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The coast is an edgy place. Living on the coast
presents certain stark realities and a wild, bare beauty. Continent
confronts ocean. Weather intensifies. It's a place of tide and tantrum;
of flirtations among fresh and saltwaters, forests and shores; of tense
negotiations with an ocean that gives much but demands more. Every year
the raw rim that is this coast gets hammered and reshaped like molten
bronze. This place roils with power and a sometimes terrible beauty.
The guessing, the risk; in a way we're all thrill seekers here.
View from Lazy Point
A Natural Year in an Unnatural World
by Carl Safina
Henry Holt and Co., 2011
Following the course of four seasons and the four directions of the
compass, this philosophical memoir chronicles a year of the author's
life as he travels from his coastal home on Long Island to Antarctica
and the Arctic, and from islands in the Caribbean to the western edges
of the Pacific Ocean trying to understand, as a scientist, how the
natural world is faring in the face of serious environmental challenges
and what role humans have in its fate.
As he follows scientists studying troubled parrotfish in the coral
reefs off the coast of Venezuela, managing salmon populations in
Alaska, maintaining the Global Seed Vault in
Svalbard (an archipelago halfway between Norway and the North Pole) and
documenting the decline of penguin populations in Antarctica he
concludes that old notions and beliefs of humans are compromising the
survival of species and the ecosystems that support them.
"Science has marched forward. But civilization's values remain rooted
in philosophies, religious traditions, and ethical frameworks devised
many centuries ago," he writes, making the same observation in
different words at several points in the book.
What is needed, he concludes, is greater development of the uniquely human trait known a compassion.
"Compassion doesn't simply mean caring
for poor people or putting band-aids on need. It seeks to remedy
sources of suffering," he explains. "It means we require a clear,
peaceful way of providing what the world can bear - and knowing when
enough is too much. In part, it means realizing that far fewer people
would mean far less suffering."
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