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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
J.B. MacKinnon is the very best kind of nature writer, balancing a knack for presenting scientific ideas clearly and evocatively with a poetic passion for the flora and fauna he’s examining. His new book's central idea is deeply sad: we live in a “10 Percent World,” an era of unprecedented ecological decimation. MacKinnon paints an alarmingly grim picture. But with its gorgeous, meticulously researched descriptions of the bountiful landscapes of the past, The Once and Future World is also an invitation to re-imagine the world. The Vancouver-based ecologist argues that “rewilding” the planet would yield innumerable gifts for our own species.