Ever since Darwin, science has enshrined competition as biology's brutal architect. But this revelatory new book argues that our narrow view of evolution has caused us to ignore the generosity and cooperation that exist around us, from the soil to the sky.
In Sweet in Tooth and Claw, Kristin Ohlson explores the subtle ways in which nature is in constant collaboration to the betterment of all species. From the bear that discards the remainders of his salmon dinner on the forest ground, to the bright coral reefs of Cuba, she shows readers not only the connectivity lying beneath the surface in natural ecosystems, but why it's vital for humans to incorporate that understanding into our interactions with nature, and also with each other.
Much of the damage that humans have done to our natural environment stems from our ignorance of these dense webs of connection. As we struggle to cope with the environmental hazards that our behaviour has unleashed, it's more important than ever to understand nature's billions of cooperative interactions. This way, we can stop disrupting them and instead rely on them to renew ecosystems.
In reporting from the frontlines of scientific research, regenerative agriculture, and urban conservation, Ohlson shows that a shift from focusing on competition to collaboration can heal not only our relationships with the natural world, but also with each other.
Chapter One: An Underground Tapestry of Give-and-Take
Chapter Two: We Need Better Metaphors
Chapter Three: We Are Ecosystems
Chapter Four: Transforming Deserts to Wetlands
Chapter Five: Agriculture That Nurtures Nature
Chapter Six: I'll Take My Coffee with Birds
Chapter Seven: Healing from Ridgetop to Reef
Chapter Eight: Living in Verdant Cities
Kristin Ohlson is an author and freelance journalist in Portland, Oregon, who has published articles in the New York Times, Orion, Discover, Gourmet, Oprah, and many other print and online publications. Her magazine work has been anthologized in Best American Science Writing.
Ohlson's last book was The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers and Foodies are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet, which the Los Angeles Times called "a hopeful book and a necessary one.... a fast-paced and entertaining shot across the bow of mainstream thinking about land use." She appeared in the award-winning documentary film, Kiss the Ground, to speak about the connection between soil health and climate health. Ohlson lives in Portland, Oregon.
"Deftly weaving together science, social thought, and a remarkable cast of characters, Ohlson's book uncovers the marvelous partnerships that make life possible, showing that cooperation, not competition, is the key to survival."
– Elizabeth Carlisle, Author, Healing Grounds: Climate, Justice, and the Deep Roots of Regenerative Farming
"Ohlson looks at nature through the lens of cooperation, from the intricate workings of one-celled creatures all the way to entire forests and cities (above and below ground). This deeply reported and stunning book holds up a mirror to us humans, showing how we thrive when we embrace nature's generous spirit. "
– Judith Schwartz, author of The Reindeer Chronicles: And Other Inspiring Stories of Working With Nature to Heal the Earth
"The author has a clear storytelling style."
– Kirkus Reviews