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Study of the cost to human dignity and potential, of the shrinking wilderness and the ongoing degradation of the environment. Ehrenfeld (founding editor of The Journal of Conservation Biology) ruminates on the impacts of short-sighted governmental and economic policies, and of new technologies on human values and communities, tracing the human impacts upon the urban, agricultural and wilderness environments.
SECTION 1: THE LIES WE LIVE; Brainstorming; Pretending; The Magic of the Internet; Nothing Simple; Sherlock, Nero, and Us; SECTION 2: WRECKING OUR SOCIETY--A MANUAL; Rejecting Gifts; Adaptation; Forecast: Chilly, Overcast, Light Drizzle, No People Left; Pseudocommunities; Obsolescence; Social Evolution Versus Sudden Change; Writing; SECTION 3: DEADLY ECONOMICS; Affluence and Austerity; Durable Goods; Spending Our Capital; Saving by Selling; Hot Spots and the Globalization of Conservation; The Gingko and the Stump; The Death Penalty; SECTION 4: RELATING TO NATURE IN A MANMADE WORLD; The Vine Cleaners; A Connoisseur of Nature; Death of a Plastic Palm; Scientific Discoveries and Nature's Mysteries; I Reinvent Agriculture; Thinking about Breeds and Species; Teaching Field Ecology; More Field Ecology: Rightofway Island; A Walk in the Woods; Degrees of Intimacy; SECTION 5. RESTORING THE COMMUNITY; The Utopia Fallacy; Traditions; Jane Austen and the World of the Community; Universities and Their Communities; An Invalid's Guide; Swimming Lessons; BIBLIOGRAPHY AND SUGGESTED READINGS
"With wit, humor, a calm voice, and great authority, Swimming lessons gives a clear view of what our world has become ... a delight to read. ... David Ehrenfeld fills the chapters of Swimming lessons with remarkable and often moving stories from his own life and the lives of his wife and children, colleagues, and students."--Ethology, Ecology and Evolution
"Ehrenfeld, who eschews corporate funding, is independent-minded. He writes about big ideas - vanishing species, globalization, genetic engineering and a diminishing "sense of place" are among his favorite topics. He is not afraid of complexity. ... Throughout, Ehrenfeld conveys a sense of calm and authority. The text is stunning in its use of visual imagery, pace and varying sentence structure."--The Newark Star-Ledger