Nature's Economy is a wide-ranging investigation of ecology's past, first published in 1994. It traces the origins of the concept, discusses the thinkers who have shaped it, and shows how it in turn has shaped the modern perception of our place in nature. Our view of the living world is a product of culture, and the development of ecology since the eighteenth century has closely reflected society's changing concerns. Donald Worster focuses on these dramatic shifts in outlook and on the individuals whose work has expressed and influenced society's point of view. Nature's Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas includes portraits of Linnaeus, Gilbert White, Darwin, Thoreau, and such key twentieth-century ecologists as Rachel Carson, Frederic Clements, Aldo Leopold, James Lovelock, and Eugene Odum.
Part I. Two Road Diverged: Ecology in the Eighteenth Century
1. Science in Arcadia
2. The empire of reason
Part II. The Subversive Science: Thoreau's Romantic Ecology
3. A naturalist in concord
4. Nature looking into nature
5. Roots and branches
Part III. The Dismal Science: Darwinian Ecology
6. A fallen world
7. The education
8. Scrambling for place
9. The ascent of man
Part IV. O Pioneers: Ecology on the Frontier
10. Words on a map
11. Clements and the climax community
12. Dust follows the plow
Part V. The Morals of a Science: Ethics, Economics, and Ecology
13. The value of a varmint
14. Producers and consumers
15. Declarations of interdependence
Part VI. The Age of Ecology: Science and the Fate of the Earth
16. Healing the planet
17. Disturbing nature
Glossary of terms
"A major purpose of this book, written at a time when ecology burgeons as both a science and a cult, is to show that ecological science has always been shifting ground [...] Worster's style is warm, intellectually strong, and eloquent."
- Frederick E. Smith, Science
"The in-depth treatment Worster has given to many who contributed to the evolution and revolution of the discipline reflects scholarship of high order. To write in a highly readable and absorbing style makes it even more praiseworthy. Graduates in ecology at baccalaureate to doctoral levels, and many practitioners of the discipline, basic and applied, would do well to take stock of where they came from. Worster is a very worthwhile guide."
- Edward J. Kormondy, Ecology
"Donald Worster's book, a gracefully written account of select events in the history of ecology, is designed to show how this field developed prior to the mid-twentieth century explosion of concern about the subject [...] Worster has written a volume that should be read and pondered."
- Keir B. Sterling, American Historical Review
"Worster has produced a fascinating book. One reading left a copy littered with checkmarks, underlined passages, exclamation, and a note paper of quotations and ideas. The book is well written, well organized, interesting, and provocative."
- Frank B. Golley, Human Ecology