For more than 50 years, Earth Day has been a celebration of protecting the planet and the array of life, including us, that it supports. Though that common goal seems straightforward enough, the details are anything but. Ensuring the survival of species that populate the Earth turns out to be as complicated as the life-forms themselves, and the path humans have taken toward conservation turns out to be as full of missteps and U-turns as it is with conservation heroes and species pulled back from the brink. Environmental and science journalist Michelle Nijhuis wrestles with the winding and sometimes problematic history of conservation in her new book, Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction. As the title suggests, charismatic “beasts” such as eagles, rhinos and bison all make cameos in the book. She explores the troublesome backstory of turning points like the creation of protected areas in the U.S. and abroad. National parks and the like are cornerstones of conservation policy but are also reminders of past — and present — colonialist and racist approaches to dealing with the impact humans have on the environment. (For more on the current reckoning with such issues, read Nijhuis’s recent essay in The Atlantic, “Don’t Cancel John Muir. But don’t excuse him either.”) The focus of the book is on the lives of the people who have grappled with that impact we have had on the rest of life on Earth and our attempts to save it. Nijhuis’s lively characters…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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