Becoming Good Ancestors: How We Balance Nature, Community, by David Ehrenfeld

By David Ehrenfeld

An excellent author and talented "big photograph" philosopher, David Ehrenfeld is one among America's major conservation biologists. turning into sturdy Ancestors unites in one, up to date framework items written over 20 years, spanning politics, ecology, and tradition, and illuminating the forces in glossy society that thwart our efforts to resolve modern-day demanding questions on society and the surroundings. The ebook makes a speciality of our present-day retreat from fact, our alienation from nature, our unthinking reputation of recent expertise and rejection of the previous, the lack of our skill to discriminate among occasions we will be able to keep an eye on and people we can't, the denial of non-economic values, and the decline of neighborhood groups. If we're conscious of what we're wasting and why we're wasting it, the writer notes, all of those styles are reversible. via down-to-earth examples, starting from a kinfolk canoe journey within the desert to the novels of Jane Austen to chinese language turtle and tiger farms, Ehrenfeld exhibits how we will be able to use what we learn how to circulate ourselves and our society in the direction of a extra sturdy, much less frantic, and much extra enjoyable lifestyles, a lifestyles within which we're not pressured to wreck ourselves and our surroundings, during which our kids have a destiny, and within which fewer species are endangered and extra rivers run fresh. within the ultimate bankruptcy, he bargains a dramatic view of the probabilities inherent in a fusion of the easiest components of conservatism and liberalism. Our society has an inherent experience of what's correct, says Ehrenfeld, and the creativity and patience to make good stuff take place. it's now time to use our intelligence, guided by way of our ethical judgment, to the very huge difficulties all of us face. This booklet is a vital first step.

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Example text

In Wolfe, Rex Stout has created that rarest of types in our time, the true conservative, one who insists that there are unchanging standards by which all things, from food to progress, must be judged. The fatness of Wolfe—also a rejection of our society—is as principled and deliberate as the other parts of his existence. In his house, the preparation and eating of food is a cultural statement, religious in intensity and serving some of the same separating and identifying purposes that food serves in traditional Jewish, Hindu, and Islamic life.

I know that great wisdom is supposed to be timeless, unaffected by changing circumstances, yet I wonder if exceptions can be made for times like ours. The trouble is that so many of the things I used to think were simple have turned out to be complicated. At times, usually around six in the morning when I am still in bed and life seems grim, I even wonder whether anything is simple anymore. Take the case of overpopulation. Any ecologist worthy of the name knows two things about overpopulation: first, it is bad; and second, the United States, because of its excessive per capita consumption, is already overpopulated.

If, as seems likely, the definition of overpopulation is complicated by national relativism, with each country or culture experiencing a different threshold, how can we say that this is a simple and therefore true idea? Would Gregory Skovoroda, having followed the argument up to now, turn his back and walk away in disgust? Or could we persuade him that the basic idea of overpopulation is still a simple one? “Gregory,” we would say to him, if American, or “Mr. Skovoroda,” if Chinese, “wait a minute.

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