LAST WINTER, Orion readers in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and upstate New
York volunteered to host reader meet-ups
in their towns, and they gathered at local
cafés, farms, and restaurants to meet and
mingle. To learn about hosting a reader
meet-up call us at 413/528-4422, ext. 31.
In April, the Commonwealth Club of
California hosts a panel about Thirty-Year
Plan with H. Emerson Blake and several
of the book’s contributors. See www
. orionmagazine.org for more information.
Writer and longtime Orion columnist
Robert Michael Pyle wrote in with a
correction to Bennett Sims’s short story,
“Destroy All Monsters” (January/February
2013): moths have four wings, not two.
We regret the anatomical miscalculation.
It’s the time of year when we announce the 2013 Orion Book Award,
which we give annually to a book that
addresses the human relationship with
the natural world in a fresh, thought-provoking, and engaging manner. Visit
www.orionmagazine.org/oba to meet
this year’s selection committee and see
the winner and finalists.
Also in books, this year we’re releasing new editions of two titles in Orion’s
Nature Literacy Series — Beyond Ecophobia: Reclaiming the Heart in Nature
Education and Place-Based Education:
Connecting Classrooms and Communities.
on the web
Let LUIS ALBERTO URREA read his latest
Wastelander column out loud to you.
Listen to a conversation between
SANDRA STEINGRABER and Managing
Editor Andrew Blechman.
See the results of the Orion Cover Vote
eating amoeba. Get one of those things far
enough up your nose, and you’ll have just
one week to settle your earthly a=airs.
Professor of Biology
Paul Kingsnorth’s essay in the January/
February 2013 issue of Orion (“Dark Ecol
ogy”) is a heartfelt and indepth explora
tion of questions many of us have wrestled
with for years. However, I beg to di=er with
Kingsnorth’s characterization of neoenvi
ronmentalists. Much of the groundwork
on concepts like the financial valuation of
ecosystem services was pioneered by peo
ple like Gretchen Daily, many of whom are
avid environmentalists and who lament
that we have largely lost the battle to con
serve wild spaces. Having swallowed the
bitter pill that the old methods of conser
vation haven’t worked, they have turned to
the language of economics in an e=ort to
find a more successful approach.
Also, methods of valuing ecosystem
services are not all anthropocentric—there
are several approaches that include the
ecological and spiritual benefits of healthy
ecosystems. It was once thought by many
economists that nature was an infinite factor
of production, which, being infinite, could
be written out of equations, and which, be
ing infinite, essentially had no value. But
now, with the development of new academic
fields like ecological economics, economists
are scrambling to add cultural, spiritual, and
ecological value into their equations where
there was none before.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Thanks to Paul Kingsnorth for passing on
Ronald Wright’s idea of the “progress trap.”
In citing Pleistocene overkill as an example,
however, and in accepting Wright’s notion
that “the perfection of hunting spelled the
end of hunting as a way of life,” Kingsnorth
overlooks the many cultures that perfected
hunting and employed technology but did
not come to an end as a result.
I suspect that many who read Paul Kings
north’s essay will have the same reaction I
did — that the author has somehow crawled
into his head. I would add to Kingsnorth’s
list of five “answers” the practice of taking
kids outdoors to explore the natural world.
And not necessarily because it will change
anything, but because children deserve
the chance to find magic, adventure, and a
healing connection with things that don’t
glow or hum. They deserve the opportunity
to get some while they still can, as Edward
Abbey would have said.