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In lyrical, penetrating essays, Bill McKibben offers an optimistic response to his bestselling The End of Nature, focusing on successful community ventures to preserve the wilderness and reverse environmental damage. From his home in the Adirondack Mountains to a city in Brazil and a state in India, McKibben searches for realistic models for the future of the planet. 227 pp.
Posted October 16, 2002
In a time when many people finally accept the fact of global warming and of continuing human assault on the environment, Bill McKibben has launched this wonderfully written, inspiring, and informative book, another in his continuing series of important essays on the complex relationship between humankind and the planet we inhabit. McKibben, a former writer for The Atlantic Monthly magazine, transplanted himself and his small family in the Adirondack region of upstate New York in the late 1980s, from whence he has come once more to deliver a healthy dollop of insight, whimsy, and wisdom concerning the way we continue to walk not so lightly on the earth. Like most environmentalists, McKibben is deeply concerned about the continuing onslaught on the skin of the planet, and about our continuing disregard for the welfare of everything within the natural environment we most depend upon to have a continuing quality of life. Yet he is also propelled by aspects of his own experience with the ecology of his local area to set off on what he terms to be an exploration of hope, in the sense that he was searching for examples of recovery and progress in the natural landscape. One wonderful example he uses is that of the recovery of the amount of land reforested since the signal journey of one Timothy White, who in traveling in the early 1800s found very little land not cut and turned to the plow. Yet some two hundred years later, much of the Northeast forest is once again covering the landscape, and all of this in spite of the vastly increased population over the landmass in question. Of course, as McKibben admits, must of the reforesting took place based on the gradual abandonment of the lands of the Northeast in the so-called western migration as we fulfilled our "Manifest Destiny", and this migration also spelled further deforestation efforts in those area under active migration. Once again, part of the genius of the natural environmental processes can be viewed in such a way, requiring not so much in the way of human intervention as in a kind of purposeful benign neglect (my own hackneyed term, not McKibben's). Left alone long enough, natural processes are underway that are restoring the Northeast forests to their primordial glory. And, like McKibben, I wonder at the good fortune some of us have to live in relatively sparsely developed and populated areas, where we can enjoy nature on amore personal level, where deer and bear and moose and all sorts of birds are free to live and roam. I sit in wonder with my friends the Labradors and watch, enraptured as the geese soar noisily above me this time every year..... Moreover, one must share his frustration and sadness at the prospect of such massive forces denuding and despoiling the ecosystems even as we read and write. While he offers some reasons for hope, the truth may be that things will have to become much worse for human beings to begin to act more responsibly in following his advice to find many more ways to walk more lightly on the earth. It is imperative for those of us who understand the magnitude of the dangers confronting us act to continue to try to inform others, while also preparing to gradually break our own bonds to this culture of waste and wanton destruction. This book is more fuel for our own sustenance as we begin the long journey back to what Joni Mitchell once called "the garden'. See you there! Enjoy!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 9, 2002
Hope, Human and Wild is an inspiring book about things that we can do -- ways that we can try to mold our culture and community into sustainability. It is inspiring, emotional, and realistic. Highly recommended!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.