I had a really hard time getting into this book. It was really dense and the writing was really dull. In addition to that, it was really similar to many of the other environmental books I read in Environmental Ethics last year.
The book tackled the idea of nature and the ways in which we bring out own morals into it. Human culture and urban spaces are seen as separated from nature. When society discusses nature and the wilderness, it is seen as pure and of the earth. Humans are opposed to this as we destroy the nature to make room for our own pleasures. We pollute the land and are not worthy of the nature surrounding us.
Coates seems to follow many other environmentalists in questioning weather that’s the way things should be seen. We to must follow the same natural laws that a forest does. Our buildings and objects are built out of natural material. Human’s follow their instincts based on feelings and senses like animals, as much as we may want to reject that fact. Coates questions in the first half of the book many of the problems we see as purely human constructed problems such as pollution. He points out that many of these things existed before the dawn of modern civilization and continue to happen in nature today. Species go extinct, forests burn, and greenhouse gases are released all the time throughout natural history. We contribute to that not only as our species but as members of the planet. We do speed up these natural processes, but to say that we are the only ones who contribute would be in error.
The death toll of a huge forest fire and a resulting haze in Indonesia last year has been released, saying that over 100,000 people died from the event. The cause of the disaster was from deforestation to make room for more palm oil plantations. The dry season and strong El Niño helped cause the intense size of the fire. Additional effects of the disaster was that the fires alone caused more greenhouse gases than the entire U.S. on the worst days. (Source)