The Once and Future World

The Once and Future World

Nature as It Was, as It Is, as It Could Be

Book - 2013
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"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"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Boston ; New York : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013
ISBN: 9780544103054
054410305X
Characteristics: 232 pages ; 22 cm

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FriendlyTutor
Apr 15, 2015

This book was an interesting and informative look at nature - it's history, full of mega-creatures, and ecosystems - where whale's food supply is sustained on those whales' waste.

The point of the book is more hopeful and realistic than environmental doomsday soothsayers. The reality is that we can survive on a barren, planet. We just have incentives to thrive on a planet that is not barren.

It also reminds us that some environmental activists don't hold a "true" sense of nature, and in fact, few people do. Real nature is not as romantic as some like to think.

A well-written, intriguing read.

m
mclarjh
May 23, 2014

A pleasant and easy to read book, lots of interesting anecdotes and tidbits of fact, but nothing really new.

AnneDromeda Nov 08, 2013

So, um, who needs a palate cleanser after watching Toronto and Ottawa these past couple weeks? I mean sure, it’s been riveting stuff, but when the 24 hour news cycle sucks you down the rabbit hole faster than scripted reality TV, we could all use a little break to get in touch with the bigger picture. JB MacKinnon, co-author with Alisa Smith of *The 100-Mile Diet*, is back with a new book that’s just the thing for a shift in perspective. *The Once and Future World* is a solo venture, but it retains the graceful writing, personal reflections and social conscience that made *The 100-Mile Diet* a hit. MacKinnon grew interested in the changes humans make to our landscapes when he began to learn more about the prairie on which he was raised. To his surprise, the foxes that were ubiquitous in his childhood were imported; grizzly bears used to roam there freely, before being pushed back to the wild, mountainous terrain with which we currently associate them. It made him wonder - in what other ways had we changed the landscape, and what does this loss of wilderness means for nature, for society, and for our psyches? *The Once and Future World* explores all these themes, drawing from disciplines and sources as varied as paleontology, geology, archaeology, climate and social science, and even journal entries from early explorers. *The Once and Future World* could be a depressing book, and I suppose it is in some ways. In many other ways, though, it is a book full of wonder and hope. (Did you just look at your Twitter feed? You need wonder and hope.) MacKinnon investigates rewilding - the idea of reintroducing species to their native habitats, and even back into cities. He’s not wearing rose-coloured glasses about the potential consequences of this; he does document some instances in which corrective rewilding has gone horribly wrong. He doesn’t dismiss its potential, though, and his reasoning is at least compelling, if not convincing for the pessimists and misanthropes among us. *The Once and Future World* is a bona fide dose of sober second thought, highly recommended for anyone whose divine spark is starving on a steady diet of mayoral misadventures and senate shenanigans.

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AnneDromeda Nov 08, 2013

So, um, who needs a palate cleanser after watching Toronto and Ottawa these past couple weeks? I mean sure, it’s been riveting stuff, but when the 24 hour news cycle sucks you down the rabbit hole faster than scripted reality TV we could all use a little break to get in touch with the bigger picture.

JB MacKinnon, co-author with Alisa Smith of *The 100-Mile Diet*, is back with a new book that’s just the thing for a shift in perspective. *The Once and Future World* is a solo venture, but it retains the graceful writing, personal reflections and social conscience that made *The 100-Mile Diet* a hit.

MacKinnon grew interested in the changes humans make to our landscapes when he began to learn more about the prairie on which he was raised. To his surprise, the foxes that were ubiquitous in his childhood were imported; grizzly bears used to roam there freely, before being pushed back to the wild, mountainous terrain with which we currently associate them. It made him wonder - in what other ways had we changed the landscape, and what does this loss of wilderness means for nature, for society, and for our psyches? *The Once and Future World* explores all these themes, drawing from disciplines and sources as varied as paleontology, geology, archaeology, climate and social science, and even journal entries from early explorers.

*The Once and Future World* could be a depressing book, and I suppose it is in some ways. In many other ways, though, it is a book full of wonder and hope. (Did you just look at your Twitter feed? You need wonder and hope.) MacKinnon investigates rewilding - the idea of reintroducing species to their native habitats, and even back into cities. He’s not wearing rose-coloured glasses about the potential consequences of this; he does document some instances in which corrective rewilding has gone horribly wrong. He doesn’t dismiss its potential, though, and his reasoning is at least compelling, if not convincing for the pessimists and misanthropes among us. *The Once and Future World* is a bona fide dose of sober second thought, highly recommended for anyone whose divine spark is starving on a steady diet of mayoral misadventures and senate shenanigans.

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