Amid rampant ecological destruction and natural disasters, MacArthur Fellow and noted ecologist Carl Safina takes readers on an exhilarating journey of natural renewal, granting new insights into how our world is changing and what our response ought to be. THE VIEW FROM LAZY POINT: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World (A Jack Macrae Book/an imprint of Henry Holt and Company/on sale: January 4, 2011) is a vivid journey of nature’s resilience, which encourages readers to remember the true cycle of life.
Beginning in a kayak in his home waters on Lazy Point, on the eastern shore of Long Island, Safina follows the arc of the seasons and chronicles a year spent exploring the world from the polar regions of the Arctic, across the warm belly of the tropics from the Caribbean to the west Pacific, down into the Antarctic, and home again.
Leading us month by month, season to season, from migration to stasis, from birth to death, Safina elegantly uncovers the true cycle of life: everything is connected and everyone is intertwined. Along the way we encounter salmon, penguins, corals, tropical fish, and a rich variety of birds, from long-tailed ducks to ospreys and redwings. We meet Eskimos and local fisherman. We see a world brimming with vitality. Safina presents a world that is overflowing with vitality and harmony, yet one that is rapidly changing from centuries of abuse and with much at stake.
With an ecologist’s eye for detail, Safina expertly documents the subtle and drastic changes taking place as a result of global warming. Coral reefs are suffocating under seaweed as parrotfish, which normally consume it, are netted to near extinction; penguins are finding less food to forage as the Antarctic ice melts earlier and freezes later (in 1979 the ice lasted about three months longer than it did in 2009); the acidification of the oceans means sharply reduced carbonate concentrations, which clams, snails, hard corals, and plankton need in order to grow.
Why are we in this situation? In the end, Safina blames human greed and social institutions. Weaving in the history and practices of governments, corporations, and the world’s religions, he shows the extent to which our institutions are out of touch with the natural world. While political and regulatory solutions cannot fully tackle the problem of rising emissions, Safina argues that saving the planet requires democracy and a respect for human rights. In countries where human rights are abused, there are also high rates of air and water pollution and depletion of forests.
While there is no silver bullet to averting the ecological catastrophe confronting us, “a non-burning energy economy, a way of reducing population, and a way of replacing the delusion of infinite growth” would be crucial ingredients to any lasting solution in Safina’s view. Invoking Einstein and the world’s sacred religions, Safina eloquently points out that the real impetus for tackling climate change will come from expanding our “circle of compassion” when we can see intricate connections between all living beings and life systems on our planet, and from the sense that environmental rights are closely linked to human rights and dignity.
Safina’s personal, lyrical, and engaging narrative makes a convincing case that environmental restoration is still possible and reenergizes our will to protect and conserve our beleaguered planet.
About the Author
Carl Safina is the founder and president of the Blue Ocean Institute and was named by Audubon magazine among the leading one hundred conservationists of the twentieth century. His books have won him a Pew Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, the John Burroughs Medal, and a MacArthur Fellowship. He’s been profiled by The New York Times and on Nightline and Bill Moyers Journal. He has also appeared on The Colbert Report, NPR, and CNN. He has helped lead campaigns to ban high-seas driftnets; rewrite U.S. fisheries law; use international agreements toward restoring tunas, sharks, and other fishes; achieve a United Nations fisheries treaty; and reduce albatross and sea turtle drownings on commercial fishing lines. He lives in Lazy Point on Long Island, New York.