An optimistic approach to environmentalism that focuses on the wonders of rewilding, not just the terrifying consequences of climate change.
To be an environmentalist early in the twenty-first century is always to be defending science and acknowledging the hurdles we face in our efforts to protect wild places and fight climate change. But let’s be honest: hedging has never inspired anyone. So what if we stopped hedging? What if we grounded our efforts to solve environmental problems in hope instead, and let nature make our case for us?
That’s what George Monbiot does in Feral, a lyrical, unabashedly romantic vision of how, by inviting nature back into our lives, we can simultaneously cure our “ecological boredom” and begin repairing centuries of environmental damage. Monbiot takes readers on an enchanting journey around the world to explore ecosystems that have been “rewilded”: freed from human intervention and allowed—in some cases for the first time in millennia—to resume their natural ecological processes. We share his awe as he kayaks among dolphins and seabirds off the coast of Wales and wanders the forests of Eastern Europe, where lynx and wolf packs are reclaiming their ancient hunting grounds. Through his eyes, we see environmental success—and begin to envision a future world where humans and nature are no longer in conflict, but are part of a single, healing world.
Investigative journalist, Guardian columnist, and visionary Monbiot (Bring on the Apocalypse: Six Arguments for Global Justice) offers a gorgeous, passionate defense of "rewilding": a conservation approach that primes unproductive land to develop a stable mix of plant and animal species without additional human intervention. Monbiot sees rewilding as the cure for our civilization's "ecological boredom," rejecting dour, short-sighted conservation efforts which statically preserve depleted lands like sheep-grazing meadows instead of offering the hope of wild places' potential to return primal amazement and danger to the human experience. Traveling from the Amazonian rainforest to Romania's Carpathians to the rivers and uplands of Wales, Monbiot blends convincing data about successes and failures in returning large animal species to the land with vibrant recollections of his experiences both delightful and depressing engaging with these places today and the people charged with caring for them. He insists that we are creatures of nature, not outside of it; that places left to their own devices will thrive; and that reengaging with wildness enthralls the human soul. Monbiot infuses a desperately-needed, almost Romantic optimism into an environmental movement so often grounded in blame and despair.