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In Abundant Earth, Eileen Crist not only documents the rising tide of biodiversity loss, but also lays out the drivers of this wholesale destruction and how we can push past them. Looking beyond the familiar litany of causes – a large and growing human population, rising livestock numbers, expanding economies and international trade, and spreading infrastructures and incursions upon wildlands – she asks the key question: if we know human expansionism is to blame for this ecological crisis, why are we not taking the needed steps to halt our expansionism?
Crist argues that to do so would require a two-pronged approach. Scaling down calls upon us to lower the global human population while working within a human-rights framework, to deindustrialize food production, and to localize economies and contract global trade. Pulling back calls upon us to free, restore, reconnect, and rewild vast terrestrial and marine ecosystems. However, the pervasive worldview of human supremacy – the conviction that humans are superior to all other life-forms and entitled to use these life-forms and their habitats – normalizes and promotes humanity's ongoing expansion, undermining our ability to enact these linked strategies and preempt the mounting suffering and dislocation of both humans and nonhumans.
Abundant Earth urges us to confront the reality that humanity will not advance by entrenching its domination over the biosphere. On the contrary, we will stagnate in the identity of nature-colonizer and decline into conflict as we vie for natural resources. Instead, we must chart another course, choosing to live in fellowship within the vibrant ecologies of our wild and domestic cohorts, and enfolding human inhabitation within the rich expanse of a biodiverse, living planet.
Part One The Destruction of Life and the Human Supremacy Complex
1 Unraveling Earth's Biodiversity
2 Human Supremacy and the Roots of the Ecological Crisis
3 The Framework of Resources and Techno-Managerialism
Part Two Discursive Knots
4 Is the Human Impact Natural?
5 The Trouble with Debunking Wilderness
6 Freedom, Entitlement, and the Fate of the Nonhuman World
Part Three Scaling Down and Pulling Back
7 Dystopia at the Doorstep
8 Welcoming Limitations
9 Restoring Abundant Earth
Epilogue: Toward an Ecological Civilization
Eileen Crist is associate professor in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society at Virginia Tech. She is the author of Images of Animals: Anthropomorphism and Animal Mind and coeditor of a number of books, including Gaia in Turmoil: Climate Change, Biodepletion, and Earth Ethics in an Age of Crisis; Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation; Keeping the Wild: Against the Domestication of Earth; and Protecting the Wild: Parks and Wilderness, the Foundation for Conservation.
"Abundant Earth is a gem of a book. Eileen Crist clearly shows how essential it is for humans to appreciate that we're just one species among many, to recognize that it's high time that we deeply appreciate and embrace Earth's biodiversity, and to understand that we're not superior or 'better' than other animals. When we come to realize that coexistence has to be the name of the game as we move forward in an increasingly human dominated world – we are the most dominating species – and that each and every individual can make positive differences in the ongoing health of our magnificent planet, there is hope that the future won't be as bleak as many claim it will be. Future generations surely will inherit a different planet. However, different doesn't necessarily mean a worse place to live if we reconnect with nature, rewild ourselves, and come to understand that we're just one of a gang of many diverse beings, all of whom matter."
– Marc Bekoff, author of Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence and Canine Confidential: Why Dogs Do What They Do
"No one has dealt with the issue of human supremacy and 'the fate of the earth' in the systematic and extensive manner that Crist does in this book. Her work is meticulous, systematic, thorough – and it is deeply provocative."
– Lisi Krall, author of Proving Up: Domesticating Land in US History