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Unites in a single, up-to-date framework pieces written over two decades, spanning politics, ecology, and culture, and illuminating the forces in modern society that thwart our efforts to solve today's hard questions about society and the environment. The book focuses on our present-day retreat from reality, our alienation from nature, our unthinking acceptance of new technology and rejection of the old, the loss of our ability to discriminate between events we can control and those we cannot, the denial of non-economic values, and the decline of local communities. If we are aware of what we are losing and why we are losing it, the author notes, all of these patterns are reversible.
Through down-to-earth examples, ranging from a family canoe trip in the wilderness to the novels of Jane Austen to Chinese turtle and tiger farms, Ehrenfeld shows how we can use what we learn to move ourselves and our society towards a more stable, less frantic, and far more satisfying life, a life in which we are no longer compelled to damage ourselves and our environment, in which our children have a future, and in which fewer species are endangered and more rivers run clean. In the final chapter, he offers a dramatic view of the possibilities inherent in a fusion of the best elements of conservatism and liberalism.
The author is one of America's leading conservation biologists.
Preface; Bookmap; Part 1. In Search of Honesty; 1. Pretending; 2. Brainstorming Has Its Limits; 3. Nothing Simple; 4. The Comforts of Fantasy; Part 2. Keeping Track of Our Losses; 5. Rejecting Gifts; 6. The Uses and Risks of Adaptation; 7. When Machines Replace People; 8. Pseudocommunities; 9. Obsolescence; 10. Accelerating Social Evolution; 11. Writing; Part 3. Towards a Sustainable Economics; 12. Affluence and Austerity; 13. Energy and Friendly Fire; 14. Durable Goods; 15. Preserving Our Capital; 16. Conservation for Profit; 17. Hot Spots and the Globalization of Conservation; 18. Putting a Value on Nature; 19. The Downside of Corporate Immortality; Part 4. Relating to Nature in a Human-Dominated World; 20. Wilderness as Teacher; 21. As Opposing View of Nature; 22. Death of a Plastic Palm; 23. Scientific Discoveries and Nature's Mysteries; 24. I Reinvent Agriculture; 25. Thinking about Breeds and Species; 26. Strangers in Our Own Land; 27. Teaching Field Ecology; 28. The Ubiquitous Right-of-Way; 29. A Walk in the Woods; 30. Old Growth; 31. Intimacy with Nature; Part 5. Restoring the Community; 32. The Utopia Fallacy; 33. Traditions; 34. Jane Austen and the World of the Community; 35. Universities, Schools, and Communities; 36. What Do We Owe Our Children?; 37. Epilogue: A Call for Fusion and Regeneration; Notes; Index
These essays retain the qualities that made them appealing when they were first published - brevity, passion and accessibility...The result is a very good read. Shepard Krech III, NATURE