Monday, October 15, 2007


I and 16,000 of my closest friends are participating in ecoblog day.
Of course, every day is ecoblog day here at greentangle. You'd think they would have consulted me, because I'm too busy to do this properly with links today.

I'm firmly convinced the only thing which could save the human species from the hellish path of a delusional meaningless life removed from a natural world destroyed by us, and the only way to avoid the extinction of most other forms of life, is a major change in attitude and how we relate the natural world around us. More technology and conservation isn't going to save us or keep this way of life going beyond this century. Leaving aside the matter of how likely I think this change is, I'm presenting a list of books and activities to lead toward that change.

Your first stop may be Walden by Henry Thoreau. Questioning "progress" long ago, he was never afraid to speak his mind. A more recent outspoken advocate for the natural world was Edward Abbey. From fiction such as The Monkey Wrench Gang to nonfiction like Desert Solitaire and his many books of essays, he'll make you laugh, fume, and think. Just as he intended.

Stock up on field guides: mammals, insects, birds, trees, flowers, mushrooms, weather, stars. Maybe a book on a specific species, whether a porcupine or an oak tree. Whatever you might have a little interest in, learn some more, and watch. Realize it's not all just a backdrop for your life. You're just one part of something much bigger.

Are you interested in the history of ideas? Try Nature's Economy by Donald Worster, or Nature's Web by Peter Marshall (no, not the Hollywood Squares guy) for an exploration of ecological thought through time and around the world, or The Rights of Nature by Roderick Nash to learn how ideas about environmental ethics have changed. There are also many good books about nature writers, and others which explore the role of nature in religion, psychology, literary criticism...whatever you can imagine is probably out there.

Question consumerism with Voluntary Simplicity by Duane Elgin, A Reasonable Life by Ferenc Mate, or The Poverty of Affluence by Paul Wachtel. Learn why it, and our population growth, can't go on in Overshoot by William Catton.

Take a break for some poetry by Robinson Jeffers and Gary Snyder.

Think about the ethical implications of your diet after reading The Way We Eat by Peter Singer and Jim Mason or The Food Revolution by John Robbins. If those get you thinking about how animals are treated, one basic text to explore among many is Animal Liberation by Singer.

Get some inspiration from people acting on their beliefs from Free the Animals by Ingrid Newkirk and Eco-Warriors by Rik Scarce.

Just want to do some good reading without becoming a radical? Try any essay collection by John Quammen or the books of turtle expert/artist David M. Carroll. Two slim but wonderful collections of essays I'll be rereading on my next trip are The Hopes of Snakes by Lisa Couturier and The Abstract Wild by Jack Turner.

That's a lot of reading. You need to get out more. Get out of your climate controlled house, get out of your car. Walk by a stream or the ocean and let the sound of the water soak into you. Lie on your back, feel the earth beneath you, and play the cloud shape game. Keep records of when you see the first skunk cabbage or bluejay of the year...these records will show you the effects of global warming. Watch a migration, be it bald eagles or green darner dragonflies. Shiver in the winter and sweat in the summer. Snowshoe, don't snowmobile. Follow those animal tracks in the snow and see where she goes. Consider that animal not as your meal or an object, but as you think of your pet, as your companion on this journey. Slow down. Breathe deep. Think, but don't forget to feel.


Oboe-Wan said...

Ok! You got me.

I need to read more, but you make me glad to know I do as much outdoors as I possibly can. I'm all geared up for a major hike tomorrow...

last week, I took my son hiking & tried my best to impress upon him the idea that we live here with the other creatures we see on our adventure. Instead of being in control, we need to work together.

At 6, this wasn't a radical idea at all, in fact, he decided that animals were his friends...

I so badly want to keep his mindset this way.

Eam said...

Hi. I found your blog! I'm reading it backwards.

I really appreciate this post with your list of things to read. I also appreciate the way you see the world. Cheers, Erin

greentangle said...

Hello and welcome, Erin. In case you haven't seen it, I recently did a couple posts listing my favorites from 2007 and 2008 in case you want to skip most of the drivel.