Magazine article American Scientist

An Ecology of Happiness

Magazine article American Scientist

An Ecology of Happiness

Article excerpt

AN ECOLOGY OF HAPPINESS. Eric Lambin. Translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan. The University of Chicago Press, $26.

Among the arguments for persuading people to make changes that will protect ecosystem health - beloved species will become extinct, climate change will cause higher-intensity storms, the food supply may be disrupted - happiness doesn't show up that often. In An Ecology of Happiness, Eric Lambin piles up nearly all of those dire warnings and calls to action and views each through the lens of happiness.

As might be expected, Lambin draws on studies of how natural environments improve people's psychological health to support his case. But his analysis goes much further, encompassing three major components: "the subjective perception of a happy existence, health, and security." Each of the book's nine chapters offers a broad survey of research relevant to one of these factors, treating such subjects as microbes, war, urban planning and the relation between material wealth and happiness. …

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