262 pages, no illustrations
Nature has many gifts for us, but perhaps the greatest of them all is joy; the intense delight we can take in the natural world, in its beauty, in the wonder it can offer us, in the peace it can provide – feelings stemming ultimately from our own unbreakable links to nature, which mean that we cannot be fully human if we are separate from it.
In The Moth Snowstorm Michael McCarthy, one of Britain's leading writers on the environment, proposes this joy as a defence of a natural world which is ever more threatened, and which, he argues, is inadequately served by the two defences put forward hitherto: sustainable development and the recognition of ecosystem services.
Drawing on a wealth of memorable experiences from a lifetime of watching and thinking about wildlife and natural landscapes, The Moth Snowstorm not only presents a new way of looking at the world around us, but effortlessly blends with it a remarkable and moving memoir of childhood trauma from which love of the natural world emerged. It is a powerful, timely, and wholly original book which comes at a time when nature has never needed it more.
"[...] This is Mike's ninth symphony, and it is an ode to joy from first to last. We need to hold on to that, especially those who work professionally in conservation. The wild world still brings joys: we need to reconnect with that constantly. In every way, it is what keeps us going."
– Simon Barnes, British Wildlife 26(6), August 2015
"[...] As the conservation movement comes together around a common purpose to restore and recover nature, this is a timely call to arms, to ensure we look after not just species, but recover nature’s abundance that fills us with wonder and joy. A word missing from the book is courage, but in telling his own very personal story of surviving a troubled childhood, coming to his own peace through the natural world, Mike’s courage is inspiring. It gives me hope that all of us can love nature enough to save ourselves."
– Andy Clements, BTO News, issue 314
"A great, rhapsodic, urgent book full of joy, grief, rage and love [...] A must-read"
– Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk
1. A Singular Window 1
2. Stumbling Upon Wilderness 31
3. The Bond and the Losses 57
4. The Great Thinning 84
5. Joy in the Calendar 125
6. Joy in the Beauty of the Earth 155
7. Wonder 189
8. A New Kind of Love 215
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Michael McCarthy has won a string of awards for his writing on the environment and the natural world, first as Environment Correspondent of The Times, and later as Environment Editor of the Independent. These have included Specialist Writer of the Year in the British Press Awards, the Medal of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds for 'outstanding services to conservation', the Dilys Breeze Medal of the British Trust for Ornithology, and the Silver Medal of the Zoological Society of London. In 2008 McCarthy wrote Say Goodbye To The Cuckoo, a study of Britain's declining summer migrant birds, which was widely praised.