Enric Sala wanted to know: “In what way do we depend on all…other species for our own survival?” This book, The Nature of Nature: Why We Need the Wild, is the answer.
A former faculty member at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Sala founded the National Geographic Pristine Seas program. With these and other relevant credits on his side, Sala was well-placed to conduct the investigation that explored a myriad of topics related to his opening question.
Given that a massive team of humans with a carefully designed strategy to recreate a natural ecosystem garnered an epic fail with the Biosphere 2 project, how is it possible for multiple species to create ecosystems that not only thrive but even adapt and evolve? How is it that as the number of species join the ecosystem, they create more and more micro-habitats that, in turn, allow for yet greater diversity of species colonization? And what happens when a species preys upon but does not contribute to the system?
The answer won’t surprise fans of Dirk Gently, the fictional detective whose method of discovery revolved around “the fundamental interconnectedness of all things.” Neither will it surprise environmentalists or conservationists or any thinking person. But wait—there’s more.
Taking the reader through the steps of his research, Sala shows us exactly how “…humans are driving species extinct at a rate at least a thousand times faster than the natural background rate.” On the heels of that statement, he reminds us in no uncertain terms that we at the top of the food chain, are entirely dependent upon every other species in our ecosphere. When we damage our environment, we hasten our own extinction.
All well and good, I hear some of you say, but we’ve got to make a living / build a house / travel from place to place / eat. The loudest response is that we can’t do any of that if we are extinct. The Nature of Nature goes beyond the broadly obvious and beyond the moral and esthetic arguments for preservation of the ecosystem; it also explains the economics of a sound environmental policy, and offers a completely workable strategy for restoring degraded ecosystems, protecting all the species within that system, and enhancing quality of life worldwide
The Nature of Nature makes it clear that we have the ability to clean up the mess we’ve made. The only remaining question is: Do we have the intelligence to act?
• Hardcover : 256 pages
• Publisher : National Geographic (August 25, 2020)
In this inspiring manifesto, an internationally renowned ecologist makes a clear case for why protecting nature is our best health insurance, and why it makes economic sense.
Enric Sala wants to change the world–and in this compelling book, he shows us how. Once we appreciate how nature works, he asserts, we will understand why conservation is economically wise and essential to our survival.
Here Sala, director of National Geographic’s Pristine Seas project (which has succeeded in protecting more than 5 million sq km of ocean), tells the story of his scientific awakening and his transition from academia to activism–as he puts it, he was tired of writing the obituary of the ocean. His revelations are surprising, sometimes counterintuitive: More sharks signal a healthier ocean; crop diversity, not intensive monoculture farming, is the key to feeding the planet.
Using fascinating examples from his expeditions and those of other scientists, Sala shows the economic wisdom of making room for nature, even as the population becomes more urbanized. In a sober epilogue, he shows how saving nature can save us all, by reversing conditions that led to the coronavirus pandemic and preventing other global catastrophes. With a foreword from Prince Charles and an introduction from E. O. Wilson, this powerful book will change the way you think about our world–and our future.
About Enric Sala
ENRIC SALA is a marine ecologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence dedicated to restoring the health and productivity of the ocean. He is widely recognized for his worldwide conservation efforts, based on solid observational and experimental research, combined with strategic communications and policy discussions. Previously a professor at the prestigious Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California, he founded National Geographic Pristine Seas, a global project that combines exploration, research, and storytelling to inspire leaders and communities to protect the last wild places in the ocean. To date, Pristine Seas has helped to create 22 marine reserves encompassing almost 6 million square kilometers of ocean, more than half the area of all 50 United States.