Our Once and Future Planet: Restoring the World in the Climate Change Century

Published by:
University of Chicago Press (2013)
The environmental movement is plagued by pessimism. And that’s not unreasonable: with so many complicated, seemingly intractable problems facing the planet, coupled with a need to convince people of the dangers we face, it’s hard not to focus on the negative.

But that paints an unbalanced - and overly disheartening - picture of what’s going on with environmental stewardship today. There are success stories, and Our Once and Future Planet delivers a fascinating account of one of the youngest and least known but most dynamic areas of environmental experimentation and innovation: ecological restoration.

Veteran investigative reporter Paddy Woodworth has spent years traveling the globe and talking with people - scientists, politicians, and ordinary citizens - who are working on the front lines of the battle against environmental degradation, and often linking it to the fight against poverty.

At sites ranging from Mexico to his native Ireland and from Chicago to Cape Town, Woodworth shows us the striking successes (and a few humbling failures) of groups that are attempting to use cutting-edge science to restore blighted, impoverished, and otherwise troubled landscapes.

However, restoration’s goals are often deeply controversial. Should we – can we – attempt to restore an ecosystem to some ideal point in its past, or should we be restoring more pragmatically towards a healthier but still compromised future?

These firsthand field reports and interviews with participants reveal the promise, the power, the drama and the challenging questions posed by restoration.

Ecological restoration alone won’t solve the myriad problems facing our environment. But Our Once and Future Planet demonstrates the role it can play, and the hope, inspiration and new knowledge that can come from engaging positively with even one small patch of earth.
Our Once and Future Planet: Restoring the World in the Climate Change Century by Paddy Woodworth