Elevate Difference

Earth in Our Care: Ecology, Economy, and Sustainability

In Earth in Our Care: Ecology, Economy, and Sustainability, Chris Maser sets out to explain the interconnectedness of life on this planet and the importance of promoting the functioning of healthy ecosystems. Rather than being a dry treatise on biological systems, the text is engaging and draws on all kinds of disciplines.

I consider myself to be an advocate for sustainability, but am not overly familiar with the technical aspects of environmentalism or ecology. Reading this from the perspective of someone who is not a scientist, Maser does a good job of writing in an approachable way that is easy to understand most of the time. He doesn’t assume that the reader is already familiar with concepts like feedback loops, the commons, or trade-offs, and takes the time to briefly describe some of these key concepts of ecology. That being said, there are definitely some very theoretical and philosophical concepts discussed in this book that can be difficult to follow. The author draws on history, philosophy, linguistics, biology, and other disciplines in order to make his points, which makes his arguments more nuanced and interesting but can also be a little distracting at times.

Maser insists that we as human beings are obligated to care about and understand ecology. The last chapter of the book, “Where do we go from Here?,” gives some recommendations about how to go about changing human culture and society so that we can support the healthy functioning of the Earth’s ecosystems. Maser’s two main recommendations are that we "critically examine our situation today” and "determine where society needs to be at the end of this century if people are to have any kind of dignified life with an overall sense of well-being.” Earth in Our Care makes an important contribution to both of these goals and will likely inspire readers to begin thinking about sustainability in a new way.

Written by: Liz Simmons, November 20th 2009