The Once and Future World by J.B. MacKinnon

the-once-and-future-world This is going to be a short review, not because the book was bad, but just because it is what it is and I don’t feel the need to nit-pick every single thing that was said.  The title, in all its glorious reference to the T.H. White novel, grabbed me right from the beginning, and the cover is gorgeous.  And let’s be honest.  Who doesn’t a judge a book by its cover?!

MacKinnon demonstrates that the environmental/conservation movement is reflective of a far more complicated issue than simply “we must revert back to how the world as it was ‘before'”.  Natural ecosystems are in a constant state of flux and so choosing when exactly ‘before’ is, and then deciding which version of the past we are striving for becomes a rather complex issue.  Mixing personal memories with scientific fact, MacKinnon sheds some much needed light on a hot topic.  Caring for our planet is not as simple as rewinding the clock, so our way of thinking and our proposed solutions to environmental collapse must take into account the delicate balance that our planet relies on instead of arbitrarily deciding what is worth saving and what should be allowed to die.

I care about the state of our planet, but I find that many environmental movements are so extreme that they can alienate the average person.  I’ll be the first to admit that it seems time for some extreme responses, but lecturing people isn’t always the best way to achieve your goals.  This book was great in that it outlined the issues surrounding conservation in a professional way while still being accessible. There are some recommendations made about what we need to do going forward, but that isn’t what the whole thing is about.  It’s also relatively short, and doesn’t overload the reader with way too much information.

If I have a complaint, it’s minor and more a matter of personal preference than anything else.  I felt at times that the narrative wandered, and in my non-fiction, I like clear and obvious formatting.  Grab your rotten tomatoes and begin the harassment, but I like a good essay format that lays out clear and concise arguments.  So while everything in the book was interesting, I sometimes felt a little bit lost and wasn’t sure what point was being made.  I think this resulted in some parts feeling repetitive to me, but I wouldn’t let this dissuade anyone from reading it.

So go, read it.


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