Another One on Nature

The book reviewed here sounded a lot like one of my all time favorite books, Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.

It made my spring reading list:

Why are we in such denial? Carl Safina’s ambitious new book, “The View From Lazy Point,” is a series of field reports entwined with a loving meditation on the interconnectedness of nature and humanity. The story he tells is “partly about a kind of heartbreak for a world that remains so vitally unaware of how imperiled it is.” But it’s also about how, despite the gloomy reports, “the world still sings.” Safina’s account of “a natural year in an unnatural world” can be harrowing, but its impassioned, informed urgency is also filled with hope, joy and love.

Doesn’t it make you want to lie down and crack it open? Does for me.

A Great (read: philosophical) Treatment of “Nature”

I loved this piece when I read it back in December, and not just because he mentioned Annie Dillard in it…

For many, myself included, criticizing nature doesn’t come, well, naturally. My own preferred recreational activities—hiking, climbing, running, snorkeling, riding horses—embed me in nature. I have surrounded myself with animals of all sorts, and I try to avoid consuming pesticides, herbicides, and the antibiotics and hormones to which industrial agriculture has become addicted. I was delighted when a natural-foods supermarket recently opened within a mile of our home, and I patronize it almost exclusively.

Nonetheless, in resisting many things that I view as “unnatural”—nuclear weapons, global warming, chemical pollution, habitat destruction—while also honoring, respecting, defending, admiring, and nearly worshiping many things that are natural (sometimes just because they are natural), it is all too easy to get carried away, to forget that much in the world of nature is unpleasant, indeed odious. Consider typhoid, cholera, polio, plague, and HIV: What can be more natural than viruses or bacteria, composed as they are of proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, and the like? Do you object to vaccination? You’d probably object even more to smallpox.

The rest is here and so, so good.