A Passion for This Earth: Writers, Scientists, and Activists Explore Our Relationship with Nature and the Environment

A Passion for This Earth: Writers, Scientists, and Activists Explore Our Relationship with Nature and the Environment

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Overview

David Suzuki's lifelong work as an environmentalist, naturalist, and scientist have influenced countless others in their fight to save the planet, 20 such devotees of them have contributed to this inspiring collection. These journalists, scientists, writers and environmentalists have taken their enthusiasm for Suzuki's philosophy and funneled it into their own personal recollections, manifestos, and essays: Rick Bass describes his love for the Yaak Valley in Montana; Richard Mabey takes readers to a moonlit May evening in Suffolk; David Helvarg tells us of a stirring seaside memory from his childhood. No matter what journey these writers take us on, the unifying theme of their work is always the same: a deep and abiding love of nature — inspired and shared by David Suzuki.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781926685052
Publisher: Greystone Books
Publication date: 07/01/2009
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 192
File size: 220 KB

About the Author

Michelle Benjamin has worked in books and publishing for more than twenty years, as a bookseller, publisher and now freelance publishing consultant. She was owner and publisher of Polestar Press for almost twenty years, and was publisher at Raincoast Books for six years. She has served on the boards of the Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia and the Association of Canadian Publishers, and is currently the director of the SFU Book Publishing Immersion Workshop. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Read an Excerpt

From “The Real Stuff” by Richard Mabey

I’m increasingly troubled by how, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the science of life is once again having to defend itself against religion. You’d have thought that, a hundred and fifty years on from the first agonisings over Darwinism, we would all have accepted that evolution was a more intricate and beautiful process than anything that could be dreamed of by a mystic, that life was wonderful, exciting, fulfilling in itself. Complete. Served, relished and finished, like a feast. But once again we’re told there must be “more to life.” Some reason for it all, some purpose. And it is not just the orthodoxly religious who seem needy for metaphysical explanations. As someone who writes about nature in ways that I hope are lyrical and metaphorical as well as descriptive, I often find my readers—inquisitive and scientifically literate folk for the most part—assume that I must have some “spiritual” interest in nature. I’m not sure I know what they mean by this, but I think it has to do with believing in something “behind” or “beyond” the physical surface of things. Some truth that is greater or more significant than can be extracted by the mechanical investigations of science. I’m sorry to disappoint them, and feel that I must sound like an agent of the enemy when I confess to being an intense and passionate materialist.

But I do understand the kind of experiences of nature that can generate awe and even incredulity, and perhaps stir those wonderings about something “beyond” nature, some greater order. Recently, via television, we’ve had the opportunity to witness what is perhaps the most extraordinary wildlife spectacle on the planet. Every winter dusk, out in the emptiness of the marshlands of south-west England, more than a million starlings home in on a patch of reeds in Somerset for their nightly roost. They stream in from the countryside beyond in every direction, an endless flow of quivering black scribbles, joining, breaking ranks, floating free. Suddenly, they become plasmic, one immense organism, pulsating like a single cell. They have the look of a dark, swirling Aurora. They swing up to the sky and then skim the reeds in folds and falls of black. They fill out great parabolas and helixes, with a symmetry you do not expect from living things. Then, birds again, they fall into the reeds. It is mysterious and transfixing and still beyond understanding. It order. Recently, via television, we’ve had the opportunity to witness what is perhaps the most extraordinary wildlife spectacle on the planet. Every winter dusk, out in the emptiness of the marshlands of south-west England, more than a million starlings home in on a patch of reeds in Somerset for their nightly roost. They stream in from the countryside beyond in every direction, an endless flow of quivering black scribbles, joining, breaking ranks, floating free. Suddenly, they become plasmic, one immense organism, pulsating like a single cell. They have the look of a dark, swirling Aurora. They swing up to the sky and then skim the reeds in folds and falls of black. They fill out great parabolas and helixes, with a symmetry you do not expect from living things. Then, birds again, they fall into the reeds. It is mysterious and transfixing and still beyond understanding. It may result from minute, reciprocal movements by each single bird to preserve its flight space, which makes the flock behave something like a gas or a fluid. But no cloud formation or rushing river ever revealed such exquisite mutable geometry, and we are left asking those scientifically unanswerable questions: “What it is it for? What does it mean?”

Table of Contents

Falling in Love with the Wild
Rick Bass, "The Question"
Sharon Butala, "Old Man on His Back"
Adrian Forsyth, "Web Round a Tree"
Wayne Grady, "Erewhon Re-revisited"
David Helvarg, "Saved by the Sea"
Richard Mabey, "The Real Stuff"

Rise up and Reclaim
Helen Caldicott, "My Credo"
Paul Hawken, "The Ecologist"
Sherilyn MacGregor, "Three Ships"
Michael Shermer, "Confessions of a Former Environmental Skeptic"
Alan Weisman, "Building Backwards"

Uncompromising Dedication
Ross Gelbspan, "Toward a Kyoto Protocol"
Heike K. Lotze and Boris Worm, "Why We Should Care about the Ocean"
Doug Moss, "Save the Environment-Take Back the Media"
Jim Peacock and Shelley Peers, "Making A Difference"
Carl Safina, "Let Every Tongue Speak and Each Heart Feel"
Ronald Wright, "Fools' Paradise"

Travels with David Suzuki
Thomas Berger, "The Geography of Hope"
John Lucchesi, "David and Me"
Robyn Williams, "The Wonder of the Natural World"

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