Book Review: “Feral” by George Monbiot

Book Review: “Feral” by George Monbiot

George Monbiot is a British writer and champion for environmental and political activism. He writes weekly columns for the British daily newspaper The Guardian, and also has written a number of books. After earning a Masters of Arts degree in zoology from Oxford he worked as a radio and television producer and later an investigative journalist. With a fearless adventurous spirit and a great passion for what he believes in, George has put himself in many difficult, dangerous (and sometimes painful) situations over the years but has gained a great amount of wisdom along the way. As he has said of himself, his job is to tell people what they don’t want to hear. This is a reaction to humanity’s penchant for denial. In Feral, George presents the case for rewilding. Where human civilization has displaced native flora and fauna for decades, hundreds, and even thousands of years, we now have the knowledge, resources, and ability to return lands and seas to the health and natural diversity that they once enjoyed. And as George skillfully explains, this would also greatly benefit us.

George has definitely done some serious research for this book, but it is also apparent that his love and respect for nature has driven him to gain a lifetime of knowledge just with his sharpened senses and obvious interest in the fine details of the natural world and its history. He uses his home country as a backdrop for most of his points, and does so with rich descriptions. This was interesting to me as a U.S. citizen who has never been to Britain. Though it is only one small part of the world, it’s lifeforms and landscape has suffered from human interference in much the same way as every other part of the globe that civilization has touched or had easy access to. Mixed throughout the serious environmental issues the book touches on, George also takes the reader into his simple enjoyment of nature in the form of his physical outdoor activities. ¬†Though undoubtedly getting more difficult with our population’s increasing numbers, it still is possible to get out into nature and enjoy it. George makes the convincing case that restoring the original wildness of nature makes those experiences even richer.

Through his examples in Britain, Feral exposes some of the ugly realities of ignorance, avoidance, and denial that plagues politics and the powerful and influential industries that seem to control it and some of the public’s perceptions. Unfortunately this is a worldwide problem. Humanity may have turned the corner a few decades back, becoming more enlightened in the need to protect nature, but the old paradigms of thought, though slowly dying out, still threaten progress. Our growing civilization is only putting more stress on the already delicate balance. That said, George does a good job conveying hope and that to do the right things for this planet really do not take as much effort as the opposition tries to get you to believe. A little effort goes a long way. After all, nature is resilient. Sometimes all it takes is to just leave it alone.

http://www.monbiot.com/