Human, Nature by Ian Carter

3.5 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

The planet that we live on is a finely balanced system. We have for far too long been buggering it up though and there is much evidence that we are reaching a tipping point. What people seem to forget is that we are as much a part of the ecosystems as the worm in your garden and the blue whale.

The intricacies and complexity of these relationships and how we interact with the natural world around us is something that has fascinated Ian Carter for many years. In this book, he has brought together a series of essays and articles that he has written over a number of years that look at the way that we and the natural world have co-existed and the benefits and problems that it causes.

It is split into four sections, Closer to Home where there are essays on rats and what birdwatchers do in the quiet months of July and August and even lets us know his favourite bird. The second section is titled Human Nature. In here he extolls the virtues of making mud pies versus playing  Mario, why we name creatures, how one person’s favourite is another person’s nightmare and that even dead animals have a place in the ecosystem.

The third section is titled Conflict. Here are some of the sticky subjects that he wants to deal with including the spectre of plant and animal non-natives, when should we intervene in rescuing wildlife and should we cull wildlife at all? The final section, Wild Places is looking at how we see wildlife; if the place you park has a pay and display machine can it be counted as a wilderness and the delights of the Isle of Skye in January.

I thought this was pretty good overall. Carter has been involved in conservation for over thirty years now. He started with the nature Conservancy Council before moving to English Nature. In his work, he has been involved in a variety of schemes including the reintroduction of Red Kites. This has given him valuable insight into the way that we interact with the natural world and he conveys just how we are dependent on those links to the wildlife around us. I like that the essays are short distillations of his thoughts about a particular subject and be read all in one go, or dipped into as and when it suits. If you want a slightly different perspective on our complex and complicated relationship with the natural world then this is as good a place to start as any.

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  1. Liz Dexter

    Sounds like a good collection covering a lot of ground (literally and metaphorically!)

    • Paul

      It was, Liz. He covers a lot of ground too

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