I have read this book by legal scholar Jedediah Purdy every year since it came out in 2015. My copy is now lousy with notes and underlinings, because each re-reading, and every year which draws us deeper into the sense of environmental apocalypse, only strengthens its relevance. Purdy traces the idea of 'nature' in America, from its first days up to the present, the Anthropocene, when it is no longer possible - if indeed it ever was - to divorce nature from human influence. He asks what our environemntal politics might look like in the coming years, and whether those politics will be democratic, or just as apocalyptic-feeling as they might right now seem.
An Artforum Best Book of the Year
A Legal Theory Bookworm Book of the Year
Nature no longer exists apart from humanity. Henceforth, the world we will inhabit is the one we have made. Geologists have called this new planetary epoch the Anthropocene, the Age of Humans. The geological strata we are now creating record industrial emissions, industrial-scale crop pollens, and the disappearance of species driven to extinction. Climate change is planetary engineering without design. These facts of the Anthropocene are scientific, but its shape and meaning are questions for politics--a politics that does not yet exist. After Nature
develops a politics for this post-natural world.
argues that we will deserve the future only because it will be the one we made. We will live, or die, by our mistakes."
--Christine Smallwood, Harper's
"Dazzling...Purdy hopes that climate change might spur yet another change in how we think about the natural world, but he insists that such a shift will be inescapably political... For a relatively slim volume, this book distills an incredible amount of scholarship--about Americans' changing attitudes toward the natural world, and about how those attitudes might change in the future."
--Ross Andersen, The Atlantic