By Daniel B. Botkin
I can't think of another author who has had so great an impact' on natural resource
management as Daniel Botkin. His most recent book, The Moon in the Nautilus Shell, challenges us to rethink ecology in the same way the Origin of Species changed the approach to biology. Botkin's reality-based ecology calls us to practice good science and effective conservation in this time when it is needed most.
KERRY FITZPATRICK, WILDLIFE ECOLOGIST, MICHIGAN DE.PARTMENT OF NATURAL· E.SOURCES
Congratulations to Daniel Botkin on this remarkable book. How does our willingness to
believe in a "balance of nature" affect all environmental thought? The question has never
been more relevant or the answers here more profound . Best of all, they remain stories and never a sermon. Humans can be forgiven for believing in myths. However, it is time to be honest about why.Mother Earth does not always behave the way we want. Solving environmental problems calls for candor---which is the beauty in the stories here. They are indeed earnest, and elegantly written. This remains a rare and masterful treatment of those environmental issues that somehow never go away.
ALFRED RUNT (AUTHOR OF NATIONAL PARKS: THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE)
Daniel Botkin's 1990 book, Discordant Harmonies, was the most important publication about the environment-and especially about mankind and Nature —written in the second half of the twentieth century. It is one of three books that I keep constantly on my bedside table. His new book, The Moon in the Nautilus Shell: Discordant Harmonies Reconsidered, is bound to pla.y a similar role in the twenty-first century. This magisterial and beautifully written work weaves together threads from many disciplines-from folkways and mythology and classical texts the best of modern environmental science. Botkin tells it like it is, always objective, always fair; always tied to the facts.
JOHN R. BOCKSTOCE, ETHNOLOGIST AND ARCTIC HIST
Dan Botkin engages us to think deeply about the relation between Man and Nature—a relation that he examines from a fascinating diversity of modern, historical, and cultural perspectives. His book reveals the extent to which human decisions are influenced an inherent need for mythologies, and how societal progress increasingly depends on obtaining facts and data to check those mythologies. It provokes natural scientists to pay more attention to, and appreciate, the rich complexities and dynamic; nature of ecosystems. Through a series of highly illustrative examples, Botkin demonstrates that healthy skepticism is critical in guiding scientific 'inquiry and in making resource management and policy decisions.
PIERRE GLYNN, PH.D., GEOSCIENTIST, RESTON, VA
Where to buy:
Comments about the book by Joe Browder, an American environmental activist who spearheaded ongoing efforts to save the Florida Everglades. He is considered to be a global environmental expert. He is an adviser on energy, climate change, environmental policy to public-interest groups, foundations, auto and energy companies, other businesses, Native American tribes and government agencies
The Moon in the Nautilus Shell is, to me, so honest about what is wrong with many of the model driven assumptions about nature that are causing failures in efforts to protect habitats and wildlife around the world. From my own experiences watching fine scientists trying to use flawed models to design Everglades restoration strategies, I know he’s right.
At the same time, again exposing a personal prejudice, Dan Botkin is so insightful about the urgency of protecting and connecting the Earth’s remaining landscape-scale habitats, and in particular about not sacrificing great natural areas by converting them into industrial agricultural zones to produce biofuels. Not everyone will agree will share Dan’s confidence that near-term severe climate impacts are unlikely, but it would be inaccurate and unfair to describe Dan Botkin as a climate science denier – he simply argues that our priorities have to include not destroying nature in the name of discouraging climate change, and not fooling ourselves about what is actually
needed to protect habitats and species.
Dan Botkin writes quite persuasively that if we are truly interested in protecting the wild places and creatures we value, we must respect the inherently changing nature of nature, recognize the complexities that ecosystem models usually fail to grasp, and change our natural resources management strategies accordingly.
Table of Contents
Preface to the 1990 edition
Part I: The Current Dilemma
Chapter 1: A View From a Marsh: Myths and Facts about Nature
Chapter 2: Why the Elephants Died: Breakdown in the Management of Living resources
Chapter 3: Moose In the Wilderness: The Instability of Populations
Chapter 4: Oaks in New Jersey: Machine Age Forests
Part II: Background to Crisis
Chapter 5: Mountain Lions and Mule Deer: Nature as Divine Order
Chapter 6: Earth as a Fellow Creature: Organic Views of Nature
Chapter 7: In Mill Hollow: Nature as the Great Machine
Part III: Evolving Images
Chapter 8:The Forest in the Computer: New Metaphors for Nature
Chapter 9: Within the Moose's Stomach: Nature as the Biosphere
Part IV: Resolutions for Our Time
Chapter 10: Fire In The Forest: Managing Living Resources
Chapter 11: Salmon in Wild Rivers and Grizzlies in Yellowstone: Managing Wildlife and Conserving Endangered Species
Chapter 12: Winds on Mauna Loa: How to Approach Managing the Biosphere
Chapter 13 Life on a globally Warmed Planet
Chapter 14: The Moon in the Nautilus Shell: Nature in the Twenty-First Century
Postscript: A Guide to Action
Hardcover, Oxford University Press; 1st edition, $29.95 (August 22, 2012)
Daniel B. Botkin
We interact with nature in two ways: rationally and through an inner, personal, nonintellectual response. The inner, personal, nonintellectual includes, in the largest sense, all that is outside of rationality—our folkways, our myths, our spiritual feelings that arise from deep within us, our religious sensitivities. Both ways of interacting with nature are important.
However, we get ourselves into trouble when we confuse the two, letting the inner personal determine what we tell ourselves are rational decisions and actions, and believing that rationality can replace the nonrational— that we moderns, are so immersed in the rationality of science and its offspring, modern technology, that we don’t need, don’t even have, a nonrational side of our existence when it comes to nature or our connection with nature.[divider]
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