Nature: Western Attitudes Since Ancient Times
In this historical and ideological synthesis, Peter Coates aims to deeply explain people’s intellectual view of nature as well as their complex connection to nature. The first half of the book is more interesting and focuses on Greek and Roman relationships with nature and how their different cultures reacted to it over time. The emphasis was mostly on western cultures in which early on, people typically feared the forest or saw no uses for it other than hunting or hiking. As humanity entered a more modern and civilized era, people began to appreciate the forest and see its beauty rather than falling for old superstitions.
The fact that the book only seems to focus on the United States and European countries limits one’s ability to take many perspectives. It would be interesting to see a comparison between eastern and western cultures and their view on nature. The second half of the book was really dry. Coates drags on about various ideas and theories in a well-organized. but boring synthesis. In the end, this feels more like a textbook than anything else. The first half of the book is definitely a lot more clear and exciting, highlighting significant changes in the complex relationship between humans and nature while also being cautious about cultural assumptions.
The book was interesting for sure, but I just found it so boring that I wouldn’t read it again. I’m sure another book could take the place of Nature and nobody would know it was gone.
Current Events: Environment
BPA replacements in plastics cause reproductive problems in lab mice
Twenty years ago, researchers made the accidental discovery that BPA had leached out of plastic cages used to house female mice in the lab, causing an increase in chromosomally abnormal eggs. Now, the same team is back to report that the array of alternative bisphenols now used to replace BPA in BPA-free bottles, cups, cages, and other items appear to come with similar problems for their mice.