A provocative exploration of the “new ecology” and why most of what we think we know about alien species is wrong
For a long time veteran environmental journalist Fred Pearce thought in stark terms about invasive species: they were the evil interlopers spoiling pristine “natural” ecosystems. Most conservationists and environmentalists share this view. But what if the traditional view of ecology is wrong—what if true environmentalists should be applauding the invaders?
In The New Wild, Pearce goes on a journey to rediscover what conservation in the twenty-first century should be about. He explores ecosystems from remote Pacific Islands to the San Francisco Bay, digs into questionable estimates of the cost of invader species, and reveals the outdated intellectual sources of our ideas about the balance of nature. The case for keeping out alien species, he finds, looks increasingly flawed. There is a growing group of scientists looking freshly at how species interact in the wild, and according to these new ecologists, we should applaud the dynamism of alien species and the novel ecosystems they create. In an era of climate change and widespread ecological damage, it is absolutely crucial that we find ways to help nature regenerate. Embracing the new wild, Pearce shows us, is our best chance.
“Pragmatic conservation has to begin with undogmatic, realistic ecology, which shows that alien-invasive plants and animals almost always increase biodiversity—and therefore nature’s general health and robustness. Fred Pearce’s ‘new wild’ suggests a matching ‘new conservation.’” —Stewart Brand, author of Whole Earth Discipline