THE WILD AND THE WICKED: On Nature and Human Nature by Benjamin Hale

THE WILD AND THE WICKED: On Nature and Human Nature by Benjamin Hale
08 May
2017
Many of us will be familiar with this run of emotions: the thrill of going to some faraway outcrop for the weekend, setting up camp, smug and self-sufficient, only then to spend two days inhaling mosquitoes or waiting out an unforeseen storm

The truth is, in Hale’s words, ‘nature is a bitch’ and the sooner we understand that, he believes, the sooner we can take more realistic and efficient moves to protect it.

He feels the idea of an all-wonderful nature is not persuasive anymore. It is his opinion that wildlife charities and the long canon of environmental literature have over-romanticised the outdoors to their downfall. ‘The irony here,’ he writes, ‘is that it is precisely this romantic picture of the natural world that turns many good and well-meaning people away from environmentalism. Its cloying sappiness has never been successful at masking the significant perils of nature.’

Though occasionally glib and prone to generalisations – especially in his bubbling scorn for ‘tree-huggers‘ – Hale does make a convincing case for making environmentalism a moral argument instead of an idealistic one: ‘We needn’t romance nature, nor lionise it, nor elevate it to the status of a goddess to understand that we have some pretty stringent obligations to conserve and preserve it.’

He argues that these obligations, instead of striving for environmental utopia, should appeal to our human nature – our morality. It is perhaps such thinking that could provide common ground for the entrenched and politicised issues of climate change and conservation.

Click here to purchase The Wild and the Wicked: on Nature and Human Nature by Benjamin Hale

Share this story...

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox every Friday.

Subscribe Today

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth UniversityUniversity of GreenwichThe University of Winchester

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • The Air That We Breathe
    Cities the world over are struggling to improve air quality as scandals surrounding diesel car emissions come to light and the huge health costs of po...
    Diabetes: The World at Risk
    Diabetes is often thought of as a ‘western’ problem, one linked to the developed world’s overindulgence in fatty foods and chronic lack of physi...
    National Clean Air Day
    For National Clean Air Day, Geographical brings together stories about air pollution and the kind of solutions needed to tackle it ...
    The Nuclear Power Struggle
    The UK appears to be embracing nuclear, a huge U-turn on government policy from just two years ago. Yet this seems to be going against the grain globa...
    REDD+ or Dead?
    The UN-backed REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) scheme, under which developing nations would be paid not to cut dow...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - follow Geographical

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...

Films

An emotional and divisive documentary that explores the trophy hunting…

Books

by Paul Murton • Birlinn • £14.99 (softback)

Books

by Harry Hook • HIP Editions • £54 (hardback)

Books

by James Suzman • Bloomsbury • £18.99 (hardback)

Books

by Thorkild Hansen • New York Review Books • £11.99…

Books

by David Bellamy • Search Press • £25 (hardback)

Books

by Michael Bristow • Sandstone Press • £8.99 (paperback)

Reviews

Oslo makes complex geopolitics a living, breathing spectacle

Films

New blockbuster takes climate chaos to the extreme, where what…

Exhibitions

Prestigious Natural History Museum photography competition recognises Brent Stirton's capturing…

Books

An inveterate armchair traveller ever since my Soviet childhood, I…

Books

Bonnett’s previous book, Off the Map, was a thoroughly readable…

Books

When Wilkinson set off to become the Telegraph’s Islamabad correspondent…

Books

Dartmoor National Park might appear wild, but it’s the lines…

Books

Barry Smith is a self-confessed islomaniac and a fixation with…

Books

Neoliberalism. The word seems to have lost all meaning. According…

Films

Combining a treasure trove of unseen footage set to music…

Books

The dreadful pandemic of 1918, writes Laura Spinney, ‘engulfed the…

Books

Those of us who enjoy good travel writing know that…