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The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in…

The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World (2011)

by Carl Safina

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  1. 72
    A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold (lorax)
    lorax: Leopold's classic work is referenced many times in "Lazy Point", and is essential reading.

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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Heart-wrenching, eye-opening and exquisitely written. Safina has been compared to many of the giants in the natural history world, but he's a better writer than the lot of 'em. In this latest book, he waxes a bit more philosophical than he's done before. His philosophy fits my belief system like a glove, and his conclusions are breathtaking. One trembles to think that we are on the razor's edge, that our window to ameliorate our planet's distress is closing rapidly- and that if we don't do it, it will be done for us with a heartless finality that will brook no arguments. As we say where I live, "The mountain don't care if you live or die."

I love this passage:

"So I guess what I'm trying to say is that, though I'm a secular person and a scientist, I believe that our relationship with the living world must be mainly religious. But I don't mean theological. I mean religious in the sense of reverent, revolutionary, spiritual, and inspired. Reverent because the world is unique, thus holy. Revolutionary in making a break with the drift and downdraft of outdated, maladaptive modes of thought. Spiritual in seeking attainment of a higher realm of human being. Inspired in the aspiration to connect crucial truths with wider communities. Religious in precisely this way: connection: with a sense of purpose."

And this, which is purely brilliant:

"If there is a God, then all things natural are miraculous. If there's no God, then all things natural are miraculous. That's quite a coincidence, and ought to give people holding different beliefs a lot to talk about. People who see the world as God's and people who sense an accident of cosmic chemistry can both perceive the sacred. Let's not be afraid to say, to explain- and, if necessary, to rage- that we hold the uniqueness of this Earth sacred, that the whole living enterprise is sacred. And that what depletes the living enterprise always proves to be, even in purely practical terms, a mistake."

I'm still reeling from Safina's descriptions of hunters who still (still!) kill ducks and toss them into the bushes because they are there for the sport (sport!) of duck hunting and have no interest in duck eating. I'm still encouraged by his reports of some of the species that have come back, once we humans gave them a little space and time. And I'm very, very frightened about what my grandchildren will have and hold.

I can't buy everyone a copy of this book, as much as I want to. But I can encourage you, in the strongest possible terms, to read it. And soon. As Safina says in his closing passage, "Time runs short at an accelerating pace." ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book is filled with all sorts of relevant and interesting information related to ecology and environmental science. This book is really like four separate books all seamlessly rolled into one: Safina addresses not only the facts of the natural world, but also gives a memoir of his own particular nature-conscious lifestyle, openly attacks corrupt government and big business, and treats the reader to a modern day philosophy lesson. Very much recommended. ( )
  samlives2 | Jul 5, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I've been sitting on this book for over a year, feeling guilty that I've not yet reviewed it. It's not that I dislike the book, or found it boring; to the contrary, it's because it's so rich and interesting a book that I found it difficult to do it justice.

Part of the work is Safina's lyrical recounting of his life at Lazy Point, its seasons and its creatures, interspersed with his journeys to other parts of the world, such as Antarctica and remote Pacific islands, where he observes their environments and inhabitants.

Interwoven with these natural and personal histories is his argument, which is complex and challenging to reduce down to a few lines in a review. But I'll give it a shot, because what he has to say is very important. His largest argument is that our societies' ways of understanding the world and our place in it are outdated and fail to work with the knowledge we've learned through science in the last century or so. As such, they are likely to encourage us in behaviors that are destructive, and make it hard for us to understand and perceive ways of living that are sustainable over the long run. Some of his critique is aimed at religious beliefs, but the bulk of his challenge is directed towards capitalism, particularly so-called "free market" capitalism. He argues that a social system aimed at maximizing benefits for a few while shunting the costs onto other people and the environment is not healthy, and cannot continue; the question then becomes how long will it take for us to realize this, and what will we put in its place. Much of his argument is spent showing the effects of this way of thinking, pretty much all of them bad, and it's hard to not be persuaded by his evidence.

However, his argument is not simply a depressing jeremiad against a powerful and destructive system. He also takes care to show examples of alternatives, of places and approaches that work. One of his more important assertions is that nature is resilient, and that if given a chance to recover, it frequently will. Safina is not a purist; he's not looking to create a world in which nature is nothing but pristine wilderness. Rather, he hopes for a world of robust ecosystems, filled with species that are healthy rather than struggling at the brink of extinction, in which human beings can be active participants. He wants human beings to live in ways that recognize our interdependence with the world, and which reward us with lasting connections to each other and other species. That is, he argues, we need to shift from a mentality defined by increasing the quantity of consumption, to one in which development hinges on increasing the quality of our experiences. Put another way, he hopes that we can move from a culture focused on providing tons of cheap crap at the expense of our and the planet's health, to one in which we live simpler, but richer and healthier lives.

We need more books like this. ( )
  ranaverde | Mar 10, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
With a home base on the Long Island Sound, Safina takes readers throughout the world, even to Antartica, to see how native species are faring in this polluted and rapidly changing world. He remains upbeat despite frequent astonishingly bad reports. Nature is in need of an advocate, and Safina steps in to be that advocate...explaining the problems and contemplating solutions.
What I really enjoyed was that he didn't dumb down his data and directives just to make the material easier....some of it is technical and difficult but he gives the reader credit for understanding. He makes these subjects conversational while still complex.
I also took note of how much of the study of species involves the patient observation and analysis....as old school as a field notebook and pen, and taking note of what is happening in his backyard (and through us to ours). When he meets with experts, he asks questions that are just what we'd ask if we could. ( )
1 vote BlackSheepDances | Feb 8, 2012 |
Long time ocean observer and naturalist writes a day-to-day account of the intricacies of nature. Safina is realistic about the state of our natural world, disheartened and yet able to dwell in the miracle of it all never the less. A title to be read slowly, attentive to his words and the knowlege he imparts.
  splinfo | Sep 1, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
"Carl Safina’s ambitious new book, “The View From Lazy Point,” is a series of field reports entwined with a loving meditation on the interconnectedness of nature and humanity. The story he tells is “partly about a kind of heartbreak for a world that remains so vitally unaware of how imperiled it is.” But it’s also about how, despite the gloomy reports, “the world still sings.” Safina’s account of “a natural year in an unnatural world” can be harrowing, but its impassioned, informed urgency is also filled with hope, joy and love. "
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For Jack.

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My dog, Kenzie, a fifty-pound black wolf—more or less—goes loping along the shore as is her custom, energetically invested in the obvious truth that all adventure lies at the tip of one's nose.
Whether things are worthwhile for survival or whether they help make survival worthwhile are two quite different things. Whether it matters, whether we "need" them, is a dull and uninteresting question. Need? We never needed to _lose_ our living endowment, our inheritance. Less recklessness by people in the past would have maintained them all, in rich abundance. People in the future will probably level the same charges at us. [51]
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Traveling the world
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805090401, Hardcover)

An exhilarating journey of natural renewal through a year with MacArthur fellow Carl Safina

Beginning in his kayak in his home waters of eastern Long Island, Carl Safina's The View from Lazy Point takes us through the four seasons to the four points of the compass, from the high Arctic south to Antarctica, across the warm belly of the tropics from the Caribbean to the west Pacific, then home again. We meet Eskimos whose way of life is melting away, explore a secret global seed vault hidden above the Arctic Circle, investigate dilemmas facing foraging bears and breeding penguins, and sail to formerly devastated reefs that are resurrecting as fish graze the corals algae-free.

"Each time science tightens a coil in the slack of our understanding," Safina writes, "it elaborates its fundamental discovery: connection."

He shows how problems of the environment drive very real matters of human justice, well-being, and our prospects for peace.

In Safina's hands, nature's continuous renewal points toward our future. His lively stories grant new insights into how our world is changing, and what our response ought to be.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:57 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A conservationist explores various global regions to investigate examples of environmental degradation and renewal while identifying a link between environmental dangers and human rights issues.

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