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Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the Twenty-first Century Paperback – April 30, 1992
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"Wonderfully subversive, slyly informative."--The Toronto Globe and Mail
"A concise, lucidly penetrating examination of mankind's maddening mix of feelings -- love, hate, fear and infatuation -- for the multitude of other residents of the planet....Speaks eloquently to the issues raised as the exploding human population pushes on every habitable corner of
earth."--San Francisco Chronicle
"A fascinating, in-depth study....Highly recommended"--Booklist
"Dramatic....Fascinating...reveals there may be some hope after all"--The Oregonian
"Botkin provides fascinating insight relevant to a huge greenhouse issue--how the world's forests and wildlife will respond to the coming climate change"--James E. Hansen, Director of the Institute for Space Studies, NASA/Goddard Flight Center
"In the iconoclastic tradition of Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, and James Lovelock, Daniel Botkin has used a lifetime of research in the ecological sciences as a basis for reexamining the human-nature relationship. Discordant Harmonies will be provocative to historians and philosophers as well
as scientists. It is a book to pack in our intellectual baggage as we prepare for the journey into the 21st century"--Roderick Frazier Nash, author of Wilderness and the American Mind
"Those interested in broad environmental questions but not abreast of the most recent papers in ecology will find this book an important overview of what appears to be an emerging consensus."--Choice
"This book is well-written and deeply provocative. It presents a realistic point of view of the world we live in. If this is going to be the environmental decade, then Botkin has given us a marvelous opening statement suggesting what we have to do and what we have to learn. Every scientist who
is concerned with the environment ought to read this book and make sure his or her friends do so as well." --BioScience
"Delightful, instructive, provocative."--Adolf G. Glindersen, Texas AandM Univ.
"Groundbreaking study of environmental issues....Botkin draws on some revealing case-studies...in order to illuminate his argument."--Ethology Ecology and Evolution
About the Author
Daniel B. Botkin is on the faculty of the University of California, Santa Barbara. He won the 1991 Mitchell International Prize for Sustainable Development for his work on the environment.
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Botkin talks about the need for compromise, and specifically the need to think of nature in a new way. This new way that he iterates is the recognition of nature as a chaotic system. It is not constant, it is not irreversible (in some ways), and populations fluctuate under certain circumstances.
He describes how we need a new kind of ecologist. How we need people to study the animals and the ecosystems they inhabit with the idea of chaos in mind. But not complete chaos, there is structure to nature, but it is not formalized, nor is it constant. It is changing patterns that never repeat themselves, I guess Botkin might say, more eloquently than I no doubt.
He has a lengthy discussion about the role of religion in this book, which I found interesting. He even talks about the GAIA theory. Botkin re-iterates his points on numerous occasions, to the point that you almost get sick to hear them again. But he drives the point home, and his points are valid, and his view of nature, based on his own experiments is enlightening, scientific, and refreshing.
On one hand, you have wise-use yahoos insisting that massive exploitation and pollution are merely another evolutionary pressure under which organisms must sink or swim. On the other, you have fanatics who can only relate to a concept of nature so pristine that it reveals underlying self-hatred, and people who would sooner see California Condors extinct than in captivity.
Botkin lucidly explains why both such views of nature are based on misunderstandings and outdated cultural paradigms. Using a number of case studies and an accurate yet entertaining style, he points the way toward a new conception of nature and the human role in it.