The Big Picture

Reflections on Science, Humanity and a Quickly Changing Planet

The Big Picture

Product details

Product name: The Big Picture: Reflections on Science, Humanity and a Quickly Changing Planet

Reviewer: Kate Arneman

Author: David Suzuki and Dave Robert Taylor

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Price: $29.99

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This collection of 10 essays is a collaboration between beloved Canadian science communicator and environmentalist David Suzuki and the former head of communications at the David Suzuki Foundation, Dave Robert Taylor.

The opening essay is a critique of science and explains Suzuki's ambivalent relationship to it - he's a geneticist and his approach to environmental problems is science-based, but he also warns of the pitfalls of the politicisation of science and the uncritical belief that science and technology will save us. Too often, he argues, scientific inquiry is so specialised that a sense of context is lost.

The 'big picture' of the title is the reality of our dependence on the Earth's natural systems for survival as a species. And while the essays dart from one intriguing story (vampire bats attacking Brazilian children) or soundbite-worthy analogy (why is Mother Nature like Kevin Bacon?) to another, our relationship with the planet is the underlying theme.

Some of the ideas explored are "car culture", media coverage of environmental issues and how that affects public perception, our dysfunctional relationship with food, and the failure of traditional economic models to recognise the value of natural services.

The style of writing, with its infectious enthusiasm and sense of curiosity and wonder, is reminiscent of Australia's own Dr Karl Kruszelnicki.

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