Becoming Good Ancestors: How We Balance Nature, Community, and Technology

Overview


A brilliant writer and gifted "big picture" thinker, David Ehrenfeld is one of America's leading conservation biologists. Becoming Good Ancestors 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 ...
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Overview


A brilliant writer and gifted "big picture" thinker, David Ehrenfeld is one of America's leading conservation biologists. Becoming Good Ancestors 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.
Our society has an inherent sense of what is right, says Ehrenfeld, and the creativity and persistence to make good things happen. It is now time to apply our intelligence, guided by our moral judgment, to the very large problems we all face. This book is an important first step.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Becoming Good Ancestors reads like a natural history field trip: cogent comments on large questions are intermixed with astute observations on immediate circumstances and sometimes lengthy anecdotes about Ehrenfelds career, colleagues, and family." --Bioscience

"The book is an expanded and revised collection of some three dozen essays...The result is a very good read...The essays retain the qualities that made them appealing when they were first published - brevity, passion, and accessibility."--Nature

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195373783
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 11/4/2008
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

David Ehrenfeld is Professor of Biology at Rutgers University and holds degrees in history, medicine, and zoology. He is the founding editor of the journal Conservation Biology and the author of The Arrogance of Humanism and Beginning Again.

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Table of Contents


Preface ix Bookmap xiii Part 1 In Search of Honesty Pretending 3 Brainstorming Has Its Limits 18 Nothing Simple 22 The Comforts of Fantasy 27 Part 2 Keeping Track of Our Losses Rejecting Gifts 37 The Uses and Risks of Adaptation 42 When Machines Replace People 47 Pseudocommunities 51 Obsolescence 58 Accelerating Social Evolution 63 Writing 69 Part 3 Toward a Sustainable Economics Affluence and Austerity 77 Energy and Friendly Fire 82 Durable Goods 87 Preserving Our Capital 91 Conservation for Profit 97 Hot Spots and the Globalization of Conservation 106 Putting a Value on Nature 121 The Downside of Corporate Immortality 127 Part 4 Relating to Nature in a Human-Dominated World Wilderness as Teacher 137 An Opposing View of Nature 141 Death of a Plastic Palm 147 Scientific Discoveries and Nature's Mysteries 151 I Reinvent Agriculture 157 Thinking about Breeds and Species 163 Strangers in Our Own Land 169 Teaching Field Ecology 176 The Ubiquitous Right-of-Way 181 A Walk in the Woods 186 Old Growth 190 Intimacy with Nature 196 Part 5 Restoring the Community The Utopia Fallacy 203 Traditions 210 Jane Austen and the World of the Community 216 Universities, Schools, and Communities 222 What Do We Owe Our Children? 229 Epilogue: A Call for Fusion and Regeneration 240 Notes 259 Credits 291 Index 293
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