Tapestries of Life: Uncovering the Lifesaving Secrets of the Natural World, by Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson
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Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson is a Norwegian scientist specialising in biodiversity. This book - her second - focuses on our relationship with nature, and the wonders it contains. The book is structured in very short chapters, loosely on the same themes, and she covers many different topics: freshwater pearl mussels ("the caretakers who clean our waterways"), crops, lawns and their ecological poverty (honestly... they aren't even that pretty and they bring nothing to the table), biopiracy (big pharmaceutical companies harvesting indigenous remedies to create new medicines without giving back to the communities they took that knowledge from), trees, insects, the consequences of the loss of habitat of many species (the pangolin and Covid-19 appear), fungi and their incredible networks, mangrove forests and how they help protect us from the ravages of tsunamis... There is a lot in this book, it is a bit like reading a Cabinet of Curiosities. I found it engaging and pleasant to read, poetic at times, and the transation (by Lucy Moffat) is flawless. Would highly recommend.
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“I want to show you all the things that the wonderful natural world does so that you can see what’s at stake.”
In Tapestries of Life, Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson seeks to show us the beautiful and myriad ways that nature is in a fine balance with us and everything on the planet. As a Professor of Conservation Biology, Anne writes from a depth of experience yet it is easy to digest, she has such a great conversational style of writing.
Tapestries of Life covers many different facets of the natural world. From medicinal plants, pollinating insects, water purification, carbon sequestration, food production and endless inspiration for inventions, Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson takes us on a journey through our connections with the world around us and shows how our experience of nature has changed over time.
For example, in medieval Europe, so few people had actually seen a cotton plant that it was believed (until the 1700’s) that the plant was a hybrid of a plant and a sheep! The sheep sat upon a sturdy stalk that allowed the sheep to graze on the ground below and its plant like umbilical cord drew the nutrients into the sheep/plant!
We are intimately linked with nature, it supports our existence and well being. Without it our civilisation would not be possible. And yet as humans we have made changes to the finely balanced ecosystems around us, we must work to find ways to move forward and achieve harmony once more. Nature is all we have.
Thanks to @harpercollins and @annecater at #RandomThingsTours for my #gifted copy.
caline_g's review against another edition
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