An Ecology of Happiness

Hardcover | October 1, 2012

byEric Lambin

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We know that our gas-guzzling cars are warming the planet, the pesticides and fertilizers from farms are turning rivers toxic, and the earth has run out of space for the mountains of unrecycled waste our daily consumption has left in its wake. We’ve heard copious accounts of our impact—as humans, as a society—on the natural world. But this is not a one-sided relationship. Lost in these dire and scolding accounts has been the impact on us and our well-being. You sense it while walking on a sandy beach, or in a wild, woody forest, or when you catch sight of wildlife, or even while gardening in your backyard. Could it be that the natural environment is an essential part of our happiness? Yes, says Eric Lambin emphatically in An Ecology of Happiness. Using a very different strategy in addressing environmental concerns, he asks us to consider that there may be no better reason to value and protect the health of the planet than for our own personal well-being.

In this clever and wide-ranging work, Lambin draws on new scientific evidence in the fields of geography, political ecology, environmental psychology, urban studies, and disease ecology, among others, to answer such questions as: To what extent do we need nature for our well-being? How does environmental degradation affect our happiness? What can be done to protect the environment and increase our well-being at the same time? Drawing on case studies from Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America, Lambin makes a persuasive case for the strong link between healthy ecosystems and happy humans. 

Unique in its scope and evenhanded synthesis of research from many fields, An Ecology of Happiness offers a compelling human-centered argument that is impossible to overlook when we marvel at murmurations of starlings or seek out the most brilliant fall foliage: nature makes our steps a little lighter and our eyes a little brighter. What better reason to protect an ecosystem or save a species than for our own pleasure?

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We know that our gas-guzzling cars are warming the planet, the pesticides and fertilizers from farms are turning rivers toxic, and the earth has run out of space for the mountains of unrecycled waste our daily consumption has left in its wake. We’ve heard copious accounts of our impact—as humans, as a society—on the natural world. But ...

Eric Lambin is the George and Setsuko Ishiyama Provostial Professor and a senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University and a professor in the Earth and Life Institute at the University of Louvain in Belgium. He is the author of The Middle Path: Avoiding Environmental Catastrophe, also published by the...

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Paperback|Oct 30 2015

$37.95

Format:HardcoverDimensions:184 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.9 inPublished:October 1, 2012Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226466671

ISBN - 13:9780226466675

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Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION
Degradation of the Environment, Improvement of Well-Being,
The Important Question,
The Problem of “Free Riders,”
A Positive—Not Alarmist—Discourse,
Well-Being and the Natural Environment,
Separation,

1
THE EXPERIENCE OF NATURE,
Disappointing Materialism,
Let the Statistics Speak,
The Virtuous Quartet,
Biophilia,
Nine Perspectives on Nature,
Psychology of the Environment,
Explicative Theories,
Applications,

2
THE EXPLOITATION OF ANIMALS,
Healing through Animals,
Cows, Chickens, Pigs,
Eating Less Meat,
Healthy Eating,
The Giant Hecatomb,
Animal Rights,
Advances in Animal Well-Being,
Our Leisure, Not That of Animals,
Which Is Happier, the Horse or the Zebra?
A Less Unilateral Relationship with Animals,

3
AN INFECTIOUS ENVIRONMENT,
Emerging Diseases,
The Neolithic Revolution,
Infectious Diseases,
Zoonoses,
Gifts from Asia,
Vulnerability,

4
THE THREAT OF ARTHROPODS,
Vector-Borne Diseases,
Malaria and Climate Change,
Attack of the Ticks,
The Asian Tiger in Europe,
Sometimes It Really Is the Climate,
Disturbing a Complex System,

5
BILL GATES OR MICROBES,
Pandemics,
From Monkey to Human,
From the Pleasure of Transcontinental Travel,
SARS, Super-Asian Rapid Surge,
The Globalization of Microbes,

6
PARADOXICAL CITIES,
An Urbanized World,
The Cesspool of the First Cities,
Subtraction or Addition,
Unbreathable Air,
Dying of Heat in Cities,
Healthy Places,
A New Alliance,

7
ENVIRONMENTAL CONFLICTS,
The Return of Malthus,
Environmental Security,
Theory Tested by Facts,
The Role of Institutions,
Too Many or Too Few Resources,
The First Climate Conflict?
The Shadow of the Military,
Politics rather than the Environment,

8
ENVIRONMENTAL REFUGEES,
Natural Disasters,
Millions of Displaced,
Waves of Refugees,
Demographic Studies,
Politics of Asylum, Political Asylum,
Another Advantage for the Rich,

9
WHEN POOR COUNTRIES SET AN EXAMPLE,
Liberalization and Intervention in Vietnam,
Ecotourism in Costa Rica,
The Middle Path in Bhutan,
Several Paths,

CONCLUSION,
Debriefing,
The Happiness of Some Creates the Unhappiness of Others,
Five Choices for the Future,
Five Situations with Dual Advantages,
Happiness and Environment,
Acknowledgments,
Bibliography,

Editorial Reviews

"In a manner of speaking, the book is an indirect and scientific defense of the Romantic poets who crooned over our wonderful planet, using subjectivity as much as reasoning to encourage us to love Earth. . . . Highly recommended.”