Review: Bringing the Biosphere Home: Learning to Perceive Global Environmental Change

Article excerpt

Review: Bringing the Biosphere Home: Learning to Perceive Global Environmental Change By Mitchell Thomashow Mitchell Thomashow. Bringing the Biosphere Home: Learning to Perceive Global Environmental Change. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002. 244 pp. ISBN 0-262-20137-2 (hardcover). US$27.95. Alkaline paper.

We all believe we are familiar with our local environments: the landscapes surrounding our homes, the places we like to go to get away, the state of our air, water and green space. We may even be aware of the changes that have occurred over the years. But how deeply do we realize how much any simple action occurring within this space may affect its balance? How many of us look beyond our locales, and wonder how these actions, made in our small areas, can affect places on the other side of the globe? In Bringing the Biosphere Home: Learning to Perceive Global Environmental Change, Mitchell Thomashow uses anecdotes and metaphors from his local surroundings in New Hampshire to show how his observations can be translated into a more global picture. He begins each chapter with a vivid description of a scene close to home or a personal experience, and then relates this to a biospheric perspective.

Professor Thomashow describes his book as "a series of interconnected essays that explore various approaches to learning about global environmental change," essays that emphasize perception and interpretation. His teaching experiences, intellectual encounters, and personal narratives all contribute to his arguments. By incorporating the writings of Edward O. Wilson, Richard Fortey, Vladimir Vernadsky, Stephen Jay Gould, and others into his deliberations he gives them substance and reinforcement. He suggests that the magnitude of global environmental change, which can be overwhelming even to those who are familiar with the expanse of the biosphere, can be more manageable when personal actions and practices are studied.

In his first chapter Thomashow raises many questions: "How can global environmental change be interpreted? …