Fragile But Resilient

WED, MAR 15, 2023 (1:01:26)

Daily we hear more dire news about the future of the planet and the grim survival prospects for animal populations. Wildlife numbers have declined 20 percent over the last century with hundreds of species now extinct and there is much evidence of insect “apocalypses”, all exacerbated by climate change. However, Professor Christopher Preston believes that all is not lost; there are some fragments of good news to note.

Preston, who teaches environmental philosophy at the University of Montana, has just written Tenacious Beasts, which looks at wildlife that are both defying the odds but also teaching us important lessons about how to share the planet. He is not sugar-coating the truth, he says, but highlighting recovery to provide hope not to provide soothing reassurances. “Amid growing mountains of loss, some species have shown the tenacity to bounce back.” Animal populations are still endangered of course but the evidence shows that wildlife are remarkably creative and adaptable. Preston urges humans to reconsider animals in new ways that lets them live but acknowledges that we humans must change how we think, which is often harder than changing what wo do. But changes in attitude are essential if we are to enable true recovery; the cost of doing nothing, will be the end for many species. Preston hopes the book will provide a roadmap for a future in which humans and animals can once again coexist.

Christopher Preston’s essays have appeared in the Atlantic, Smithsonian and on the BBC website. In addition to teaching at the University of Montana he is author of The Synthetic Age: Outdesigning Evolution; Resurrecting Species, and Reengineering Our World.


Link to Tenacious Beasts

On conflicts between economic uses and environmental benefits of animals -

On the complication in bison genetics - Discover Magazine

On the question of ecosystem interventions for the benefit of wildlife -

The joys and complications of whale recovery

The changing ethical assessment of wolves -

Good site for European animal recoveries

Benefits of beavers

The Buffalo Project - Winter 2022 - Nature Conservancy Article

THe history and Future of Salmon -

+ BIO: Christopher Preston

Dr. Christopher J. Preston teaches and writes in environmental philosophy at the University of Montana, Missoula. He is author of The Synthetic Age: Outdesigning Evolution, Resurrecting Species, and Reengineering Our World (2018), Saving Creation: Nature and Faith in the Life of Holmes Rolston, III (2009), and Grounding Knowledge: Environmental Philosophy, Epistemology, and Place (2003), as well as co-editor of an anthology titled Nature, Value, and Duty (2007) and editor of a special journal issue of Ethics and the Environment on “Epistemology and Environmental Philosophy” (2005).

His published articles include work on value theory, ecofeminist ethics, public health and environmentalism, environmental epistemology, and the embodied mind. He also writes on the ethics of emerging technologies such as nanotechnology, synthetic biology, and geoengineering. Raised in England and now living in Montana, he has particular interest in the idea of “sense of place.”

Cambridge Forum
Recommended Lectures