Sweet in Tooth and Claw: nature is more cooperative than we think


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Sweet in Tooth and Claw: nature is more cooperative than we think Author: Format: Paperback / softback First Published: Published By: Scribe Publications
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Pages: 304 Illustrations and other contents: 16 page colour picture section Language: English ISBN: 9781911617341 Categories: , , , , , , , , , ,

Ever since Darwin, science has enshrined competition as biology’s brutal architect. But this revelatory new book argues that our narrow view of evolution has caused us to ignore the generosity and cooperation that exist around us, from the soil to the sky. In Sweet in Tooth and Claw, Kristin Ohlson explores the subtle ways in which nature is in constant collaboration to the betterment of all species. From the bear that discards the remainders of his salmon dinner on the forest ground, to the bright coral reefs of Cuba, she shows readers not only the connectivity lying beneath the surface in natural ecosystems, but why it’s vital for humans to incorporate that understanding into our interactions with nature, and also with each other. Much of the damage that humans have done to our natural environment stems from our ignorance of these dense webs of connection. As we struggle to cope with the environmental hazards that our behaviour has unleashed, it’s more important than ever to understand nature’s billions of co-operative interactions. This way, we can not only stop disrupting them, but rely on them to renew ecosystems. In reporting from the frontlines of scientific research, regenerative agriculture, and urban conservation, Ohlson shows that a shift from focusing on competition to collaboration can not only heal our relationships with the natural world, but also with each other.

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‘Deftly weaving together science, social thought, and a remarkable cast of characters, Ohlson's book uncovers the marvellous partnerships that make life possible, showing that cooperation, not competition, is the key to survival.’ -- Elizabeth Carlisle, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at UC Santa Barbara, and author of Healing Grounds: climate, justice, and the deep roots of regenerative farming ‘Ohlson looks at nature through the lens of cooperation, from the intricate workings of one-celled creatures all the way to entire forests and cities (above and below ground). This deeply-reported and stunning book holds up a mirror to us humans, showing how we thrive when we embrace nature’s generous spirit.’ -- Judith Schwartz, author of The Reindeer Chronicles and Other Inspiring Stories of Working With Nature to Heal the Earth ‘Journalist Ohlson pushes back against the Darwinian notion that “competition rules” in this vivid survey … Alongside the fascinating case studies, Ohlson reflects on her own connection to nature in oft-lyrical prose … This is as charming as it is enlightening.’ * Publishers Weekly * ‘A new attempt to rebalance our view of evolution.’ * New Scientist * ‘The idea that evolution is driven by the survival of the fittest is so entrenched in the study of biology that research has largely focused on competition between species rather than co-operation. But, as Kristin Ohlson shows in this inspiring field-trip of a book, nature is full of ecosystems that thrive on harmony and balance rather than division and conflict … Ohlson explores the many forms of collaboration or “mutualism” in nature and how they offer a constructive template for our own interactions with the world.’ * The Sydney Morning Herald * ‘In her fascinating book, Sweet in Tooth and Claw, American Kristin Ohlson argues that our slavish devotion to Darwin’s principle of the ‘survival of the fittest’, has blinded us to the cooperation that exists in nature … Insightful and interesting.’ -- Jeff Popple * Canberra Weekly * ‘From microorganisms to fungi, to plants, fish and mammals, [Sweet in Tooth and Claw] examines interconnections in the natural world. The picture of how the world works that she reveals is both complex and beautiful … This is a great book for the non-scientist interested in how we humans live, how we produce our food, and our relationship with the rest of the natural world, from forests to coral to the microbiota of our guts. Clear and entertaining, Kristin Ohslon bridges the wide gap between current researchers and the curious.’ -- Penelope Cottier * The Canberra Times * ‘Descriptions of nature as competitive … shaped the way people perceive it today. Sweet in Tooth and Claw debunks such concepts to reveal that, in fact, cooperation and generosity allow nature to thrive. It also speculates about what differences would be possible if human beings followed nature’s example … A rich and fascinating book, Sweet in Tooth and Claw is stunning in its vision of how, by embracing nature’s cooperative, generous spirit, human beings might do part of the great work of helping the planet and its inhabitants to thrive.’ -- Foreword Reviews, starred review ‘Firsthand accounts of her time spent with researchers and practitioners are fascinating. Woven throughout are her thoughtful observations along with an abundance of striking, full-page colour photographs. Whether discussing individuals gardening with native plants or cities planning greener and more connected watersheds and ecosystems, Ohlson makes a compelling argument for working together and taking a lesson from the many instances of cooperation in nature.’ * Booklist * ‘A book that reimagines what is possible when people see themselves as part of the ecosystem rather than as its predator. Refreshing, thought-provoking — and delightfully illustrated.’ * Civil Eats * ‘Beautiful story-telling … The mutualism explored in Sweet in Tooth and Claw eases open our eyes, our hearts, our senses — guiding us to recognise countless examples of generosity and cooperation far beyond the pages of this book.’ * Medium * ‘Kristin Ohlson … takes a deep, stimulating, and nuanced dive into the world of mutualism … What’s refreshing and, frankly, uplifting is Ohlson’s non-treacly pursuit of people seeking solutions. Bookshelves are already laden with tales of planetary gloom and doom that are, no doubt, scientifically accurate but also contributors to paralysis and hopelessness. At the core of Ohlson’s exploratory journey is her role as that trusted friend who can help humans of all stripes comprehend how cooperation within and among species undergirds a thriving natural world.’ -- Elizabeth McGowan * Washington Independent Review of Books * Praise for The Soil Will Save Us: ‘The author has a clear storytelling style, which comes in handy when drawing this head-turning portrait of lowly dirt.’ * Kirkus Reviews * Praise for Stalking the Divine: ‘Kristin Ohlson’s honesty, intelligence, and charm make this book irresistible. A nonbeliever who longs for a convincing spiritual experience, she writes about a community of cloistered nuns: women as honest, intelligent, and charming as she, who have centred their lives around prayer. Stalking the Divine is a delightful story about curiosity, by a writer who can’t be dispassionate about her subject and also can’t lie to herself.’ * Alice Mattison, author of The Book Borrower and Hilda and Pearl * Praise for Kabul Beauty School: ‘Colourful, suspenseful, funny … witty and insightful.’ STARRED REVIEW * Publishers Weekly *