The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World
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THE VIEW FROM LAZY POINT; A Natural Year in an Unnatural World (Picador, January 2012) has been named winner of the 2012 Orion Book Award. View the announcement here. orionmagazine.org/index.php/article/6197/
Hailed MacArthur Fellow Carl Safina takes us on a tour of the natural world in the course of a year spent divided between his home on the shore of eastern Long Island and on his travels to the four points of the compass. As he witnesses a natural year in an unnatural world he shows how the problems of the environment are linked to questions of social justice and the politics of greed, and in asking difficult questions about our finite world, his answers provide hope.
he could possibly dispose of, when the hogs were let loose to feed on the remainder. As early as 1672, one New England observer wrote of vast numbers of the pigeons but noted, “of late they are much diminished, the English taking them with nets.” Yet even in 1878 one last great nesting colony settled in on an area in Michigan forty miles long and three to ten miles wide, “where a tremendous slaughter took place.” Both the slaughter and settlers’ felling of the forests that fed and bred the birds
corporations can innovate and produce at unprecedented speed and scale. Yet they can also undertake acts of enormous environmental destruction and report a profit. The behavior of corporations arises from their wide freedom of action and their limited liability for harms caused. Further, shareholders “own” and profit by the corporation, but “limited liability” means shareholders can lose no more than the money invested; they aren’t held responsible for anything the corporation does. If they
large ones at that. This accounts for their preference for a big lure. Those butterfish are why they’re unusually fat for spring Bluefish. (They’re usually quite lean by the time they arrive here, on the north end of their journey.) And that unusual fatness, more so than the olive oil and oregano, is why they taste really, really good. While I’m watching the pan sizzle and trying to get a nice browning on the fillets, I can’t resist slicing a little off and nibbling it raw with just fresh lemon.
rich and so real, seems bigger than its physical dimensions. The coast is an edgy place. Living on the coast presents certain stark realities and a wild, bare beauty. Continent confronts ocean. Weather intensifies. It’s a place of tide and tantrum; of flirtations among fresh- and saltwaters, forests and shores; of tense negotiations with an ocean that gives much but demands more. Every year the raw rim that is this coast gets hammered and reshaped like molten bronze. This place roils with power
the cycle of seasons and the waves of migrating fishes and birds that come and go along my home coast, I still find sanity, solace, and delight, more than a few fresh meals, and the power and resilience of living things; the wider lens of distant horizons, however, reveals people and nature up against trends serious enough to rattle civilization in this century. This is a chronicle of a year spent partly along local shores, partly exploring the world from polar regions of the Arctic, across the