At the end of my book, The Synthetic Age, I told a story about a worker killed by a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park. I wanted to emphasize that even the potent technologies described in The Synthetic Age fall short. The world still startles us. It retains the power to push back against our best-laid plans.
My new book takes this thought much further. Tenacious Beasts is filled with hope about wildlife recoveries. It profiles a handful of species recovering beyond all expectations and asks what they can teach. Wolves in Europe, bison on America’s Great Plains, humpback whales in the Pacific and North Atlantic are among the species experiencing a comeback. Through interviews, site visits, and detailed research, I dig into stories about animals flourishing despite the continuing waves of bad news.
If wildlife successes are provocative from the standpoint of ecology, they are also exciting to consider philosophically. Returning wildlife makes demands of those accustomed to living without animals. They force changes in perspective and shifts in values. This is no longer the nineteenth century when wildlife were eradicated without a qualm by developing nations. It is past time for a twenty-first-century concept of wildlife to emerge.
This book charts the contours of an optimistic future with wildlife. It envisions a fresh way to live alongside the natural world. Returning animals will change us. And not just in the ways you think. Tenacious Beasts is a blend of optimism and provocation about a future lived alongside our animal kin.
Image by Garrett Lau via Flickr