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Reading list for the Earth and all its creatures thereof

April 13, 2007

I will add to and update this list often, but for starters, in no particular order:

  • John Storer, Man in the Web of Life
  • Bill McKibben, The End of Nature
  • Carolyn Merchant, The Death of Nature
  • Diana Beers, For the Prevention of Cruelty
  • Anson Laytner, The Animals’ Lawsuit Against Humanity
  • William Conlon, Changes in the Land
  • Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, and The Sea Around Us
  • Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
  • Al Gore, Earth in the Balance (1992) — see pp. 241-242 quoted below, and An Inconvenient Truth

The way we experience the world is governed by a kind of inner ecology that relates perception, emotions, thinking, and choices to forces outside ourselves. We interpret our experience through multiple lenses that focus — and distort — the information we receive through our senses. But this ecology now threatens to fall badly out of balance because the cumulative impact of the changes brought by the scientific and technological revolution are potentially devastating to our sense of who we are and what our purpose in life might be. Indeed, it may now be necessary to foster a new “environmentalism of the spirit.” How do we, for example, conserve hope and minimize the quantity of corrosive fear we spill into our lives? How do we recycle the sense of wonder we felt as children, when the world was new? How do we use the power of technology without adapting to it so completely that we ourselves behave like machines, lost in the levers and cogs, lonesome for the love of life, hungry for the thrill of directly experiencing the vivid intensity of the ever-changing moment?

No wonder we have become disconnected from the natural world — indeed, it’s remarkable we feel any connection to ourselves. And no wonder we have become resigned to the idea of a world without a future. The engines of distraction are gradually destroying the inner ecology of the human experience. Essential to that ecology is the balance between respect for the past and faith in the future, between a belief in the individual and a commitment to the community, between our love for the world and our fear of losing it — the balance, in other words, on which an environmentalism of the spirit depends.

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2 comments

  1. Thanks for the list of books!

    Are the italicized words from Rachel Carlson? The sentence “And no wonder we have become resigned to the idea of a world without a future” is haunting. I wish I could say I disagree with it.


  2. Hey Christy — the italics are from Al Gore’s earlier book, Earth in the Balance, published 15 years ago. Kinda daunting to realize how many people have understood Earth’s problems for so long, yet the rest of the world “fiddles while Rome burns…” 😦



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