism and how it differs from civil disobedience. We each offered our thoughts about what we were comfortable with personally. Some of us could really see the value of eco action and appreciate the efforts that lead to change in policy over the years. Others of us were less comfortable with the approach that was demonstrated by the Monkey Wrench Gang. Perhaps there is a role for the whole spectrum of actions to eventually arrive at a place that is in the productive middle where real change can be made.

We all felt the frustration expressed by Edward Abbey vis a vis the characters in the book and we echoed them as we see them in the issues that we face today. We have read articles in the paper talking about the possible reduction of water available to major cities out west due to the drought. There are even officials contemplating removal of the Glen Canyon dam! One member of our group provided us with more context of the landscape, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, and the culture out there through her knowledge of the area and having known the guy who is portrayed as Seldom Seen in the book. She brought some pictures from 2015 to show the change in water level; the water level is now significantly lower.

golden gate bridge with sky orange with fire smoke

Frequently somebody in the group will say, “What can we DO about all of these problems?” Our increased environmental literacy is a great outcome of the group. I am recognizing that as we get to know each other better and can speak most authentically, this is a great forum for airing our feelings and concerns. We get to hear others say what we might also be thinking. Anxiety can be kept a bit at bay when our fears and frustrations are spoken aloud. There is real value in that.

The End of Ice book cover

Here is an article in the Washington Post that talks about How to cope with the existential dread of climate change. I think it is worth reading. Our book group can support at least one strategy in getting through these times.

Our next book is The End of Ice by Dahr Jamail. We will meet on Tuesday, August 24 at 7 pm. If you would like to join our discussions, please contact me.


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