An award-winning ecology writer goes looking for the wilderness we’ve forgotten
Many people believe that only an ecological catastrophe will change humanity’s troubled relationship with the natural world. In fact, as J.B. MacKinnon argues in this unorthodox look at the disappearing wilderness, we are living in the midst of a disaster thousands of years in the making—and we hardly notice it. We have forgotten what nature can be and adapted to a diminished world of our own making.
In The Once and Future World, MacKinnon invites us to remember nature as it was, to reconnect to nature in a meaningful way, and to remake a wilder world everywhere. He goes looking for landscapes untouched by human hands. He revisits a globe exuberant with life, where lions roam North America and ten times more whales swim in the sea. He shows us that the vestiges of lost nature surround us every day: buy an avocado at the grocery store and you have a seed designed to pass through the digestive tracts of huge animals that have been driven extinct.
The Once and Future World is a call for an “age of rewilding,” from planting milkweed for butterflies in our own backyards to restoring animal migration routes that span entire continents. We choose the natural world that we live in—a choice that also decides the kind of people we are.
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It just might be possible to stop the decline of the natural world and watch it return to astounding, perpetual life. All it will take is a wilder way of being human.
A re-enchantment with the natural world may be a necessary prerequisite to the changes we must make to keep that natural world more or less intact. This is deep and lovely thinking and writing. Bill McKibben, author of Oil and Honey
A handbook for those who hope to see the Earth, and Man, remain alive together.
Farley Mowat, author of Never Cry Wolf
MacKinnon pinpoints a necessary shift in our reckoning with nature, writing eloquently of the need for a more authentic interaction between human beings and the natural world.
Bernd Heinrich, author of Winter World, Mind of the Raven, and Life Everlasting
The Once and Future World shows us that while wilderness as we know it may be gone forever, wildness can still be recovered, and it is time to get to work.
George Dyson, author of Turing s Cathedral
MacKinnon is an eloquent guide through landscapes wild and tame. Natural history at its best.
Charlotte Gill, author of Eating Dirt
About the Author:
Journalist and author J.B. MACKINNON coined the term "the 100 Mile Diet," and his book Plenty is widely considered a catalyst of the local foods movement. His essays on natural history have appeared in Orion, Reader's Digest, and other magazines. He is based in Vancouver, Canada.
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