I read this over the course of a couple of months, interspersing every couple of chapters with a book or two of lighter fiction – because while this book is well written, and not difficult for the layperson to follow – the information within sets out so unmistakably the damage we are doing to ecosystem that I needed a few breaks.
The book combines a mixture of nature writing- the usual kind of commentary on the wildlife around the author; scientific analysis of the wider problems and a travelogue as the author visits places strongly affected by environmental degradation and climate change- from dissolving coral in the Caribbean to starving polar bears in the Arctic.
Safina sets the human condition within the wider environmental situation – pointing out that we cannot have a thriving economy, a functioning state nor even a tolerable condition of life if the ecosystem around us ceases to function. He manages to look at philosophy, spirituality and economics in ways that make perfect sense when threaded into this wider perspective.
If you have even a passing interest in environmental matters, this is a must-read. I only wish that people without a passing interest could be persuaded to read it too – greater awareness of these issues feels essential.