Nature's Web: Rethinking Our Place on Earth

Nature's Web: Rethinking Our Place on Earth

Nature's Web: Rethinking Our Place on Earth

Nature's Web: Rethinking Our Place on Earth


This powerful book provides the first comprehensive overview of the intellectual roots of the worldwide environmental movement - from ancient religions and philosophies to modern science and ethics - and synthesizes them into a new philosophy of nature in which to ground our moral values and social action. It traces the origins and evolution of the dominant worldview that has built our industrial, technocratic, man-centered civilization, and brought us to the current ecological crisis. At the same time, it uncovers an alternative cultural tradition in the world's different religions and philosophies and describes how these ideas are now surfacing and coalescing to form an ecological sensibility and a new vision of nature which recognizes the inter-relatedness of all living things. Finally, this book integrates these varied traditions with modern physics and the science of ecology into a larger philosophical whole that provides the environmental movement with a comprehensive vision of an organic and sustainable society in harmony with nature. As ecological disasters continue to threaten our planet, becoming worse with every passing moment of indifference, it has become clear that we must take action. We must change our relationship with nature, and return to the days when our lives were intimately connected to and dependent upon the natural world. Nature's Web lays the foundations for that change by explaining where our complex ideas about nature come from, why they are wrong, and what we can do to change them.


I live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, in a small valley by the sea surrounded by mountains in Snowdonia National Park in North Wales. My dwelling is an isolated house called Garth-y-foel, which means in Welsh the 'enclosure on the hill'. It can only be reached by a rough track which winds up and down through several fields and copses and over a river which turns into a torrent after heavy rain.

At first sight, it would seem an ideal place to live for a writer, halfway between heaven and earth, part of society and yet separate from it. To the south, a reclaimed estuary stretches out towards the sea; on all other sides, rugged mountains reach to the overarching sky. the house is surrounded by small fields scratched out of the rocky ground, with clumps of twisted oak, tall beech and silver birch growing near their stone walls. From a rocky outcrop at the back of the house, Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales and England, stands watch over the surrounding peaks. a few hikers sometimes wander by disturbing the sheep and crows, looking for a taste of the wild, free and natural.

They follow in the footsteps of earlier hikers who sought the sublime, like the Romantic poet Wordsworth. He gloried in the awesome grandeur of the mountain range, and found in Snowdon

The perfect image of a mighty Mind
Of one that feeds upon infinity,
That is exalted by an underpresence,
The sense of God, or whatsoe'ever is dim
Or vast in its own being.

Not long ago, I climbed a local mountain after the first fall of snow on the peaks. Following an old drover's track over rough pasture, I eventually came across a new barbed-wire fence. It marked the outer boundary of land recently reclaimed from the ancient bogs and moors of the uplands. the contrast between the two sides of the fence could not have been starker.

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