A Conservationist Manifesto
A Conservationist Manifesto was published in April 2009, on Earth Day, by Indiana University Press. The book addresses what I take to be the greatest challenge facing our society, which is to shift from a culture based on consumption to a culture based on caretaking. What would a truly sustainable economy look like? What responsibilities do we bear for the well-being of future generations? What responsibilities do we bear toward Earth’s millions of other species? In a time of ecological calamity and widespread human suffering, how should we imagine a good life? A Conservationist Manifesto seeks answers to these pressing questions, and more, in writing that’s impelled by a sense of place and a sense of hope.
The book envisions a path toward a materially simpler and spiritually richer way of life. At present, merchants and mass media, politicians and pundits, agree in defining us as consumers, as if the purpose of life were to devour the world rather than to savor and preserve it. However appealing consumerism may be to our egos, and however profitable it may be for business, it is ruinous for our planet, our communities, and our souls. What I propose instead is that we imagine ourselves as conservers, as stewards of the earth's bounty and beauty.
You can view here a reading I gave from A Conservationist Manifesto, along with my discussion of the book and responses to audience questions.
Terrain.org carried a thoughtful review of A Conservationist Manifesto by editor Simmons Buntin, who moves outward from a discussion of the book to consider the challenges facing any effort to address serious environmental and social justice issues in the U.S. You'll find the review here.
You will find additional reviews of A Conservationist Manifesto here.
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