255 pages, 30 photos, 2 illustrations
It's easy to feel powerless in the face of big environmental challenges – but we need inspiration more than ever. With political leaders who deny climate change, species that are fighting for their very survival, and the planet's last places of wilderness growing smaller and smaller, what can a single person do? In Nature's Allies, Larry Nielsen uses the stories of conservation pioneers to show that through passion and perseverance, we can each be a positive force for change.
In eight engaging and diverse biographies – John Muir, Ding Darling, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Chico Mendes, Billy Frank Jr., Wangari Maathai, and Gro Harlem Brundtland – we meet individuals who have little in common except that they all made a lasting mark on our world. Some famous and some little known to readers, they spoke out to protect wilderness, wildlife, fisheries, rainforests, and wetlands. They fought for social justice and exposed polluting practices. They marched, wrote books, testified before Congress, performed acts of civil disobedience, and, in one case, were martyred for their defense of nature. Nature's Allies pays tribute to them all as it rallies a new generation of conservationists to follow in their footsteps.
These vivid biographies are essential reading for anyone who wants to fight for the environment against today's political opposition. Nature's Allies will inspire students, conservationists, and nature lovers to speak up for nature and show the power of one person to make a difference.
"The concept of this book is loosely based on 'profiles in courage', which tells the stories of eight US senators, only here we have the biographical portraits of eight key players in the conservation movement. Whittling it down to just eight is no mean task and readers will note the conspicuous absence of Emerson and Thoreau, as this book focusses on individuals who practiced in the field rather than philosophised about it. [...] Each profile provides a fascinating insight into the personal life and career, and will be of interest to anyone wanting to find out more about the people who changed how we see nature. "
– Sarah L. Taylor, BES Bulletin 49(2), June 2018
"Nielsen [...] celebrates the work of eight conservationists in the U.S. and abroad in this engaging series of biographical sketches [...] Paying tribute to their battles and accomplishments, Nielsen effectively showcases the passion and persistence of a remarkable group of individuals."
– Publisher's Weekly
"The ethnic and gender diversity of the subjects is a major factor in the book's favor [...] this work represents a step in the direction of correcting the erasure of non-white, non-American environmentalism from mainstream American dialogue."
"This book exudes inspiration. It shows how anyone with a love of the natural environment – and how it is used to support human endeavor – can make a contribution to conservation. Easy to read, hard to put down, and deeply motivating."
– Simon Brockington, Executive Secretary, International Whaling Commission
"Nature's Allies is much more than a collection of fascinating stories about the lives of eight great conservationists. It's an account of what it takes to bring about major change. It's a must-read, not only for students of conservation but for all who are interested in the future of this planet and improving the quality of life."
– Michael Dombeck, former Chief, US Forest Service, and former Director, US Bureau of Land Management
"Nielsen's captivating stories humanize eight inspiring individuals whose early paths in life are not that different from today's students reading Nature's Allies. That people from rather ordinary and diverse backgrounds can have a revolutionary impact on conservation policy decisions and private actions is an important message to motivate youth to act on their passions."
– Barbara A. Knuth, Senior Vice Provost and Dean, Cornell University
Foreword \ Curt Meine
Chapter 1: John Muir, Earth-Citizen, Universe
Chapter 2: Ding Darling, The Best Friend a Duck Ever Had
Chapter 3: Aldo Leopold, “A Very Large and Important Sumpin”
Chapter 4: Rachel Carson, “The Lady Who Started All This”
Chapter 5: Chico Mendes, Gandhi of the Amazon
Chapter 6: Billy Frank, Jr., The Getting-Arrested Guy
Chapter 7: Wangari Maathai, The Green Crusader
Chapter 8: Gro Harlem Brundtland, Godmother of Sustainable Development
About the Author
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Larry Nielsen is a fisheries biologist and Professor of Natural Resources at North Carolina State University.