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Loose on the Landscape


Worth reading 😎

Fun-filled adventures in the life of an intrepid field ecologist collecting landscapes.

Loose on the Landscape is a combination of natural history essays and personal memoirs recounting the career and personal experiences of the author as he "collects" diverse natural landscapes. Joel Everett Harding has enjoyed a long career as a field ecologist which took him to many parts of the world where he could reflect on nature and the impact humans have had on it. He also recounts many of his harrowing travel stories with his family such as navigating treacherous rivers, lakes, and swamps.

I enjoyed the episodic nature of the chapters, each covering an entirely different experience that added to the whole of Harding's life objective of visiting each of the EPA's designated ecoregions. It follows a similar anthology format as the writings of many great naturalists. The level of detail in the writing easily transports you to many unique locales, for example the hellish environment of Yellowstone's geyser basins or the pristine, old-growth forests of northern Colombia.

My major criticism is the author's propensity for stating scientific ideas with no source or reference to research backing them. This becomes especially problematic when making statements that contradict widely agreed upon science such as the claim that there is no relationship between greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, which he brings up multiple times. While I am open to listening to opposing views, Harding offers no evidence other than intuition that global climate is too complex for humans to influence or for scientists to even study it, discounting good research by many thousands of people. This is a relatively small part of the book, but is nonetheless distracting for me given the controversial nature and damaging effects of these ideas.

This book should be a mostly enjoyable read for anyone that has a fondness for the outdoors and nature and is accessible for those without a deep background in the subject. However readers should be warned that not all of the author's opinions are shared amongst other ecologists and might want to do their own research on these topics before accepting them.

Reviewed by

I spend my free time outside, exploring nature any way I can. My bookshelf is filled with nonfiction adventure travel, historical exploration, local history, and the environment.

The Ecosystem Collector

About the author

As a professional field ecologist he has explored the wild places nature offers us throughout North America and elsewhere, where he finds meaning in the roots of our connections with nature. He has enjoyed “collecting” ecosystems and wildscape experiences of all sizes, from puddles to rainforests. view profile

Published on August 29, 2023

120000 words

Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

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