The Earth Only Endures : On Reconnecting with Nature and Our Place in It book cover
1st Edition

The Earth Only Endures
On Reconnecting with Nature and Our Place in It

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ISBN 9781844076130
Published May 28, 2009 by Routledge
288 Pages

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Book Description

For most of human history, we have lived our daily lives in a close relationship with the land. Yet now, for the first time, more people are living in urban rather than rural areas, bringing about an estrangement. This book, by acclaimed author Jules Pretty, is fundamentally about our relationship with nature, animals and places. A series of interlinked essays leads readers on a voyage that weaves through the themes of connection and estrangement between humans and nature. The journey shows how our modern lifestyles and economies would need six or eight Earths if the entire worlds population adopted our profligate ways. Pretty shows that we are rendering our own world inhospitable and so risk losing what it means to be human: unless we make substantial changes, Gaia threatens to become Grendel. Ultimately, however, the book offers glimpses of an optimistic future for humanity, in the very face of climate change and pending global environmental catastrophe.

Table of Contents

Preface: Green Places, Good Places * Part I: Green Places * Becoming Green * Birch Bark and Blue Sky * A Room with a Green View * Unhealthy Places * Part II: Animals and Us * Where the Wild Things Were * Hunters and the Hunted * Animal Magic * Part III: Food and the Land * The Fatta the Lan * Little Houses on the Prairie * The Shadow of the Rain * Rewilding Agriculture * Part IV: People and the Land * Legible Landscapes * Exclusion Zones * Life and Land on the North Atlantic Fringe * Part V: The Future * Ecolution * Liberation * Index

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Jules Pretty OBE is Professor of Environment and Society in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Essex, UK, and Chief Editor of the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability. His books include Sustainable Agriculture and Food (4 vols, ed, 2007), Environment (4 vols, ed, 2006), The Earthscan Reader in Sustainable Agriculture (2005, ed), The Pesticide Detox (2005), Agri-Culture (2002), The Living Land (1998), Regenerating Agriculture (1995) and Unwelcome Harvest (1991, co-authored). He is a Fellow of the Institute of the Biology and the Royal Society of Arts, and Deputy-Chair of the government‘s Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE). He received a 1997 international award from the Indian Ecological Society and was appointed A. D. White Professor-at-Large by Cornell University from 2001. In 2006 he received an OBE for services to sustainable agriculture in the UK and overseas.


'A wide ranging and persuasive chronicle. A book full of poetry and hope, a love of nature and a wise, sad understanding of how we, like every civilisation before us, are destroying ourselves.' Robin Hanbury-Tenison, Country Life 'An honest traveller in search of answers' Sir Gordon Conway, New Scientist 'Each decade, a few books appear that combine good literary style with presentation of scientific facts and, more importantly, that integrate science with the challenges facing society. Among the authors who come to mind are Rachel Carson, palaeontologist Stephen Gould, environmentalist David Orr, and visionary researcher Wes Jackson. To this awesome list we must add Jules Pretty, whose book is an articulate and thoughtful perspective on agriculture, food, and the future of human society.' Prof Charles Francis, Journal of Sustainable Agriculture 'Jules Pretty offers us another unconventional perspective from which to examine our habitation of the Earth and the ways we value and relate to it. Pretty is not one of those determinists who see our fate as scripted... he is optimistic that by reconnecting with nature, consuming less and becoming more native to places, the future can indeed be brighter.' Prof Mike Hulme, Times Higher Education 'A blend of clear-eyed science and poetic eloquence, The Earth Only Endures follows in the tradition of Jared Diamond and E. O. Wilson. Jules Pretty, too, is hopeful, but on the condition that we understand the nature of the self-imposed threats to our future and the rational basis for human survival. To say that this is essential reading is rather like saying that a compass is essential to navigation.' David W Orr, author of Design on the Edge 'Jules Pretty's remarkable new book is both universal and parochial by turn, and beautifully written. It is a philosophical inventory of what we have recently learned to our cost of today's globe.' Ronald Blythe, author of Akenfield 'The essays in this book are the product of a rigorous, searching, synthesizing mind. Jules Pretty, who has done more than anyone to help us understand the possibilities of agriculture on this planet, now turns his gaze wider, in a highly fruitful and provocative attempt to get at the heart of the first civilization-scale challenge humans have faced. A very powerful and very compelling book.' Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature 'The Earth Only Endures is an exemplary blending of passion and rigour. Absolute where it needs to be, always subtle, often beautiful, and ranging exceptionally widely within space, and deeply within time, it could only have been written by someone with Pretty's expertises, both of library and of the field.' Robert Macfarlane, author of Mountains of the Mind 'Written with clear passion for the subject...well documented and coversa diverse range of topics...a very well written book which I would recommend that you read'. Stephen Nortcliff, Chemistry and Industry, 2007. 'Would provide excellent material for high-school students and undergraduates'. Gordon Conway, New Scientist, 2007. 'This book is very readable, with a wide range of personal anecdotes and observations.' Carol M. Duffus, Journal of Experimental Agriculture 'Pretty can make dry statistics exciting, merging them seamlessly into personal narrative and moral discource, and he manages to get much specialized information into a 'popular' format. Consequently, the book can be read with profit by students and professionals, as well as by general readers concerned about environmental problems.' E. N Anderson, Choice, June 2010.