When I started this book, I thought that it was going to be more of a scientific exploration of why it was important for us to maintain or rebuild 'normal' ecological process. I thought that it would be in a similar vein to Naomi Klein's recent book 'This Changes Everything'. It turned out, however, to be a more personal and descriptive book.
George Monbiot paints beautiful pictures of landscapes and animals. He uses the poetry of his words to paint pictures of landscapes barren and overflowing, of animals reclaiming land and being driven to extinction. His words are able to transport you to these places and times. I really enjoyed his way of writing.
When I started reading the book, while I enjoyed how it was written, the content was originally annoying to me. It felt like he was just trying to find some meaning in his own life; he was well off enough to be worrying about how beautiful the landscape is and how he can reconnect with his 'primal urges' and 'genetic memory' by killing animals. I did not enjoy the descriptions of him killing animals, so this dulled my enthusiasm as well.
It was in chapter 7, "Bring Back the Wolf" that I started to warm up to his book. I of course believe that we humans have wreaked havoc on the environment. We have destroyed much of what is natural; we are very quickly reaching many points of no return when it comes to ecological destruction (to learn more about this, please read This Changes Everything and/or End Game).
The rhetoric about 'fixing' the earth tends to focus, however, on better ways of farming, eating plant based diets, travelling lightly, using technology and scientific advances to reduce our consumption or have zero impact consumption. Very rarely have I heard people talk about the necessity of 'rewilding'. This is because it's not necessarily 'important' to us; we don't need there to be an intricate web of plants and animals to ensure that the earth isn't destroyed by global warming; we just need to make sure that there are some plants, some animals and that we're sucking up that carbon. At least, that is how the information I read normally comes across. We want to preserve some trees, or maybe plant some more, but I haven't read a case quite like the one put forward by George Monbiot before.
Rewilding will not necessarily always benefit humans in a material, countable, accounting way. And that doesn't matter. It will benefit the animals, the earth and bring back much of what we've lost. It will create a richer environmental process, a more varied experience for humans and a deeper relationship with the world around us.
This book has a lot of research behind it, although more needs to be done, as George himself points out. There are many examples of animals (native and not) entering ecosystems and the damage or healing that they have done. The only things that seem to stand in the way of these processes are us; humans. Through fear, greed, and other assorted reasons, we hamper the rewilding movement. It's time for us to, instead, embrace it.
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