An Ecology of Happiness

Univ. of Chicago. 2012. c.192p. tr. from French by Teresa Lavender Fagan. bibliog. ISBN 9780226466675. $26. NAT HIST
Here Lambin (environmental earth systems science, Stanford Univ.; coauthor, The Middle Path: Avoiding Environmental Catastrophe) draws from many scientific fields to argue that people need access to the natural world to be happy. He aims to promote yet another reason to care about ecology. "Such a positive argument would essentially replace the alarmist discourse—of which many people are tired—thereby accelerating the transition toward sustainable development." He argues against "the rhetoric of fear," which, he says, encourages "denial among skeptics, cynicism among nihilists, despair among pessimists, and rejection by optimists." Throughout, Lambin shows both the positive results and negative consequences of contemporary Western lifestyles. In a manner of speaking, the book is an indirect and scientific defense of the Romantic poets who crooned over our wonderful planet, using subjectivity as much as reasoning to encourage us to love Earth.
VERDICT This translation from the French is a fairly difficult read—Lambin's intended audience is academic. However, the material is excellent and worth the effort. Highly recommended.
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